The Weapons for Spiritual Combat
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
10 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. (NIV)
As you may or may not know, Sharon and I have always enjoyed camping—tent camping. Some of you are thinking, “This confirms what we’ve always thought. You two are crazy!” But there is something to be said for sleeping outside with just the thin wall of the tent separating you from the elements and all kinds of creepy, crawly creatures. But I digress…. If you want to join us tent camping, you will need to be properly outfitted. Tents, pillows and sleeping bags come quickly to mind. A camp stove and camp cooking gear are also helpful in getting the total outdoors package. And for your sleeping pleasure, a good air mattress proves to be a wise investment. Yes, you need all those things, along with a lot of other camping gear one inevitably acquires. I probably won’t convince most of you to go tent camping, but I hope that I can persuade you about your need to be spiritually outfitted. We are in a spiritual war, and we must be prepared for conflict. Before our government sends out soldiers, it makes sure that they are properly equipped for battle. Our Lord has provided all that we need for spiritual battle, and he tells us to put on what he has provided for us.
What is the “armor of God”?
It is the spiritual protection that God provides for his people. In the fullest sense this is Christ himself (Romans 13:14). Since we are in union with the risen Christ, we are to live as full participants in that union, finding our full sufficiency in the Lord. It also includes the grace that flows from Christ through his saving work. The spiritual blessings of redeeming grace are very powerful.
We must settle in our hearts that God has given us what we need for a successful Christian life. We need only lay hold of all through faith in the Lord Jesus. We who follow Christ have already been given all that we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4). So then, we need to use this abundant provision (2 Peter 1:5). This is the life of faith. The key idea of the Christian life is a living, active fellowship with the Lord by faith. We exalt God’s fame when we rely on and enjoy all that he is and offers to us.
In spiritual warfare the Christian faces a cunning opposing commander. Satan thinks up schemes or traps to try to defeat those who follow Jesus. The word for schemes could be translated as “strategies”. He is drawing up battle plans to be used against us (2 Corinthians 2:11). All these schemes are saturated with deceit and lies, because they come from the father of lies (John 8:44). Consider 2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15; 1 Timothy 4:1. This kind of deceptive activity will only increase as we move closer to the coming of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12; Matthew 24:10-14, 21-25). How then can you know what is truth or error? You can know by the Scriptures (John 17:17).
Here are eight types of schemes that the devil uses against us to draw us into sin.
- Satan presents the bait and hides the hook (Genesis 3:4-5; Matthew 4:8-9).
- Satan paints sin with the colors of religion (1 Samuel 15:15, 22-23).
- Satan lessens the sin or makes it seem less by mentioning all kinds of extenuating circumstances (Joshua 7:20-21; 2 Samuel 6:6-7).
- Satan talks up the sin of the saints, while hiding their troubles from their sin, the sorrow of their repentance, and their true heart for God: David (2 Samuel 11:4; Psalm 51:1ff), Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 32:24-26), and Peter (Mark 14:71-72).
- Satan misrepresents sin and its consequences, claiming that sinful people enjoy blessings while the godly suffer (Jeremiah 44:15-18), conveniently omitting eternal consequences (Psalm 73).
- Satan encourages us to compare ourselves with people less religious and moral and in this way builds up our pride (Luke 18:11).
- Satan pollutes minds with dangerous errors that make sin seem less dangerous (Jude 1:4).
- Satan prompts us to choose wicked friends. 2 Chronicles 18:1ff; 19:1-3).
This is a small selection of the schemes that the evil one uses against us! Since we have a powerful enemy that seeks our destruction in many ways, what should we do? We must trust and obey the Lord. Rely on the Lord’s almighty power and put on the armor that he has given for your protection.
Grace and peace,