Prepared for Spiritual Battle, Pt. 3
As Christians, spiritual warfare is reality. Through the sacrificial and atoning work of Christ, we were rescued from the kingdom of darkness and translated into the kingdom of light. But the enemy of our souls, though defeated by Jesus, continues to tempt, harass, and attack our lives. Simply stated, he wants to knock us down, to remove us from our firm foundation in Christ.
To acknowledge spiritual conflict does not make a believer warfare-centric; rather, it is an awareness of Christian spirituality. We live in tension and conflict between our new family, God’s kingdom, and the kingdom of darkness ruled by Satan and his minions. Most of us avoid conflict, but this is one conflict you cannot ignore and avoid, you must be prepared spiritually for the enemy’s strategies.
Wearing the armor of God is not optional for the Christian. It is essential. We do not fight spiritual battles with our own strength or wisdom, we stand and resist the enemy from our union with Christ, His authority, His power, and His Word. We remain alert and vigilant, that we may endure and fight the good fight of faith.
To ignore the reality of the kingdom of darkness plays into the enemy’s hand. It allows him to keep people in bondage, oppression, unbelief, and sickness. Satan looks for ways to establish strategies against us, our families, our churches, and society. Even Jesus experienced his deceptive ways in the wilderness temptations (See Luke 4).
We understand the truth of Paul’s inspired words:
Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” 2 Cor. 4:4 NLT
Many today, including some in the Church, are deceived by the enemy’s schemes about important issues such as racism, abortion, violence, sexual sin, etc. Further, many do not want to “hear about” current events, which are often manifestations of the darkness. However, the Church must be aware, alert, and a voice of truth in this hour.
For many, the Bible has become “outdated.” But God’s Word is still Truth, even though cultural norms (influenced by demonic forces) would try to dictate otherwise. Moral relativism has gripped American society. Humanistic thinking, some of which is influenced by neo-Marxist thought, prevails. Lawlessness is becoming epidemic.
Our nation is being given a choice in this hour—the choice is far greater than which man is elected as president. Will we turn back to God and the truth of His Word or slide further into darkness due to our agreement with unrighteousness and cultural norms?
We recognize that we are not fighting against those who do not know Jesus, but against unseen forces. As believers, we understand the enemy is the power behind human ideologies and beliefs that are contrary to Christ. Strongholds exist individually, and within groups of people, that blind them from truth and empower the enemy to oppress humanity. Marxist ideology and Communism are good examples of how godless, human reasoning oppresses humanity.
We, therefore, wage spiritual war as lovers of God, resting in the finished work of Christ. The Church is a glorious bride and a Holy army, prepared for spiritual battle. We live prepared and ready to advance God’s kingdom. The stakes are high—the proclamation of the gospel to liberate others!
Here is the great news: God promises in His Word to send His Spirit afresh upon His people, who humble themselves, turn from unrighteousness, and seek His face. He promises to revive and heal their land (2 Chr. 7:14).
I was reminded last week of a powerful prophecy that underscores 2 Chronicles 7:14 and gives America hope as we battle COVID-19 and unrest in our nation. It was by the late David Wilkerson in 1986, the founding pastor of Times Square Church in New York,
I see a plague coming on the world and the bars and church and government will shut down. The plague will hit New York City and shake it like it has never been shaken. The plague is going to force prayerless believers into radical prayer and into their Bibles and repentance will be the cry from the man of God in the pulpit. And out of it will come a third Great Awakening that will sweep America and the world.” 
His prophetic word accurately describes what we are enduring with COVID-19. Therefore, his word gives us hope! A third great awakening will come to America and impact the world if the Church awakens to righteousness and seeks God’s mercy and grace for our nation. Repentance is being preached from pulpits, the Church is awakening, and she is becoming a force of prayer—in Jesus’ name!
Let me pick up from last week as I conclude the series Prepared for Spiritual Battle.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of [b]the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Eph. 6:10-20 NKJV)
In this passage, Paul is casting a vision to the Ephesian church of the battle they (we) are or would be engaged in. The Holy Spirit instructs all believers to put on the armor of God, to not only prepare for battle, but to be prepared to advance God’s Kingdom.
