Eph 6:10-11 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. NIV
This verse is probably familiar to most of you. Many great teachers have instructed believers on the “full armor of God,” breaking down each individual piece of that armor. That knowledge can be a great help to us, but only if we understand what that armor is actually for.
Look closely at the second half of the verse. This armor, is to help us take a stand against Satan and his “schemes.” The Greek word for schemes is methodeias. It is the origin of our English word, methods. It has the idea of of trickery or deception. So we see that the armor, which is mostly defensive in nature, is to help us stand against the deception and trickery of Satan.
Eph 6:12 explains this further, “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.”
This doctrine is critical to our understanding proper use of our spiritual armor. I have heard these verses used to speak about our own struggle against the “lust of our flesh, or the desires of our sinful nature.” When people hear this, they take it to mean using the spiritual armor in fighting against such desires. This is incorrect and leads to a life of failure against the flesh. It is the wrong battle.
Look at Col 3:5-6 "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which idolatry." Also, Rom 6:11 “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” So you see, we are not to try and fight sin, we are to consider ourselves dead to sin. We win this battle by being, “alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Ro 6:11).
The other mistake we make, is to think that any of our battles are really with people. They are not. These instructions come immediately after Paul’s teaching on relationships with people in the church. The battle, which requires spiritual armor, is a spiritual battle, fought with spiritual weapons, against the spiritual realm. It is not against any flesh and bIood. The verse could not be any more explicit about this.
It is we, “soldiers in the service of God,” versus Satan and his fallen angels. The verse indicates that these angels are formed into a demonic army that has a chain of command. It is organized and has a purpose. Satan wants destroy God’s work of reconciliation with man. He will try anything to negate the victory over death, that was accomplished by Jesus’ death on the cross. Paul is telling us here that we have a responsibility to “stand against” this satanic plan.
2 Cor 10:3-5 puts it this way, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Considering all of this, we should ask ourselves some questions. How much time are we spending fighting flesh and blood instead of recognizing the spiritual nature of our situation? How often do I feud and fight with people, not recognizing that I am falling into a trap set by the enemy?
We need to ask ourselves as a church, when we come across those who would oppose the gospel, do we see the problem as something wrong with them or do we understand the spiritual forces that are controlling them? Do we use carnal means to stand against them or do we use our spiritual weapons? Do we try to “destroy” them or do we use our weapons to “demolish a stronghold,” that might keeping them from coming to the truth of the gospel?
Let’s follow Paul’s instructions to stand against the “schemes of the devil,” with all the spiritual armor that God has given us. The belt of truth, not slander, gossip or false witness. The breastplate of righteousness, not revenge or anger. Preparation in the gospel, not the wisdom of man. The shield of faith, trusting in God’s power to do the work. The helmet of salvation, understanding that no matter what man does to us, our standing with the Lord is secure. The sword of the Spirit, which is the Bible itself, guiding us into all truth. Finally, Paul says to pray at all times, in tune with the Holy Spirit. He will lead and guide your actions, to be consistent with God’s purpose and plan, in every battle you face!
God bless you