Spiritual warfare is not an option. If we do not fight the devil with spiritual weapons we will live a defeated life. We will constantly be in a state of discouragement, bitterness and unhappiness.
Ephesians 6:10-20, which explains spiritual weapons, is one of the most practical passages in the Bible. It is worth memorizing and appling in every situation:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:10-18
• BE STRONG
“Finally be strong…” We are commanded to be strong. Even a child can be strong spiritually: “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4 Little children are naturally humble because they have to depend on others to meet most of their needs: "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” Matthew 19:14 Mark 10:14 Heaven and the kingdom of heaven on earth (where Jesus has authority) belong to the humble and childlike in faith.
Our strength is small if we lose courage in times of trouble: “If you falter (lose courage, draw back or hesitate) in times of trouble, how small is your strength!” Proverbs 24:10
I was considering quitting my paper route because a dog might bite me. Then I read the following verse: “The sluggard (lazy, idle, slothful person) says, "There is a lion outside!" or, "I will be murdered in the streets!" Proverbs 22:13 Proverbs 26:13 A sluggard is someone who doesn’t do his work because of a lion, while I didn’t want to do my work because there might be a mean dog! I didn’t want to be a sluggard. God did provide a large gentle dog to walk with me as I had asked.
Jim would let me off because I like to walk while he went up on the mountain to pick people up to give them a ride to church. After he came down from the mountain he would pick me up. I was afraid of dogs, and one Sunday I asked God to help me not be afraid of dogs. Jim didn’t pick me up at the usual time (I found out later the bus had gone off the road), so I had to walk into town. As I was walking by one house a dog, usually on a chain, got away from its owner. He ran to me and nipped the edge of my coat. I just stood there—not afraid. If I had been afraid, he probably would have bitten me. God even helps with our weaknesses. We have no need to be afraid: “The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1
There is no reason we can’t be strong because we are to be strong “in the Lord and in his mighty power”. Paul says, “When I am weak, then I am strong…” 2 Corinthians 12:10 When we realize we are weak, we rely on the Lord’s strength. The more we rely on the Lord, the more strength we have. We have to believe that He will give us the strength to do what He asks us to do. The Bible commands us to be strong in the Lord over and over. The Lord told Joshua to be strong and courageous four times just in the first chapter of Joshua:
“Be strong and courageous because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to your forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:6-9
“Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey your words, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!" Joshua 1:18
Joshua, as leader of the Israelites, was given everything he needed to win every battle he had to fight in the Promised Land. The Israelites won almost every battle. They did not win the battle of Ai because of sin, and they were tricked by the Gibeonites because they failed to ask God (Joshua 7-9). Like them, even the battles we seemingly don’t win can teach us.
God asks Jeremiah how he can manage in the hard times if he has been worn out by easy trials: “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” Jeremiah 12:5 Jeremiah went through so much more than most of us. If God expected him to have courage, He also would expect us to have courage.
God gives us tests to strengthen us and to know our hearts:
“These were the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experiences);” Judges 3:1-2
“…the Lord tests the hearts.” Proverbs 17:3
“…but God, who tests our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2:4
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12
God does not give us temptations:
“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” James 1:13-14
He even provides a way out:
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
God will never give us more than we can bear. We just have to remember that with His help we can bear all things. Paul said:
“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
We are given everything we need to win every battle. God will not give us anything that is too hard for us to do. We need to remember to be strong and courageous.
• OUR ENEMY
Paul tells us who we are fighting:
“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand". It is so easy to think a person or people are our enemies. From this passage we can realize that the devil and his demon’s are our enemies. The devil uses people. A good example is when Peter told Jesus He should never go to the cross:
“Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Out of my sight, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you don’t have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’” Matthew 16:23 Jesus knew it was Satan talking through Peter.
We don’t want to glorify the devil by blaming everything on him as if God were not in control. The devil can only do what we as humans let him do. He can be very persuasive, but he can’t make us do anything:
“…each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:14-15 A pastor we knew said, “I can defeat the world and the devil–it’s my flesh that is the biggest problem.”
The devil is a powerful enemy, and we have to be aware of what he is doing. As Christians, we have more power than the devil, if we rely on God. God gave man dominion over the earth:
“God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Genesis 1:28
Because Adam sinned, (“To Adam he said: "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, `You must not eat of it,’ Cursed is the ground because of you…” Genesis 3:17) the devil legally acquired that dominion:
“…the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19
When Jesus was crucified on the cross, He rose and took the keys to death and Hades:
“…And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Revelation 1:18
He then gave to the church (Christian believers) the authority over this earth:
“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” Luke 10:19 How much of that legal right we actually put into practice is up to us.
We have as much power as Jesus did when He was on earth. If we do exactly what God tells us to do, as Jesus did, we can do the things that He did:
“By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” John 5:30
“But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me.” John 8:16 Jesus made it very clear that He was sent from God the Father to do His will:
“For I did not speak on my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.” John 12:49
Jesus “…being in very nature God…” Philippians 2:6 never sinned, doing and saying ALL God commanded Him.
Jesus was limited while on earth. He was confined to one place at a time. and He only spent about three years doing public ministry:
“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12
Because of the power and weapons He gave us, we can demolish strongholds:
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 By our obedience to God we will win the victory. The best way to “demolish strongholds” in our own lives especially is to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”.
“Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you havedone everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13 This verse implies that their will be times when the devil will especially attack us. But with God’s weapons we can stand. This passage also implies that sometimes just by standing, we have won the victory.
Christ was placed “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” Ephesians 1:21 He is above everything—whether good or evil.
“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,” Ephesians 3:10 We (the church—believers) will win because Jesus will win. God commands us to be strong. We are to do this by using his powerful weapons. They will never fail; they will defeat the devil every time.