Onward Christian Soldiers is a very familiar old hymn of most churches. Perhaps the author was thinking of Ephesians 6:10-20 when he put pen to paper.
Our world today is a mess. Satan seems to be winning, until we read what God tells us this world will be like in these last days and how it all ends.
One of the signs of the Tribulation is a serious dose of apostasy (or “the falling away,” as stated in the third verse below).
“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4). (emphasis mine)
Apostasy is a falling away from the truth, in our case as Christians, the Truth of the Word of God. Churches today are falling so fast for Satan’s lies, it seems they’re being sucked up like dust bunnies into a vacuum cleaner. Even true Christians are being duped because they are not living as God instructs us in Ephesians 6:10-20.
The “name-it-and-claim-it” crowd and the prosperity salesmen have turned heads for years while the masses have made these charlatans rich. Today, many churches are walking in the gutters of homosexuality, transgenderism, and raising little more than a whisper against abortion, if that much.
That isn’t to say that all churches have fallen for Satan’s lies, but the gap keeps widening daily. Jesus said, “… when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Everybody talks about faith today, but true faith in Jesus is followed by action. All this dribble about faith today is nothing but empty words that sound nice but don’t mean a thing.
Peter says, “These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (2 Peter 2:17).
Jude, the Lord’s half-brother, says, “These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (Jude 1:12-13).
Paul says, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:6).
Paul says again, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
Yet again, Paul says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). If we are not guilty of listening to these ear-scratching teachers, we can be strengthened and grow in the Truth.
We who know Jesus as Savior and Lord are in the midst of spiritual warfare, and as a soldier of Jesus Christ, we must stand up for the Truth. We can cast our votes for politicians who support what the Bible says, but more appropriately, we must also stand up and be counted in our own churches, our own home, and on the job. Do we fight with swords and spears? No, but with the knowledge of the Truth and the power of God.
Moses said, “…Whoever is on the LORD’s side—come to me! …” (Exodus 32:26).
On a later occasion, Joshua said, “… as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
Don’t you think it’s about time that we who say we are servants of the Lord God actually serve Him? As we follow our Lord’s teaching via the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:10-20, let us pray for clarity in our mind and commitment in our heart to the Lord.
Eph 6:10-11: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
The first thing we learn is if we are going to stand up for Jesus and His Word (the Bible), we must rely on His strength and His Word, not ours. Otherwise, we will fail.
We must put on every piece of armor He has provided for us. For example, no soldier is going to go into battle without his helmet. If he does, he is without protection and will not stand.
Eph 6:12: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
We are reminded that we are in a spiritual battle and that we are no match for Satan and his horde. We may think we are standing alone against those who hate and dishonor God. For example, when the courts, politicians and public opinion legitimize abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, and every other anti-God ism, there is a greater power behind them whispering in their ear, i.e., Satan and his hosts.
We must pray for the millions of misguided, hell-bound folks who are listening to Satan’s garbage, because one day soon, just as Satan will face God’s judgment, so will those who follow him. In the meantime, we, as children of Almighty God, must remember to whose family we belong and live our lives accordingly.
Eph 6:13: “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
Again, we are warned to put on all the armor of God. Satan is not to be toyed with. If Michael the archangel did not confront Satan directly but said, “the Lord rebuke you” (Jude 1:9), who are we? We cannot stand against Satan’s onslaughts without the protection the Lord has provided us.
Eph 6:14: “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,”
Every soldier would take his position and make a firm stance to keep from being knocked off balance.
Tuck away anything that will hinder us in the battle, then commit to fight, and not just to fight, but to win the fight. I would like to quote J. Vernon McGee at this point.
“In the ancient garment of that day, the girdle about the loins held in place every other part of the uniform of the soldier.
It was essential. To tell you the truth, if the girdle was lost, you lost everything. The garments would fly open, and the pants would fall down. We see this routine in comedies, and the people laugh to see a man trying to run or fight with his trousers drooping down. It looks funny in a comedy routine, but it is not funny in a battle.
A great battle in the past, we are told, was won by a clever general who told his men to cut the belts of their enemy while they were sleeping. The next morning, the enemy troops were so busy holding up their trousers that they weren’t able to shoot their guns, and, therefore, they lost the battle. We are told to be girded with truth in the face of the enemy. Truth is that which holds everything together. What is that truth? It is the Word of God.” [J. Vernon McGee; Thru The Bible Commentary; Ephesians; Page 182-183]
Each day is set aside for daily living in Christ, or better yet, Christ living daily through us. My wife’s favorite hymn is Victory in Jesus. He leads. We follow.
Eph 6:15: “and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;”
Shoes are very important in every sport, and every sport uses a different type of shoe. However, when we consider the footwear of a soldier, it isn’t just important, it is critical. To play well and especially to fight well, we must have a good foundation. What is the foundation a Christian must have? “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).
Eph 6:16: “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”
The shield of the Roman soldier was quite large and actually covered him entirely as he stood behind it. Jesus is our shield, and we are completely protected as we stand behind Him. We rest our faith in Him that every attack against us is deflected by our protector. We must hold up our shield of faith, which provides us complete trust in the Lord.
Eph 6:17: “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;”
As we learn God’s Word and allow it to live in our lives, it guides our minds to understand and grow in strength. Instead of going along with the opinions of the world around us, we accept Him as our Savior and the Lord of our lives. We think as God thinks instead of as the world thinks. As His children, we honor our Father and reject all the world offers, loving His Word and growing in His care.
We are to put on our helmet of salvation and allow any doubt to flee under God’s assurance of eternal security.
We are to take the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and learn Scripture, then use it as Jesus did against Satan when being tempted.
Eph 6:18: “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—”
As committed soldiers of the Lord God, we need to fellowship with Him often through prayer and Bible study.
Looking back on these nine verses, did you notice that all of them contain action verbs, i.e., be strong, put on, take, stand, hold up, pray, and be alert? A soldier of Christ does not remain in the barracks with his/her feet propped up doing nothing. They are busy. Our problem today is that we are busy alright, but we’re busy about the wrong things. We commit to everything but what really matters.
We live in a challenging time, to say the least, and now more than ever, as Jesus’ return draws ever closer, will He find us sleeping or fully dressed in the armor He has provided, standing firm in Him?
Pre-Rapture Commentary: http://grant-phillips.blogspot.com
Rapture Ready: https://www.raptureready.com/featured/phillips/phillips.html