Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. — Ephesians 6:11
Perhaps you have seen the brand of potted ham that has a wrapper with a stylized image of the devil; depicting him as a rather cute little man in red, complete with pitchfork, horns, and a tail. Reality could not be further from this characterization. The devil is evil personified — a diabolical being responsible for hate, wars, murder, and ultimately, for souls being lost for all eternity in Hell. He is referred to in Scripture as “the father of lies,” “the evil one,” and “the accuser of the brethren,” and he continually employs various stratagems to drag souls down to perdition.
Sometimes people who are newly saved underestimate how intent the devil is upon destroying their new relationship with God. A dry period comes along, or perhaps a testing time. Satan whispers in their ears that they must have lost it all — and they give up without even a fight. However, God’s plan is for us to “stand” against the wiles of the devil, not to cave in! One of our ministers tells about the step he took following his conversion as a teenager. He knew that God expected him to live victoriously, but he did not know if he would be able to do so. Every day when he got home from school, he marked a big “X” on the calendar, denoting another day of victory. After two weeks, he realized that if God could keep him for two weeks, He could keep him for the rest of his life. Notice, though, that this young man was aware he was in a battle and was serious about overcoming the attempts of the devil to defeat him.
A different spiritual danger can confront those who have been saved many years — that of complacency. It doesn’t pay to become careless! As a teenager, I played baseball. I remember one game where I had made it to second base and was standing near it with a short lead when the second baseman snuck up behind me and tagged me out. You should have heard my teammates jeer at me for my lack of attention!
We must guard against allowing Satan to sneak up behind us and catch us unaware. After having been a Christian for many years, it might be easy to become less watchful for his attempts. That’s dangerous! We must be ever aware of the devil’s wiles, and rely upon the Lord to keep us victorious each day.
Our focus verse points out how to withstand Satan. Since Paul was writing to believers, we can conclude that putting on the armor of God is not a one-time event. Rather, every day we must fasten on our armor before we set out to do battle with the enemy. As we do so, we can be assured of victory!
Christians can stand against the wiles of the devil and live in this present world without sinning. This is a bold claim, and one that is contested by many religious organizations, but it is amply backed up by Scripture and vindicated by the daily experience of countless victorious Christians.
In this passage, Paul instructed the believers at Ephesus regarding how to be victorious against the stratagems of their spiritual enemy. The Apostle acknowledged that the believers were not engaged in a human, physical warfare. Rather, they were grappling “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world” — the demonic influence of Satan and his army of invisible wicked spirits. For this reason, the Ephesians were to avail themselves of what God had provided for their protection: the whole armor of God. They dared not omit any part, for Satan always looks for an unguarded area where he can attack.
Verses 14 through 17 describe the various pieces of the armor.
The girdle of truth: Satan is a liar but the believer who relies upon truth will defeat him. The girdle bound the other parts of the armor together, and truth is the integrating force in the life of a Christian.
The breastplate of righteousness: The breastplate protected vital parts of the body. Righteousness of heart is as necessary to defend Christians from the assaults of Satan as the coat of mail was to preserve the physical heart from the arrows of an enemy.
The shoes of the Gospel: Roman soldiers wore sandals that had hobnails in the soles in order to give them a secure footing. God’s “footwear” provides us with what we need for a firm footing, for sure steps, and for protection. The word preparation indicates readiness — believers were to be prepared to see their duty, prepared to do God’s will, and prepared to proclaim the Gospel of peace.
The shield of faith: The shield in Paul’s day was large, usually about two feet by four feet, and was made of wood covered with tough leather. It was designed to interlock with the shields of adjacent warriors, so an entire line of soldiers could march toward the enemy like a solid wall — a picture of the fact that Christians are not in the battle alone. Though Satan shoots his “fiery darts” of lies, discouragement, and distress, faith will provide protection.
The helmet of salvation: Satan wants to attack the mind and cause doubts regarding God, influence the believer toward evil, or harass with fears and questions. Salvation protects the head and mind from false teachings and gives confidence and boldness in the conflict.
The sword of the Spirit: This is the only weapon of offense in the armament. There are times when believers must take the initiative in the contest against Satan. If weapons of culture, science, or theories of man are used to wage war, those weapons will crumble in the hand and prove worthless, but God has promised to bless His Word. Note that the sword must be unsheathed; a Bible laying unopened will do a Christian no good.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The conduct of the church
F. Conduct in conflict (6:10-20)
1. Exhortation to arms (6:10-13)
2. Description of the arms (6:14-17)
3. Necessity of prayer (6:18-20)
IV. Conclusion (6:21-24)
A. The sending of Tychicus (6:21-22)
B. The salutation (6:23)
C. The benediction (6:24)
No ordinary weapons will do when it comes to fighting the subtle enemy of our souls. We can only expect to prevail against him when we outfit ourselves in the armament provided by God!