Spiritual Warfare: Battle Readiness
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. – Ephesians 6:13
During summer camp one year we were discussing Ephesians 6:10-18. By way of a practical application of the command to put on the whole armor of God, I suggested to a class of fifteen year old boys to get dressed for battle every morning before they got out of bed. They were all Christians and in high school. As young men they were fighting peer pressure, the world, and hormones. If they were going to succeed, they needed to be dressed for battle every morning. Before they ever get out of bed to get dressed for the day, they should meditate through each piece of armor. First, put on the belt of truth in order to face a world where all morals and truth are considered relative and there are no absolutes when in comes to right and wrong. Second, with all the injustice and unrighteousness in the world they need to put on the breastplate of righteousness. Next, comes proper foot wear for a soldier of the cross who is to bring peace by sharing the Good News with those who were slaves to sin. Also they needed to take up the shield of faith in order to quench all the fears, doubts, disappointments, and doctrines of men hurled at them. The fifth item was to receive the helmet of salvation so they remember that their eternal soul is what they are protecting. Finally, receive the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. When I was their age, I took my little red Gideon Bible with me everyday to school. Now that their soul is suited up in the armor of God and while they were still laying in bed, they need to pray to God to help them face the day.
It was my hope that this would become a daily habit for them. It is hard to tell whether or not a teacher (especially at summer camp) is making an impression. However, the next morning having suited up and dressed for the day, I made my rounds in the cabin to make sure the boys were all out of bed and getting ready for morning devotions. All but one of them were out of bed. Larry, looked like he was still sound asleep. “Larry! It is time to get up! You are going to be late.” He responded with a tired voice and half-opened eyes, “but I haven’t finished putting on my armor of God.” Then he opened his eyes and smiled at me. He threw back the covers and jumped out of bed fully dressed for the day.
As Paul continues in verse thirteen of the text calling all saints to arms, he begins with “therefore.” Whenever you see a “therefore” stop and ask yourself what it is there for. The term calls upon the reader to look back at the preceding verse and observe the formidable list of foes Christians must face every day of battle He then list five things to do for optimal battle readiness
1. Arm Yourselves: take up the whole armor of God
The command to “take up” is a technical military term describing preparation for battle. The act of putting on armor is preparation for a fight. God’s armor is the only armor that will enable us to defeat the enemy. God has never failed his army by ill-equipping them for the fight. His army has failed by failing to take up the armor before the fight. Satan and his minions are out to obliterate us. It is going to take the strength of the Lord, His spiritual armor, and everything we can do to make a stand
2. Hold Your Ground: that you may be able to withstand
The next command is to hold a critical position while under attack. As Christ told the church at Thyatira, “hold fast until I come” (Rev. 2:24). It is not easy when you are tired and discouraged “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3). When saved we became part of the kingdom of God and our citizenship is in Heaven. Our soul is at stake, so we must hold our ground.
3. Remain in a Constant State of Alert: in the evil day
Some see the phrase “in the evil day” as a future time of apocalyptic distress for all humanity. However, “all days are evil in their potential and become evil in reality when Satan or his demons decided to use that day to attack you” (Anders 190). Previously, Paul had written, “redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16). Every day since the Fall of Man has been an evil day in the fight against Satan. Every individual Christian is faced with a battle every day of their life. Since they cannot predict when, where or how the enemy will strike, they are on guard duty every waking hour. Satan on the other hand would like to tempt us with the idea that tomorrow, not today, can be a day of salvation. He tempts us with: “you have plenty of time” (Acts 24:25; 2 Cor. 6;2).
4. Never Surrender: and having done all
The soldier of Christ must fight having done all that he can to hold his ground and never negotiate or surrender. The Devil does not attack under his own banner; sometimes he advances under a flag of truce (2 Cor. 11:14). The devil does not recognize the Geneva Convention. He takes all as prisoners or slaves. We must give it all we have till the day we die trying.
5. Be Victorious: to stand
In ancient times, those still standing after the battle were the victors. When death finds you on the battlefield of this spiritual war, will you still standing? Can you say like Paul at the end of his life, “I have fought the good fight” (2 Tim. 4:7).
When General MacArthur was called home from Korea, he reminded congress “war’s very object is victory, not prolonged indecision.” Are you going to suit up, pray, get out of bed and go to war? Remember, no draft dodger or defector or deserter is going to make it through those pearly gates of Heaven wearing a victor’s crown. So, “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war…
With the cross of Jesus going on before
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe
Forward into battle see His banners go
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war
With the cross of Jesus going on before
At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise
Like a mighty army moves the church of God
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod
We are not divided, all one body we
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity
What the saints established that I hold for true
What the saints believed, that I believe too
Long as earth endureth, men the faith will hold
Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled
Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane
But the church of Jesus constant will remain
Gates of hell can never against that church prevail
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail
Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King
This through countless ages men and angels sing
– Daniel R. Vess