Understanding Spiritual Warfare of Ephesians 4

If you take that first step – if you make the decision to come to Jesus and leave everything else – you will find that life will become a struggle.  You will find that life becomes a fight.  The life of a Christian is a life of battle.  The life of a Christian isn’t a walk in the park.  Why is this?  To understand why we must review God’s plan and our place in it right now.

The Bible teaches us that man was created by God to enjoy authority and rule in the earth by walking in humility, faith, love, and obedience to Him.  That’s the first two chapters of the Bible.

In the third chapter of Genesis we see the fall.  We see that man surrenders His authority in creation to someone who claims to have more understanding about life and how it works – to an angel who rejected God’s rule in heaven and was thrown to earth without His body but took up residence in a snake.

We see God putting into motion a plan to see this earth come to a place where humanity could experience life as it was first intended to be experienced.  A place where Satan’s authority in the earth would be dismantled.  And we see that war plan working itself out in history.

We see the selection of a people – the descendants of Jacob – grandson of a man named Abraham.  The placement of these people into the most influential piece of real estate on the planet.  The coming to earth of God’s son, Jesus Christ – the sinless man, through the nation of Israel.  The coming of the Holy Spirit to rest on Jesus.  His life message that God’s kingdom rule, power, and authority was now present on earth through the Holy Spirit that rested on Him.  We see Him proving this as He traveled – casting out demons, healing diseases, and walking with power over nature (turning water to wine, multiplying food, walking on water etc).

We see His suffering, death by crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.  Suffering the results of our decision, to embrace sins effects, in His body.  Taking the death we were meant to die on Himself.  We see Him placed in a grave.  We see Him being raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit that rested on Him.  Proving both temporary and eternal death – the penalty of our sin – what we ought to experience as a result of our decision to reject God – is forever paid.  We see Him paying the legal prerequisite of our sin in order to buy back the authority humanity gave away.

We see Him ascending into heaven as a man with all authority and sending the same Holy Spirit that came upon Him to fill those who receive His work on the cross as payment for their sin.  We see the spread of the good news that a connection with God is possible.  That freedom from Satan is available.  That abundant life now and eternal life forever is given to those who embrace God’s kingdom.

We read about a journey God is taking to a final destination where demons and their followers will be tormented for eternity without end.  We see a final battle to end the war.  We see a renewed heavens and earth where life will be as God first designed it to be.

As we read we see that we are standing on a bridge.  Looking back we see Christ take back the authority Satan once had over all humanity.  Looking forward we see the moment when God will finally enforce the repercussions of that battle and set everything right.  Yet here we live.  Having won the battle – we are waiting for God to end of the war.  Satan is still the God of this world – having held people captive to do his will.

The Bible teaches us that our life is a battle because of this.  The Bible also teaches us that we can live with victory in spite of the battles that we fight everyday.  The key is to understand who we fight and understand how we can win the daily battles that we all face.

Let’s start by reviewing our enemies and their battle tactics.

 

  1. SATAN

You have a contract out on your life.  Your picture is on a most wanted poster that is pinned to the bulletin board of your number one enemy.  His name is Satan.  He’s out to get you.  He wants you dead.  Most people aren’t aware of this.

Satan was created by God as an angel.  Not just any type of angel.  God created Satan as an archangel.  As an angel who stands closest to God.  The Bible teaches us that Satan was also eternity’s chief musician.  Yet more than this – He was put in charge of many angels.

Satan wasn’t satisfied being told what to do.  He wanted to be in charge.  He wanted to be worshipped.  He grew proud and rebelled against God.  He led a group of angels who tried to overthrow God from His throne on Heaven. (Isaiah 14:9-14)

Satan failed.  He thought he could overthrow God but He couldn’t overpower His creator.  God threw Satan and his angels out of the eternal realm into the material world – to earth.  He took Satan and his angels’ celestial bodies from them.  This is why demons look for human bodies to live in and control. (Mat 12:43; Luke 10:17-18; Jude 1:6; Rev 9:1)

      Satan now has one vision.  To see you – God’s creation – embrace His (Satan’s) destiny.  That is eternal punishment, eternal separation from God.  How?  By tempting you to worship him.

