Spiritual Warfare and Deliverance Book 4:- Spiritual Warfare: Winning the Daily Battle with Satan, By Dr. Ray C. Stedman
Chapter 5: Armed For Battle
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. Ephesians 6:14-17
BRITISH ADMIRAL LORD DAVID BEATTY commanded a flotilla at the Battle of Jutland during World War 1. As the battle began, British and German ships engaged each other in a long-range artillery battle. It quickly became apparent that there was a major flaw in the British ships. First, a heavy cruiser, the Lion, was hit by an artillery barrage and quickly sunk. Next the Indefatigable was hit in the powder magazine, and was blown to pieces. Then the Queen Mary was sunk, taking a crew of 1,200 sailors straight to the bottom. Watching this destruction among the proud ships of his fleet, Admiral Beatty turned to his bridge officer and said with characteristic British restraint, "There seems to be something wrong with our ships today, Chatfield."
Though the British ships eventually turned back the German fleet, it was later discovered that there was a fatal flaw in the design of the British ships. Though they had heavily armored hulls, their wooden decks offered almost no protection against enemy long-range artillery shells that dropped almost straight down out of the sky. Only after the British began to armor their ships on top as well as on the sides did they stop losing ships to German long-range artillery.
Effective armor is a crucial element of victory in any war including spiritual warfare. If you leave anything unprotected, the enemy will find a way to exploit that chink in your armor and he will destroy you. In Ephesians 6, Paul calls us to "be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power." How do we do this? How do we become strong in the Lord as Paul exhorts us to? By putting on "the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." And note that word full. We cannot merely put on this or that piece of God's armor in some random or incomplete fashion. We cannot leave any part of ourselves uncovered and unprotected. We cannot give our enemy any little opening, or he will exploit that opening to his advantage.
The armor is Christ
After instructing us to "put on the full armor of God," Paul goes on to explain in figurative language how you and I should arm ourselves for the spiritual battle:
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 (Ephesians 6:14-17).
Paul uses figurative symbols to suggest a very substantial reality. The armor he talks about is the way to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. The armor, in short, is nothing more than a symbolic description of the Lord Himself. The armor is Christ and what He is prepared to be and to accomplish in our lives. When Paul speaks of these various pieces of armor, he is speaking of Christ and how we are to regard Him and lay hold of His power as a defense against the strategies of the devil. It is not merely Christ as He is made available to us, but Christ as we have actually appropriated Him for our lives.
In Romans, Paul clearly declares this concept: "Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Romans 13:14). And writing to his son in the faith, Paul tells Timothy, "You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:1). That is our armor. Christ is our defense. So we need to study this armor to learn how to lay hold of Christ in a practical way.
General truth, I have discovered, does not help us very much. It is easy to speak in empty generalities about Christian living. Sometimes we pick a phrase out of Scripture and employ it almost as an incantation or a kind of magic defense. But that is a grossly improper use of the Bible.
It is easy for us to glibly tell some Christian who is struggling through a difficult time, "Christ is the answer!" Well yes, Christ is the answer, but how is He the answer? What does that mean in practical terms? That is what we need to know, and this is what the metaphor of armor describes in Ephesians 6. Jesus Christ is the specific answer a specific defense against specific forms of satanic attack.
Before we look at the armor more precisely, there are . two things we must note which are brought out in this text. First, there are two general divisions or classifications of the pieces of armor, and these are indicated by the tenses of the verbs Paul uses. The first division, covering the first three pieces of armor, is something we have already done in the past if we are Christians. The New International Version of Ephesians 6:14-15 does not bring out the verb tense as well as other versions, such as the 1901 American Standard Version:
Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace...
Note the word having which I have emphasized in this passage. This is something that has already been accomplished for us in the past, not something we need to do in the future. We already have the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness and the gospel of peace!
The second division, found in verses 16 and 17, includes those things which are to be put on or taken up at the present moment:
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.
We are to take up these aspects of Christ the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit again and again, whenever we feel the attack of Satan.
The second thing to note about this armor is the order in which these pieces are given to us by Paul. You cannot alter the. order in any way. For example, the reason many Christians fail to exercise the sword of the Spirit is that they have never first put on the belt of truth. You cannot do it in reverse order; Scripture is very precise on this point.
The belt of truth
Now we want to look at the first three items that constitute the first division of this armor, beginning with the belt of truth. That is always the place to start whenever you are under attack. Whenever you feel discouraged, defeated, or depressed, you begin "with the belt of truth buckled around your waist."
