by Trudy Adams
“My soldiers to the world appear As soldiers overcome with fear; A cowardly and a heartless crew, They seem unto the human view. But when I come in open sight, They shall perform a great exploit; They o'er the devil shall prevail, And tread upon both death and hell. Those who are willing for to fight, Shall all be clothed in armour bright, And shall be lifted up on high, And shall my standard-bearers be.” Divine Communications, 17th of 8th month, 1823.
Ephesians 6:11-18 is a passage that speaks about our need for the armour of God. It outlines what pieces of armour are required to protect each part of the body, with a spiritual parallel designed to instruct us in our fight against the devil or Satan – a fight otherwise known as spiritual warfare. It begins with: devil. Satan looks for any weakness, any part of us not protected, as an entry into our lives wherein he can come “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). Thirdly, the armour comes from and belongs to God – that is what makes it powerfully resilient against Satan. That is why we need the armour:
“Put on the whole armour of God.” Ephesians 6:11a.
Immediately we learn three important things. Firstly, it is up to us to put on the armour; God won’t do it for us. It is our responsibility and our choice. Secondly, we need to put on the whole armour – putting on one or two pieces won’t protect us from the attacks of the
devil. Satan looks for any weakness, any part of us not protected, as an entry into our lives wherein he can come “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). Thirdly, the armour comes from and belongs to God – that is what makes it powerfully resilient against Satan. That is why we need the armour:
“… that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11b.
God’s armour allows us to remain strong and unmovable – in our faith, our identity, our emotions, or any other part of us that Satan may be attacking. It empowers us to stand against his many tricks, schemes, and deliberate attempts to deceive and torment us, or to drive us away from God and life and towards evil and death. It is our job to stand strong in the victory Jesus Christ has already won for us (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Paul goes on to explain that we, as followers of Christ, are at war – but not with people:
“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.” Ephesians 6:12.
It is not people themselves who are the ultimate problem in our conflicts and difficulties, but the evil within them that Satan draws on to tempt them to commit sins. Yes, people still choose to act on his suggestions and remain responsible for their actions, for which they then face natural consequences, often even with repentance (e.g. a murderer may seek and receive forgiveness and be freed from guilt and condemnation, but still serve time in gaol). But it is Satan who gives them the idea and motivation to sin in the first place, just as he did with Adam and Eve in the beginning (Genesis 3).
He isn’t operating on his own, either. He has mirrored God’s hierarchy of archangels and angels with his own spiritual authorities and demons, forming his kingdom of darkness. His demons are actively seeking to beleaguer and destroy God’s highest creation – his people. Satan hates God, and God created men and women in his own image (Genesis 1:27). It therefore naturally follows that Satan hates us, particularly those of us who choose to follow God and his son, Jesus Christ, the one who gives us authority over Satan and his dominion and thereby renders him powerless.
Verse 12 also highlights an important element of spiritual warfare – that it is a wrestle. This brings to mind a close, personal struggle with evil. It indicates an ongoing fight wherein we can gain the upper hand but quickly lose it if we don’t stay alert. Satan is grappling with us right back. We are not fighting with him from a distance. This is face to face, hand to hand, gritty combat. That’s why his attacks can feel so personal, long-lasting, and violating. It’s also why we must have armour.
Paul again reminds us of this in the next verse:
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13.
We need to do everything we can to prepare for battle, everything that the crisis requires, by putting on the whole armour of God. Once we have done this, our job is to stand and wait on God to do his part. Not to try and take responsibility for overpowering the devil’s whole kingdom; not to take on the role that only Jesus Christ can. But also not to run from the devil, compromise, live in fear, or flee (there is no armour for our back). Sometimes, God won’t give us the opportunity to stand against the devil until we have each of the armour pieces securely in place. He does this to ensure our victory and to protect us from any counter-attacks. We must stand, unmovable in our faith, integrity and identity as Christ’s followers, regardless of what attacks Satan brings against us, and we can only do this if we are wearing the whole armour of God.