Ephesians 6: A Study on Spiritual Warfare
May 19, 2014 By Jack Wellman
Ephesians chapter 6 equips the believer for the spiritual warfare that will come to every believer. What are the applications for believers in Christ Jesus?
Satan is said to be “the god of this world” who has blinded those who cannot see the gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:4) and he can appear as a minister of righteousness (2 Cor 11:4) and so believers must expect and be ready for the wicked spirits that are ready to war against those who are Christ’s. The Devil doesn’t need to attack those who are lost because they are headed for destruction and they are already on the broad path that leads there and many, not a few, are going down that path (Matt 7:13-14). Paul himself had been given a thorn in the flesh from the Enemy (2 Cor 12:7-10) so he knew what he was talking about when he wrote Ephesians chapter six. Let’s see what Paul taught about the spiritual warfare that every believer would experience and how to fight off the attack of the Enemy.
Ephesians 6:10-11 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”
Paul tells us that we can only be strong in the Lord and to be strong in the Lord is to be in the Word frequently. The Word of God has power and this power is unleashed in our lives when we are feeding daily in the Word of God, the Bible. From my experience in counseling those who experience the most defeat against spiritual attacks I have discovered that their daily Bible reading and their daily prayer life is totally inadequate or severely lacking. If you want the Word of God to abide in you then you must abide in the Word of God. To “be able to stand against the schemes of the Devil” you must stand on the firm foundation of His Word. To get into the Bible means the Bible will get into you…if you read stay in the Bible the Bible will stay in you. There is real power in God’s Word so why not use this “armor?”
Ephesians 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
You and I are no match for the powerful spirit being, Satan and his demons because it’s not like wrestling with flesh and blood which we can see and use our own strength against. We cannot take on these rulers, these authorities, and these “cosmic powers” which are in the “heavenly places.” These might be wicked spirits that have infiltrated and taken over those in authority in the world. Is there any doubt that God is not running this nation? Does it seem that the wicked prosper more and more and what is good is now called evil and what used to be called evil is now called good? That is because the real god of this world has blinded the world (2 Cor 4:4).
Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”
This is the second time Paul has told us to “take up the whole armor of God” because having only a shield is not enough, having just a sword may cause defeat, and carrying only a breastplate will not protect us from these cosmic powers of evil. We need the full armor, all of it, to “be able to withstand the evil day” and enable us to “stand firm” and not fall.
Ephesians 6:14a “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth…”
The belt for the Roman soldier kept his sword in place, and he was able to tuck in his robe or coat into it so that he was better able to defend and defeat the enemy and be swift on foot and to stand firm. The belt of truth is the truth of God and that truth is found by abiding in the Word of God and by fastening onto this truth we can better stand against the wiles of the Devil.
Ephesians 6:14b “and having put on the breastplate of righteousness.”
If a believer is living in sin or unconfessed sin then they have lost their fellowship with the Father because God cannot dwell with those who are living in sin, even if they are His own children. This doesn’t mean that they have lost their relationship because they are still a child of God. Even a child that is unrepentant and disobedient will lose their ability to come and ask their earthly father for help because their earthly father will first demand that they stop living in disobedience and confess it and ask for forgiveness…only then is that fellowship of the child and the father restored. Then, the father is glad to help the child who is in need of his help. This “breastplate of righteousness” is the protection of the vital organs of doing what is right because God desires obedience over sacrifice.
Ephesians 6:15 “and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.”
It’s impossible to stand firm if you don’t have shoes on and in a war, a Roman soldier was in danger of not being able to withstand the enemy. Our ability to stand firm depends upon our “having put on the readiness given by the gospel.” Jesus was ready for Satan in the temptation in the Wilderness. Jesus was able to defeat the Enemy and rebuked him with the Word of God. This “gospel of peace” is like army boots that gives the believer the firm foundation that they know they have peace with God (Rom 5:1) and can firmly stand on the promises of God.
Ephesians 6:16 “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.”
Some of the ancient shields were either soaked in water or in non-flammable oil. The water could be said to represent the Word of God (Eph 5:26) and the Oil as representing the Holy Spirit of God. These two powers; the Word of God and the Spirit of God can help us to “extinguish the flaming darts of the evil one” (Satan and His dominions). Flaming darts were used in ancient times as a way of igniting the shields which were often made of wood so the shield of our faith (in Christ) along with the shield of our faith being dipped in the Word of God (as we are daily in His Word) and being in constant prayer through the Spirit can help us extinguish (put out) these darts shot our way by the Enemy. By leaving one of these out; the Word, the Spirit or Christ in our lives, we make ourselves vulnerable.
Ephesians 6:17 “and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
There are three things here. One is the helmet of our salvation which fits over the head and this is the head knowledge of the assurance of our names being written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; 21:27). We need to keep this uppermost in our minds to know that we are secure in Christ’s and the Father’s hands (John 10:28-29). Keep these things in the intellect of your mind (seen as the helmet of our salvation). The “sword of the Spirit” is of course the Word of God (Heb 4:12) which Paul even defines for us. You must keep this helmet on and keeping this “sword” in your hand (by reading the Bible frequently) will fill ensure your helmet will protect you with the knowledge of your salvation.
Ephesians 6:18 “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”
Praying “in the Spirit” is in the Holy Spirit since He can help us to know what to pray for even when we don’t (Rom 8:26) in all supplications (like for personal needs, for spiritual strength, for church leaders, and for the gospel to be proclaimed in all boldness). Paul concludes this section with “to that end keep alert with all perseverance” because a sleeping soldier is at risk because the Enemy is like “a lion roaming about seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet 5:8).
If you are not born again, then you don’t even have access to the armor of God. Repent today, confess your sins, see yourself as a sinner that needs to be saved, and trust in Christ to save you (Rom 10:9-13) because there is no other way you can avoid the Enemy of your soul except by trusting in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).