By Even Sorrison
When Paul wrote Ephesians 6 he had seen much conflict and opposition. While preaching in Ephesus the local citizens wanted to
kill him because their income was derived from the temple and worship of the goddess Diana, and you can imagine the craftsmen were not happy with their loss of income.
Paul understood well the fact that war was a way of life, especially for the Christian. It is believed that Paul was actually in the custody of Roman guards as he wrote this letter to the Ephesians. This explains why he chose to describe the Christian’s warfare using military equipment contemporary with his day.
Paul commanded that we put on the full armor of God. The Greek verb tense indicates that we are to put on this armor and leave it on.
The inference is that we are not facing a brief confrontation but a prolonged war where we can never let our guard down.
The phrase “whole armor” is noteworthy. Roman soldiers did not provide their own equipment. It was the responsibility of the commander to provide for his troops. God provides us with all the equipment that we need now that we are in His service.
“Whole armor” also makes it clear that we are to use it all. All of it is essential. One part is not more important than another. If
we are to be victorious we need to put it all on.
In our battle with Satan, we cannot expect him to fight fair. He will resort to guerrilla warfare, striking at the weakest point in our
most vulnerable time. Take special heed when you are tired or emotionally down. Paul warns us of the devil’s schemes. This denotes
a stalking action, not unlike that used by contemporary guerrilla commandos. Or, it could be compared to a predator stalking its prey.
Because the enemy stalks us without warning we must be fully equipped and be aware of how he maximizes his strength at our weakest times.
The word “struggle” or “wrestle” is a very clear description that the people of Paul’s day understood. The Roman wrestler was not bound
by Amateur Athletic Union regulations. Although this Roman athlete tried to pin his opponent like in today’s matches he went about it in
a different fashion. The Roman wrestler would get both of his hands around his opponent’s throat. When you are pinned to the ground by
your neck there is a distinct possibility you are not going to get back up for a re-match.
Paul is saying that our conflict should be taken seriously. When we give our best to God in evangelism or Bible teaching we will get demonic opposition. Sometimes our very lives may be threatened. At the very least the enemy will try sabotaging our Christian testimony.
Flesh and blood describe humans. Since our adversary is not human we cannot expect to fight him using our own resources and
physical strength. Nor can we depend on conventional weapons.
Satan and his demons are real beings. They began as angels created by God to serve Him. Lucifer led a rebellion against God and he and the angels who followed him were cast out of heaven. He then became known as Satan and the angels who followed him became known as
demons. You can read about this rebellion in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14.
Satan is now the god of this world. Being an extremely intelligent being he has organized his fallen angels by dividing them into different classes with different responsibilities. Principalities are the first class Paul refers to. The Greek word for principalities is “archas.” It describes such things as leaders, overseers, or magistrates. Webster defines the English word as “the territory or jurisdiction of a prince: the country that gives the title to a prince or an angel of the third lowest rank in the Dionysian hierarchy.” (Just as a footnote Dionysus also known as Bacchus was the Greek god of wine.) It would make sense that these principalities are assigned over areas such as nations and cities because of what Daniel wrote about an angel being delayed in getting to him with God’s message because of an encounter with the prince of the kingdom of Persia. (Daniel 1O) Daniel had to be speaking of a demon prince because no man can detain an angelic messenger!
The second category Paul refers to is authorities or powers depending on your version. This is one level under principalities. Powers are probably more numerous than principalities and because they are a lower rank they have less independence and are somewhat inferior. Yet as their name indicates they are a real threat to the believer.
Rulers of darkness are the last group mentioned in Ephesians 6. This group corresponds to lieutenants and noncommissioned officers.
They are more common than the colonels and generals mentioned above.
The real workhorses though are called spiritual wickedness. This group is directly under the rulers of darkness. This is probably the group that our Lord cast out during His ministry.
Verse 13 uses a significant phrase, “to stand.” The soldier who lost his balance or weakened and fell was sure to die. David often
referred to the Lord helping him to stand. (Ps. 2O:8; 26:12; 111:8; 122:2; 135:2)
Being able to stand was the most basic prerequisite to survival for the warrior of the physical realm. According to Paul, it is also
necessary for the believing warrior.
The first piece of armor Paul describes is the girdle of truth. Men today may joke about women’s girdles but men in his day wore them
every day. Actually, the girdle he describes is a belt. Though many would not consider it a weapon we must remember that this is a
spiritual battle and we must fight it using unconventional weapons.
