Monday, January 29, 2024

Winning your Spiritual Battles: The Armor of God as a Guide

"John Paton was a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands. One night hostile natives surrounded the mission station, intent on burning out the Patons and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see their attackers leave. A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ. Remembering what had happened, Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, "Who were all those men with you there?" Paton knew no men were present--but the chief said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords circling the mission station."
-Today in the Word, MBI, October, 1991, p. 18.

John Paton’s wife knew that the real struggle was spiritual, not physical. So she got to work praying and praying that fateful night. God answered those prayers, and he sent his angels to protect them.

We too must remember that our struggle is not physical, but spiritual. We must fight our battle in the spiritual realm, which is just as real as the physical world.

To that end we’re going to be delving into a scripture today that will give us specific instructions for how to fight and win our spiritual battles.

Spiritual warfare is something we Christians understand to be events in our lives that are sent from Satan and his demons to try to disrupt our lives, harm us, confuse us, discourage us, or lead us off course in our walk with Christ.

God allows these attacks for the purpose of testing and refining our faith. Satan and his demons can’t do anything without God’s permission. God gives permission, in certain circumstances, and at certain times, to test our faith.

Many things in life are not spiritual warfare. They are just simple life problems. Your car breaks down, life problem. You get into a fight with your spouse, life problem. You forget to pay a bill, life problem.

But there are also events that are more than that. They are spiritual in nature. We will usually be able to sense that this is an attack from the enemy. I have a discernment, where I can tell that it’s from the enemy. You will probably be able to tell pretty quickly as well, this was from the enemy.

But I don’t want you to be afraid. Because God has given you everything you need to win the spiritual battles you face.

And we find that formula in the classic structure of the armor of God. Let’s delve into that structure now.

It says in verse 10, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”

Verse 10 is the end goal, this is where we will arrive. If we obey all the instructions in verses 11-20, we will have the solution, which his to "be strong in the Lord."

A big part of that solution is going to be verse 11, which says, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

What’s the purpose of the armor? To stand against the devil’s attacks. The enemy is trying from time to time, to get me to want to quit the ministry. He wants you to leave the church. He’ll sometimes use an incident to try to make you mad so you want to quit. He will try to cause drama in your friendships. He’ll try to hurt you financially. In all this, we want to put on the armor of God and stand.

It continues, (verse 12) “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.”

And again in verse 13, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

Four key commands here: 

1. Be Strong! 
2. Understand our struggle is spiritual
3. Put on God’s Armor 
4. Stand your ground (continuously)

If we understand that our struggle is spiritual, against Satan and the demons, we will want to put on the armor of God daily. If we don’t, and we’re too focused on the physical world, we will end up not even bothering with it. That’s why it’s so important we understand the spiritual world is real.

My biggest worry is that we’ll all see this and think "hey that’s cool" and never actually use this formula. This is real stuff. We need to fear God and obey it completely, or we will lose our spiritual battles, and end up on the run in life, naked and fleeing for our lives. The devil isn’t playing around. He wants to drive you out of the church, get you away from the word, isolate you, and destroy you with addictions and sins. That’s his goal. But if we put on this armor, we can stand against the enemy’s schemes.

Here's how it’s put together. First, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist” –Ephesians 6:14a

The first thing we want to do, is to know God’s word very well. Then we’ll be armed with truth. But it’s more than that. We want a gift of God known as discernment. Discernment is being able to look at things in the world and know what’s really going on there.

It’s hearing a pastor preach and saying, something is off with that message. It’s hearing another pastor preach and saying, this is a spirit-filled message. It’s listening to a song and knowing, this song has demonic influence in it. It’s listening to another song and saying, this song is of God. We see different things, in entertainment, in academia, in politics, in history, in the church, and we’re able to, with God’s help, discern the truth about it.

Pray for discernment. We all need it!

Prayer: God, we put on the belt of truth, in Jesus name, amen.

Next, still verse 14, “with the breastplate of righteousness in place…”

The breastplate of righteousness is two things, first it’s wearing the righteousness of Jesus Christ, second, it’s mimicking that righteousness in our own actions. One is justification, the other is sanctification. You are holy in Christ (justification), therefore be holy for He is holy (sanctification) (1st Peter 1:15-16).

If you want to stand against the enemy’s schemes, believe Jesus is your righteousness, and then live that out in your own actions.

Prayer: Lord, we put on the breastplate of righteousness. Amen.

Verse 15 says, “...and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”

I remember in playing basketball for many years, I attended camps and classes, and they’d always teach us that our footwork was very important, on defense and offense.

Spiritually, we want to understand that at all times we want to be ready, ready to spread the gospel of peace. God gives us peace, and that peace helps us to be ready.

It’s just always having a mindset that this could be a moment where I get to minister to someone. Are you watchful like that? Are you looking for opportunities? Or are you so focused on yourself that you don’t share the gospel? That’s the challenge friends, be about your Father’s business, not just your own.

