Ephesians 6 is a familiar passage, a memorable section of Scripture that encourages us to put on righteousness, truth, faith, and salvation as if they were clothing, so that we will be prepared for the Christian life.
There’s much to be gained from looking at this passage and thinking about how these different things – righteousness, truth, etc. – function so centrally in the Christian life. But it would be a shame if we got so caught up in trying to analyse each piece of armour that we missed the big picture; there’s a reason that Paul here is using the metaphor of battle equipment: Christian, you are at war.
A Cosmic Battle
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
Christians are caught up in a very real spiritual battle that rages on around us. The forces of darkness would have us turn from the faith and join them in their rebellion against God. The lies, temptations, persecutions, and attacks you face aren’t randomly generated – we’re under attack, and we’re in a war!
Have you ever wondered why it so often seems like the Christian life is the path of most resistance? In almost every situation I can think of, it’s easier to do the wrong thing than the right one. It’s easier to slip that little lie in rather than bring out the painful truth. It’s easier to join in on destructive gossip rather than stand against it. It’s easier to tear someone down than to build them up.
Why is that? Why is it always so much easier to check facebook first thing in the morning rather than get into God’s Word, or on your knees? A big part of this is our battle against our own sinful natures, but we need to realise that another huge source of the conflict is the devil and his forces of darkness.
Our weakness and sinfulness are weapons that dark spiritual forces use against us. And if we don’t put on armour and some weapons of our own, we’ll find ourselves severely outmatched.
This passage is a call against Christian apathy. It is a call to open our eyes to the reality of the battle that is going on, and stop living passive Christian lives. If we don’t open our eyes to this battle, we’ll be useless in the fight. And we’ll come out second best.
The devil’s goal is to shipwreck our faith, and cause us to join him in his rebellion against God. We need to realise that this battle is real, and that we’re a part of it. We’re not civilians here. We’re soldiers. And so we need the right equipment to stand our ground in the fight.
Equipped For the Fight
“Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11).
God gives us everything we need so that we can come out of this battle victorious. A solid breastplate of righteousness, the impenetrable shield of faith, the incisive sword of the Spirit, the word of God… if we equip ourselves with these things, then we can have absolute confidence that we will be able to stand our ground against anything the devil throws at us (Eph 6:13).
We could go into great detail about what the devil uses to attack us, and how the armour of God defends us against them. We could devote a whole post to it and barely scratch the surface. But perhaps for now, it is just as important that we open our eyes to the struggle and actually engage in it!
It really changes our outlook on things when we realise that those temptations we face in secret aren’t just random, but are instead intentional attacks being played out against us. Don’t be apathetic or passive about it – put on your armour and fight!
It alters our mindset when we realise that as soon as we wake up, a battle is going on, and the devil would have us do anything rather than seek the presence of our Father. Don’t just do what is easiest – put on your armour and fight!
It shifts our perspective when we come to grips with the fact that the godlessness and unbelief that we see in the people around us is not just happenstance, but is the work of the evil one. Don’t just drift – put on your armour and fight!
As a Christian, you engage in this battle through prayer (Eph 6:18), the word of God (6:17), faith in Christ (6:16), proclaiming the gospel (6:15), and through the pursuit of rightouesness and truth (6:14). This is our equipment for the fight.
The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world he doesn’t exist. But we aren’t fooled. No, we fight on.
Why do we keep fighting? Why do we not just give up, and take the easy route? Because we know how this battle ends. We know who the Victor is. And when we stand there on that last day, we know exactly which side we’d rather be standing on.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day” (2 Timothy 4:7).
We fight on, and we look forward to that day.