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Wed, Dec 22, 1999

75 - The Armor of God

James 4:7 & Ephesians 6:10-18 by Robert Dean
Series:James (1998)
Duration:1 hr 5 mins 56 secs

The Armor of God; James 4:7b; Eph. 6:10-18

Ephesians 6:10 NASB "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. [11] Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil." The thing to remember about this whole description is that it is simply that, it an illustration. He uses the imagery of armour just to communicate the overall concept of God's protection for the believer. The Old Testament used the same types of metaphors. It talks about God as our rock, that He is our bulwark, our fortress, our shield. All of these different images are designed to communicate the principle that it is in God and God alone that we have our protection. In fact, the suffering Servant who is a prophetic image in Isaiah of the Messiah puts on the same type of armour. Isaiah 59:17, describing the Messiah, NASB "He put on righteousness like a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle." So throughout the Bible we have this martial imagery of warfare and the protection of God in the midst of spiritual warfare.

The key verb in Ephesians 6:10 is the command to be strong. It is ENDUNAMOO [e)ndunamow], present passive imperative. The present imperative indicates a standard operating procedure in the spiritual life, as opposed to aorist imperative which indicates something that is of crucial and vital importance for the moment. A present imperative indicates a general mandate for the Christian life, whereas an aorist imperative stresses its priorities and significance: do this right now. The passive voice indicates that the subject receives the action of the verb. So we are to be strong in the Lord. The subject is the believer. We receive our strength from outside of ourselves; it is not up to us.

In the spiritual realm we are absolutely ignorant. We cannot see demons, we cannot see angels. We cannot see what they do, what they look like, what they are capable of. If the Lord were to open the veil tonight we would be astounded at what is going on around us. It is the same thing that took place with Elisha in the Old Testament as the armies of the king were coming to surround him and his servant Gehazi was scared to death, and Elisha prayed, "Lord, open his eyes that he may see." The Lord pulled back the veil and he saw that the hills were covered with angelic armies designed to protect Elisha from his enemies. So we have the protection of the Lord. He is the one in whose strength we must reside, and He is the one who has the capability, the power because He is omnipotent, the knowledge because He is omniscient, to know all that is going on and he has provided for us. We have to be strong in the Lord. This is not something that comes automatically but is the result of spiritual growth. This means that if you are a baby believer you do not automatically acquire this strength, it comes only through the process of learning the Word of God, studying doctrine and advancing through spiritual infancy, spiritual childhood, spiritual adolescence, spiritual adulthood through the utilization of the stress-busters. As a result of that the soul is edified, built up, and that gives us strength to handle whatever situation we may run into.

The idea of ENDUNAMOO is to cause someone to have the ability, to enable them, to strengthen them, to empower them, to make them able. The point is that God is the one who makes us able to handle the situations in spiritual conflicts. At the moment of salvation God has provided us with an innumerable number of grace assets. The only way we know about demons is from the Word of God. In the same way that is the only way that we find out what we have and what God has given us so that we can handle spiritual conflicts.

This scripture says that we are to put on the full armour of God, so that we will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. The word "put on" is an aorist passive imperative. An aorist imperative stresses priority in the spiritual life. This is different from the standard operating procedure of the present imperative and emphasises the immediate significance of fulfilling this command. The believer is compared by analogy to the Roman soldier. When the Roman soldier would bivouac and set up his tent he was very disciplined, everything was in a row, and outside the tent they would stack their equipment. So when the enemy came and the command was given they would come out of their tent, everything would be in its proper place, and they would grab their armour be dressed in a few moments and ready for combat. The "full" armour of God emphasizes advances to spiritual maturity. The active voice emphasizes the fact that this is our responsibility to learn what the armour is and to learn how to put in on so that we can be defended in the day of battle.

Putting on the full armour of God allows us to stand form against the schemes of the devil. The term "armour of God" is PANOPLIAN TOU THEOU [panolian tou qeou] which means the full armour, not just partial armour. Then there is a purpose clause here: to "be able to stand firm," which is STENAI [sthnai], aorist infinitive, and the dictionary form of this verb is HISTEMI [i(sthmi]. There are two words which are very similar, HISTEMI and ANTHISTEMI [a)nqisthmi]. They both have the root HISTEMI and the second word has the preposition ANTI which strengthens it. Both have the same concept of standing still, standing form, holding your ground. They were used in a military context to indicate defence. Everybody knows you can't win in the military with just defence, but in terms of the angelic conflict and spiritual warfare we are commanded to go on the defence because we do not have what it takes to operate in the angelic realm. Only God has that ability, so we have to do what Moses did in the Old Testament: "Stand still and see the deliverance of the Lord." When the Jewish scribes translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek they used the word HISTEMI for "stand still." Paul uses one or other of these two words about five times in this passage in Ephesians 6 to emphasize the principle that the believer is not to be engaged in offensive action against Satan and the demons because we do not know what is going on.

