The Armor of God: Stand Firm!

We’ve been studying spiritual strongholds – those places where our enemy gain an entry into our spiritual life of faith.  It is a wrong thought or belief that allows him to influence us, and hold sway or power over us.  As a reminder, Satan’s desire is not just to give us a “second option” on how to live our life – what might appear to be the “fun” or more “relaxed” option, so you can choose whether or not you want to follow God.
Satan has one desire: to destroy what God loves.  He knows in the end he will be destroyed and that he is already defeated by the power of Christ.  He is completely aware that he cannot win against God.  But as long as God allows him freedom to roam the earth, he has one mission:  destruction of the created being God loves, mankind.  If he can destroy your physical life, he will.  But he is most certainly out to destroy your spiritual life.
John 10:10 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.  [Jesus speaking]
1 Peter 5:8-9 – Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
Ephesians 6 is one of the most powerful passages in scripture, describing the armor of God which is available to every believer.  It is a stunning visual, as Paul uses the Roman guards’ attire to explain how God has graciously empowered and equipped us to stand defensively and strike offensively at our enemy, the devil.  Studying the armor of God, to me, is rich and deep, and you could spend weeks on each part of the armor, studying other scriptures to expound them!
For that reason, we will take our time through several blog posts and dig up just a few spiritual treasures on each part of this magnificent part of scripture, to see how we can practically engage the armor of God against the strongholds our enemy desires to gain in our life.
Let’s read the entire passage to set the stage.
Ephesians 6:10-20 – 10Finally, 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. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 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. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  18 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, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Paul begins with an important thing to remember when we are considering spiritual warfare.  Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  As we have said before, we do not have the power in our human, physical flesh to fight spiritual battles.  This is a spiritual battle, and can be won only as we walk closely in communion with the Spirit of God who indwells every believer, listening to Him, and empowered by Him.  It is God’s power that can defeat Satan, and only God’s power.
We are told to put on the full armor of God.  I have in my head the picture of a Roman soldier running late one morning and showing up to present himself to his commander, with only half of his assigned pieces of armor.  How do you think the commander would respond?  God has given us a complete armor, that works together beautifully, and every piece is important.  If we leave out one part, the rest does not work correctly and we are left defenseless.
If we leave off the belt of truth, we are unprepared for battle, in danger of being entangled and stumbling.
If we leave off the breastplate of righteousness, our heart is exposed to the attacks of the enemy.
If we leave off the shoes of the gospel, we are on uneven, shaky ground, with no foundation.
If we leave off the shield of faith, we will be discouraged and hopeless.
If we leave off the helmet of salvation, our mind is exposed to every attack of the enemy.
If we leave off the sword of the Spirit, the Word, we have no offensive weapon.
If we fail to pray we are fighting in our own strength – sure to fail.
STAND FIRM
Before we pick up our armor and our weapons, we are given the primary goal:  Stand firm against the schemes of the devil…and having done everything, to stand firm. This implies two truths:
1.  Expect the devil to scheme! 
Spiritual warfare is a fact of life for the believer.   Colossians 1:13 says, For He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.  We are part of the spiritual war between Satan and God, whether we realize it or not.  Some of us are more aware of the spiritual world than others.  And despite what he would like you to believe, Satan is a created being, limited by time and space, and is not omnipotent (all powerful), nor omniscient (all knowing), nor omnipresent (everywhere at once) like God.  He cannot hear your thoughts!!  But, he is an expert observer of human behavior, and he is a spiritual being, so he has lived a long time and he does get around.  And I believe he does have a strategic army of fallen angels who do his bidding and who are very much present in our world.   Our enemy is a schemer.  He is crafty and deceptive.  As members of God’s kingdom, we are warned in scripture that we have an enemy, so be on your guard for his schemes.
2.  We are able to stand firm!
Our victory is already secure.  Christ won it on the cross.  We are fighting a spiritual war as soldiers in the ranks of the victorious king.  There is no way to lose the war because it has already been won.  Our goal is simply to stand firm in this victory, until our king comes to take his rightful place in this earthly part of his kingdom.
It helps me to create a visual in my mind to remember these truths.  And let’s be honest, I loved fairy tales as a child and still appreciate the telling of a good, creative story.  Picture this.
