|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2000|
|"Put on the full armor of God." Dr. Barber looks at this command in light of what we have already learned in the book of Ephesians. What is the armor, and how does it protect us?|
We are going to move to verse 11: “Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” We need to understand that we, as believers, live in a spiritually hostile world. The book of Ephesians tells us what a believer is. Look at Ephesians 1:13. Paul says, “In Him [Christ], you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” They had heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Word containing the gospel. Someone’s testimony does not save us. It is the Word of God that is the seed that must fall in the man’s heart.
Now there must be a response to it. He says, “having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” The word “believed” meaning more than just to intellectually understand. It involves the fact that you were overcome with persuasion as to who He is, as to what He did. Therefore, you bow before Him, not just as your Savior, but as your Lord, believing in Him. So believers are those who have heard the gospel and have responded in belief.
Ephesians 1:1 tells us what has happened now. It says, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus.” These were believers, those having believed the gospel, having bowed before the Lord Jesus Christ, receiving Him as their Lord and Master. These people now are in a class all by themselves. The word “saint” is the same word as “holy.” It means to be set apart.
In 3:16 we see that the Holy Spirit now lives in our hearts. Believers are set apart and different because the Holy Spirit of God lives in their hearts, in their inner man. Paul says, “be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” So the Spirit of God lives in our inner man. Verse 17 equates the heart and the inner man. What makes us special? What makes us different? The Spirit of God lives in us. We are set apart. We are in a class all by ourselves.
In 1:4, we are chosen by God before the foundation of the world: “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” In verse 5 we are adopted as sons into the family of God. Not only are we born again as Jesus and the apostle Peter said, but we are adopted into His family, brought back in to His household. The word “adopted” means that we are secure. God can never reject us. In their culture, you could not reject an adopted child as you can in our culture today. So, we are secure in Him today, set aside in a class all by ourselves. Having heard the gospel and believed has put us into that class, that special class all by ourselves.
In 1:7 we are redeemed and forgiven of our sins. We have been purchased off the slave block of sin. I don’t have to live as a hostage to sin any more because of what Jesus did for me on the cross. In 2:6 we are seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. I think that is most important for us to focus on. If you will keep that in the back of your mind, I’ll come back to it in a moment.
In 5:8 it says we have been made light: “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light.” As light we live in a world infected by darkness. This is where the problem begins. You see, when I am living in darkness there is no conflict, but now having been made light and as I walk as a child of light, wearing the garment of light, I begin to irritate the darkness that is around me. This whole world system is the product largely of the influence of darkness. It is hostile to the Lord. It is hostile to the people of God. Everything and every place have been influenced by darkness. The economic systems of our world have been influenced by darkness. The political systems of our world have been influenced and infected by darkness. The educational systems of our world have been influenced by darkness. The social mores and values have been influenced by darkness. First John 5:19 says that the whole world lies in the arms of the evil one. They are not even cognizant of the fact that they have been affected and infected by darkness. They do not understand.
In 4:17-19 of Ephesians we are told that the whole world, their minds are darkened, therefore, their morality is depraved. They are infected and influenced by darkness. Now here we are. We have not been made light, living in a world infected by darkness. The main instigator of all that darkness is the prince of darkness himself, Satan. In Ephesians 2:1 and 3 we are introduced to him. It says in verse 1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.”
Jesus said in John 8:44 that he was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature for he is a liar and the father of lies. He was once an angel in heaven, the most beautiful angel in heaven. He led a rebellion against God and, as a result, was cast into the lower heavens. He walks on this earth, but he still has access into heaven to accuse the brethren both day and night. Way back in Genesis 3 he deceived the woman and caused the man to sin. By getting Adam to sin, sin entered the world and something else happened. As a result of the sin of Adam, the depravity of man, the authority of this earth, its inhabitants and its lower atmosphere became Satan’s legally in the just system of God. When man sinned, it was like the world was turned over to the authority of darkness, legally, because man chose to disobey his God. Death, the result of the curse of sin, was his weapon. His kingdom is a kingdom of darkness and deceit. Every person is born into his kingdom.
