We are in a battle. It is an invisible battle, but it is a very real battle. It is a war between God and Satan, good angels and fallen angels, good and evil, life and death, Heaven and Hell. It is a battle for the souls of human beings.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. We are in a battle, and in this battle we are facing very powerful enemies. We are not strong enough in ourselves for this battle. The strongest human being is too weak to be in this battle on his own. Our enemies are too strong for us, but we have an Ally who is far stronger than them. Our ally is the almighty Lord of Hosts. He is infinitely stronger than all of our enemies, and He is able to share His strength with us.
We can be victorious in this battle, but only if our strength is “in the Lord.” Strength to be victorious in this war comes from being joined to Adonai, and knowing who He is, and placing our faith, our trust, our confidence in Him and His Word. We must be reconciled to Him. We must get connected to Him. We must be close to Him. We must avail ourselves of His mighty strength.
We must know our Ally. And, we must know our enemies. When you are going to war, it is important to know your enemies. We need to understand that human beings are not our enemies. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood. It seems like our battle is with human beings who oppose us, who oppress us, who want to hurt us. We can see them, and experience the hurt they can do to us, but human beings are not our enemies.
We love human beings who may hate us. We bless them when they curse us. Like the Messiah, we pray for them when they are harming us, praying: “Father forgive them, because they really don’t know what they are doing.” We do good to human beings who are in darkness. Human beings can be converted, saved, redeemed. We bless them, we do good to them, we bring them the message of love, redemption and salvation.
Human beings are not our enemies. They may seem to be our enemies, but our struggle is not against fellow human beings. Instead, our war is against invisible evil spirits who can’t be saved or redeemed. Our real enemies are fallen angels who oppose God and are opposed to us. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Our enemies not flesh and blood, but they are real. They are invisible to the human eye, but they are real. They are non-physical, but they are real. They have access to this physical realm, but are not themselves physical.
They have access to heavenly places but that doesn’t mean that our battle with them takes place in Heaven. The battle takes place in our minds, in our wills, in our spirits, in our hearts. It is battle between embracing or rejecting good and evil, corrupting morality or keeping morality, embracing true religion or false religion. It is a fight to keep people close to or far from the Good News about salvation, from Messiah the Redeemer, from God the Father who loves us, from the Holy Spirit who can transform us, from the Word, from the community of saints, from service, from goodness, from love.
Our enemies are organized: There is an authority structure among them. These fallen angels are organized into rulers and powers. The devil is their leader. But, there are leaders under him. It seems that some fallen angels are in charge of other fallen angels. Some fallen angels are assigned various positions of power over the darkened world of humanity.
Our enemies are intelligent. The devil is a schemer. To scheme involves planning. He is a smart, intelligent, crafty being. Our enemies plan for this battle. They study us. They know our weaknesses and try to exploit them.
Our enemies are powerful. They have powers. They are forces. They wield authority which extends over this fallen world.
Our enemies are wicked. They are rebels against God and corrupters of humanity. They try to ruin and corrupt humanity and keep us from salvation by corrupting what is right, what is good, what is true, especially in the area of true religion.
Our enemies are dark. They bring chaos, confusion, error and deception to humanity that leads to defeat and death.
But, our enemies can be successfully opposed! We can struggle against them and win! We can stand firm, and hold the spiritual ground that the Lord has given to us. How? By being well-connected to the Lord and putting on the armor of God. It’s the armor of God because God provides it and Immanuel, God With Us, Himself wore it when He lived among us as a human being.
Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Someone observed that all of us have areas where we are weak, and our enemies look for chinks in our armor so that they can exploit our weaknesses. But the good news is that all our vulnerabilities can be off limits to the evil spirits if they are properly covered with armor. The armor covers our weak spots and makes them unreachable to the enemy. But there’s a catch; only the full armor can protect us. Partial armor won’t do the job. Even if you were to put on most of the pieces it still wouldn’t be enough; only the full armor will do.
Having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.
The belt of truth buckled around your waist: The belt keeps the rest of the garments properly attached to the body. The belt supports the mid-section. That region of the body is vulnerable to sexual temptation. We must stay away from sexual sin. Sexual activity outside of the God-ordained boundary of marriage is destructive to us. Truth is like a belt. There is such a thing as truth – absolute truth. We can and should know what really is. We must be supported, held up, by the truth. Sexual temptation is common, and giving into it is very destructive. We particularly need the truth to protect us from sexual sin. Knowing that the Word of the Lord teaches us to keep sexual activity within the marriage relationship will keep us safe.
The breastplate of righteousness: The breastplate covers our chest area which includes vital organs like the heart and lungs. We need righteousness to be protected. We must be in a right relationship with God, which comes through the atonement provided by the Messiah. Then, we must live by the principles for right living that are found in the Word of God. We must get right with God, and stay right with God. Not being in a right relationship with God and neglecting what is right will leave a hole in our armor that exposes us to harm.
Our feet need to be fitted with the readiness that comes from the Good News of peace: When in battle it’s essential to have the proper footwear. A soldier is easier to kill if he slips and falls while in hand to hand combat. Knowing the Gospel of Peace – the Good News about the peace that God has provided through the Messiah – peace with God, and the end of hostilities with our Creator, and having a wholesome relationship with Him, brings us a personal, inner peace in the midst of this conflict. It keeps us from falling.