A king defeats an enemy and his army, but for His own sovereign reasons, delays taking possession of his kingdom.  Instead, he desires to train his own citizens, and assigns them the responsibility to spread the good news of the king to all the current “inhabitants” of this kingdom, who are still loyal to the “old” king, inviting them to become loyal members of the new king’s family.  He sends them out into the kingdom to accomplish this task.  The old king still lives in the kingdom, but has been stripped of all rights and power over the good king’s subjects.  He cannot touch them without permission from the good king.  The defeated king has no authority over the new citizens, but often acts as though he does.
Being the good and wise king that he is, he knows that the old king still has many loyal followers, and will make a show of power.  The good king has given his citizens every weapon necessary to defeat any hindrance and win every battle, but they must employ those weapons.  He has also given each citizen a guidebook, containing every defensive and offensive strategy they will need, as well as a person of great power to live with them and be with them constantly and forever, to protect them, warn them and communicate the king’s wisdom.  They are already the rightful inhabitants of the kingdom, and have all the resources of the good king at their disposal.  Their one assignment is to go into the kingdom and stand firm against any attack.  As they go where they are assigned, into every part of the kingdom as determined by the king, inviting everyone they meet to join the family of the new king, they will slowly, methodically advance the kingdom.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea!  We are simply soldiers in God’s kingdom, equipped to stand firm against the enemy until our great and glorious King Jesus comes to take His rightful place in our world.
So what does it mean to “stand firm”?  The Greek word is histēmi.  Read each of the definitions below, in light of standing firm in spiritual warfare:
·         to cause or make to stand
·         to place, put, set
·         to make firm, fix, establish
·         to cause a person or a thing to keep his or its place
·         to be kept intact (of family, a kingdom)
·         to uphold or sustain the authority or force of anything
·         to continue safe and sound, stand unharmed, to stand ready or prepared
·         to be of a steadfast mind; of quality, one who does not hesitate, does not waiver
The opposite of standing firm would be to fall, to come behind, fall short, leave off, cease, fail, be reduced to inactivity, to faint, remove, move away, depart.
Paul says “stand firm” three times in this passage:
v. 11 – stand firm against the schemes of the devil
v. 13 – and having done everything, to stand firm
v. 14 – Stand firm, therefore…
Each time he uses this phrase, in the Greek it is in the aorist tense, which is simple undefined action, as opposed to continuous action.  In other words, every time we find ourselves face to face with a scheme of the devil, we are to stand firm.  It is not so much that we are working hard to stand firm constantly, but that when the attack comes, we are to intentionally, decisively, actively stand firm.  We are to respond to the scheme by staying the course, not giving in or running away.
So how do we stand firm?
A few observations…
·         We must be clothed with the full armor of God
·         We understand it is a spiritual battle, and we are standing firm in the strength of the Lord’s might, not our own physical strength
·         We stand firm against the schemes of our enemy, because our enemy is actually powerless against us.
·         We must know and recognize the enemy (it’s not each other)
·         We stand firm by resisting, which I believe is the practical application of the rest of the armor.
James 4:7 – Submit therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Resist is the Greek word anthistēmi, which means to withstand, oppose, or set one’s self against.
Here are a few more scriptures that tell us to stand firm.
1 Corinthians 16:13 – Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
2 Corinthians 1:24 – Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.
Galatians 5:1 – It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
Philippians 1:27 – Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.
All of these scriptures have something in common:  they all refer to faithand/or the gospel.  What allows us to stand firm against our enemy is that we are standing in salvation.  We are rooted in the gospel.  We are secure in God’s family.  No matter what lies or schemes he may throw at us, he cannot remove us from the security of our position and rightful place in the kingdom.  We have the authority, security and power through Jesus Christ’s claim on us, to resist our enemy, and stand firm in our faith.
1 Corinthians 15:1 – Now I make known to you brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand.
Praise God!  That truth should fill you with joy and excitement, if you know Christ.
Remember this verse, which we started with?
1 Peter 5:8-9 – Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
I encourage you today, in whatever battle you are in, to stand firm.  Dig your heels deeply into the gospel and the word of God.  And if today is not a “day of battle” for you, then encourage your brothers and sisters by praying for them, and speaking victory over them.  Let’s stand firm in our faith until Christ comes!

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