EPHESIANS 6:11c-e(part 1)
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Eph. 6:11c “. . .of God,. . .”
In any warfare, one must wear proper armor. Preparing to face Goliath, David tested Saul’s armor, but said, “I cannot go with these, for I have not proved them” (1 SM 17:39). Fortunately, we believers have superb armor, tried and true. We are weak, but for our war against evil, “The Lord hath opened his armory, and hath brought forth the weapons of his indignation” (JR 50:25).
Though the Lord does not insulate us and defer us from battle, He does take upon Himself responsibility for equipping us adequately for battle. In earthly armies, a leader flies as it were on the wings of his soldiers. In God’s army, the opposite is true. All strength lies in the leader. We soldiers cannot attack without His arm or defend ourselves without His armor.
Our only hope is to don the armor “of God,” the one of His making. For the conflict, nothing less suffices. Cast away as worthless any other armor we have trusted–our keen intellect, winsome personality, or own ability to figure things out. Eventually these will fail us. Only the armor “of God” is fool-proof.
Vulcan, the god of fire, was the blacksmith and metalworker who forged the armor of the gods, including the scepter of Jupiter and the arrows of Apollo and Diana. The ancients believed their noblest war heroes wore armor made for them by Vulcan. That was fable, but the armor “of God” bestowed on us is reality. He provides ample provision for every type of attack we will ever face.
The armor we wear is not only made by God, but also worn by Him. We serve as enlisted soldiers under a Heavenly Warrior. Isaiah 59:16-17 pictures God as putting on armor. Displeased at injustice, YHWH “put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.”
Being human, we like to conceptualize God in human roles, such as Shepherd, Priest, King, Father, Comforter. Add “Warrior” to this wonderful list. He is the ultimate armor-clad Warrior, who leads us into battle. God does not ask us to fight battles He avoids. When we are in the fray, He is there to rescue. In the context of spiritual warfare, deem God an ever-present, armor-clad Warrior. As you fight, realize God fights, too. See God in His armor, and know that what He, the greatest Warrior, wears, He offers to us for protection.
Eph. 6:11d “. . .that ye may be able. . .”
“May be able” implies the results believers seek are neither easy nor automatic. We must think of ourselves as constantly under attack. The Christian life is no place for cowards, weaklings, wimps, and the fainthearted.
Conversion enlists us into the ultimate warfare of the cosmos. We are saved to fight. Every step of our way is contested. We enjoy no picnic areas on this journey. Our enemy always shoots at us from the hedges, challenging our position. The devil does not want us to possess our possessions, and whenever we try to appropriate what is ours, his opposition rages. As inevitably as a tide swells, when our resolve rises, so does his resistance. Expect hostilities.
Eph. 6:11e (part 1) “. . .to stand. . .”
“Stand,” the key word of this third and final section of Ephesians, is a military term. It is soldier-talk, meaning, “stand firm under attack.” It refers to standing one’s ground, to holding a critical position while under assault.
In a critical moment at Waterloo, all depended on one besieged brigade. Couriers dashed to tell the Duke of Wellington the brigade’s desperate plight. He responded, “Stand firm!” As the brigade’s distress worsened, an officer appealed, but heard again, “Stand firm!” The officer explained, “But we shall perish.” The Duke, knowing the brigade’s critical role, repeated, “Stand firm!” The officer replied, “You will find us there!” Every man in that doomed brigade fell, bravely fighting at his post. They illustrated what it means “to stand.”
To analyze how we Christians are “to stand” in our spiritual warfare, we examine the subject under three pithy, easy to remember, headings–no fright, no flight, only fight. First, “to stand” entails no fright. Being human, we are afraid at times, but believers must never be consumed or overwhelmed by fear.
Satan wants us to panic, to approach our battles from a premise of terrorized defeat. He seeks to accomplish this by dislodging us from appropriating the benefits of our heavenly seat and armor. He wants us to forget about our possessions, to think we are losers drowning and thrashing about, barely able to survive.
Satan, for sure, does not want us to grasp intellectually the full implication of Paul’s directive “to stand.” The command deals not with an assault or a march, but with holding steadfast what is already attained.
“We do not fight for victory; we fight from victory. We do not fight in order to win but because in Christ we have already won” (Nee). In any given situation, victory can be assumed by us if we stay faithful in appropriating the benefits of our heavenly seat and armor. Things may not always turn out the way we plan or desire, but Satan will be thwarted, and God’s purposes achieved.
As believers, our task is simply stated–yield no ground Christ has gained for us. Our heavenly seat and armor are disputed by the devil, but rightfully ours by birthright due to the victory Christ won. No fright, no panic–we will not be deterred from our heavenly seat, or take off our armor. We consciously take advantage of all both have to offer, and leave the results to God.
As we stay focused on our heavenly seat, and keep our armor on, Satan has no chance to defeat us. We remain in this victorious position, refusing to concede defeat to Satan. In the heavenly seat, no fright, Jesus is near. In the panoply of God, no fright, God is nigh. We stay in our seat, keep on our armor, and the result is never in doubt, for God is duty bound to defeat Satan for us.
In practical, measurable ways, how do we exhibit “no fright”? In the throes of a furious fray, how do we prove we believe God has already won the victory? By interspersing praise with our petitions. While we are making requests, also be praising. Even when we see no hope, no opening, no ray of light, we thank God in advance, believing God will yet make a way. This ability to act upon what we cannot see is the essence of faith. We must look not for the victory, but only for the results and indications of God’s prior conquest. We confidently pray, “God, we know you have won. Let us see the evidence.”
If we pray only for victory, we confess we have none. If all we do is beg and plead, we thereby essentially acknowledge defeat and throw away our fundamental position. However, if we pray to see the results of victory already won, and thank God in advance for victory, we exercise true faith, for we cast ourselves fully on Him, trusting Him totally, without wavering.
Should we pray less? No. Should we ask for less? No. Should we intercede less? No. We just need confidence to praise God in advance more often.