The Fortress of Spiritual Warfare
Throughout the epistles, the apostle Paul uses military imagery to describe our lives on earth. CLEARLY, CHRISTIANS ARE ENGAGED IN A BATTLE. An explanation of the spirtual warfare surrounding the Christian is clearly presented in Ephesians 6:10-18. Jesus provided for our healing and deliverance through His death and resurrection. However, just because we are healed of our past and set free from demonic influences, does not mean the devil disarms himself and surrenders. Paul reiterates that point in Ephesians 6:12. He teaches us that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against evil powers, principalities, and rulers.
From the time of the Roman empire to the present, Christians and Christianity have come under attack. History recounts story after story where Christians were forced to flee from one country to another. Even today, we increasingly hear of civil liberty violations against Christians. However, Paul wants all of us to understand that some of the attacks we encounter are not what they seem.
Within the world, there is an evil energy at work, whose goal it is to destroy Christ's kingdom. Rather than hate those who attack us, the Christian should hate the evil in the spiritual realm that sponsors that wickedness. As long as Jesus delays His return to earth, the enemy will make attempts to "steal, kill, and destroy." WE, AS CHRISTIANS, MUST LEARN HOW TO LOOK BEYOND THE NATURAL TO THE SPIRIT REALM AND ENGAGE AN EVIL ENEMY IN COMBAT. Unless, we understand this truth, it will be difficult for us to retain the ground we've taken in Jesus' Name. Paul provides us with instructions in Ephesians chapter 6. Jesus furnishes armor for us so that we can "...stand against the wiles of the devil." According to Strong's Lexicon wiles means "lie in wait, cunning arts, deceit, craft, trickery." The implication of this word is that the enemy lies in wait and uses cunning arts and trickery to deceive us, leading us back into bondage. However, protection is available in Jesus. WE ARE NOT DEFENSELESS, BUT HAVE ARMOR AND WEAPONS AT OUR DISPOSAL.
Basically, Paul gives us six pieces of armor and some tactical information with which to engage the enemy. He encourages us to PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD, implying that it is for OUR PROTECTION AND OUR WARFARE. The first piece of armor mentioned is the girdle, which was a belt. From the belt the Roman Soldier hung his sword and attached his breastplate. His major weapon and his major defense, were both attached and dependent on the belt.
Paul instructs us to GIRD OURSELVES WITH TRUTH. As the belt was for the Roman Soldier, so truth is the belt upon which so much depends. DECEPTION IS A CHIEF TOOL OF THE ENEMY and can be produced by SIN, PRIDE, ABSENCE OF ACCOUNTABILITY, REBELLION, and LIES. To stay free, we must sincerely face the truth without denial or dishonesty. To enable us to do that, Jesus furnishes us with a lamp of reality. Hebrews 4:12 says the WORD OF GOD IS THE DISCERNER OF THE THOUGHTS AND INTENTS OF THE HEART.
When we look into the light of the Word, it reveals the unsanctified and unhealed areas in our lives. UNFORTUNATELY, MANY PEOPLE DON'T LIKE WHAT THEY SEE, AND SO THEY BEGIN A DANCE WITH DENIAL WHICH PRODUCES DECEPTION AND FURTHER BONDAGE.
The first piece of armor that must be in place is the belt of truth. Without it the battle is lost before it even begins.
The second piece of armor mentioned by Paul is the breastplate of righteousness. Righteousness is right standing with God. This is a position the Christian does not earn, but receives as a free gift of God through Jesus. His death on the cross paid for our sins. Therefore, through acceptance of Christ through faith, we receive the gift of righteousness. Because we are in right standing with God, our hearts and nature are protected by this breastplate.
The Roman Soldier's breastplate protected his most vital organs, which if injured could produce death. Our righteousness protects us from the spiritual death which the enemy so desires to achieve. The breastplate protects us from Satan's death blows of condemnation and shame before God. Realizing our own failures and sins, we place our confidence in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Therefore, Satan's attempts to discourage or condemn us are foiled. Without the breastplate of righteousness, we don't stand a chance against Satan. Doing battle with the enemy without this piece of armor is foolish.
When we stand in battle array, the breastplate of righteousness is BETWEEN the enemy and us. He recognizes the invulnerability of the breastplate and honors this position of the believer in the kingdom of God. Don't let the enemy try to make you stand in your own righteousness. Also, don't allow him to convince you that Jesus' atoning blood was not shed for YOU. In order to access the incredible power of the blood of Christ, we must take our eyes off how good or bad we are AND place them on Jesus. As we do this, we must believe by faith that Christ did not die for righteous people, BUT FOR SINNERS like us. As we accept His performance on the cross as our righteousness, we are then covered by God and, thereby, protected from the enemy.
Once we have put on the breastplate of righteousness, Ephesians 6:15 then exhorts us to have our feet shod "with the preparation of the gospel of peace." The word "peace" here in the Greek language has several meanings. It can mean a state of harmony between indivuals or peace with God through the blood of Jesus.
The Roman Soldier wore sandals with spikes on the soles. These spikes enabled him to better grip the ground; hence there was less chance that he would lose his footing during battle. A Soldier who loses his footing during battle is an easy target for a skillful swordsman. Peace in the form of reconciliation was first brought to us through the cross. With the gospel of peace, the Christian learns true love, a commodity that was absent until Jesus' time. If our feet are grounded in love, peace will abound. The enemy wants us to slip and fall, knowing that in losing our footing, we become vulnerable.
When peace is absent, divisiveness and discord are present. Too many churches have lost their footing and are attempting to stand against an enemy who has them pinned to the ground. Peace is gone, and internal warfare is raging. The enemy knows we will fail if we attempt to deliver a gospel of love while our feet are shod with turmoil and discord. To effectively stand against the enemy, we must pursue peace and love.
As the feet are the foundation upon which the physical body stands, so peace and love are the foundational principles upon which the Gospel stands. Romans 12:8 says, "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men" (NKJV). As foot Soldiers in the kingdom of God, we need to be certain that our feet are shod with the Gospel of peace and not with unforgiveness, hate and judgment.
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