God promised Joshua to be with him always and assured him that no one will be able to defeat him throughout his life (Joshua 1:5). Lord Jesus has also assured us in like manner and the Holy Spirit descended from heaven in fulfillment of the promise. The Lord has given us His armor to fight this spiritual battle with the forces of darkness that stand in opposition to the Word of God. All those who overcome are promised great blessings in letters to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation for Lord Jesus knows that we can win this fight. The weapons of God equip us and the Scripture with God’s Spirit helps us in using them effectively.
Qualities for success in spiritual warfare – While there is no specific qualification, except being part of God’s heavenly family, to receive God’s armor, there are four essential qualities that a person must have to succeed. First, belief – The armor with the Lord’s authority and power is made available to the believer but if there is no belief in having this authority it would mean its non use. Weak and doubtful belief causes weak and doubtful use and we must grasp and use all weapons with confidence. David used his catapult and stones in fullness of his belief in their effectiveness under God’s hand to defeat Goliath. Lord Jesus thanked God, before calling out Lazarus from the dead, that ‘You always hear Me’ without offering any spoken prayer in His belief of being heard through thoughts of the act (John 11:41-42).
Second, humility – It is not self abasement but is about correctly placing confidence in Lord Jesus, ‘the author and finisher of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:2). God declared that ‘Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth’ (Numbers 12:3). He challenged Pharaoh and after golden calf incident asked God to forgive the Israelites or remove his name from God’s Book of life throwing a challenge to terminate all relationship with God (Exodus 32:32). Pride declares that I resisted the devil by myself while false humility says ‘God resisted I did nothing’ but true humility accepts God’s hand it the battle saying ‘I resisted the devil by the grace of God’. It is a fact that we can do nothing without being in the True Vine’ but that does not mean we do nothing (John 15:5). Like Moses we humbly exercise all authority in Lord’s name and His Divine strength.
Third, boldness – A true Holy Spirit empowered Christian shows godly courage and boldness to resist the devil like David challenged Goliath while everyone else was scared. Preparing for their task of witnessing, the disciples prayed and ‘the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness’ (Acts 4:31). Those who will not find entry into God’s presence include cowards also who are clubbed with murderers, immoral sorcerers and liars while on the other hand the thirsty are promised water of life from God’s spring (Revelation 21:6-8). The indwelling Holy is the Spirit of power, love and self control and not of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).
Fourth, Dependence – We are not given independent authority but it is controlled by God and we are to resist the devil and not to go hunting. Also we have no authority over other believers but are required to be subject to one another (Ephesians 5:21). And thirdly we are to be subject to God created and established authority, government, work, home etc while resisting immorality in these authorities (Romans 13:1-7).
We should act without fear and face the demonic powers in Lord Jesus’ authority and power. Apostle Paul commands our active participation in spiritual warfare by being strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
Will not the Shepherd of our souls protect us? – The Scripture about spiritual warfare and armor of God contains certain commands- be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might; put on the full armor of God; stand firm against the devil’s schemes; resist him on the evil day and having done everything ‘to stand firm’ (Ephesians 6:10-13). These are all action oriented words. Imagine being a soldier with the best defensive equipment but I will still have to man the weapon and use these to face and defeat the enemy. Lord Jesus, the Commander of the LORD’s army, gave Joshua the plan for capture of Jericho but they had to execute the same to be victorious (Joshua 5:15 to 6:1-5). Passivity or inaction and sin are two hurdles for deliverance and victory for God prepares the strategic plan and we follow up in His authority and power. In any case God has given us the free will to resist or succumb to the devil.
Basis of God’s armor – It is presumed that Apostle Paul was influenced by the weaponry of a Roman soldier to list out the armor of God for the spiritual battle.
Apostle Paul was an Old Testament scholar taught by Gamaliel, another great scholar of that time, and the weapons quoted by him are from God and not on the basis of some Roman soldier’s kit, as some believe. This is the armor God Himself puts on to rescue His people in the Old Testament. To the Romans he advised put on first armor of light and then Christ Himself and make no provision for the flesh which is our vulnerable spot (Romans 13:12-14). We are one in Lord Jesus and the devil has nothing in the Lord and we are protected (John 14:30) and in Him devil cannot touch us for we are raised from the level of flesh (devil) to spiritual heights with Him (1 John 5:18).
Joshua was encouraged that ‘no man shall be able to stand against you all your life’ for the Lord gives us victory (Joshua 1:5). And in any case, if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31).
Weapons of God’s armor – Believers are automatically given three weapons – belt, breastplate and shoes. The Word of God says – having girded your waist, having put on the breastplate and also having shod your feet and these actions are completed before the command to enter the battle and stand firm. Receiving and putting on these weapons is part of a soldier’s preparation and these weapons protect our body and soul.
Belt of Truth – The Messiah declared ‘I am the truth’ and our battle hinges on this fact and on Him for He alone sets us free (John 14:6). It is the belt that holds all other weapons and truth of the Word is a must for facing the lies of the devil. Messianic prophesy revealed His belt of righteousness around His loins and His faithfulness as a belt around His waist (Isaiah 11:5). Greek word ‘aletheia’ is translated in Ephesians as truth but the similar Hebrew word is read as faithfulness in Isaiah. Girding of the belt is about truthfulness and faithfulness in relations and sexual morality. If Satan can disable in the area of truth, great vulnerability comes and even other weapons are also wasted out. Lord Jesus prayed to the Father in heaven for all believers, ‘sanctify them by Your truth, Your Word is truth’ and we are to hold on to the Word (John 17:17).
