by Rolaant L. McKenzie
Ephesians 6:10-20 (NASB)
The command to "be strong" comes from the
word "endynamoo", and in the context of this passage
it simply means that the believer is to find his strength in the
Lord. To be strong in the Lord, in the strength of His might,
is to believe that He is our strength and that we can rely on
His promises. Followers of Christ are engaged in a fierce struggle
(Ephesians 6:12), but they are not left alone in their feeble
power to face the world, the flesh, and the devil. They have the
assurance that the power of the Lord is with them to provide the
strength they need to persevere through the hour of temptation
and live a life that is pleasing to God.
Paul exhorts believers to put on full armor of God. Believers are to make use of the full range of tools God has made available for spiritual warfare. The different parts of the armor of God each have their function and are essential to successfully resisting the "methodeias" (i.e. devices, schemes, evil stratagems) of the devil.
Satan does not openly appear. He does not
approach believers in an unpleasing form, but comes presenting
to them a plausible-sounding teaching or doctrine, or some temptation
that is not repulsive. He makes the temptation appear alluring
and harmless, seeking to lead the believer into indulgence until
he has gone too far to turn back.
The believer must always remember that the struggle against evil is ultimately not physical, but spiritual in nature. Paul here does not intend to convey the idea that believers do not have human enemies who actively oppose them, or that they do not have their own sinful flesh with which to contend. He points out that the real battle is with the invisible spirits of wickedness that seek the destruction of the believer.
These evil spirits, fallen angels, are organized
into ranks and orders of power. In Ephesians 1:21, the same terms
are applied to the different ranks of holy angels. Under their
leader, Satan, they exert a pall of darkness over the world that
keeps men ignorant, wretched, and dead in sin.
Believers are to put on the battle gear
the Lord has provided so that, in the day of temptation, they
will be able to resist the violent assaults of the evil one. Equipped
with the armor of God, they are to resist unto victory, and after
the enemy has been defeated, to stand firm.
Truth, or sincerity, is the girdle. It is the point of conjunction for all the other pieces of the armor. Without truth the other essential characteristics of the armor cannot remain in place and be effective. Truth can be defined as the agreement of the believer's convictions with God's revelation.
The function of the breastplate was to provide
protection for the vital organs of the body, especially the heart.
The righteousness of Christ, imputed to us by faith, is a breastplate
against the fiery arrows hurled by Satan at the saints.
Acceptance of the gospel brings believers
into a state peace with God. This peace experienced by the believer
provides firm footing in the fight against the enemy.
The shield was an essential piece of equipment
in that it protected the body from blows and arrows. The soldier
was secure as long as he had his shield to protect him. Likewise,
the believer is safe as long as he has faith. It comes to his
aid in every attack of the enemy. The "flaming arrows" of the
evil one include temptations to do wrong, unbelief, sinful thoughts,
etc. They often come unexpectedly and furiously. They torment
the soul if they find their mark. The only defense against these
Satanic attacks is the "shield of faith", which is having confidence
in God and His gracious promises and aid. It is depending on His
power (not one's own). With this faith in God the believer is
defenseless against attack.
The assurance of salvation is a valuable defense against the sharp blows of doubt of the enemy. This "helmet" protects the believer's mind and thoughts.
Jesus met the temptations of the devil in
the wilderness with the word of God. It is only by being armed
with the truth that Satan's lies can be effectively countered.
How can the believer be armed with the sword of the word of God?
1) He must study the Bible to know what the truth is, 2) he should
memorize Scripture so that he may recall them when various forms
of temptation come, and 3) he should never depend on his own reason
or wisdom. A single passage of Scripture is better to meet a temptation
than all the philosophy or reason in the world. Satan can bring
to bear very persuasive reasons for giving in to his temptations,
but he cannot resist the word of God. Temptation often assails
the believer without warning and quite suddenly, but a text of
Scripture is sufficient to drive the devil away.
Paul brings his letter to a conclusion with
an exhortation to prayer. Prayer is the capstone of the believer's
armor. Prayer should be said on all occasions by the Holy Spirit's
power; it should be the unceasing activity of the believer since
all followers of Christ are targets of the devil's attacks.
Paul sought the prayers of the saints at Ephesus. But though he was languishing in a Roman prison and enduring fiery trials, he did not desire prayers in behalf of his life or comfort, but for the gospel's sake, that though a prisoner he may still speak boldly and effectively "the mystery of the gospel."