People are always saying, “That little baby could not be born a sinner.” Well, if you could give that little baby the intelligence to know what we know and the words to say what we know to say at three in the morning when it wants milk and you want to sleep, you will find out how affected by darkness that little child is. Nobody ever taught that child that. It was passed down from Adam from generation to generation. Every person, every man, is born into the kingdom of darkness. Thank God for His provision of young ones when they don’t understand that. David said when his son died, “He cannot come to me. I can go to him.” There appears to be an age of accountability with children, but we don’t know when that age stops because it is different for every individual when they come to realize that what they are doing is sin.
After the fall, God raised up Abel and immediately Satan infected Cain to kill his brother. Once Satan had gotten the authority of the people on this earth, once he was the prince of the power of the air, God would do something in a man. Then Satan would infect another man to come against him. It appears to be a chess game all through the Old Testament until you come to the book of Malachi. When you come to the book of Malachi we realize that God backs off. He withdrew the fire from the temple and there is nothing done on either part it seems for a period of about 400 years. Then God broke the silence by revealing His plan that had been before the foundation of this world. Instead of raising up a man, God became a man and Satan said, “I am in deep trouble! Now Jesus is on the scene.”
The whole world is surrounded by darkness. Demonic control is all over the whole earth. The whole world is infected and influenced by darkness. But Jesus is the Light. No one turned Him on, and no one can ever turn Him off. He is the Light. He is not like light. He is not a light. He is Light. He came through the darkness to this earth. He walked on this earth as the God-man, took our sin upon Himself, died on the cross, resurrected, ascended, is glorified and now man for the first time man has the hope of being delivered out from underneath the captivity that he has been held by Satan. Now Jesus is here. He offers man the opportunity to be transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son.
Before the cross and the substitutional death of Jesus on the cross, man lived in fear of the devil and death. But Jesus conquered them both. In Ephesians 1:20 it says that He, Jesus, was seated far above all principality and powers. As a matter of fact, look at verse 20: “which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.”
He didn’t say He seated Him above, he said He seated Him far above. Let me explain to you what that means. If you could take the power of Satan and put it on a scale next to the power of God, his doesn’t even show up. God’s is far above all principalities and powers. I want you to know that warfare is not a struggle against power. It is a struggle to maintain truth. We will see that as we walk through this. Satan is no equal to God. He is a creation. God is the Creator!
Well, the believer needs to be aware that Satan is around. We are told that by Peter in his epistle. We need to be aware of the demonic. We need to be aware of darkness. We need to be aware that it has infected a world system and is in our face daily. We need to be aware of that, however, our focus is not to be on that. Our focus is to be on the resurrected, ascended, glorified Lord Jesus Christ and on His resurrection power in each individual life. That is our focus. We do not focus on darkness. We focus on light. The Prince and the power of light is the Lord Jesus Himself.
Each one of the words in verse 10 shows us something different about the strength of the God who wants to empower our lives. The word ischus means inherent power. He doesn’t have to do anything. You can just be in His midst and be overwhelmed. I imagine that is the power that overwhelmed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they said, “Our God is able. But even if He doesn’t....” He doesn’t have to do anything folks. The word ischus is the one Paul takes us deep into understanding in the book of Ephesians. You see, when you want to know about power, you have to go deeper than the outside plug on a wall. If you want to know about the power of electricity, you have to go somewhere where the power is manufactured. You have to go deep down inside the dam and see all the generators and the power and the strength. Paul takes us deep down into Ephesians and helps us see who it is that we serve and who it is that lives in our lives.
So he says in verse 10, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” He wraps up the whole book in one phrase. Then he begins to extend and explain what he is talking about and that is what I want us to see. Verse 11 is another command, but it extends what he has already said. He begins to explain what he has been saying for six chapters. Now watch this. The tense is aorist middle imperative. He says in verse 11, “Put on the full armor of God.” What does aorist middle imperative mean? Aorist tense means “do it.” Put it on. Make sure this happens. Middle voice means it is by your own choice. It is not going to just jump on you. You’ve got to make your choice. Imperative means it is a command.
