Get ready to fight the spiritual battle

Get ready to fight the spiritual battle

Chap 1-3 deals with doctrine about church; 4:1-6:9 deals with walking or acting. Here at the end of the epistle, Paul urges us to “put on the whole armour of God” (6:11) and fight the spiritual battle. Obviously, Paul uses the concept of a soldier to interpret his important message of fighting the spiritual battle in 6:10-20. This concept is also used in II Tim 2:1-4 when he encourages his spiritual son Timothy to be strong in the Lord and to commit himself to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ: “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth (凡在軍中當兵的) entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” Christ is the commander of the army. What He demands from us is the loyalty of a soldier in the army.

The first part of the message (6:10-13) talks about the nature of the spiritual battle, which is distinguished from the physical battle. The second part of the message (6:14-20) talks about how to fight the spiritual battle.

Spiritual battle

Not only are we living in the days of worldly battle nowadays, Christians are indeed living in the days of spiritual battle every day. We may not worry about the outbreak of the third World War at present, but we must not ignore the fact that we are currently involved in the spiritual warfare. If we do not sense that we are in the spiritual warfare every day, perhaps we have already become the captives of Satan’s Army. Do you know that the moment we proclaim our belief in Jesus Christ, we are already enrolled in the Army of God? As a soldier in God’s army, we ought to be well trained and stay alert to fight the battle in the spiritual battlefield.

Imagine you are sent to Iraq as a soldier of the peace-keeping force, you are sure to face the danger of being attacked by the terrorists anytime at day or night. The terrorists may use any scheme to kill you, including the popular self-bombing suicide technique. They claim that they are fighting the holy war for their Allah God. How do you prepare yourself for such a horrible and unattended terrorist attack?

In Ephe 6:14-20, Paul offers us a series of ‘soldier training’ guide on how to be a well-equipped soldier and how to combat the battle in the Holy War of God.

(Soldier training guide / weapons to carry)

#1 Prevent from accepting false doctrines (6:14a)

#2 Produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit (6:14b)

#3 Preach the gospel of peace (6:15)

  • Pursue peace in family, church and society
  • Pursue peace in our own self
  • Pursue peace in gospel sharing

#4 Protect yourself with faith (6:16)

#5 Preserve the promise of salvation (6:17a)

#6 Prepare yourself with God’s word (6:17b)

#7 Pray with the power of the Holy Spirit (6:18-20)

  • Pray with perseverance/persistence

  • Pray for the needs of church people

  • Pray for the needs of church pastors and preachers

In Ephe 6:10-12 says,

6:10 "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

Here in 6:10, Paul tells us to be strong in the Lord as he does with Timothy: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” To fight the spiritual battle, we must be spiritually strong. To be spiritually strong, we must be strong “in the Lord” and fight the battle by the Lord’s might and power, not by our own might.

Power of God vs Power of Satan

In Ephe 6:12 Paul says we are not fighting a physical war like what the soldiers of the countries in the world are doing. We are fighting against the spiritual powers behind the physical world. So we cannot use the physical body or weapons to fight the spiritual war.

In the spiritual world, there exists the power of God and the power of Satan.

Power of Satan

I John 5:19 reads, “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” (NRSV, ‘We know that we are God's children, and that the whole world lies under the power of the evil one.’) In Ephe 2:2, Paul describes Satan as “the prince of the power of the air”. In John 16:11, Jesus names him as “the prince of this world”. In this epistle, Paul says in Ephe 2:2-3, “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” 

Don’t you know that the whole world is subject to the control of the prince of the evil kingdom of Satan? All the people in this world are classified into two categories: children of obedience and children of disobedience. Although there are more than a hundred nations in the world, in God’s eyes there are only two kingdoms: the Kingdom of Christ and God (Ephe 5:5) vs the kingdom of Satan. We are either the children of God or the children of Satan. In Paul’s words, those who belong to the Satan’s kingdom are called the children of disobedience (Ephe 2:2) or the children of wrath (Ephe 2:3). The reason why they are called “the children of wrath” is because God’s wrath is going to come upon the children of disobedience (Ephe 5:6). Are you on God’s side or on Satan’s side?

Power of God

In order to combat the power of Satan, we must first understand how mighty God’s power is and believe without doubt that God’s power is strong enough to overcome any form of Satanic power. As we have discussed in Ephe 1:19-22, Paul says of God’s mighty power in such manner: God’s power has raised the Lord Jesus and put him above all powers throughout the centuries.

Next, we must learn to exercise God’s power by putting on the armour of God and getting ready to fight the spiritual battle.

Put on the armour of God—be prepared to stand against the enemies

6:11 "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."

6:13 "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."

6:14a "Stand therefore," 

In the spiritual world, we have two great enemies to overcome:

The external enemy--the prince of the air or Satan

6:12 "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

What’s important for us to know here is the kind of sensitivity we have in our minds toward our enemy. This is not a struggle with our arms and feet like the street police. It is a struggle of our minds and spirits. If we do not have such sense, we do not realize how dangerous our situation is in the battlefield.

The internal enemy--your “old person” or “old man”

In Ephe 4:22-24, Paul urges us to put off the old man and put on the new man: “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” When talking of old man and new man, Paul is referring to our outer person and the inner person. In reality, Paul is talking about walking by flesh or by spirit. The outer person walks by the desire of our fleshly body whereas the inner person walks by the will of the Holy Spirit.

Notice the word ‘stand’ in 6:11-14. It is used for 3 times here, calling us to stand firm and not fall into Satan’s evil scheme. In I Peter 5:8, Peter warns us to be careful with the devil: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Many who are the children of disobedience, who do not listen to God’s warning messages in the Bible, have already been swallowed by the devil. They are disobedient to God because they walk by the old man and do as they wish. Make sure you do not become the lion’s prey. How? In Ephe 3:16, Paul teaches us to exercise God’s mighty power to strengthen our inner man: “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.” By putting on the armour of God, our inner man is strengthened.

A soldier must be equipped with army gear and weapons before he enters the battlefield. Paul uses some of the protective gear (helmet, breastplate, shield) and weapons (sword) to equip a believer to correspond with key elements of our Christian faith such as salvation, righteousness, faith and the word of God. These are the weapons of God that we should carry with us around the clock in order to prepare for sudden assault.

The moment we are called by God to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ, we are supposed to get ready to fight the spiritual warfare. All the believers have to join God’s Army to fight. Once you become a believer, God will not ask you whether you like to join the army or not. He only asks you whether you are ready to fight the enemies or not. If you are not ready, you will end up becoming Satan’s captive and waiting to be rescued. But then you will be unproductive to the army. For you to be ready, you have to put on the full armour of God and carry the seven weapons as listed in the 'soldier training guide' at the same time and all the time.