There’s no question that Satan is a tough adversary. He is stronger and more intelligent than any human being. He has an untold number of demonic agents operating on his behalf. He is a master of deception and his desire is to steal from, kill, and destroy God’s people (see John 10:10). Not only that, but 1 John 5:19 says, “…the whole world is under the control of the wicked one.”
We need some pretty serious help to overcome those odds and stand against such a powerful opponent. Fortunately for us, God has provided it.
Important Things To Remember
Let’s first establish the fact that no being is more powerful than God. Satan is not God’s equal and though Satan’s power is great, it is not unlimited. Satan can only operate within certain restrictions which are established by God Himself (see Job 1:12 for an example).
These restrictions mean that Satan is on a leash, so to speak. Now Satan’s leash may be long but let’s face it- a leash is still a leash. This means that Satan goes only where he can and not necessarily where he wants to.
Secondly, we should always remember that Jesus Christ is on our side. For example, Romans 8:34 tells us that Jesus is at God’s side on our behalf right now. John 17:15 also tells us that Jesus’ prayer for his disciples was to keep them safe from Satan’s power. And 2 Thessalonians 3:3 reminds us that “…the Lord is faithful; he will make you strong and guard you from satanic attacks of every kind.” As a Christian, you can’t get better help than that.
When it comes to dealing with our spiritual enemy, God has also given us some important information in the book of Ephesians. In Ephesians chapter 6, we find a basic rule for dealing with our spiritual adversary: “…be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10). This means that we should always remember that God is for us and not against us and that His power to work in our lives is greater than anything that Satan can put together.
In sports, it’s often helpful to know all you can about an opposing team. Knowing your opponent can really improve the chances of success on the field or on the court. In the same way, a good military strategist seeks to determine the strength of the enemy forces before planning a defense or mounting an offensive attack. The same is also true when dealing with our spiritual opponent. In Ephesians 6:12, we find out exactly who our opponents are and what we are up against…
Our spiritual enemies are the unseen army of spiritual beings that Ephesians 6:12 refers to as the “spiritual forces of evil.” These dark spiritual forces are represented by Satan and his demons. As we saw in earlier studies, Satan and his host of demonic followers seek to rule over God’s creation or destroy those whom they cannot persuade to follow them. Now this is not just some spooky story or video game hype. Whether we accept it or not, all of us are involved in this spiritual struggle -and many people will be spiritually hurt because they were not prepared to meet the forces of the enemy.
The Christian’s Defense
Thankfully, God has provided the tools necessary for our defense against these spiritual enemies. This “spiritual armor” is described in Ephesians 6:13-17…
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (NIV).
We can illustrate this spiritual armor by looking at the physical armor that was worn by a soldier serving in the first century Roman army, the most powerful fighting force of Biblical times:
- “…the belt of truth.” This refers to a belt typically worn by a Roman soldier. A soldier’s belt attached the rest of his equipment securely and allowed him freedom of movement. “Putting on the belt of truth” means that Jesus (who is the “the truth” [John 14:6]) should surround the center of your spiritual being much like a belt surrounds the center of your physical being.
- “…the breastplate of righteousness.” The breastplate was worn over a soldier’s chest and protected the heart, lungs and other important internal organs. To be “righteous” means that we have a right standing with God through Christ (see Philippians 3:9). The actions of a righteous life offers it’s own protection from the attacks of the enemy, much like a breastplate protects a soldier. People who live unrighteous lives lack this “breastplate of righteousness” which can often result in spiritual (and perhaps even physical) harm.
- “…your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” Have you ever tried to walk across rough terrain without shoes? It’s not easy, is it? In work or athletics, a good pair of footwear is essential to success. In our spiritual lives, the gospel (the “good news” that Jesus died for us) is just as essential as a good pair of footwear- it provides the basic foundation that enables us to do everything else.
- “…the shield of faith.” A Roman soldier carried a large, semi-rectangular shield that protected his body during battle. This shield was a defensive piece of equipment that allowed the soldier to defend himself until he could mount an offensive attack.Ephesians 6:16 specifically tells us that this spiritual shield of faith stops the fiery arrows of our enemy. A flaming arrow was dangerous to a Roman soldier because it could embed itself within his shield and set it on fire. The soldier would then have to throw his shield away during battle which left him almost defenseless against the enemy. Fortunately, the “shield of faith” not only protects believers against these spiritual flaming arrows, it actually puts them out.
- “…the helmet of salvation.” In work, athletics, or warfare, a helmet is often the most critical piece of equipment. A helmet’s function is totally protective- it safeguards someone’s ability to think and function. Salvation provides protection for believers because Christians have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). This offers protection against those thoughts that the enemy might introduce to harm us.
- “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” A sword is an offensive weapon that can also be used defensively. A Roman soldier carried a 9-inch (23 cm) dagger along with a 2-foot long (61 cm) sword. Both weapons could be used against opponents and the dagger also served as a useful tool for various jobs.Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the word of God “…is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” In fact, Jesus Himself showed how valuable a weapon this spiritual sword is by using it against Satan when Satan tried to tempt Him (see Matthew 4:3-11 for the whole story).
We “put on” this spiritual armor when our lives are identified by it’s individual parts- truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and familiarity with the Word of God. This is not something that we do once- we “put on” this spiritual armor every day through prayer and spending time in God’s Word.
Remember that Jesus promised that all the powers of hell would not prevail against His church (Matthew 16:18) and those wearing the spiritual armor that God has provided can do some powerful things for God. In addition, the Bible talks about the kind of attitudes that should identify Christians. Taking on these attitudes will help protect us from attacks by our spiritual adversaries…
- Be forgiving: “A further reason for forgiveness is to keep from being outsmarted by Satan, for we know what he is trying to do” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
- Be humble: “So give yourselves humbly to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
- Be self-controlled: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
- Be peaceful: “If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry– get over it quickly; for when you are angry, you give a mighty foothold to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27).
Finally, don’t forget the words of Romans 8:37-39…