Now he says in verse 10, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Then he turns right around and says, “Put on the full armor of God.” The word “put on” there is referring to putting on a garment. It is the same word used back in 4:24 where he says, “Put on the new man.” This is interesting to me. I have a difficult time believing that the armor of chapter 6 is different from the garment of chapter 4. If you look at the context of Ephesians, Paul is putting the garment of chapter 4 in a different light in chapter 6. It is almost like he is saying, “Finally brethren, I want you to see the urgency of what I have been telling you. Put on [like putting on a garment] the whole armor of God.” I believe that the garment of chapter 4 is the armor of chapter 6 when understood in light of the context of Ephesians.
Let me explain why. If you take the view that the armor is something else you put on top of what has already been taught in Ephesians, then here is what you are saying. You are saying that being strengthened in the inner man by the Spirit of God, allowing Christ to rule in every area of our hearts, understanding and experiencing for ourselves the love of Christ in us and through us, wearing the brand new garment of a new lifestyle, refuting, reproving and removing the deeds of darkness around us by wearing this garment, being constantly moment by moment filled with the Spirit of God, allowing Christ’s love to permeate our homes and our work place, surrendered to Christ, letting Jesus be Jesus, living a righteous life which is your garment, is not enough. You are saying you need to put something on top of that if you are ever going to defeat the devil. I do not believe that is what Ephesians is teaching.
We get caught up in the fact that it is a power against a power. That is not the picture. The picture is we are dealing with truth. We are dealing with our minds. We are dealing with lives that are surrendered so that we don’t get caught off guard by the schemes, by the trickery of the devil. So I beg to disagree with the statement that we need to add something to what Paul has beautifully brought out is a life strengthened in the inner man with an outer garment which is a life of righteousness from head to toe, minds being renewed, hearts being stirred to righteousness. All these things to me are our weapon. It is our armor against the adversary.
Listen, folks, if you say you deal with the devil, remember he is only in one place at one time. He moves fast, but he is a spirit. He is only in one place at a time. What we are dealing with is a system he has infected into this world and is in every area that we look at. It is in our face when we turn the television set on. It is in our face when we walk out into the humanistic society that we live in. The only way to combat him is to be filled with the Spirit, empowered in the inner man, wearing the garment of righteousness, letting the Word richly dwell in your hearts. Then you have your armor on and that armor will shut down the wiles of the devil.
Let me walk through it with you. In verse 11 it says to put on the full armor of God. This is another clue to me. Paul shows us that the garment, which is now armor, is made up of several things. He is going to mention them later on. But he says if you have only one of them on it is useless. You have to have them all on. The armor then is like a garment. It is one unit. You can’t have a piece of it on and another piece not on. You have to have the full armor. The word panoplia, refers to the totality of armor worn by a soldier. Now we must realize something. Paul has in his mind the Roman soldier they would see on the street day by day.
Two things are important to me in that verse. One is the full armor. It is a garment. It is one fabric, which to me again points back to chapter 4. You put on Christ. You don’t put on a piece at a time. You put on Christ. That putting Him on involves the mind, the breast plate, the feet, all those things.
Secondly, it is the armor of God. It is not the armor of man. He says, “Put on the full armor of God.” Do you remember when David took lunch over to his brothers who were fighting against Goliath? David gets over there and sees that it is Goliath they are fighting. David said, “Let me fight him.” Of course, everybody thought he was crazy. He said, “The Lord delivered me from the bear and the lion. Let me go over and fight him.”
Saul wanted to help him out. Saul takes his armor and tries to put it on David. It is a good picture here of what I am talking about. You see, this doesn’t fit. You don’t come against the wiles of the devil, who is a master of deceit, a liar from the very beginning, in this world that is his territory, that he has infected, that he has influenced. You don’t come against him in the power of man. You come against him in the armor of God. It is God’s armor. Put on the full armor of God. To me what he is saying is, “Don’t take this garment lightly. It is armor. When you put it on remember that is the only way you can stand against the wiles of the devil.”