The belt was used to bind a man’s robe to his body. Before battle, a man would tuck the lower edges of the robe into his belt worn
around his waist. If he did not tuck it in the bottom of his long robe would cause him to trip.
The belt also supported the weapons. A warrior’s belt was usually wide for extra support and made of leather. The believing warrior has a belt of truth. The best way to wear the belt of truth is to be honest in all you do. Be sincere and strive for integrity. Living impeccably gives a person peace and confidence. A guilty conscience, on the other hand, can turn a strong person into a coward.
The breastplate was an important piece of armor protecting a large vulnerable area of the body. It is hard to imagine a soldier going into battle without this kind of protection. It is like a policeman going to a bank robbery without his bulletproof vest. The believing warrior’s breastplate (bullet proof vest) is made of righteousness. There are two forms of righteousness that the believer has. The first is Christ’s imputed righteousness. We receive this when we become new creatures at our time of conversion. (Romans 5:17- 19)
The next is the experiential righteousness we are supposed to manifest during our daily walk. When we subject ourselves to God and
let His Spirit rule in our lives we will live in righteousness. (Philippians 1:11) This was not a new truth for David stressed righteousness in his warrior psalms. (Ps. 18:2O-24)
The breastplate was made by overlapping metal discs, woven chain or interlinked rings of metal and was tied around the person with a
buckle or metal thongs. Often during hand-to-hand combat, opponents would stab each other’s breastplates looking for a weak spot. If a
weak spot was penetrated the hapless soldier was doomed. It was a lazy and foolish soldier who did not maintain and securely fasten his
breastplate. The believing warrior should take heed. If we live righteously we can face the enemy with confidence. Like the weak spot
in a soldiers armor, sin in a believer’s life will open him up to Satan’s deadly dagger. Once a person sins Jesus will forgive that sin but the believer will still have to live with the consequences of that sin. The past will almost always come back and haunt a person. Look at the mud that is brought up at every presidential election. The breastplate of righteousness must never ever be taken off! It was righteous living that gave David his confidence and strength.
If a warrior was going into battle he would wear thick-soled shoes. During Paul’s time, they would often have hobnails in them for
secure footing. David described the importance of footing in a number of his psalms. (Ps. 26:12; 4O:2; 91:12; 94:18)
The believing warrior needs secure footing when facing the enemy. Remember what Paul said about standing? The person who falls may well die! The preparation of the Gospel of peace refers to knowing before the battle that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead for
our justification. When a person believes the Gospel and asks Christ to become their Savior, they have peace with God.
No matter what type of combat a person is going into they need a certain amount of peace in their heart, so it is with the believing
warrior. To maintain peace with God He must be the center of focus in the warrior’s life.
Psalm 73 refers to the author’s feet almost slipping because he had the wrong attitude. The enemy will not attack us on smooth even
ground. He will attack when we are most likely to slip and fall. When the going gets rough he will try to shake the peace out of the
believer. Once a believer’s peace is shaken he loses confidence.
The shield was an essential defensive item no soldier was without. The shield that Paul was probably referring to was the door shield. It was about 3O inches wide and 48 inches high. If the soldier crouched behind it the shield protected his whole body.
Fiery darts were missiles dipped in a burning material such as tar or pitch. The soldier needed a strong shield to deflect these
deadly weapons. The pitch could splatter setting the warrior on fire even if the missile itself was stopped.
The darts thrown by Satan’s forces will be just as deadly and wicked. Expect them to be deceptively destructive. They can sabotage
a believer’s whole spiritual walk. The Christian walk is composed entirely of faith. It is by faith we accept Jesus as Savior. By
faith we make Him Lord of our lives. We walk daily by faith and not by sight. It is our faith that overcomes the world. When Satan can
get us to doubt God or question our faith we are wide open to attack. Another possibility is that our effectiveness is hindered. Without
faith we can accomplish nothing. Worse yet, “Without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to Him must believe
that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”(Hebrews 11:6)
Faith is supernatural. We do not depend on ourselves but on God. The Holy Spirit can help us to have faith in our time of need. It is
important to understand that faith is also a choice that we have to make. It is an act of the will. If we choose to believe God He will
honor our faith and strengthen it. When we are firm in our faith we are invincible!
