By James Holland
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
If you are misinformed, you will not see the proper results which you desire, even if your intentions are good. After the treaty that ended World War II was signed, pockets of guerrilla warriors continued to fight on hundreds of islands throughout the Pacific region. The bullets were just as real, and the casualties were just as dead. In the same way, Satan continues to fight even after Jesus has won the victory.
Because we are not fighting for victory but from victory, we already know how the war is going to end as far as who is going to win. We know the victory is won before we ever begin. That means that when we fight, we’re not trying to win the victory. We are enforcing the victory that Jesus has already secured.
Here’s another example of being misinformed. At the onset of the Civil War, the general mind-set in the North was anything but realistic. It is recorded that crowds of civilians followed the troops to the first great battle, carrying picnic lunches, and prepared for an outing such as many would prepare today to go to a sporting event. The thought of real warfare was the furthest thing from their minds. Very few had any idea of the pain and suffering that would follow in the years to come.
It was warm that first day as the Northern soldiers marched toward their first confrontation with the South, and many of them began to lay aside their gear because it was too cumbersome on such a hot day. Some soldiers arrived at the front without ammunition and other necessary supplies needed for battle. Many walked at their own pace rather than trying to keep up with their companies. During that first battle, the North was badly defeated because they had not prepared for a real battle. There was little thought given to actual training or troop discipline. The strategy was merely to “just show up and win the battle.”
Is this not the same attitude of many believers today? They don’t have time for appropriate training. They aren’t prepared with the proper armaments, and they either don’t understand or won’t accept the concept of spiritual authority intended to be exercised through the ministry and the church. This is why many are under the delusion that victory is just not available for them. The fact is, as I have already said, our victory is already won. However, if I refuse to take the time needed to be trained or to understand what God expects of me, then, of course, I am foolish to think that even victory that is already available will be released into my life! There is little hope for such believers when they encounter battle.
Discipline is the key to our being ready for action. Just as it is with every area of life, when discipline is not practiced, whether physically, mentally, or spiritually, there comes an inevitable unavailability for effective action in the intended pursuit. This is why in any major field of labor, there is extensive training and weeks of continual training that must be ongoing.
Now, come on, the Lord is so merciful and kind; isn’t all He expects of me is that I just try my best? Actually, we are encouraged and commanded over and over in Scripture to do more than just try to do our best. We are told to obey, prepare, and become wise to our enemy’s tactics, also to learn and understand the ways of our God. After all, we are part of the body of Christ. If I don’t understand these things and apply my life properly as instructed in Scripture, then I put not only my spiritual life in jeopardy but also the rest of the body of Christ.
Please understand the importance of spiritual training. Paul told us in I Corinthians 9:24, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?” (NIV). Then he went on to say that athletes enter training in all things. So what does it mean to train? It means that you are willing to arrange your life around the activities that will enable you to do what you can’t now do by your direct effort. So don’t just try; get trained in the Word, in your walk with God. Get wisdom. Get the facts of what God’s Word makes available.
Once this is done, it’s much easier to access the victory that God has for you. Paul told Timothy, “Train yourself to be godly” (I Timothy 4:7, NIV). Discipleship and the life of victory are a life of training in the ways of the Lord. We must know that if we are not willing to receive the training we need, God is not at fault if we are defeated. We, as believers, are commanded to equip and to prepare ourselves in the strength of the Lord and in His power so we may stand firm against the enemy’s attacks, whether it is our flesh or Satan doing the challenging.
As we are talking about victory’s warfare, we must pay close attention to how victorious believers in Scripture look and conduct themselves. As we go forward to face the battle of life and of the spiritual world in the name of our great commander, we must understand that Jesus has called us to function in His name! “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). This means that His power and authority are at our disposal.
The blessing and awesome responsibility that Jesus has given to us are to be delegated in life. We are fully authorized representatives of Jesus. In His name, we have a full endorsement of authority and power given for action. We have all the power we will ever need to live a victorious Christian life and to win the conflicts before us. This does not mean some battles will not be long, hard, and require sacrifice; however, we will win!
I must warn you at this point. This is where the responsibility of His name must be understood. If you are to exercise authority in His name, you must first be in submission to Him yourself. When an ambassador speaks on behalf of his or her country, they speak the will of the nation of which they are a part and do not represent their own will or ideas but those of their country.
If you try to function from the desires of your own will and you are not obedient to the commands of Christ, the right of His name is not yours to use. Again, we see that for us to walk in and enjoy the victory He has chosen us for, we must be obedient to His Word. That’s not legalism; that’s just the facts.
Getting Dressed for Victory
In Ephesians 6:13-17, Paul described the way we need to be dressed as we go onto the battlefield we call life. Notice that Paul in verse 13 encouraged us to take on the “whole armour of God.” Not just part, but all of it. Make no mistake about it; there is a use for each piece of the armor of God. While God has provided this armor for all who will believe, He does not force us to put it on. He has made it available. It is up to us to put it on and to use it properly.
While we would never consider going out in the public half-dressed (or at least I hope we would not), the truth is that far too many are going out daily only half-dressed when it comes to their spiritual attire. Paul was not merely giving us a checklist of equipment to check off mechanically each day before we face the world. More importantly, the armor is a description of how we are to live out our relationship with God.
This is a lifestyle issue, not just something we slip into for two hours on Sunday morning. This is how we live. Paul said that we should be dressed completely every day in the full armor that God has provided. This is a lifestyle. It’s what we do, not a formula we recite. Paul continued in verse 13, “that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day.”
