Does it scare you to think you are up against unseen forces in another dimension that have access to you? What does Paul tell us about our enemy and his comrades in Ephesians 6? What must we understand?
In the heavenly realms, there is a hierarchy. There are ranking demons, with rulers, plural. This is what we will unpack today as we conclude studying Ephesians. We will look at supernatural warfare and the armour of God.
Here is a description of our enemy: “The devil is a murderer, without truth, a liar, and the father of lies (John 8:44), full of deceit, an enemy of righteousness, and a perverter of the right way (Acts 13:10), who can transform himself into an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14), and goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8). Again, without the whole armor of God, one will not be able to stand against him, which brings up a very important point: Christians are called upon, not to run or retreat from the devil, but rather to stand and fight.”
Powers and Principalities
The confrontation between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness will go on and on in the Age of Grace. The powers which are opposed to us, warring against us, are the very highest order of darkness and wickedness, those with great power. These beings rule over the idolatrous and sinful men in this world. They continually assault us in hopes to get us to commit sin. Their domain is the air, where they rule and conspire.
This battle is unseen but real. We must guard our hearts. Recognize that Satan has the ability to fill your mind with evil thoughts, and he will do it any way he can. He will use media, entertainment, technology. If we do not “gird up the loins of our minds,” then Satan can blind our eyes and lead us astray.
Armour of God
Paul teaches us that God has supplied us with weapons and armour to battle successfully against the enemy. We are given all we need to stand against the devil and his wicked schemes. If we train ourselves well, if we grow in discipline, we can stand strong, and the enemy will flee. The spiritual weapons are:
- Belt of Truth, around the waist
- Breastplate of righteousness, guard your heart, this is the first place Satan will strike
- Shoes, gospel of peace, which is opposite to war
- Shield of faith, faith could be armour
- Helmet of salvation, guard your head, this is the second place Satan will strike
- Sword of the Spirit – both offensive and defensive – Jesus used it during His temptation
The Belt of Truth
This belt of truth is not speaking of the Word, but honesty. The believer in Christ must be true, not an actor or “hypocrit”. He is to be sincere, putting away all lies, learning to speak the truth in love. A Roman soldier would attach his dagger and sword to his belt, and the breastplate was held in place by it. Leather straps which dangled to the knees hung from the belt giving extra protection to sword strikes. So, our battle begins here, with honesty.
The Breastplate of Rigteousness
The breastplate was a very important part of the Roman soldier’s battle gear. It protected his vital organs, particularly his heart, from serious injury. Unless we put on righteousness, and walk in a manner worthy, we have no defence against the enemy. None whatsoever. We are totally vulnerable.
The shoes might be a hard metaphor for us to grasp today. But we must have in mind the culture at the time, which Paul would, and those he was writing to would, because of Roman occupation in their land. The Roman soldier wore a thick-soled sandal with hobnails embedded on the underside for better traction. Leather straps were laced sandal, which attached to the foot and lower leg. Shod like this, the Roman soldier was able to quickly traverse various kinds of terrain. One of the most things the legions were most noted for was their ability to march fifty miles in a single day, quickly. They could catch their enemies by surprise and were prepared for battle on any kind of terrain, including rough and rocky highlands or hot, dry deserts. And if the command to stand and hold was sounded out, the soldiers were fit to do so because of the traction allowed by their sandals. In comparison, the Christian soldier, having his feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, should always be ready to give an answer to any man who asks about the hope that is in him.
The Shield of Faith
Just like the shoes were a unique addition to the armor of the Roman legion, so was the shield. This shield was not the small round one used by cavalry. It was four feet long, two feet wide and resembled a door, constructed of wood and wicker with animal skins stretched over, having edges studded with iron. The shield provided normal protection, but it was designed specifically to stop and extinguish the flaming arrows as well. When the flaming arrows passed through the leather, they stuck to the wood underneath and were extinguished. As Paul mentions tribulation, anguish, persecution, famine, consider the significance. These things can fan fires of doubt, and a Christian protecting himself with a shield of faith can be deliver from every temptation. The Roman shield was constructed for a battle technique which was very effective. Upon approaching the ramparts of an enemy, the legion would be pelted with every kind of projectile the enemy had at his disposal. When commanded, the legion would close ranks to form the tortoise position, locking their shields in front, on the sides and over the top with hooks. When in the formation of the turtle the soldiers were practically invulnerable. Consequently, when we soldiers in the army of God lock our shields of faith together in supernatural warfare, Pauls says we are “more than conquerors.”
The Helmet of Salvation
The next armor of God mentioned is the helmet of salvation. The Roman helmet flared out on the sides and back to protect the neck, not just the head. If a soldier was careless or weary and his guard was down, this helmet could protect him from a sword strike. Likewise, a Christian who might be careless at times, or weary, is protected by salvation and the potentially fatal blows of the enemy. Roman soldiers also placed some kind of plumage on the tops of their helmets so that when visible from a distance they looked taller. What an inspiring thought to think that with this helmet we might look large to our enemies!
The Sword of the Spirit
The Roman legion used a Spanish gladius, a two-edged sword. It was only two feet long and two and one half inches wide, and was designed primarily as a thrusting weapon. With it, the Roman legions were successful in conquering the world. A great deal of skill was needed to master the gladius sword. It has been reported that the Roman authorities thought it needful for their soldiers to train for up to five years before they ever saw combat. Often the sword the soldier practiced with was twice as heavy as the one he would actually use in combat. Developing the strength to wield the heavier practice sword enabled the soldier to use the gladius sword very effectively during battle. Most other armies used curved swords designed to slash. So, when the opposing soldier would lift his arm to slash with this sword, he left himself vulnerable and the Roman soldier, if successful, would block the swing with his shield, then as the soldier stepped to the left to come at him again, he would ram his short sword into the armpit of his opponent. This is the Word of God for a believer, it is our sword. We must know it to use it, or we might as well come at the enemy with a plastic fork. To perfect our use of the sword, just like with the Roman soldier, we must commit time.
Prepared for Battle
This description of armour looks a lot like that of a soldier preparing for battle. The church would relate to this, seeing Roman soldiers occupying their streets. A victorious soldier, however, doesn’t just gird himself with armor. If he doesn’t use it, he will be defeated. And in order to be skilled with his weapons, he must practice using them.
Satan isn’t going to stand back and wait for you to gird up before he strikes you. He will circle you and watch you, ambushing you when you are most vulnerable. Prayer is the training ground we start on, by the way, which is what Paul is teaching. Even though Paul was on the frontlines, he didn’t consider himself above temptation, so we shouldn’t either.
Living out the truths of a Christian life can be difficult. Be that as it may, God’s call to us is certain. We must walk in a manner worthy. God has given us one another with diversity to be able to stand together, bridging the gaps.
Written by Jori Sams
Jori Sams is a Christian author and freelance writer with nearly 2000 published pieces on the Internet, with over 1500 being published by Yahoo. Her books are published through Writeious Books. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her following the sun…