TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18
There is an evil-looking reptile known as the hog nosed snake which attempts to fool predators with two ruses. First, it impersonates a pit viper, by coiling, striking, and hissing viciously. If this tactic fails to intimidate the attacker, the hog-nosed snake turns belly up, opens its mouth and rolls out its tongue, playing dead. If it is picked up and placed right side up, it simply turns over and resumes the death ruse again.
Scripture likens the devil to a cunning serpent who has numerous tricks up his sleeve — the Bible calls them the wiles of the devil. And, in this series, we are exploring the Scriptural command to be aware of and to be wary of the tricks of our spiritual enemy, the devil.
In our last message, we focused on the strength of the Lord. Paul tells us, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Our strength to fight the battle that we are in comes from the Lord, and not from ourselves. The phrase “be strong” literally means “be made strong.” In other words, we cannot be strong on our own, rather, we are made strong through Jesus Christ and Him alone. In the midst of spiritual battle, we as Christians must learn to lean on God and not on ourselves.
Today, we are going to look at the stand of the saints. Paul goes on to say in this passage, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Once we understand that the power to fight the spiritual battle that we are in comes from Jesus Christ, we can proceed with putting on the armor of God so that we will be ready to stand against the devil.
We don’t want to be like the man who has electricity in his home, but he never flips the light switch and so dwells in darkness. He has power, but he never activates it. Our power comes through Jesus Christ, but we must activate it by putting on the whole armor of God and standing against the devil. We will talk about the specific pieces of the armor in a later message, but, right now, we need to understand what it means to put on the whole armor of God.
In his commentary on Ephesians, Peter O’Brien states, “The ‘armor of God’ can be understood as the armour that God supplies, his own armour which he wears, or even the armor that is God himself…. This exhortation to put on God’s armour recalls the earlier instruction about ‘putting on the new self’, which was created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
The devil is described in Scripture as the “accuser of the brethren.” He is always looking to exploit some flaw in our character. He is always looking for some spiritual weakness to use against us. He is always coming up with accusations to use as fiery darts against us. Sometimes, he will try to make us doubt our salvation. Sometimes, he will criticize our feeble prayers. Or he will try to make us feel as though we are unworthy to be called a child of God.
If we are walking in the flesh, the devil will find plenty of weaknesses to cause us to stumble. However, if we are walking in the spirit — if we have put on the new man — we will be clothed in the righteousness of Christ, and we will be impervious to the devil’s wiles — his tricks or strategies. Once again, this goes back to not relying on our own strength in spiritual battle. You can only be successful against temptation and against the accusations of the devil if you rely on the power of Jesus Christ.
As the famous hymn by Martin Luther states:
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
When we put on the whole armor of God, we are clothing ourselves in the righteousness of Christ that is afforded to us through salvation. We do not have to try to stand against the devil in our own strength. Rather, we stand against him in Christ’s strength. Christ has already gained the victory over our enemy; He knows how to outsmart and out-maneuver him. We would be foolish to not walk in the path that He has already paved for us. If we try to stand against the devil on our own, we will fall prey to his tricks every time. But if we stand in Christ’s strength, clothed in his armor, we will not succumb to the devil’s tricks.