Since last week, the evil in the world has ratcheted up a few more notches. Just when you think it can’t get worse, somehow it does. As we saw last week in Part I of “We Wrestle Not Against Flesh & Blood,” the birth pains are becoming more intense and closer together.
Jesus said, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom,” in the last days (Matthew 24:7a). In a faraway place called Afghanistan this week, well over one hundred men, women and children were beheaded for no other reason than they were followers of Jesus Christ. Since the Taliban took control, this once-promising Mideast country has become a hell-hole once again, with the militant Islamists vowing to hunt down and execute every Christian in the country.
Now, not only Afghani citizens are being persecuted and executed, but several U.S. citizens are trapped there as well. Some pundits say this fiasco has the potential to surpass what happened in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 when the State Department turned its back on its own Ambassador, letting him die a horrible death in the hands of the Ansar-al-Sharia militant Islamists.
“There will be famines and earthquakes in divers places” (Matthew 24:7b). Meanwhile, in Haiti, where a 7.2-magnitude earthquake robbed tens of thousands of Haitians of everything they owned in a matter of seconds, the hunt for clean water and food is now a daily struggle for thousands. As relief pours in, convoys are attacked and ransacked by people desperate for the necessities of life. When that kind of desperation hits, there are no ‘niceties’ or considerations for others. It’s a matter of “If my family doesn’t eat, we die.”
“Because of the increase in wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). In other places in the world, people are facing increasingly draconian charges and shutdowns over the latest COVID variants that resemble war-time measures of suspended rights and freedoms.
In Part I, I wrote, “The darkness of the spiritual realms of the Evil One is manifesting increasingly in our modern world, and modern people have no idea how to cope with it.” So am I looking on the ‘dark’ side, or am I being realistic? We can put our heads in the sand and pretend all is well, or we can look evil in the eye and decide to stand against it.
Apostle Paul writes, “Be strong in the LORD in His mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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.”
We are reminded that, in Matthew 10:28, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
In today’s world, we ‘cutesy-fy’ Satan, if we picture him at all. He’s that cute little red devil with a tiny pitchfork standing on your left shoulder, trying to shout down the cute little angel standing on your right shoulder, who is telling you to be good.
One of our modern idols, “Science,” has convinced many today that there’s no devil and that there’s no God either. But the ancients knew Satan was real, as well as they knew God is not only real but is the Creator of the entire universe, and that includes Satan and his demons, too. 1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (emphasis mine)
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you can expect to be assaulted by the evil one from time to time. We need to know how to resist him, how to stand against him. Thankfully, that knowledge is abundant in the New Testament, and we find it in our text today.
Apostle Paul knew from firsthand experience that Satan is an adversary we ought not ignore or make light of. Using the analogy of a Roman soldier’s armour, Paul outlines six pieces of spiritual armour that will help protect us when comes what he calls “the day of evil, a day of hard temptation, a day of discouragement, a day of faltering faith.” And he tells us how to put on this armour for maximum effect, just as real armour must be donned in a certain sequence to ensure it will do the job it was created to do.
First of all, Paul says, we are to put on the WHOLE armour of God, not just one or two pieces. We need it all to defend against the powers of darkness. Can you imagine a Roman soldier venturing out onto the war field with only a helmet and greaves [leg armour] for protection? No. He must put on all his armour and correctly, too. And we are urged to do the same with the armour of God.
The first piece to put on is the belt of Truth. All the other pieces of our armour hang on this one. Without Truth, there can be no foundation for our faith.
In our world today, truth has become subjective. You hear people saying things like, “My truth is as valid as your truth.” In Christianity, there is but one Truth … the Truth that Jesus Christ is LORD and that He came to earth to die for our sins on the cross, and then rose again to live forever. That’s the Truth. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). THAT is the Truth!
Next comes the breastplate of righteousness, but not our own righteousness. This is the righteousness accrued to Our Saviour. Jesus’ righteousness strengthens our hearts. It protects them with His holiness against the slings, the temptations of the Enemy. When we walk in the LORD’s righteousness, we are walking in the Light of God, which protects us from the darkness of the Evil One. Just a little light is needed to dispel total darkness. But the Light of the LORD quenches the darkness totally.