The officers in the Roman army wore short skirts very much like Scottish kilts. Over them they wore a cloak or tunic that was secured at the waist with a belt. When they were about to enter battle, they would tuck the tunic up under the belt so as to leave their legs free and unimpeded for the fight. Belting one's waist (or, as many older translations put it, "girding the loins") was always a symbol of readiness to fight. That is why Paul mentions this item of armor first. You cannot do battle until you have surrounded yourself with the belt of truth.
What does this mean in practical, everyday terms? Simply this: When you are threatened by discouragement, depression, spiritual apathy and coldness, and similar moods, you fight back by remembering that you first became a Christian by surrounding yourself with truth. You remind yourself that in coming to Jesus Christ you found the truth behind all things, you found the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the secret of the universe, the final reality!
You find the truth used in that sense earlier in this same letter: "You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus" (Ephesians 4:2021). Jesus is the truth, He is reality, He is the key to life, "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).
"Well," some would say, "how do you know that? You say you believe in Jesus, but you have accepted him as the authority without any evidence to support it. That's blind faith." But the fact is that everyone begins with an act of faith, accepting some principle or person as the final authority in life. It is either another religious leader or a principle such as the scientific method or perhaps nothing more than "what I feel is right."
The distinctive thing about Christianity is that Jesus Christ has more clearly demonstrated the right to be accepted as that authority than anyone else or any other principle. The Christian, therefore, bets his life, in a sense, that Jesus Christ is the real authority, the true revelation of things as they really are. He has objectively demonstrated it and subjectively confirmed it to you as a Christian.
An informed faith
How did Jesus demonstrate that He was the truth? First, by what He said. Read His words and you will find them astonishing, profound, and incomparable! He gave the most insightful glimpses ever offered to human ears of what human life is all about. Even His enemies said so. No one ever saw life and truth so clearly as Jesus did. No one ever probed so deeply or put His finger so precisely upon the elements that make up human reality. You cannot read the words of Jesus without being confronted with the undeniable fact that He spoke the truth and He was the truth.
But beyond that, Jesus demonstrated the truth by what He did. The New Testament record is an amazing account of mighty deeds and historic events. Miracles? Yes, there are evidences of the intrusion of the spiritual kingdom that invisible realm of reality into the visible ream. And He capped it all, of course, by showing that He had solved the one problem that is unsolvable to every other man the problem of death. He rose from the dead! Who else has ever done anything like that? That is why I know Jesus Christ is the truth because He solved the problem of death.
This, by the way, is why the enemies of the Scriptures fight so fiercely to destroy belief in the historical truth of these events. They want us to think it does not matter whether these events were historically true. Of course they are historically true, and of course it greatly matters, for these events demonstrate that Jesus is the truth.
But it is not only by what He said and did that we can know He is the truth. We can know by what He is now, in this present day. What has Jesus been to you? What has He been to others? Look back at your own Christian life and its beginnings. Did He deliver you? Has He set you free? Has He broken any chains in your life? Has He been your friend? Has He brought your life toward greater balance and harmony? Has he brought you a quality of life you could have never known apart from Him? Of all the men who ever lived, only Jesus has solved the problem of life and death.
A marshal in Napoleon's army was once supremely devoted to the French emperor and military leader. After this man was mortally wounded in battle, he was carried to his tent where he underwent his death-struggle. He called out the name of the man he idolized, and Napoleon came to the man's tent. The dying man's hero worship was so great that he pleaded with Napoleon to save his life. The emperor looked helplessly at the man and said, "What do you expect me to do?" The dying marshal could not believe his ears! Certainly, the emperor would not let him die! "Save me, Napoleon! Save me!" the man shrieked as the emperor turned his back and walked out of the tent. Napoleon could not help this man. There was nothing divine about Napoleon he had no power over life and death. Only Jesus does.
Over the centuries, people have called upon other mere mortals for help all to no avail. If you lack courage, what should you do? You could call out, "Abraham Lincoln! Help me!" But it would do no good. Lincoln was a courageous man, but he can't give you courage. If you lack wisdom, what should you do? You could call out, "Solomon! Help me!" But it would do no good. Solomon was a wise man, but he can't help you. If you lack eloquence, you could call out, "William Shakespeare! Help me!" But no help would come.
Yet for twenty centuries, men and women in desperate need have called out, "Lord Jesus Christ! Help me!" And help comes! Deliverance comes! That is how we know that Jesus is the truth.