Breastplate of righteousness – When God saw that there was no intercessor and His own righteousness was used for salvation, ‘He put on righteousness as a breast plate’ (Isaiah 59:16-17). Lord Jesus justifies us before the Father for we have, not our but His righteousness for ‘Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies’ (Romans 8:33). We are protected from the devil’s accusations through washing of the shed blood of Lord Jesus. The breastplate covers the heart and other internal organs and the heart control our desires while our needs are met by the Lord. ‘The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want’ and in Him my desires are controlled (Psalm 23:1). Sanding firm in righteousness involves understanding and applying the principle of confession for ‘if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse our unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9). Greek word ‘homologeo’ is translated as confess but it also means to agree with or assent thus agreeing with God to stay away from that sin. Confession also includes repentance as a part for what use in confession if there is no internal desire to change. Satan will make confession as difficult for you as he can but we have to be like Apostle Paul who declares that “I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men” (Acts 24:16).
Feet covered with the preparation of the Gospel of peace – The Greek word ‘hetoimasia’ is translated as preparation or be ready to walk out to others with the message of the Gospel. The words feet, peace and good news occur together only in Nahum 1, Ephesians 6 and Isaiah 52 where it says, ‘How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, happiness and salvation and says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’. The watchmen rejoice and sing’ (Isaiah 52:7-8). In like manner people rejoice on receiving the salvation message of the Gospel. These shoes protect against traps of the devil when we act as peacemakers among believers through fellowship and reconciliation. We are to preserve unity of the Spirit instead of unity of the mind (Romans 14:19 & Ephesians 4:3). There is a great promise from God that, ‘the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet shortly’ (Romans 16:20) and fulfillment of this promise is when we step out with the message of Good News of the Gospel.
Shield of faith – The shield protects us and ‘with which we can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one’. Through this Apostle Paul brings in God’s promise to Abraham ‘I am your shield; your reward shall be very great’ (Genesis 15:1) and that ‘Word of God is a shield to those who take refuge in Him’ (Proverbs 30:5). In the Old Testament God is our shield and refuge and Apostle Paul says faith is the shield for in faith we turn to Him and His Word helps us grow in faith (Romans 10:17). But what are the fiery darts? Satan fires at us temptations, lies, accusations and like our Lord we are to use Word of God to remove these and ‘bring every thought captive and in subjection to the Lord’ (2 Corinthians 10:5).Our increased knowledge of Word of God enlarges the shield of protection for us.
Helmet of salvation – Helmet covers the most critical part of the body, the brain or mind where spiritual battles are won. Salvation is guaranteed by the Lord for ‘who can separate us from the love of Christ?’ (Romans 8:34-35). As Redeemer of Israel ‘God put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; He put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped Himself in zeal as a cloak’ (Isaiah 59:17). The Divine Warrior will not come as a wrathful judge but as a Redeemer of His people. The devil may disrupt our daily victory but our eternity is with the Lord for ‘He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love’ (Colossians 1:13). The deal is already done and sealed and there will be no change in it for ‘we know that we are of God, though the world lies under the control of the devil’ (1 John 5:19).
Sword of the Spirit – In the armor given to us Word of God is the only weapon of attack. Apostle Paul uses Greek word ‘rhema’ instead of ‘logos’ thus implying not the persona of the Word Lord Jesus but the spoken Word of God, the Scripture. We mount our attack on the devil by speaking the Word. Why should we speak God’s Word in addition to believing? – Satan is a created being and he cannot read our minds though he can put thoughts into our minds. He observes our behavior to assess the effect of his accusations and by speaking out we nail his lies and rebuke him and make him flee. As is believed by many, the devil cannot know the future or read my mind and thoughts, these are Divine powers for ‘God’s Word is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart’ (Hebrews 4:12). Lord Jesus spoke God’s Word to confront the devil in the wilderness and He will come again riding a white horse with a sharp sword out of His mouth to strike or judge the nations (Revelation 19:11-16).
When somehow for no apparent reason the devil manages to cause sudden fear or terror we are to adopt a two pronged strategy. ‘Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you’ (James 4:7) and in this first is submission and only then resistance in His authority and power is possible and effective. We can use nothing of our physical strength or power or any other resource against him for there is power in the spoken Word.
Making the weapons more effective – The Savior Lord was ‘led by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil’ and for forty days and nights He was on fast and immersed in prayer. After the confrontation, ‘the devil left Jesus and angels came and helped Him’ (Matthew 4:1 & 11). Prayer is a communication with God to express our dependence on Him. God uses our prayers as part of His strategy against the devil. We pray and God acts with us and on our behalf. Apostle Paul’s command that follows the one about armor of God is, “With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). Through prayer His Spirit then works in and through us. ‘The Spirit also helps our weakness’ and the Greek word is ‘sunantilambano’ meaning help, to take hold for He picks us up to carry us safely to the other side. This spiritual battle is fought with faith while using God’s weapons and His Word which ensures our victory.
Only the Son of God defeated Satan, sin and death and in faith we become partakers of this same victory. Similar to the promise of God to Joshua is the promise given to us by God, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ and under His hand none can stand against us. The devil distorts the Word of God to mislead us and the Holy Spirit will only ‘remind us’ but for that we must first learn the Scriptures. The angels are ready and available to help only a warrior in this battle not a bystander!