Satan has various strategies, this passage says. The Greek word for "schemes" is METHODEIA [meqodeia] which means cunning stratagem. Satan has all sorts of schemes to distract believers from the truth, to distort the truth, and to destroy the witness of Christians and to blind unbelievers to the truth of the gospel. His greatest strategy always seems to involve the various philosophies and religions in the world. The Bible warns us that every way apart from God's way of thinking is demonic. The Scripture says that anything that does not align one hundred per cent with the thinking of God's Word is demonic. It is aligned with the same kind of thinking as Satan as the demons because at its core is based the idea that man independent from God has the ability to understand and define reality without submitting to the authority of God and His revelation. All of this goes under the title of the cosmic system [kosmoj], and under the cosmic system we find a number of demonic deceptions: moral relativism, situational ethics, the postmodern thought of today as well as the modern thought of a generation ago and Enlightenment thinking a century ago. We find the new age movement with all its emphasis on angels and spiritism and necromancy, and this is all a part of Satan's demonic system.

Satan has thousands of different things but they all have certain things in common. All of the various social experimentation programs from feminism to gay rights are all part of Satan's agenda, as it the proliferation of pagan religions and apostate Christian cults. All of this is defined in the Scriptures as the doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1). In one of the parables Jesus said that Satan's role is to take the Word from the mind so that they will not believe and be saved. All of these schemes include political ideas that promote global economies and international bodies of law and international law courts. All of this is Satan's attempt to unite the human race against God. His schemes includes various criminal justice concepts that give more rights to the criminal than to the victim, as well as temptations to arrogance, self-reliance, self-absorption, and substitution human-based thinking in the guise of psychology, sociology, and science which cause people to think that they can achieve a certain level of success and happiness in life apart from God. All of this we are warned against in the Scripture. 1 John 2:15 NASB "Do not love the world [cosmic thinking] the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [16] For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world." The greatest danger from Satan is not demon possession or demon oppression, the greatest danger from Satan is all of these various thought systems that seem to supply an element of success and happiness and seem to be beneficial to the human race.

The battlefield is ultimately spiritual and takes place between your ears; it is not outside of yourself. Ephesians 6:12 NASB "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual {forces} of wickedness in the heavenly {places.}" The word translated "struggle," PALE [palh] refers to hand to hand combat. It was used frequently to describe a wrestling match. In the ancient world they often had wrestling matches unto death, and that is the idea that underlies this word. It is a death struggle; it is for our very spiritual lives. Our struggle is not against mortal flesh (flesh and blood), i.e. that which is in the physical world. The real spiritual battle is against spiritual forces: against Satan, against all of the demons that are arrayed on his side  in the demonic armies, and it is they that are putting these ideas into the human race, and it is that against which we are struggling. So our greatest enemy is not necessarily people, our greatest enemy is the invisible army that is working behind the scenes.

These are classified by rank here: "rulers, powers, world forces of this darkness, and spiritual forces of wickedness." Paul really doesn't go on to explain what these mean and what their significance is, but we find similar classifications on Colossians 2:15 and 1 Peter 3:22. What we do learn from this is that the demon forces are organized and that there is a chain of command among the demon armies, and they are working toward a unified purpose. This entire army is arrayed against the body of Christ and against the believer. Yet, we do not need to be afraid because we have the power of God and all of the spiritual assets, and God is the one who fights the battle for us. "The battle is the Lord's."  

Ephesians 6:13 NASB "Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm." This is the solution: "take up the full armor of God." Once again we see the word ANALAMBANO [a)nalambanw], present active indicative, indicating that this is to be the standard procedure in the spiritual life. We pick up the "full armour for the purpose [HINA /i(na plus the subjunctive], that you might be able to resist," and the Greek word there is ANTHISTEMI, the word that is used in James 4:7. How then are we to resist the devil so that he will flee from us? By putting on the armour of God. It is the armour of God that allows us to resist the devil, to fulfil the mandate in James 4:7 so that we can stand our ground and not be defeated in the angelic conflict. The "evil day" is that particular time when we come into certain adversities or conflict when the angelic conflict is raging around us.

The armament of the soldier involves several different aspects, not all of which are included by Paul in this analogy; he just focuses on six. Romans wore a helmet that was made of leather and covered with strips of metal, a breastplate that was primarily leather and also covered with strips of metal (sometimes it was made out of brass for the officers), and a thick leather belt which wrapped around his waist. From that belt there were wide leather strips that hung down, designed to protect the legs and middle area. It was also to this belt that was affixed his sword and his breastplate was tiled to that belt for stability. It was the belt that held everything together. He wore combat sandals, he also had a shield, and a sword.