Remember, all competing and conflicting systems and philosophies must be tested at all points, not at just one. Many philosophies can provide limited help and insight in this or that area. Even Karl Marx, as misguided as he was, had a few kernels of limited and fragmentary truth embedded in his godless diagnosis of human problems. But the presence of occasional partial insights and scattered nuggets of truth does not validate a system of ideas or beliefs. Truth is a complete entity. It is all or nothing. A half-truth is frequently no better than an outright lie and is sometimes even more deceptive than a lie. That is why witnesses in our courts must swear to tell "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" because fragmentary truth produces deception.
Truth is reality. Truth is the sum total of the way things really are. Therefore, truth is the explanation of all things. You know you have found the truth when you find something that is wide enough and deep enough and high enough to encompass all things. That is what Jesus Christ does.
Further, ultimate reality never changes. Another mark of truth is that true truth never requires updating. It never needs to be modernized. If a moral or spiritual principle was true ten thousand years ago, it is still true today. If a principle is true today, it was true a hundred thousand years ago.
A man once visited his old friend, a music teacher, and said to him in that casual way people have these days, "Hey, what's the good news today?" Without saying a word, the old man walked across the room, picked up a hammer, and struck a tuning fork. As the note sounded out through the room, he said, "That is 'A.' It is 'A' today, it was 'A' five thousand years ago and it will be 'A' ten thousand years from now. The soprano upstairs sings off-key, the tenor across the hall flats his high notes, and the piano downstairs is out of tune." He struck the note again and said, "That is 'A,' my friend, and that's the good news for today!"
Jesus Christ is unchanging. He's the same yesterday, today, and forever. That is how you know you have the truth. Remember that, when you feel defeated, when you are under attack, when doubts come flooding into your mind. Remember that you are already encircled by the belt of truth. You have found the One who is the solid, unchanging Rock. The words of the hymn express this well,
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand
All other ground is sinking sand.
The breastplate of righteousness
Now look at the second piece of armor--the breastplate of righteousness. Have you put that on? "Having put on the breastplate of righteousness" --what does that mean in practical terms? The breastplate of righteousness is nothing more nor less than your righteous standing before God through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you already have the breastplate of righteousness on. You can rest secure that your heart and your emotions are perfectly guarded and adequately protected against attack.
Christians, through one circumstance or another, often lack assurance. They feel unworthy before God. They feel they are a failure in the Christian life and that God is certain to reject them, and He is no longer interested in them. As Christians, we are constantly aware of our failures and shortcomings. Growth seems to take place so slowly. The first joy of faith has faded, and people often come to doubt God's presence with them, love for them, or forgiveness of their sin. There is a nagging sense of guilt. Their conscience needles them, making them feel unhappy and miserable. They feel God blames them. This is simply a satanic attack, a crafty and devilish accusation, a lie designed to undermine what God is doing in your life.
How do you answer an attack like this? You answer by remembering that you already wear the breastplate of righteousness. In other words, you do not stand on your own merits--and you never did. You never had anything . worthwhile in yourself to offer to God. You gave all that up when you came to Christ. You quit trying to be good enough to please God. You came to God the Father on the infinite merits of His Son, who died for you. It is not your own miserable, tattered righteousness that covers your heart, but the solid, impenetrable righteousness of Jesus. And His righteousness is durable enough to deflect any of the arrows of Satan's accusations.
Armed for Battle: This is why Paul begins the great eighth chapter of his letter to the Romans with the words, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). No condemnation! You are believing a lie if you believe that God is angry with you and that He rejects you. Remember, you stand on Christ's merits, not your own. Later in the same chapter, Paul asks,
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (Romans 8:33-35).
This does not mean, of course, that we can continue in our sins and God will simply wink at them. If we are sincere in making Jesus the Lord of our lives, then God will see the sins that we are still prone to, and He will say, "This child of Mine has not yet learned all that I intend to teach him or her." When we sin, He deals with us as a Father, in love and patient discipline. Because Jesus covers our sins with His blood, God watches over us as a loving Father, not as an angry judge.
See how the apostle Paul used this breastplate of righteousness when he was feeling the pressure of discouragement and defeat. Have you ever thought of the emotional struggles Paul must have had? Here was a man who was reputedly small of stature, unimpressive in his personal appearance, perhaps even disfigured, according to some evidence in the Scriptures. The last thing he had was a commanding presence.
Paul's background was antiChristian, and he could never get completely away from that. He had been the most hostile, brutal persecutor the church had ever known. After his conversion to Christ, he doubtless encountered families whose loved ones he had put to death. He was often reminded by people that he was not one of the original twelve apostles, and they continually called his apostleship into question. Writing to the Corinthians about these very matters, he says of himself, "For I am the least of the apostles, and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God" (1 Corinthians 15:9).