John 10:10  “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

1Pe 5:8  Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Mat 24:24  “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.

Satan will do this anyway He can.

Dan 8:25  “And through his shrewdness He will cause deceit to succeed by his influence; And he will magnify himself in his heart, And he will destroy many while they are at ease. He will even oppose the Prince of princes, But he will be broken without human agency.

John 8:44  “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

1Jo 2:16  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.

Gal 4:9  But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?

1Th 3:5  For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain.

Rev 12:10  Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.

 

  1. Our Enemy’s Conquered Territory – the World

Our enemy has conquered territory.  He sees each individual on earth as a potential pawn that He would like to control.  He has strategized, planned, and worked hard.  At the present time, He controls people in the world who have given him permission to do so.  That in fact – in our present era – means most people.

As a result of individuals’ choice to serve Satan – our entire world has become corrupt.  The world has mirrored its worship of Satan in its structures, its entertainment, its business practices, its laws, its governments, its activities, and its culture.

It’s a fight that we fight everyday.  We fight it at work.  We fight it in our businesses’.  We fight it as we turn on the TV and the internet.  We fight it as we read magazines.  We fight it as we shop.  We fight it as we walk in our community.  We fight it as we deal with governments.  We fight it in our relationships with our neighbours, friends, and even family.

It’s a fight against practices, methods, and mindsets.  It’s a fight not against people.  It’s not a fight against “flesh and blood”.  It’s a fight against the one who people around us worship – whose ideas, philosophies, and practices they have embraced.

When we work in a place owned by individuals who have surrendered their lives to the control of the Devil we experience the results.  We’re asked to compromise what Christ calls us to do.  We’re treated like peons.

When we turn on the television, the internet, or open magazines – we’re asked to believe lies that Satan promotes.  Lies about what’s beautiful, what’s accepted, what’s necessary, what’s “in”, what matters, and what doesn’t.  Lies about what we must buy, believe, and live.  Lies about our sexuality, our sanity, our relationships, our appearance, our roles, our financial practices, etc.

When we deal with our communities and governments we’re forced to fight against what is right and wrong, what is just, what is to be valued.

When we deal with people in our world who have surrendered to Satan – whether their friends, family, or neighbours we are forced to fight against their mindsets.  We fight against their values and their priorities.

Everyday we fight our corrupted world.  We don’t only fight Satan – we fight those who have been corrupted by Him and live as his slave.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:1-2)

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, (1Co 2:12)

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2Co 4:3-4)

So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. (Gal 4:3)

But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal 6:14)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. (Eph 2:1-2)

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. (Eph 6:12)

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. (Col 2:8)

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2Pe 1:4)

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 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 world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1Jo 2:15-17)

  1. The Battle Within – the Flesh

Our battle is not only with Satan and those who under His dominion in our world.  We battle ourselves.  We battle this split personality that we have.

The Bible teaches us that all those who have received Christ’s work on the cross for the forgiveness of sin and have chosen to follow Him the rest of their life are given the Spirit of God that connects them with God in heaven – while they walk this earth.

From the moment that a person accepts Christ and the Spirit of God comes to live in a person – a battle begins in that person.  It’s a battle between the Spirit of God that indwells a person and the persons flesh that has been corrupted.

Before Christ a person is a slave to Satan.  In Christ, there is freedom from slavery to sin and a freedom of choice – a freedom to choose the Spirit of God that lives in a person over the corrupted flesh.

That is a battle we have to fight everyday.  It’s a battle that affects our mind.  We are constantly fighting old thoughts with new thoughts.  We are tempted to think the way we used to rather than submitting our thoughts to the control and truth of the word of God.  It’s a battle that effects our emotions.  We are constantly fighting what our fleshly desires want and having our desires tempered by God who lives in us.  The fight is between doing what our flesh wants and what God wants us to do.