Next, we put on the greaves and sandals, representing the Gospel of Peace, the protection we need to stand our ground in the face of temptation and trials. Our feet also need protection to march forward in rugged paths, taking the Gospel with us wherever we go.
Sometimes, talking with non-believers is a rocky road littered with pitfalls, both imagined by us and dug for us by the enemy. With our spiritual greaves and sandals, the Gospel of Peace, we need not worry. In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Next, we are to take up the shield of Faith. In the hour of temptation, a strong faith is needed. Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see.” Our Christian Faith is believing in what is invisible to our human eyes – the Heavenly Kingdom, the Risen Christ, our free gift of Salvation from Jesus Christ. Just as a shield deflects material arrows and the blows from a sword, so our Faith deflects all that the enemy can bring to bear. Our faith is a strong defense, not only against the evil one and his schemes, but also against all that life can throw at us. We keep our faith strong by applying the Word of God and the Grace of Jesus to our hearts to quench the flaming darts and arrows sent toward us from the demonic realms.
Topping off our armour is the helmet of Salvation. The Scriptures give us every reason to expect victory over evil. The Bible is clear that Jesus has done the heavy lifting for us by His incomparable work on the cross of Calvary. Our sure hope of salvation is a great protection from evil. Just as a helmet protects the skull, which, in turn, protects the brain, our armour of Salvation protects the innermost us, the part of us that carries on after death … our soul. Knowing and believing that we will spend eternity with Our LORD allows us to stand strong in the most heated battle with Satan.
Now we are protected. However, even a Christian needs to be armed for defense in battle. Apostle Paul recommends only one weapon of attack, but it is enough … the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. In a commentary on this text, Matthew Henry says, “The sword of the Spirit subdues and mortifies evil desires and blasphemous thoughts as they rise within, and answers unbelief and error as they assault from without. A single text, well understood and rightly applied, at once destroys a temptation or an objection and subdues the most formidable adversary.”
Paul finishes the chapter by urging the Ephesians to pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. In his first letter to the Thessalonians (5:16-18), Paul says, “Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all: hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.”
Each day, make sure you put on the Whole Armour of God and be ready for anything the evil one may throw your way. No matter how bad the news gets, no matter the temptations, no matter the trials that come … the Whole Armour of God will keep you safe in Him.
Now, I just want to define ‘safe.’ Right now, in Afghanistan, the Taliban is hunting down Christians and beheading them. You might ask, “Is God keeping them safe?” Well, let’s look at that.
If those Christians would turn from their faith in Christ and go back to Islam, they wouldn’t be beheaded. You see, they have stood strong in their faith and are now safely in the arms of Jesus Messiah. That’s what is meant by safety. They are safely on that other shore where we all, as Christians, long and yearn to be.
And also, be open to all the good things Your Loving Father is bestowing on you, constantly. Never stop giving praise and thanks for the free gift of Salvation bought for you by Our Saviour with His precious blood. There is nothing in this life more precious than that … nothing matters more.
Finally, the devil knows his time is short, and he’s going to do everything he can think of to pull us away from faith in Jesus. To ignore this is dangerous. But God … But God … the Spirit God has given us does not make us timid but gives us power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).
We need to be ready every day, for, as we read in Hebrews 10:37, “In just a little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay.”
Maranatha, LORD Jesus. Come quickly.
Let us pray …
Heavenly Father: This week, may our hearts and minds stay on You, and may we be conscious of putting on the armour You have given us so freely. Let us never lose sight of the most precious gift ever bestowed by You on humankind … the gift of the Life of Your Son, that we may have eternal life in Him and through Him with You. May Your Spirit of Truth and Honour and Wisdom be with us today and all the days of our life. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
If anyone reading this article has not yet received Jesus as their Saviour, but God has touched your heart by His Holy Word, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or find a Bible-believing local church and ask the Pastor what you must do to be saved in Grace. In the meantime, please consider the ABCs of Salvation:
A – Admit
Admit what you have done wrong and ask forgiveness.
Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death.”
1 John 1:9 ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
B – Believe
Believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again as payment for your sins.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
C – Confess and Choose
Confess and choose to allow God to be in charge of your life.
Matthew 16:24 “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
Romans 10:9 “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Romans 10:13 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
This article, based on God’s Holy Word, was written by the inspiration of God’s own Holy Spirit. All glory to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.