You only have to take a quick look around to come to the conclusion that you and I are living in an evil day. Even though our victory is already won, we still need to know that something very important is at stake in this struggle of good and evil. What is it? you may ask. Well, here it is: Absolutely nothing is at stake in terms of the ultimate outcome of Satan’s rebellion against God. He is defeated and will be banished to the dark regions of hell along with all the fallen angels who have joined ranks with him.
God will win, so if we are on God’s side, we will win also. Here is what is still at stake, however: The lives of those who are still fighting in this battle. Satan knows the war is already officially over, but he wants to wreak as much havoc as possible while he still can. So he continues to plant seeds of doubt and confusion everywhere he can in the lives of people. He continues to try to get us to challenge the Word of God at work in our lives. Here is the shocker! The victory is won, yet it must be enforced. We do this by knowing how to live for God effectively and by actually using all that God has made available for us.
If we fail to do this, the casualties are just as real today as ever before. I mentioned in the beginning of this chapter that even after the treaty had been signed that ended World War II, there were still some who continued to fight. The ones who lost their lives after the treaty was signed were just as dead as those who died while the war was in full force. Those who fail to align themselves with God’s command and use all at their disposal will, without question, be just as defeated as though there were no victory available at all. What a tragedy!
On to dressing properly. What did Paul tell us? In verse 14 he said, “having your loins girt about with truth.” The truth that Paul was referring to is God’s absolute truth. This is foundational to us. It’s what we build upon. God has given us truth, salvation, and the power of His Word and His name. He has done this for us. Yet when it comes to putting on the belt of truth, that’s our job. We are to train our minds to see God, ourselves, and others through the lens of truth. We must be honest with ourselves, with God, and with others. Paul said to gird ourselves, another word for belt. Of course, the belt goes around the waist (loins) to help hold up some things. Truth will always hold us together.
Then he said to put on the breastplate of righteousness. The Roman breastplate was usually made of brass. It covered the midsection and then some from just below the neck to the thighs. It guarded the vital organs. This is what Paul was telling us to put on once we are established in truth. The word righteousness as used here means uprightness or right living. It’s a matter of conforming our will to God’s will. It’s living what you know is right.
We must guard our hearts so that Satan cannot wound us with lies, fear, and guilt. The Scripture makes clear the connection of my heart and my response to life, to God, and to everything else. It’s what we allow in our hearts that makes us bitter, jealous, or even discouraged, not necessarily what we have to face in life. So use the breastplate God has provided. Guard your heart! You want to make sure your breastplate doesn’t malfunction.
Paul continued to describe how a victorious believer dresses. He said in verse 15, “and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” During Paul’s day, the Roman sandals that the soldiers wore were strapped all the way to the knee. The soles of the sandal had knobs and sometimes nails protruding from them. Alexander the Great is said to have invented these (I’m not totally sure). However, Paul was pointing out to us the importance of firm footing, a sure foundation. The word preparation in this verse means “establishment.” It conveys two main thoughts: 1) knowing the message of the gospel, and 2) being ready to share this truth with those who are in need of it. This produces the peace of the gospel. That is, when we obey the Word, we have a peace within us and between God and people who need Him.
The next piece of equipment we need is the shield of faith (verse 16). The shield Paul referred to here was also used by the Roman soldiers. It was normally about four feet high and around two and one-half feet wide. Key point here: It had hooks on the sides to link it to the other shields in a line so that an entire row of soldiers could advance without exposing themselves to arrows coming at them from the enemy. The Roman shield was made of iron, two layers of wood, wrapped in linen, and then covered with leather.
Yet they would leave a gap between each layer of material; this would create a vacuum so as a fiery arrow penetrated the shield, it would simply go out. The believers at Ephesus understood exactly what Paul meant. Our shield of faith will accomplish the same thing. That is, faith in God’s sovereignty and in God’s Word will always prevail over the arrows that Satan fires at us. Faith here means absolute confidence in God, His promises, His power, and His will for our lives.
The next item Paul described is the helmet of salvation (verse 17). The Roman helmet was normally made of brass and leather. Its importance is obvious. If you are hit in the head, you are dead! It’s amazing how many people are born again yet never pursue the renewing of the mind. So we wear the helmet of salvation to protect our minds. This helmet could be seen as the ability to reason logically and wisely from God’s Word. You cannot have faith in principles you don’t know.
Believers who know these principles will always overcome. Yet someone who doesn’t know these truths will easily be diverted and distracted, many times to the point of complete ineffectiveness.
Paul concluded the dress attire for the victorious believer with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (verse 17). It is interesting to note that in this particular verse, the Greek word translated here is rhema, the specific spoken word or words given by the Spirit of God for us to use against the enemy. Make no mistake about it; when we take the logos, the written Word, along with what the Spirit is releasing within us, we will be powerful just as Jesus has said.
Two important facts we glean from this verse. The first is that we must have a vital, ongoing relationship with the Spirit of God for the weapon to work properly. The second truth we see is that the sword of the Spirit is not a weapon that I may use any way I want. It is made alive only by the power of God working within us.
In conclusion, let me drive this point home very clearly. You can be dressed in all of the full armor of God, but if you are not a man or woman of the Book (the Word of God), you will not know how to engage in battle properly against the enemy. So get started building your arsenal of the Word in your mind and heart today. “Behold, I give you the authority . . . over all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10: 19, NKJV).
This article “Victory’s Warfare” by James Holland Sr. was excerpted from the book: Chosen for Victory. Pg. 93-104. It may be used for study & research purposes only.