In Acts 19, we read of revival and resistance to the gospel in Ephesus.
Paul taught boldly about the Kingdom of God for over two years in Ephesus (Acts 19:10). Miracles were occurring (vs. 11-12), and revival broke out (Acts 19:18-20). Then the enemy was stirred up like a nest of hornets! The silversmith’s business making Diana idols was threatened, and from their perspective, Diana was threatened too (Acts 19:27).
Eventually, Paul and his companions were forced to leave the area. Preaching and teaching the gospel of the kingdom brought many to freedom and faith in Jesus. It also caused the powers of darkness to respond, attempting to silence God’s voice of truth and freedom through Paul and his team.
Paul knew in both scripture and firsthand how the enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. Our focus should not be on the enemy, rather on the glory and majesty of Christ. However, spiritual warfare is unavoidable; we cannot ignore this. The enemy seeks to weaken our walk with Jesus and cause us to disengage from spiritual conflict. Paul exhorts us then to:
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Eph. 6:11 (NKJV)
The phrase “put on” is from the Greek word endýō, which means to sink into, to clothe oneself.
We are to be complete in God’s armor, as opposed to being strong in one aspect and weak in others. We are not to just learn the shield and not the sword. We are to sink completely into, clothe ourselves, in these spiritual disciplines. Why?
If we fail to wear God’s prescribed armor, we will not be able to stand in battle. Satan wants to exploit our weakness and bring us down. A legionnaire might have a sword, and be incredibly good at it, but without his shield, and helmet, he is vulnerable to arrows and other weapons which will stop him from standing.
The word for stand is hístēmi, which means to make firm, establish, remain standing. We are to hold our ground against the enemy’s attacks. Satan does not want the Christian to stand, but to fall.
We wear God’s armor, or actively use these spiritual disciplines, to stand effectively against the wiles or schemes of Satan. The word for wiles is methodeía, meaning deceitful scheming, craftiness, trickery.
Satan has methods; his goal is to keep the lost, lost, and nullify the authority of the saved, by making them doubt who they are in Christ, stumble, or fall. He devises strategies against each of us—including our churches.
… For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12 NKJV)
The term wrestle, pálē means wrestling, where the victor forces the loser to the ground, placing his hand around the neck. The only place in the NT this word is used, “… gives Christian warfare an eschatological dimension as part of the great final battle that has begun and is intensifying.” 
You are involved in a spiritual struggle against demonic powers; their goal is to force you to the ground, gaining control over your life. But Jesus is victor (Col. 2:15) and we fight from His victory, His strength!
The enemy has authority over your life when you agree with his lies. He wants to make you “unstable in your footing.” Wounds, trauma, and unforgiveness can create entry points for the enemy to have a foothold.
Paul defines our struggle as being against non-physical entities; he calls them principalities, powers, and rulers.
Take terrorism, for example. Many in the secular world see it as a clash of cultures: the culture of Islam versus Western culture. No, it is a spiritual conflict, with unseen forces at work influencing humanity.
The same is true regarding Marxist ideology and Communism versus the freedom that is experienced in democratic, Capitalist countries. Principalities and powers are influencing communist leaders to exercise totalitarian rule and oppression over people.
By the way, last week CBN News reported that 3,000 people a day are coming to Christ in Iran since COVID-19 and growing hopelessness with the Islamic Regime in that nation!
Ephesians defines these conflicts as spiritual—spiritual realms at war. The Greek word for principality (rulers) is archḗ, literally meaning origins or beginning. Kingdoms are called principalities because they were identified with a specific point where the power originated.