What we see here in this analogy that Paul uses is that we are to stand firm. Ephesians 6:14 NASB "Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS." So the image here is of the soldier who pulls up his tunic and gets it out of the way. This means that you clear the decks for battle, you get rid of the distractions in your life. You figure out what it is in your life that distracts you from making doctrine the number one priority in your life. We focus on the truth. The truth here is all of the principles and precepts that are encapsulated in the Scriptures, and that is what we call Bible doctrine. Notice that the first command here is to stand firm, and it is the present active indicative of HISTEMI. Notice how many times Paul repeats this word. What do you think the point is? Stand your ground. He doesn't say advance or attack. The belt, called the baldric, is called by Paul the truth because it is the truth of Bible doctrine, the principles and precepts of divine revelation, that hold everything together in our lives. It is the truth of God's Word that gives us stability in times of adversity and conflict in our lives; it is the truth of God's Word that sets the believer free from the rule of the sin nature and the domination of human viewpoint thinking, which is also called demonic thinking. Remember, it was rejection of the truth that led to Adam's disobedience; it was reliance upon the truth that was the bulwark of Jesus' defence against the devil's temptations in Matthew chapter four. Truth was the fortress of David's mental attitude. Proverbs 20:28 NASB "Loyalty and truth preserve the king, And he upholds his throne by righteousness." Truth denied was what led to the death of Ananias and Sapphira as they followed the thoughts and temptations of the father of lies in Acts 5:3; John 8:44. Truth is a defensive weapon; it is not an offensive weapon. The whole concept of armour is designed to defend the individual and to protect him.  

Putting on the breastplate of righteousness involves two aspects: imputed righteousness from our salvation, and that is the foundation of our protection. But then if you are a believer and get involved in disobedience to God and extended carnality, then you have already been defeated in spiritual warfare. So the breastplate of righteousness here is not simply imputed righteousness but imputed righteousness that is than parlayed into practical or experiential righteousness as you grow and advance in the spiritual life, applying doctrine in your life, living a life under the filling of God the Holy Spirit so that divine good, the production of the Holy Spirit, is produced in your life. That is what protects the believer is spiritual warfare.     

Ephesians 6:15 NASB "and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE." The Roman soldier wore this caligae, hobnail, half-inch thick leather sole that protected his feet. Nothing is more important for an infantry soldier than his feet. If he has problems with his feet his mobility is limited. So what we are talking about here is that which provides foundation and mobility to the soldier. It is the gospel of peace. In Romans 5:1 we are told that the essence of reconciliation, the totality of what Christ did no the cross was peace, peace between man and God, but it was on the basis of that peace that we have with God that is parlayed into a practical peace. Philippians 4:6, 7 NASB "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." So this is not simply the gospel in terms of having been saved but is the practical benefits of that from the prince of peace who gives us that peace of mind, that inner emotional stability during times of crisis.

Ephesians 6:16 NASB "in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil {one.}" The shield of faith is the faith-rest drill. This takes place when you believe that the Word of God is more real to you than your circumstances, your emotions, your feelings or your intuitions. 2 Corinthians 5:7 NASB "for we walk by faith, not by sight." It is faith that overcomes the cosmic system in 1 John 5:4, 5, and we resist the devil by means of faith, 1 Peter 5:8. So it is trusting God and His Word, not trusting our experience. This is a radical reliance upon the reality of God's Word. It wards off the variety of assaults the devil makes. It is doctrine and the application of the faith-rest drill which is able to extinguish all of the flaming missiles of the evil one. This is sufficiency of the cross and the sufficiency of grace.  

Ephesians 6:17 NASB "And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." The armour is completed. The helmet of salvation surrounds the head. It is that which protects the head, the seat of the soul, from injury in spiritual warfare. That is an indication again that a believer cannot be demon possessed. The word here translated "word of God" is not LOGOS [logoj] which has to do with the principles of God's Word, but it is the  RHEMA [r(hma] which has to do with the applied Word. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by Satan, every time He answered He quoted a passage of Scripture. In other words, it is thrust and parry, thrust and parry. Satan would attack with the thrust and the Lord used the Word, the sword of the Spirit, to parry the thrust. He did not engage in offence. He parried the thrust, he did not drive the point home.

All of this is strengthened and is involved in an attitude of prayer. Ephesians 6:18 NASB "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit [EN PNEUMATI/ e)n pneumati = by means of the spirit], and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints."

The Scripture tells us that God has provided for us in His grace perfect solutions to all of our problems, even those that we are unaware of in the spiritual realm. God has given us more than enough spiritual; assets to solve every single problem in our lives. All we have to do is learn what these assets are so that we can pick up the fill armour of God and utilize that and reside in it.