Subject: Fighting the real enemy
Text: Ephesians 6:10-17
Rev. Kelly R. Jackson
3 Thoughts to consider:
- The enemy identified (Vs. 10-12)
- The Word of God is protection (Vs. 13-15)
- What will you stand on? (Vs. 16-17)
As a minister, people often contact me so that I may give them a Word of encouragement from God. However, there are times as minister when I need those same words to encourage me. One of the things you notice when you begin preaching are the arrows that start coming your way. They’ve been shot at me from within the church and even from people that opposed this blog, passing judgment on me when they’ve never even met me. But there’s one thing that we all must remember, whether we’re ministers, evangelists, or just Christians looking to spread the Word of God: Just as the righteous are led by the Holy Spirit, Satan has an army led by his spirit as well. And quite often, they’re dressed in a Christian’s clothing.
So when I chose the scripture for this post, I chose based on the fact that we must remember who’s attacking us when we’re being attacked. It’s so easy to look at the person, rather than looking at what’s controlling the person. Just as the unsaved, the judgmental or the “hater” will appear to be attacking us, in fact, they’re really attacking the Christ that they see in us. So let us not look to the puppet when we’re under attack for Christ’s sake, let’s look to the puppet master.
The enemy is identified
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Before even looking to withstand any enemy, we must first look to be strengthened. If we are to be strong in the Lord, we must deny what we believe to be our own strength. What does that mean? We can easily be defeated when we attempt to do things by our own might. When we operate under the armour of man, we’re operating at a disadvantage. We aren’t strong enough to defeat the devil on our own. We need the armour of God to stand against him.
Often, we don’t realize our weaknesses until we’re just about to lose the battle. But God’s strength is not fleeting, nor is it ever faint. So as Verse 10 says, we are to be strong in the Lord. We have access to an unlimited power source.
Verse 11 begins by preparing us for a war with the enemy. If you know anything about war, then you know that you can’t go without some sort of protection. As Christians, we can’t handle all that the devil throws at us without the armour of God protecting us from all danger. We must be mindful that having God’s armour doesn’t prevent an attack. It just gives us something to go into battle with. It gives us what we need to be able to stand.
And what is the “armour of God”? It is the Word of God. His Word is our protection, our strength and our renewing in a time of weakness. It is the way of Christ. It is the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). 1 Thessalonians 5:8 says we should be “putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation”. Our protection is in reading, studying and living according to God’s Word.
In Luke 22:31, Jesus tells Peter that Satan desires to “sift you as wheat”. So in Verse 11, we see that we also have to deal with the craftiness of the devil. But in Verse 12, we see just how crafty he can be. He seems to pit us against one another and he has us believing that man is our enemy. The fact is, as this Verse states, we’re not fighting against flesh and blood man, but rather the spirit of wickedness that enters him.
Just as Christians are called to walk under the direction of the Holy Spirit, people that thrive on discord are under the direction of the darkness of the devil (spiritual wickedness). Man is simply an instrument that the devil uses to attack you. At times, the people being used aren’t even aware that the devil is using them. They believe that they’re acting on their own. This is why the attack feels personal. How many relationships would we actually be able to hold together if we actually knew whom our disagreement was really with?
Words like “principalities”, “powers” and “rulers” tell you how powerful the enemy is. The devil is no slouch and he will take you down if you take him lightly. Also, when we begin to conform to the ways of this world, we are conforming to the ways of the devil. It is the devil that rules this world, even though God owns it all. However, we are called to a higher purpose, one beyond this world.
When we consider the “high places” of this Verse, it’s not just about people in high positions in the world. While we do battle such things, we have to understand that the devil will also bring the fight to us, often in places where we’d think he wouldn’t be, like our churches. Just because someone has been in your local church for decades doesn’t mean that the devil will not use them to cause discord. We mustn’t underestimate the power and reach of Satan. Though he can’t overpower God, he can operate in places that are supposed to be godly when given an opening by man.
The Word of God is protection
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in that evil day, and having done all to stand 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Verses 13 and 14 describe our battle gear and how it protects us. Having our “loins girt” about us with truth is the same as having a “belt of truth” tightened around our waist. Having that “breastplate of righteousness” covering us means that the heart, which is man’s center of emotion and understanding, is covered. If my heart is covered in His Word, it is protected from the darkness of the devil. Righteousness means we’re right with God, not self-righteous and lording ourselves over someone else.
When we are attacked by the devil, we must be willing and able to stand on God’s Word of righteousness and truth. This is the only way to “withstand that evil day”. The flesh tells us to fight fire with fire when we’re attacked, but scriptures say otherwise. As I’ve taught in Bible class, fire has two functions: It either destroys or purifies. If we’re fighting in our flesh, we can be consumed by the devil’s fire. But if we’re operating in the Word of God, that Holy Ghost fire will purify us.
Verse 15 is key because it talks about having our feet “shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace”. This is critical for those of us that are attacked by people that claim to be using the scriptures to do so or claim to be Christians. How we use God’s Word is just as critical as who is using it and for what purposes.
Having your feet “shod” means putting on shoes. If we’re wearing the comfortable “shoes” of the Gospel of peace, how easy is it for us to walk in God’s statutes? The Word of God is about peace and when we use it to attack one another, rather than strengthen one another, we’re using it out of context.
Does the Word call for us to admonish one another when we’re wrong? Absolutely. But if we aren’t doing it in love, which is at the core of who Jesus is, then we become as wrong as the person we’re trying to correct. Whether we’re disagreeing on scripture, positions in the church or what God has called us to do, one thing we must remember is that He hasn’t called us to strife. He has called us to love one another. We must carry a peaceful Gospel in our Christian walk.
What will you stand on?
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God
Speaking of a peaceful Gospel, it takes faith in God and His Word to be able to handle those that speak ill of us for His name’s sake. If your faith is weak, the enemy will easily throw you off track. Study of the Word and more time with God provides you with the knowledge that your strength is in Him. Though you’re wearing the armour, the battle is not yours, its God’s!
Anytime you talk about doing work for the Lord or changing your life, the enemy will attack. Only the Word of God can help you to handle the words and deeds of the wicked that try and discourage you. Attacks of the world can only be defused by sword of the Spirit. We can’t fight it in our flesh because we will surely lose. As Christians, we must continue being led by the Holy Spirit.
The walk of Christianity, evangelism or ministry is not always an easy one. Though the reward is great, the road is narrow and often rough. But when we arm ourselves with the Word of God, we are prepared for whatever trials are ahead of us. When the enemy attacks (and he most certainly will), we must put on that full armour of God.
If you look at our chosen scripture, God will fully dress us for battle. We have a belt of truth, a breastplate of faith, shoes of the Gospel of peace, a shield of faith, a sword of the Spirit and a helmet of salvation. If you’re fully covered in God’s armour, you can withstand the attack of the enemy. Your call and your commitment will be questioned by man. You will be ridiculed and mocked for Christ’s sake. While it’s easy to argue back and hold grudges against the people that are questioning your new life in Christ, it’s important to know who the real enemy is. This text tells us that we’re always fighting against the devil and demonic ways, not man. Man is simply a tool.
Once you come to this realization, you understand why God doesn’t want us taking revenge on one another. We would only be attacking a pawn in the game, but not the devil himself. More than anything, once you realize who’s really attacking you, you’re less likely to counterattack and more likely to pray for those that speak ill of you. You’re more likely to spread the Gospel of peace.