David was well aware of the necessity of a shield in physical combat but more importantly, he made God his shield for spiritual combat. (Ps. 5:12: 18:3O, 35; 91:4; 144:2)
Even today soldiers wear helmets. The ancient soldier’s helmet was usually made of leather with metal plates fastened. The helmet
was intended to protect against the broadsword. This sword was three to four feet long and had a long hilt so it could be gripped in both
hands. The death blow was usually delivered by a high chop to the top of the head. If a soldier did not have a helmet or had lost it his
head was sure to be split open. David was aware of the physical and spiritual ramifications of protecting the head. He prayed that God
would cover his head in the day of battle. (Ps. 14O:7)
God saved us from our sins by faith in Christ. Nevertheless, Satan likes to question our salvation trying to get us to doubt it. Satan is known as an accuser as well as a tempter. Since the helmet protects the head this is Paul’s way of saying that the believing warrior is to protect what goes on inside of his head.
The Bible assures us of victory because of what Christ has done for us. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” (II Corinthians 1O:5) God can help us to
control our thoughts! When we get negative thoughts we must reject them. The best way to reject them is to replace them with Bible
promises or commands.
The believing warrior must subject his mind to God. Solomon, perhaps the wisest man who ever lived said, “As a man thinks in his
heart, so he is.” (Proverbs 23:7) The person who expects defeat will live life as a coward and defeat will certainly overtake him.
The believing warrior is confident because he thinks, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
“Greater is He who in you than he is in the world.” (I John 4:4) “With God’s help I can advance against a troop and I can scale a
wall.” (Psalm 18:29) “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1) “If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the Lord, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you, no
disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great
lion and the serpent.” (Psalm 91:9-13) “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 1O:19) The list could go on and on and on. God provides plenty of promises so we can renew our minds filling them with His positive thoughts. We can be victorious or we can fall into fear, confusion, or mediocrity. The choice is ours.
As you have surmised by now there is considerable strength in God’s Word, the Holy Bible. That is why Paul refers to it as the
Sword of the Spirit. It is the only offensive weapon provided by our Quartermaster. This sword is forged by God Himself! We can depend on it because it was not written by mortal man. Understand this! God wrote the Bible using men to write down His thoughts. He used their own personalities and their own abilities but the words are His. (II Timothy 3:16)
God’s word is final and authoritative. It shows us how to live. It shows us what is wrong and evil. It shows us how to overcome evil
and live victoriously.
Satan does not have armor to protect himself from God’s Word. When he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Satan’s attacks were repelled
by Jesus quoting Scripture. (Matthew 4:1-11) The psalmist understood the significance of God’s word in spiritual warfare. (Ps. 149:6-9)
God’s word is sharper than any two-edged sword. (Hebrews 4:12) It is the Word of God that will finish the last conflict. (Revelation 19:13-
The best place to carry God’s sword is in the heart. The only way to get it there is by memorizing and meditating on it. The time you may need a verse instantly you may not have your Bible with you, or you may not have time to find the passage. David wrote, “I have your word hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11) God has given us all the equipment we need to live victoriously. Put it on and do not take it off until we are called home. For as long as we live in this world we are expected to be soldiers in a spiritual war that God expects us to win.
As a footnote to this section, I want to caution the reader to keep things in perspective. I have known of people who became demon
addicts. The Christian is not to be ignorant of Satan’s schemes but that does not mean that you make him the center of your focus.
To those who want to do an intensive study on the subject may I suggest for every hour you spend studying the enemy you spend at least
one hour studying the Person and the attributes of God. Federal agents who specialize in counterfeit money concentrate on studying
real money. By intimate knowledge of real money, they will find the flaws and imperfections of the counterfeit. By knowing God and His
word you will be able to spot demonic activity because you will be in fellowship with Him. When you are in fellowship with Him He will
guide you and give you discernment as to what is good and what is evil.
Satan wants Christians to be either totally ignorant of his schemes or focus on him instead of God. Whenever we are led away from
God we are setting ourselves up for defeat. Remember what happened to Peter when he tried walking on water? As long as his eyes were on Jesus he had no problem but when he took them off Jesus and focused on the waves he sank. The analogy holds for us today. No person who studies this subject intensively will ever be the same again. Idle curiosity is normal but be careful with what you do with yours! There have been Christians who lost their focus and got in over their heads in the subject and their lives became shambles.
If you pursue a study of demonology there is no reason to go outside of God’s Word. It is the only authoritative textbook. It teaches us that we have triumphed over Satan by Jesus’ shed blood on the cross. It teaches us that, “Jesus was raised from the dead and now dwells in the heavenlies above all rule, authority, power, dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this, they are victorious in their lives because of their Christ-centered focus.
This chapter serves as your basic training in spiritual warfare. You are no ready for advanced tactics.