The ruler of a principality, árchōn, was a high official or a prince. Paul speaks of the árchōn that works in non-Christians: 
… in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince (árchōn) of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.” (Eph. 2:2 NKJV)
Paul wants the believer to understand there exist spiritual kingdoms, or principalities, opposed to God’s kingdom. They are just as real as physical kingdoms, but they exist in spiritual realms. We read in Daniel of an example of this reality, when an angel was dispatched to Daniel the first day he began to pray but was held up for 21 days to a spiritual battle in the heavens:
But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia.” (Dan 10:13 NLT)
The second force Paul describes, powers, comes from the Greek word exousía also translated as authority. The war is also against areas of power and authority. Demonic forces exercise authority over areas of choice.
This would include issues that plague the world, such as sexual sin, pornography, drug addiction, racial prejudice, violence, and more. In these areas of choice and behavior, demonic forces exist. They exercise authority over these realms if you agree with them! Understand that often it is a person’s flesh, not always a demonic power, which agrees with unbiblical behavior—which creates an open door to oppression from the enemy.
The third force Paul describes, “rulers of the darkness,” is from the Greek kosmokrátōr. It refers to world ruler.
The expression ‘world ruler’ should not be understood in terms of merely ruling over the earth as a physical object but of ‘ruling over those who are on the earth.’ Most scholars, however, interpret κοσμοκράτωρ in Eph 6:12 as meaning a supernatural power (see 12.44), though it is possible to understand κοσμοκράτωρ in this context as meaning a human ruler.” 
Dr. Randy Clark of Global Awakening writes concerning Eph. 6:12,
…Paul called the “powers” and “principalities,” a much more powerful source of evil that works primarily through false ideologies, pride, superiority feelings, that in times creates hatred. Out of this comes tribalism, racism, and forms of nationalism such as Nazism, Fascism, and Communism, which are all rooted in the philosophy of demons, the deceptive teaching that we have the right to suppress, oppress, exploit, and even kill those who do not look like us, talk like us, think like us, and worship like us.” 
Wear God’s Armor
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Eph. 6:13 NKJV)
Again, Paul writes to take the whole armor; being partially armed is not enough. Every piece of God’s armor is required to stand against Satan’s methods.
Without the full armor of God, our ability to stand is at great risk. The Greek for able is Dunamai, which means having the strength or power. From the same root, we get the word dynamite or power. The whole armor of God gives us the power to stand against Satan.
Withstand is from the Greek anthistemi from anti “against” and hístēmi “to cause to stand.” The verb suggests vigorously opposing, bravely resisting, standing face-to-face against an adversary. 
Peter admonishes believers, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8 NIV) He looks for the weak, those who are not watchful and prepared for spiritual conflict.
Peter continues that we are to, “Resist him, steadfast in the faith…” (1 Pet. 5:9 NKJV) Resist is also from anthistemi. The idea is that we are to resist the adversary actively, bravely!
To withstand in the evil day and having done all, to stand. We must walk alert for Satan’s devices. His goal is to disable the believer and keep the lost, lost.
God has given us the ability to choose, to make the stand. If we do not make the choice to stand, we may fall. Satan is not just content with the saint lying on the ground; his goal is to choke off the life out of the believer. Remember, the term for wrestle is defined as a victory when the opponent has his hand around your neck.
Notice the seven pieces of armor and weaponry that Paul mentions in Eph. 6:14-18. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, knowledge of salvation, God’s Word, and prayer.
Vs. 14 having girded your waist with truth. The first piece of equipment Paul describes is the belt of truth. The Roman Legionnaire’s belt was distinctive, fastened to the belt was the gladius or sword. The belt also kept the tunic and armor in place. Truth keeps everything in place. The primary thing about the Christian message is that it is true.
The NT rests on the reality of Jesus; Jesus makes this point very clear in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” (NKJV)
Vs. 14 having put on the breastplate of righteousness. Its design was to protect the vital organs of the legionnaire. The metal was designed to deflect an arrow or sword attack, which the shield or sword failed to stop. Christ is our righteousness, must wear Him, live from our union with Him, guided by His Word and the Holy Spirit!
When we live a righteous life; our vital organs are protected from enemy attack. For example, a Christian who knows the Word of God (Sword of the Spirit) and has great faith (shield of faith), but lives an unrighteous life, is open to enemy attack, regardless of how well they are able to use other pieces.