What grounds for discouragement! How easy it would have been for him to say to himself, "What's the use? Here I am working my fingers to the bone, making tents and trying to preach the gospel to these people, and look at the blessing God has brought them but they don't care! They hurl recriminations back in my face! What's the use? Why even try anymore?"
But that is not what he does. The very next verse says, "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not without effect" (1 Corinthians 15:10). Here we see Paul using the breastplate of righteousness. He says, in effect, "I don't care what I have been. I don't defend what I am. I simply say that, by the grace of God, I am what I am. What I am is what Christ has made me. I'm not standing on my own righteousness I'm standing on His. I am accepted by grace, and my personal situation does not make any difference at all."
So Paul's heart was kept from discouragement. He reminded himself that when he became a Christian he had put on the breastplate of righteousness. He never allowed himself to be discouraged by looking back. He always looked forward, to Christ.
A pair of stout shoes
The third piece of armor is "with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." Shoes are essential to fighting. Imagine a soldier clad in armor from head to foot but with no shoes a barefoot soldier! Imagine how quickly the rough ground would tear and bruise his feet. Despite the fact that he had all the other equipment he needed, he would soon be out of action. His naked feet would render him unfit to fight. But with a pair of stout shoes, plus the rest of his armor, a soldier is ready for anything.
When Paul writes "with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace," he is talking about a peace in the heart that makes you able to fight. Does that sound contradictory a peace that readies us for war? Not at all! The best soldier is one who is at peace with his mission, who believes he fights in a just cause, who has trust in his commanders, who knows that he is well-equipped, and who believes that victory is assured. That is precisely the peace we have as we prepare to go to war against our enemy! Christ is our peace, our source of assurance and confidence as we face the battle. He is our serenity amid the raging storm of spiritual warfare.
Now notice how all three of these pieces of armor relate to one another and notice, also, the importance of the order in which they are listed. The first piece tells us that Christ is the truth, the ultimate secret of reality. We have come home; we have touched the key to life in Jesus Christ. That is something for the mind to understand and grasp and believe.
And then what? Well, then we know Christ. We stand on His merits. We put on the breastplate of his righteousness. We come on the basis of what He has done and not what we ourselves can do. And what is the result of that? Our hearts are at peace! Paul says, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). We have serenity and courage two qualities that are best summed up in a single word: morale. As believers, our morale is high. We are ready for anything. No ground can be too rough for Christ. Where He leads we will follow without hesitation even if He leads us to storm the very gates of hell itself!
In the dark days of England during the blitz, while bombs rained down on London and Coventry, the situation was truly desperate. Then Winston Churchill would come on the radio and speak to the English people when their hearts were filled with defeat and discouragement. At times they would be almost ready to quit. But that one man's voice would ring out and the nation would take heart again. The morale of an entire people would be elevated and strengthened. That is what Christ does. He speaks courage and peace to our hearts.
You see, it is not a battle against people at all, is it? It is an inner fight, a battle in the realm of the thought life and attitudes. It is a battle in the realm of your outlook on the situation in which you find yourself. This is the place to start. Remember that you wear the belt of truth. Jesus Himself is the Truth, the One worth listening to. Believe Him, Christian friend, believe and trust Him! If you are a Christian at all, if you have accepted Christ as the one who explains life and solves death, then believe what He says. Act on it. That is the belt of truth.
The breastplate of righteousness protects the emotions. You do not need to be discouraged. Of course you have failed in the past. I fail, you fail, Paul failed, we all fail. The One who has come in the flesh understands all this. He knows we are going to fail, and He knows we are going to struggle. He knows it will be an up-and-down experience and a time of battles and skirmishes and he knows we will lose some of those conflicts. But He says, "I have taken care of all that. You do not have to stand on your merits. You stand on mine. Do not be discouraged, do not be defeated, we will win! I know what I am doing, I know how to lead you, I know what circumstances you face and I will bring you safely through them."
The third requisite is to have your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. So remember who you are and to whom you belong. Remember, you belong to Christ's family. The Scriptures say that He is not ashamed to call us brothers. God is not ashamed to be called our Father. Be strong in His strength and for His sake.
By having these three pieces of armor on, the battle is almost won. You will be properly equipped for overcoming evil if you start with this first division of armor.
Father, make these words clear, plain, practical, and helpful to me. May they meet me right where I am and help me right in the conflict in which I am engaged. May my heart be lifted up by the awareness that the One who is in me is adequate for all things even the challenge of spiritual warfare. Remind me of the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the shoes of Your readiness through the gospel of peace. Thank You that I am already well-defended and ready for battle! In the name of Jesus, the One who has armed me, and who defends my heart with His righteousness, amen.