Why do we need to engage in spiritual warfare when Jesus already won the victory?
It would almost seem that the idea of spiritual warfare diminishes Christ’s victory on the cross…
until we understand that Satan still thinks that he can come out on top. He has deluded himself into thinking that he will eventually win this battle defeat Almighty God.
We fight from a place of victory.
Satan is in an impossible battle. 2,000 years ago Jesus put him in checkmate and ever since then Satan has been strategizing ways to win, and actually believes he will.
We continue to battle against his strategy. But in that battle we can rest assured that the final victory is already won because Jesus won it on the cross.
But in order to go to battle effectively, we need to have the proper gear.
Twice Paul said, “Put on the whole armor of God”. You don’t want to get into a battle without being fully armed, or the enemy will gain an advantage over you.
Then Paul went on to tell us what that armor of God is and what each piece does to protect us.
To understand how the armor works, we should realize that the image Paul had in mind when talking about the armor of God, is a Roman soldier.
1. Belt of Truth
The belt is what held the armor in place. Without the belt, the breastplate would flop all around and the soldier wouldn’t have anywhere to put his sheath.
Truth is what holds everything together. It is what defines our worldview, it is what acts as a filter for our thought life, and it is what determines our course of action.
What is truth?
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” He also said, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God and the word was God.”
God’s Word is our belt of truth. It is what holds everything in place. Without the Word of God to guide us, we will go into battle unprepared and unable to hold things together!
2. Breastplate of Righteousness
The breastplate was a two-part piece of armor that slipped over the head and protected the soldier from the neck to the navel both front and back.
It protected the heart; the organ that pumps life into our bodies.
Righteousness protects the heart.
Righteousness is integrity, virtue, purity, correct thinking and acting. But we have to remember one thing Scripture says about our righteousness:
But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; Isaiah 64:6
The breastplate of righteousness isn’t based on our behavior, but upon Jesus’ work on the cross. We are made righteous by His blood.
As a result, His power enables us to walk in integrity, virtue, purity, and to think and act in accordance to His Word!
3. Shoes of the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace
What compels us to go into battle against such an insidious enemy as Satan? Why would we even want to engage the enemy in this way?
The answer is simply this: The cross.
We go into battle knowing that the cross has won it already.
That is the gospel: Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, having lived a perfect life, willingly chose to be put on trial in a kangaroo court, be sentenced to death for something He didn’t do, and to be put to death in the manner of a common criminal, all for one purpose:
To set you free!
But the gospel doesn’t stop there. Jesus, having physically died, descended into hell walked up to Satan, wrenched the keys of death, hell and the grave from his slimy hands, and then – as a victorious champion – ascended into heaven to assume His rightful place on the throne.
He won the victory!
That is the gospel. And that is what compels our feet to carry us into battle against the enemy. Jesus Christ already won the war, we just need to win this battle….by His power and by His might, through His blood!
4. The Shield of Faith
This shield isn’t just a little round circle carried by a soldier, but a large rectangular barrier of protection that protects the whole body from the fiery darts the enemy hurls at us that would threaten to consume us.
Paul says, “Above all”…meaning that the shield of faith is the most important part of our armor.
Faith isn’t a mental assent or an emotion that we feel.
Faith is being utterly and wholly convinced in such a way that nothing and no one can convince us otherwise. And this shield that is our faith protects us from the deception of the enemy that would otherwise consume us with doubt that God’s Word is the final authority for our lives; that Jesus has won the victory; that the gospel is real.
5. Helmet of Salvation
What is our salvation?
The name of Jesus: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
The gospel of Christ “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Romans 1:16
Our confession of faith “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:10
Renewing our mind so that our focus is on Christ and the work He has done in our lives, protects our mind from the thoughts that the enemy would plant there to distract us, cause doubt, and shift our focus from Christ to our problems and the drama going on around us.
6. Sword of the Spirit
All other pieces of the armor of God are defensive.
The sword of the Spirit is one of two offensive weapons, and they are all that are needed to defeat the enemy. They do not rely on our intellect, education, or wit.
Hebrews says, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword,”
The Word of God is our sword, and it in combination with prayer, is what will defeat the enemy! Jesus used this sword in the desert when Satan tried to tempt Him.
I find it interesting that Satan used scripture to tempt Christ, but he twisted it to mean something other than what it really meant.
Satan being the master distorter of truth, took God’s own words to tempt God into sin. Wrong strategy!
Jesus took Satan’s own strategy and used it against him, when He used Scripture to shoot him down at every turn. Jesus didn’t argue with him, he didn’t debate him, and he didn’t negotiate with him. He just used scripture to expose his strategy and win the victory.
7. Praying always
This is the piece of the armor that is often left behind. I don’t think that’s coincidence.
I think Satan doesn’t want us to pray. In fact, he doesn’t like it at all when we pray because prayer is such a powerful weapon of defeat!
He will do anything and everything he can to keep us from prayer, which is why I believe Christians struggle so much in this area.
Prayer is like a lance to a soldier.
Where the sword is used for repeated thrusting in hand-t0-hand combat, the lance acts like a huge dart that you throw at the enemy, pinning him to the ground.
This is prayer.
Paul says, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for the saints.”
Praying always – Be in a continual attitude of prayer.
With all prayer and supplication in the Spirit – Allowing the Holy Spirit to pray through you prayers that are in agreement with the will of the Father
Being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for the saints – We don’t battle for ourselves alone. Spiritual warfare is as much for our local body and the global body of Christ as it is for us personally.
Prayer, supplication, intercession, and interdiction are such an important offensive weapon in our arsenal, and without them, we are not clothed in the whole armor of God.
As we wrap up this study in Ephesians let us pull all of this together:
If we want to walk as victorious warriors for Christ, we need to know who we are. We need to understand that we are not loved, accepted, validated, or blessed by God because of what we do or don’t do, but because of the blood of Jesus!
And because of the blood of Jesus and His grace, God has secured our position in Christ. We raised up with Christ right now and seated in heavenly places in Him. He has opened the way for us all to be part of His global body, over which Christ reigns supreme.
Because we are all part of one body, we must walk in unity with each other. Our obedience to God and His Word contributes to the unity of the body and promotes health and vitality in the body.
Our interpersonal relationships also help to promote unity and health in the body, but we must fight together against the enemy who seeks to destroy the body. So we must arm ourselves and fight for our identity, fight to maintain our position in Christ, and fight to defend the body against His strategy.