Dressed for Battle
To Win a War You Must Know You're in One
The Savior never told us that the Christian life would be easy. In fact, Jesus warned us of the opposite when He said, ”In this world you have tribulation” (John 16:33).The history of the church—and the evidence of our own lives—shows this word to be true.
Every morning when you and I wake up, we are at war. Many believers simply fail to take this reality seriously. When we talk about spiritual warfare, however, we must remember that each day, we live in the midst of a real, personal battle that we must fight.
Failure to recognize this vital truth results in painful defeat time and again. Dedicated Christians feel confused and downtrodden because they don’t understand why they continue to experience failures in their spiritual lives. Just when they think they have something conquered, it rises back up to defeat them.
One of the primary reasons believers are defeated is because the Enemy catches them completely unaware. These Christians are simply going about their days with no thought to the war being waged in their own lives. At the same time, they may develop a rather callous attitude toward the Word of God. They might cry, “God, if this Book is everything You say it is, and if the gospel is as powerful as You have promised, then why isn’t it working in my life?”
The problem is not that the Word is lacking in power, but rather that we often fail to recognize the intense spiritual battle taking place around us. We are at war, and it is a fight for our lives—not our physical lives, but our spiritual lives. The only way for us to survive this conflict is to prepare for the fight.
Recognizing Our Enemy
In Ephesians 6:10-18, the apostle Paul instructs us to get ready by putting on “the full armor of God.” In thinking about how to prepare, we must first begin with an understanding of who it is we are fighting. Paul makes the foe’s identity perfectly clear in Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Here, Paul is saying that our enemy is the Devil and all of his wicked angels—his entire demonic host—that work against us every day.
What does Satan want? His objective is to get us to doubt scriptural truth. He wants us to be distracted by worldly pursuits rather than focus on the things of God. He desires to accomplish these objectives and anything else that will disable our witness and service to the Lord. If we get to that point of spiritual disability, we become useless, defeated soldiers of the kingdom.
Next, we must recognize the situation. Many well-meaning Christians hear the word “warfare” and object, saying, “This whole idea of weapons and warfare just seems so ungodly. I believe in peace, and so I don’t think the Bible is really talking about combat.”
Realizing that we are called to be peacemakers (James 3:18), let us take an honest look at what Scripture says about spiritual warfare. Writing to his apprentice Timothy, Paul declares that they are, in fact, “soldiers of Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:3-4). Also, in 2 Corinthians 10:4, the apostle refers to the “weapons of our warfare” in the midst of a spiritual battle.
Certainly, Paul was familiar with the language of war. As a Roman citizen of the first century AD, he would have witnessed a great deal of military activity. Moreover, he himself was often victim to the whim of the Roman authorities. We must trust that through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul was very careful about the words he used in describing our spiritual condition. When he chose terms like “warfare,” “weapons,” and “soldier,” there can be no doubt that he understood us all to be in the middle of a great war—not of the flesh, but of the spirit.
Finally, we must be properly attired for battle. Think about how you dress in the morning. We all choose an outfit according to what the day may hold. If I’m going to church on Sunday, I’ll put on a suit and tie. If I’m going fishing, I’ll put on some dirty old pants and a shirt I don’t mind getting wet. If I’m going to photograph a snow-covered mountain, I’ll put on a warm jacket with pockets for camera accessories. And, if I’m going to battle, I will absolutely have to put on my armor.
Putting on the Armor
When Paul says in Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God,” he means exactly what he says—we are to put on every piece of that gear intentionally, meticulously, and consistently. When we step onto the battlefield unprotected, we make an easy target for the Enemy’s attack.
Therefore, let’s look at each piece named in Ephesians 6:13-17 to see what it does and how we can put it on. I suggest you put on one piece at a time, from top to bottom. This is what I do every morning. I go through each piece of armor and remind myself of its purpose as soon as I get out of bed.
First, imagine a beautiful helmet, and picture yourself slipping it over your head, saying, “Lord, I choose to put on the helmet of salvation today in order to protect my mind. I want to think only Your thoughts, Lord. I want to thank You that when Satan sends one of his thoughts my way, this helmet of salvation will protect my thinking.” We must remember that the battle begins in our minds; this is Satan’s combat zone. The conflict may slip into our emotions and actions later, but it always begins with our thoughts. Therefore, our thought life must be protected from assault at all times.
Second, picture an immense piece of body armor, and say, “Lord, I choose to put on the breastplate of righteousness to guard my emotions. I want to feel only what You feel. Don’t let me react out of my emotions. Rather, let me respond based on the truth I know in my mind.” This is important because too many people are led through life by their fear, anxiety, temptation, or other negative influences. If you allow your feelings to carry you wherever they lead, you will be utterly defeated in your Christian life.
Third, strap on the belt of truth, and say, “Lord, I choose to fasten on truth so I can stay centered on Your Word. I want to live in the truth, walk in the truth, and testify to the truth.” When we are intimately acquainted with the Bible, Satan’s lies cannot deceive us. False teaching drops away as we take all that we hear and filter it through Scripture.
Fourth, consider your feet, and pray, “Lord, I choose to put on the sandals of peace. Wherever I go today, I want to be a peacemaker. I want my footprints to be evidence of the tranquility I carry in the Holy Spirit.” Roman soldiers’ sandals had long spikes embedded in the soles to enable them to plant their feet firmly in the ground. Similarly, with the sandals of peace, we can boldly anchor our feet in the bedrock of Jesus Christ.
Fifth, imagine that giant, door-sized Roman shield, and say, “Lord, I choose to take up the shield of faith. I want to thank You that, no matter how many fiery arrows the Enemy hurls at me today, no matter how many trials or temptations may come, I can stand safely behind the massive protection of faith.” Remember, faith is a mighty force that makes the difference between success and failure, between victory and bitter defeat.
Finally, wrap your fingers around the Word, and say, “Lord, I choose to lift high the sword of the Spirit, Your holy Word. Father, thank You for this spiritual weapon that cuts so deeply to bring about conviction and repentance.” Scripture—our only weapon—is both defensive and offensive. It enables us to deflect the blows of the Enemy, and it pierces the hearts of sinful man. Success in battle depends upon taking up God’s Word and mastering its use.
Wrapped in Faith
Now, how do you put on this armor? By faith. Even though you cannot physically see the battle gear, you can trust that God will indeed wrap you completely in His power and His presence as you go out each day into a dark world.
The danger we must avoid is the notion that we can choose which pieces of armor we need for each day. Would a soldier ever go into battle half dressed? Of course not! He knows every single item is vital to his survival. Likewise, if any piece is missing as we step onto our spiritual battlefield, Satan will surely attack that weak, unprotected area. This is why Paul specifically commands us to put on the full armor of God.
Sadly, the armor of God is a spiritual truth that far too many Christians take for granted—or simply do not take seriously at all. I challenge you, then, to be intentional about dressing for the spiritual battles you will face every day. The Lord has provided equipment for us; all we must do is put it on.
You are heading into warfare today. Are you dressed for it?
For more on the armor of God, listen to “The Believer’s Warfare” October 21–30 on In Touch Radio. Visit www.intouch.org for station listings.
Defend yourself with God’s armor. Learn from Dr. Stanley how to overcome the schemes of the Tempter by dressing for battle and standing your ground.
A Satanic Attack
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