Vs. 15 having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. As believers, we have authority, given to us by Jesus Christ. Our feet are the method we move in this physical world to advance the Kingdom of God.
The Roman boot was designed to stand ground in battle—fitted with studs, like the cleats of a football player. The enemy will do all he can to knock you off your feet. Hold firm to the message of peace, it helps you maintain your footing. Jesus is the Prince of Peace—exude His peace!
Vs. 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. What did Paul think the most important piece of equipment was for the Spiritual warrior? Right, the shield! Faith is a shield, which allows us to put an immediate end to many of Satan’s attacks.
For the Romans the shield was not just a defensive weapon, it was also an offensive weapon. The metal boss in the center, designed to hit the enemy at impact, allowed the legionnaire to follow up with his sword, to subdue the opponent.
How do you take up the shield of faith? Faith operates in another realm, anchored in the truth of Christ. Raising the shield gives us power or abilities against Satan’s attacks. Consider that praise and declaration are aspects of faith.
To quench all the fiery darts: A fiery dart in Roman times was a flaming arrow shot at opposing forces. Paul uses the imagery of two warring factions facing each other; he describes Satan’s attacks as fiery arrows, which the shield was able to deflect. The Roman shield was designed and curved to allow the force of the sword or arrow to be deflected to the sides.
Faith in Jesus as the risen Lord, and utter loyalty to Him, will protect you when the enemy hurls flaming arrows at you. The arrows may take the form of doubt or despair, of adverse circumstances, of sharp temptation that will burn you up if you let it hit you, of personal tragedy, or success that tempts you to arrogance and pride. Sincere faith will quench them all. Ask yourself: what fiery arrows give me problems? You need to learn how to ward them off.
Vs. 17 take the helmet of salvation. Where does the spiritual battle rage? Satan works on taking the mind captive. In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Satan has blinded the minds. The thoughts and actions of the body proceed from the mind.
The head is was a prime target in warfare because an opponent knows, a direct hit could finish the enemy. Therefore, the legions were equipped with helmets to protect the head from enemy swords or arrows.
Knowing that you already belong to God’s family, an heir of God, and joint-heir with Jesus, rescued from darkness and death, enables you to face all secondary enemies. Wear this helmet or knowledge always.
Vs. 17 and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. We are God’s warriors, representing His Kingdom in this fallen world. We have authority and power through Christ; we also have a sword beyond any comparison in the physical world.
The sword used by the Roman legions was to become an extension of the arm; the legionnaire’s goal was for the sword to become 2nd nature. Paul would have seen the legions training for hours on end, perfecting their skills in combat.
Paul envisioned the same for the Church at Ephesus in spiritual warfare. As the legions were proficient in handling the sword, Paul wanted the church to proficient in God’s Word and in the truths of His Word.
Notice how Paul continues his thought on the armor with prayer. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints”(Eph. 6:18 NKJV)
Prayer becomes the means in which we engage the enemy effectively defended by God’s armor (virtue).
Peter shares the same idea, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.” (1 Pet. 4:7 NKJV) Prayer, used with God’s Word and faith, and combined with the characteristics of truth, righteousness, knowledge of our salvation, and peace becomes powerful.
Jesus said, “The gates of hell will not prevail against the church.” (Matt. 16:18 NKJV) The phrase, “the gates of hell” means “the power of death” will not stop the advancement of God’s kingdom nor prevail against God’s people.
The Church of Jesus Christ is glorious, she is the most powerful entity on earth because Jesus is in her midst! The Church is not on the defensive, but rather on the offensive! Use the armor God has given you Church to live victoriously and help advance God’s Kingdom!
Satan and the hordes of hell fear a Bible-believing, Spirit-filled, praying Church. From His victory and authority, we prevail. We must stay vigilant!
For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message, “Prepared for Spiritual Battle, Part 3”
 Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985), 770.
 Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985), 83.
 Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 480.
 Randy Clark, Finding a Way Forward, Connect Partner Magazine, July 2020.
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