How does one fight?  That is what we will discuss in the next section.  For now – it important that we come to a place where we recognize this.  We are in a battle – not only with Satan, not only with the world we live in, but also with our corrupted flesh.

Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom 7:24-8:1)

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (Gal 5:16-25)

Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. (1Pe 4:1-2)

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. (1Jo 2:16)

How Can We Win The Battle?

The Bible is not only clear about the war we are in, it is clear about how we ought to fight it.

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. 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. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; 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. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 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, 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, (Eph 6:12-19)

“Don’t fight naked.”

It’s what a pastor friend of mine once admonished his people to do and so I’d like to encourage you to do the same.  Understand you are in a battle.  Understand you can fight.  So…“Don’t fight naked.”

  1. The Belt of Truth

Without a foundation, buildings fall apart.  Without a fixed point, ships wander aimlessly.  Without the truth – everything crumbles.  When you know and believe the truth – it doesn’t matter what people say.  When you know and understand the truth – you find purpose, inner strength, and sure direction

The Bible tells us that Christ is truth – and all God has revealed for us about Himself and all of life in His word (The Bible) is an accurate, complete, and full dependable revelation of truth.  It is this truth that must be the focus of anyone who wants to fight lies that are promoted to us by the world, the devil, and our own flesh.

What is it in your emotions that you fight?  The truth.  You believe a lie and that lie is causing you pain.  You think you’d be happier if you were accepted by people around you more than God who lives inside of you.  What is it in your flesh that you fight?  The truth.  You believe your corrupt flesh that desires pleasure can identify what’s “better’ than what God reveals.  What is it in the world that you fight? The lies and lies and lies and lies that are promoted in various ways.  There is no kingdom of gray.  There is no middle ground.  There are only two kingdoms – one of light and one of darkness – of truth and untruth.  Anything promoted belongs to either one or the other kingdom.  Truth is the lighthouse that enables you to decipher what is shipwreck material and what will bring you safely into harbor.

 

  1. The Breastplate of Righteousness

One of Satan, the World’s, and our own corrupted nature’s methods of war – is to attack our character. To remind us that we are not perfect.  To remind us that we have failed.  To remind us of how undeserving of eternal life we are.  To cause us to doubt God.  To cause us to live under condemnation.  To cause us to doubt our state and destiny before God.

God’s righteousness stands sure like a scale of tempered armor against any attack we may encounter.  We stand in the righteousness of Christ that says we are completely and totally forgiven.  We must not yield to the defeat of guilt.  The bible teaches us that God convicts us – but He does not force us into the quicksand of self condemnation.  His breastplate cannot be penetrated by enemy darts.  There is nothing that your enemy, the devil, can do to take away your righteousness.  Don’t let condemning thoughts cause you to give up in defeat. Even though we are freed from sins power and destiny we may fall to the urges of our sinful nature.  We may yield to temptation and be temporarily led astray.  It’s in those moments that we have lost a small battle we may know that we haven’t lost the war.

But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness (Rom 4:5)

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2Co 5:21)

The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 5:20-21)

  1. Shoes of the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace

More than anything people are looking for peace.  When you are so prepared with the good news of Jesus – you will understand that it is a gospel of peace.  It is a gospel that proclaims – because of what Jesus has done – that we can have peace with God (Romans 5:1), we can have peace within ourselves (John 14:27), and we can have peace with each other (Ephesians 2:12-19).  That is a weapon that Satan doesn’t have or know how to fight with.  We can fight war with peace.  The good news of Jesus is a weapon of peace that can outmaneuver any opposition.

Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ ….and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace….AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household,

(Eph 2:12-19)

  1. The Shield of Faith

When it comes to translating the English word “faith” used in Ephesians 6, we find that it comes from the Greek word “pistis” meaning “persuasion”.  Webster’s dictionary defines “persuasion” the following way – “The state of being persuaded or convinced; a settled opinion or conviction proceeding from arguments and reasons offered by others, or suggested by one’s own reflections.”  Faith is a stance that one takes – a grounded position that is unshakable.  Like a rock that divides water from land, faith stands settled in a particular place and does not move.  It cannot be shaken by the strongest earthquake, most devastating explosive, or commanding machine.  It is hard headed stubbornness that no matter what – staying put is the best option.  It does not yield to outside pressure or inner turmoil.  The best offense is a good defense.  That is walking behind the defense of Christ – who charges ahead of you into battle to fight the fight for you.  Be fully persuaded that He is doing that.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. (1Jo 5:4)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper And from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Or of the arrow that flies by day; Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall at your side And ten thousand at your right hand, But it shall not approach you. (Psalm 91:1-7)

“I love You, O LORD, my strength.” The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies. (Psalm 18:1-3)

  1. The Helmet of Salvation

The Bible teaches us that a person who has personally received Jesus as Christ in all He has said and He did in His life, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension – for themselves have become a child of God and God’s Spirit lives in them.  The Bible tells us that if God’s Spirit lives in us – we are guaranteed eternal life and salvation from God’s wrath to come.

The helmet of salvation is meant to protect your mind from outside lies, your ears from destructive ideas, your eyes from damaging images, and your mouth from damaging speech.  To help you live in light of the truth of your salvation.

It’s only for us to keep that helmet on.  To consciously live in the mindset that Christ lives in us by His Spirit.  To be constantly aware of what has been given to us.  To be continually focused on that fact that His Spirit in us is our guarantee of final salvation.  It’s for us not to take this for granted – to reject it – to take it off and decide to join the other side.  It’s for us to hold to it more than anything else.  It’s our guarantee that we can make it through the battle. (Rom 13:14; Rev 3:5)

  1. The Sword of the Spirit

The greatest weapon you possess isn’t found in your human faculties.  Your mind, will, abilities, skills, sense of observation, etc.  It’s offered you.  It’s given you.  Like all pieces of armor, it must be received.  It must be put on.  It must be activated.  It must then be exercised.  It’s the sword of the Spirit.  It is the word of God.  Those things that proceed from God’s mouth.

It’s the weapon that cuts down all advancements of the enemy.  It stops your adversary in His tracks.  Human reason, strength, ability, and skill are weapons that your enemy the Devil and all his servants use.  God’s word is a superior weapon because it is based on superior knowledge and superior understanding.  It is eons ahead in its strength, complexity, wisdom, and capability.  Its advancement is too much for your enemy to handle.  God’s word is the nuclear weapon that can obliterate the fiery darts of your enemy’s primitive artillery.

As you spend time opening, reading, meditating, studying, memorizing and becoming familiar with the word of God (the Bible) – as it enters into you, it will proceed from you at the right time. It will enable you to fight even though you don’t anticipate an attack.  It is kept sharp and ready to be unsheathed and engaged by the Holy Spirit who walks with you and is in you.  It will be activated by Christ who is in you as you need it.

As it is taken from it’s place of rest, it will pierce through hidden agendas people may bring as you walk along life’s path.  It will unearth land mines prepared to see you blown to bits.  It will make you wiser than those who are older than you.  It will enable you to stand on the day of battle and not fall.  It is all your hand needs to hold.

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'” (Mat 4:4)

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (Heb 4:12-13)

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (1Co 1:18-20)

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. (John 14:26)

Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, For they are ever mine. I have more insight than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, Because I have observed Your precepts. (Psalm 119:98-100)

  1. Alert & Persevering Prayer

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, (Eph 6:18)

Prayer is the fuel to disarm the enemy.  We just must ensure that we stay Consistent – “at all times” (Luke 22:40; Phil 4:6-7); Alert (1Co 10:12; Col 4:2; 1Pe 5:8); and Persistent (Luke 8:15; Gal 6:9)

As we pray God strengthens our resolve and our ability to fight.  It’s how we fight.  If you fail – and you probably will… Get Up.  Keep fighting.  If you fall – like I have these many times while I have been writing this series, get up again and keep fighting.

The battle is lost by those who give up, who surrender, and decide not to keep on fighting.  It is not lost by those who continue to fight.

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