Now, this righteous garment, which is our armor, has a purpose. He says, “that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” The word “stand” there has the idea not of a casual standing but of a digging in. They tell me that the sandals of the Roman soldiers had spikes on them so they could dig in and hold their ground and not be knocked off course.
That is sort of the idea of standing. It is not just a casual standing up. It has the idea of standing firm and holding the ground that you are on, not being knocked off course. Now folks, you need to understand something. Satan is in this world. Satan wants to come in your face and put deceit in your mind. Friend, if you are not being strengthened in the inner man, your mind being affected by truth, letting the Lord Jesus Christ motivate you and live His life through you, you are a dead duck.
If you are not in the Word of God, you are not consistently seeking to let Him control your life. Remember spirituality is not perfection, it is consistency. I come back continually to repent. It is being dressed and undressed constantly. As I continue to do that, then I will be protected against the deceit that Satan wants to put in my face. If your life is sort of a haphazard life as far as your Christianity is concerned, you are already deceived and you don’t even know it. Apply that to your own life. Apply that to your thinking about the church. Apply it to your thinking about your family. If you are not being affected and consistently seeking Him and letting His Word radically change your mind, you have already been deceived and you don’t even know it. That is how good Satan is, folks. He talked Eve into talking Adam into sinning and the depravity of man resulted. That is how good he is. He knows what he is doing. This is his territory right now. He is the prince of the power of the air. He has legal authority over this earth.
However, we are transferred out of his kingdom into the kingdom of God at salvation. Therefore, we have to have on our garment which is going to be our armor against him. You don’t stand with your back to him. You stand with your face to him. Friend, he is in your face. Folks, this is his world. He knows what he is doing. If you are not putting the Word in your mind, letting truth affect your life, then you have missed the whole point of what this conflict is over. It is not power against power. God can sneeze and put him down. It is the battle of truth. That is why it is so important for us to understand that we need to be strengthened in the inner man at all times because that affects the way we think, that affects the way we live.
Then Paul says, “the schemes of the devil.” “Schemes” refer to the trickery of the devil. He is the old deceiver. The word “devil” is an interesting word. He has other names, Satan, for instance. But Paul uses the word “devil” here again. He has used it twice. The word “devil” here is the word that means diabolical. He is the slanderer. It means the one who tries to get in and separate you in any relationship. He will separate you in your walk with God and your fellowship with Him. He will separate you in your work with others, simply because you are holding on to something that has not been affected by what the Word of God has to say.
So he is good at what he is doing. He is constantly trying to deceive us. He tries to trick us, but we are to stand and hold our ground. It is a command. He says, “You do it. Be strong in the Lord. That is where your strength to stand comes from. But you have to make up your mind to put on the armor, to wear the garment which is a righteous lifestyle of Jesus being Jesus in your life.” My proposal to you to think about is this, Jesus Christ in His life being released through us, spiritually empowering us in the inner man by His garment of a righteous lifestyle is our armor against the tricks of the devil as we stand in a spiritual war zone and he tries to knock us off balance. Our armor is the Lord Jesus manifesting His life in and through us.
Look at Isaiah 59:17. That is the verse Paul is quoting here. We are to put these things on, but we put them on by putting on Christ, just like we put on the garment. He and His Spirit affects our minds, affects our righteous living, which brings peace in our life. He gives us the helmet of salvation. Look at Verse 17 of Isaiah 59, speaking of Jesus. “And He put on righteousness like a breast plate, and a helmet of salvation on His head.” Ephesians 6:14-17 say almost the same thing, talking about the different pieces of armor that Paul has referred to.
I want to refer you to a hymn we sing quite often in our church. I want to read it for you. This comes right out of the truth we have just studied.
There is not one person down here who can stand up against him.
He must win the battle because of who He is.
That is exactly what I believe Paul is saying. He is simply putting the armor into the context of a spiritual war zone. He is saying, “Listen, this garment is more important than you think. If you don’t have it on, then you have no defense against the master deceiver who wants to lead you off the path and knock you from your standing on truth, the Lord Jesus.”
To me he is saying, “Finally, brethren, be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might.” By the way, that garment is your armor and that is how you are going to be defended, by Jesus being Jesus in your life.