Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
This is the last suit of armor you will ever need to put on.
We know that if we are to stand against the schemes of the devil and succeed at living the Christian life to the glory of God then we must put on the whole armor of God. As we progress in this study we will examine the various pieces that make up the whole armor of God, but before we get there we need to see that every Christian is expected to put this armor on.
Paul tells us, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God.” Finally. At the end of all we have learned from Ephesians, as a conclusion to the great truths Paul has been writing about, and as part of the application for the doctrinal points he has upheld, we are to use what we have learned by being strong in the Lord.
How can we do this? Put the armor on. This is how we are strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. It sounds rather elementary, but let us think about this. Would we think it was necessary to tell a soldier to dress for battle? Of course not, because he is a soldier. He knows when he goes to fight that he must be prepared. He must be wearing his battle armor and have his weapons and wits at the ready.
But there is the problem. We forget that we who are believers in Jesus Christ are soldiers! We are engaged in a conflict with eternal implications. There is the war between the spirit and the flesh (Gal 5:17). There is the battle for our will – doing what we want to do or instead doing what God would have us do. There is conflict, division, and casualties. We are at war.
Further we are in conflict with the rulers of darkness (as we will learn next week). We are in a fight with the devil. He, as a roaring lion, is seeking those whom he may devour and we are to resist him. He tempts us, just as He did our Lord. He seeks to lure us away from the truth and to deceive us with his lies.
Our verse for the week tells us that with the armor of God we can stand against the wiles of the devil. The word translated “wiles” is the Greek word methodia, better known as methods. These are cunning, deceptive methods that the devil uses to attack us, discourage us, confuse us, and accuse us. In fact, as we mentioned him as a roaring lion, he is stalking his prey – hoping they will not pray!
The methods of our enemy include appealing to our fallen flesh through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. He plays and preys upon our desires, fueling them into areas where they do not belong, tempting us to depend upon ourselves instead of walking by faith. He also deceives by spreading false doctrine and giving false hope. And yet his demonic wisdom leads to destruction. He uses counterfeits. This is part of his deception. He lies about what is good, and substitutes for it what is evil.
These schemes involve using the works of the flesh to entice us into pursuing our own selfish wants and needs. Where God gives us as a fruit of the Spirit love, the devil offers adultery and fornication. Where God provides joy we find that the devil substitutes uncleanness and lewdness. These are literally a lack of restraint when it comes to attempting to satisfy self. We also find that as God gives us peace, the devil deceives us by leading us to believe that true peace is found in idolatry and sorcery, terms which are used to describe the worship of a false god and the use of drugs and other substances to alter our mind and our mood. With each fruit of the Spirit there is a counterfeit work of the flesh, yet these counterfeits never deliver what they promise. Sin in the end does not give us true or lasting fulfillment. In the end, sin leads only to death.
So how do we stand against these schemes of the devil? By taking advantage of God’s power through putting on the armor He provides us. We must put on the whole armor, all of it.
Let us think back to the Old Testament where Israel was confronted again and again by the Philistines. Surely we all remember the account of David taking food to the front lines for his older brothers and there hearing the blaspheming of the giant Goliath. And as David responded in faith he wanted to stand for the Lord and His people. Before he did King Saul had this young shepherd boy adorned in his royal armor. And yet it did not fit. David found his defense in the power and might of the Lord, and the armor that was not his and did not fit would only serve to hinder him in the fight. As a result he rejected Saul’s armor and went to fight and win the battle armed only with a sling and 5 smooth stones (1 Samuel 17).
Our application of course is that we must be ready to stand in the fight but we must not wear the armor of another man. We must put on the whole armor of God. It is His power, His might, and His armor. He has made it for us. And it fits! We cannot rely on the faith, doctrine, works, or life of a friend, teacher, parent, mentor, pastor, or spouse. We must stand before God and stand against the devil armed with what God gives us – not with what He gives others around us.
Perhaps the most important point to be made here is the most often overlooked. How often have we heard teachers and preachers tell us that we must get up every day and put on the spiritual armor? As if we take it off each night before we go to bed and so must put it back on every day. Now, I will say that it is not a wrong intention on the part of those who say this. We do need to be aware of the armor we have been given. We need to USE it. But as we look at this text it does not say that we are to keep putting the armor on, over and over. It says, “Put on the whole armor of God.” The phrase “put on” is permanent. It means, put it on once for all. This is the last suit of armor you will ever need!
As John MacArthur states in his commentary on Ephesians (p. 338):
It is not a uniform to wear only while playing a game and then to remove when the game is over. The armor of God is to be the Christian’s lifelong companion.
The truth is we have each been given this armor, but the question is, are we using it? As Paul taught us earlier in this epistle we are to put off the life we lived when we were alienated from God and dead in sin because when we were saved we put on a new man – we became a new creation in Christ (Eph 4:20-24). And as a new creation we have been given the whole armor of God so that we might stand firm in the fight that rages around us.
The sad truth is that there are so many Christians who are in the midst of battle and have no idea how to fight and no clue about the armor that God has given them. They flee the field of battle time after time in defeat because they fail to see what God has given them. And they have been deceived into believing that the difference between victory and defeat is a matter of their own faith. They have heard over and over that if they will just have enough faith then everything will be okay.
But the Bible tells us that the battle does not depend on our faith, our ability, our might, our cunning, or our intellect. The battle is the Lords. “‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord.” (Zech 4:6). We have been given the whole armor of God so that we might stand against the schemes of the devil. Let us understand then what it means to put it on once for all. For when we are armed by the Lord we have nothing in this world, or in the world to come, to fear.
Have you put on the whole armor of God? If so, you are ready for battle, and you will be able to stand!
Join us next Sunday, August 8, for the message “The Wiles of the Devil” from Ephesians 6:11.
Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)