Our intelligence of Satan permits us to set up defenses. Ephesians 6:10–17 describes this defense, with the reasons for each part of our “armor.” Before we put on the armor we must be strong in the Lord’s strength and power (v. 10). Verses 11–13 put the emphasis upon the whole of the armor, and 14–18 speak of the separate parts of the armor and their uses.
Our combatants are not flesh and blood but “principalities,” “powers,” “rulers of the darkness of this world,” “spiritual wickedness in high places” (v. 12), and they are masterminded by the devil himself (v. 11). Like any wise general, Satan will not attack a strong point if weak points are available for a breakthrough. He is a good strategist. We need not fear his strength so much as his “wiles” (v. 11). The Scripture tells us twice to put on the whole armor of God so there will be no weak points.
A wall around a city may be strictly defensive, but armor by definition is not. Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary says of armor: “that conceived of as an offensive or defensive weapon.” A soldier does not cover himself with armor because he intends to read a good book in front of his fireplace. He is going off to battle. He has every intention of going into harm’s way. He is looking for and expecting a fight. Sun Tzu said, “The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy” [Sun Tzu, The Art of War, ed. Thomas R. Phillips, trans. Lionel Giles (Harrisburg: The Military Service Publ. Co., 1949), Chapter IV].
The Christian warrior who obeys Ephesians 6 has done just this. This soldier employs the various parts of the armor to put himself beyond the possibility of defeat. He surrounds himself with truth, he puts on the breast plate of righteousness, he takes the shield of faith, and he dons his helmet of salvation. Then with the power of the Lord, the preparation of the gospel of peace, and the sword of the Spirit, he defeats the enemy.
The Coalition forces were very well protected in the war with Iraq. Each soldier had a gas mask and effective protective clothing. We Christians have been issued protective clothing, but we do not put it on. We are hurt and harmed by weapons that should bounce off or be quenched by our defensive clothing. Not only are we walking wounded, but we think that this is normal and wonder about Christians who are under attack and not wounded. But it is not normal to go into battle half naked. It is not normal to be wounded all the time.
If the great objective assigned to us by Jesus Christ is to “preach the gospel to every creature,” then the smallest whole number of that objective is one single person. Each individual, like the rest of his fellows, is an enemy of God in his mind by wicked works (Col. 1:21). We are surrounded by these enemies. We read their literature, hear their conversation, and participate in their community. In effect, the prince of this world and his servants are taking the offensive against the saints continually.
(To be continued on Friday…)
*Excerpted from Principles of War. To purchase, visit ccmbooks.org/bookstore.