But it doesn’t stop there because the placement of this armor on our feet indicates we are also to be messengers of the Good News. The readiness of the Gospel of Peace means that we are to be prepared at all times to give a reason for the hope that is in us. We are to be going about our daily tasks with the goal of telling others the Good News that God has made it possible for them to have peace with Him, and experience peace that passes all human understanding.
You’ve heard it said, “The best defense is a good offense?” Going on the offensive with the Message of Salvation protects us. It helps us walk and live the right way. It helps us hold our ground. When we are actively bringing the Good News to other people on a regular basis, we are helped. Telling others the truth is not only good for them, but it is also strengthens the one who is witnessing!
In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Roman soldiers, and maybe Jewish soldiers also, carried a shield that protected them. It was better if the enemies’ flaming arrows landed on their shield rather than on them. Faith is our shield. Faith is trust, confidence, belief and reliance in the God of Israel and in His divinely inspired Word. Do you believe in Him? Do you trust Him? Do you have confidence in the accuracy and reliability of the Special Writings?
Our demonic enemies will attack us with various temptations, which are like arrows that have been set on fire and shot at us. We will be encouraged to cheat, steal, lie, cut moral and ethical corners, lose our tempers, strike out in anger, cheat against our husbands and wives.
We will be enticed to not witness, not to come to be part of the synagogue, not to serve, not to practices our spiritual disciplines; to believe that God doesn’t love us, that our trials will be too hard, that we should curse God and die. Keep those shields up! Reliance on God, belief that the Lord is good and true and faithful and just, and completely pure and righteous and merciful and kind, and that He cares for us, and loves us and knows what is best for us, and won’t allow us to be tested more than we are able to endure, will prevent those arrows from piercing us.
And take the helmet of salvation. It can be easier to kill a soldier if he isn’t wearing a helmet. The helmet protects the vital area of the head. We need our heads protected. We need our minds protected. Salvation protects our minds. The knowledge that we are forgiven, and that we are going to live forever with God, protects our minds from the onslaughts of the enemy. We need to know the Savior. We must be saved, and know that we are saved. We must know Yeshua, the One who saves His people from their sins.
And the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. The sword can be used as a defensive weapon and as an offensive weapon. The sword is the Word of God. When we are attacked, we must go to the Scriptures. We must remind ourselves of what the Word of God teaches.
Messiah showed us how to do this when He was being tempted in the desert. He responded to the Adversary’s first temptation to do wrong by answering, “It is written.” He responded to the second temptation by answering, “It is written.” He responded the third time, “Begone Satan, for it is written.” If the Captain of the Lord of Hosts defended Himself with God’s Word, shouldn’t we fortify ourselves against Satan’s attacks in the same way? We need to become familiar with the Word of God so that we can use it when we are tempted. That is how we use the Sword of the Spirit for defense.
We use the Sword of the Spirit on the offensive when we teach people the Scriptures. We teach them what the Word of God says about God, salvation, righteous living. We teach them how to have a successful life in this world, and eternal life in the World-To-Come.
Messiah Yeshua Himself used this armor. Isaiah 11:5 and 59:16-17, which Rabbi Paul quotes here, are prophecies about the Messiah. They tell us that Messiah would put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation. If the Son of God needed the protection of truth, righteousness and salvation when He came into this world, how much more do we?
Prayer is not described as part of the armor, but maybe it follows because it can help us so much in this great battle we are in. With all prayer and petition (with all kinds of requests) pray at all times (someone wrote that praying at all times means that every incident in life should be dealt with in prayer. Anything of significance, whether it be our circumstances or our own thoughts and feelings or the needs of others, should be brought to God. Prayer must become a healthy life-habit that has to be learned, like brushing your teeth and washing your face) in the Spirit (prayer that is guided by the Spirit of God, praying for the things the Spirit of God wants us to pray for, particularly), and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. We are to be alert when it comes to prayer. We are to be aware of the need to pray. We are to be thinking about the need to pray, especially the need to pray for our fellow Christians and Messianic Jews throughout the world. We are to pray with endurance for other believers. Pray for them, and keep on praying for them. Pray for the saints, that the children of God will be victorious in this battle, resist the onslaughts of our enemies, that we will stand firm, hold our spiritual ground. Pray that the ones who are set apart to accomplish God’s special purposes will be bold, be righteous, be holy, be pure, be moral, be uncompromising, stay within God-ordained boundaries, be unified, be full of love, full of truth.
Remember, Paul was writing this letter from prison. His circumstances were not the best. He was in prison for being a godly mean who told the truth. If you were unfairly imprisoned, and could ask for your brothers and sisters to pray for you, what would you ask them to pray for? For your freedom? That you be released? Here is what the Apostle asked them to pray for: And pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Paul does not ask them to pray that he be released, that if he goes to trial, that he trial goes his way. He does not ask that he be given more comforts. He asks them to pray that he would be bold, courageous in a difficult situation, uncompromising in the face of danger.
But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts.
Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Yeshua the Messiah. In other words, may God the Father and Messiah the Son give you wholeness, so that you experience integrity in every aspect of your life; and may the Father and the Son continually care for you and enhance your life. May the Father and the Son enable you to have faith, to believe and trust in Them, and be faithful to them.
Grace (may unmerited, undeserved, unearned good things come to and) be with all those who love our Lord Yeshua the Messiah with incorruptible love – a true love for Messiah, so that He is appreciated above all else and all others, true affection for Him, genuine feeling for Him that will last, not a love that can be corrupted, a short-term love that only lasts until interest is lost, a love that ends when it comes under pressure by opposition.