Prayer: Lord we put on the shoes of the readiness of the gospel of peace.

Next in verse 16, “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

Stay in a position of faith in your life. We will feel tempted from time to time to complain, doubt God, and begin to despair or give up. Stay in faith. Keep that shield of faith raised up.

Choose faith. I know it’s hard sometimes. But keep trusting God. As those arrows fly in, keep that shield up, and faith in God will extinguish the darts of the enemy.

It’s a choice in the end. You can always respond to any problem or situation in two ways, doubt or faith.

Right now we’re trying to hire a new caseworker at The Salvation Army. My mind battles, how should I respond? Doubt says, great timing this is a mess we won’t find the right one, how could God let this happen, blah blah blah. Faith says, God is going to provide the right person at the right time. This is building our faith. Everything will be ok. Stand firm.

Choose faith. It’s the better way to respond.

There’s an amazing film that delves into this topic of how to respond. It’s called “Greater” the true story of Brandon Burlsworth. And it catalogues the wrestling of his brother, after Brandon died at a young age. Would he choose resentment and anger at God for letting it happen? Or would he choose faith and trust, that God was still good, and Brandon was home in paradise?

The struggle is played out with Brandon's brother sitting on a bench by the football stadium. An old man represents Satan and comes and sits next to him, and tempts him to despair and become bitter. The old man carves a wooden figurine of him, looking angry and bitter. But Brandon's brother resists the enemy, rejects his lies, and comes to see a wider angle on the problem of pain and suffering. 

Choose faith today. Lift up that shield. Don’t let the enemy’s lies lead you to be angry at God.

Prayer: Lord, we put on the shield of faith. In Jesus name, amen!

Verse 17 says, “Take the helmet of salvation...”

We have a great hope, it’s called the hope of salvation. One day, God willing, we will pass into the next life, and receive our full inheritance, our salvation in the new Jerusalem. I look forward to that day.

Keep your salvation in sight. Look upward to your eternal future in heaven. Think about heaven. Read books about heaven. Learn about the New Jerusalem. Consider all the wonderful joys the next life has waiting for you. Keep your mind focused on salvation, the glorious future you have this hope of. Hope does not put us to shame. “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.” – Romans 5.

Prayer: Lord, we put on the helmet of salvation, in Jesus name, amen.

Next, still in verse 17, “...and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Your greatest weapon is to speak the word of God. Speak life. Speak truth. Speak the scriptures. The voice is powerful. To speak is powerful. Remember God spoke, and he said, let there be light, and there was light. Now, we are not gods. But, when we speak, it’s powerful too, because we’re made in God’s image.

When Jesus returns he will destroy the beast “with the sword that comes out of His mouth” Revelation 19:15.

A sword comes out of your mouth as well, it’s the word of God, spoken in the Spirit. When we speak the word, we should speak it in the Spirit. Spiritless word isn’t near as powerful as words spoken by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We must be led by God for that to happen. And he will guide the words we speak.

Prayer: Lord, we put on the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, in Jesus name, amen.

Lord, help us to speak the word from the Spirit, help us to learn that and walk in step with the Spirit in that, in Jesus name, amen.

But we aren’t done yet, next it says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (v. 18).

Pray for God’s people, with all sorts of different requests. We do that in life group, we do that in recovery group, we do that at the women’s group, we do that at dinner church, we pray all sorts of different requests and prayers, you should do the same on your own time, write down some prayers, and pray them at night before you go to bed, or in the morning before you start the day.

Paul continues in verses 19-20 and says, “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”

Secondly, we want to constantly be praying for God’s people, praying for his apostles, his pastors, his teachers, his prophets, and his evangelists. Please pray for me. Pray for other pastors and missionaries and leaders everywhere. Pray specifically that we would have the right words to speak, that we would be fearless! That we would be ambassadors for Christ. And again, to not be cowardly, but bold and fearless. Leaders need that.

Many pastors and Christian leaders feel very pressured to not offend anyone. They feel pressured and stressed to go along with the culture. They don't want to make waves. They don't want to end up constant controversies. They stay quiet when they should speak. I get it, it's tough! Pray for Christian leaders to speak the truth boldly and fearlessly.

Now, if we do these things, if we discern truth, we if live righteously, if we have peaceful readiness, if we choose faith, focus on the hope of salvation, and speak the word in Spirit, and we pray for God’s people and God’s leaders, then, we will as a natural consequence have, “In His Mighty Power” from God, we will in fact be “Strong in the Lord.” Strong in ourselves? No, Strong in the Lord, in the Lord’s Mighty Power. We will be shielded in God’s strong, and the enemy’s schemes will be a failure. We will overcome and gain the victory over the ancient serpent, and be immovable, standing our ground, in the evil day.

The evil day will come from time to time for all of us. But if we put on the armor, and pray, we’ll be strong in the Lord, and all will be well. God bless you today.


1. Understand our Struggle is Spiritual in nature

2. Belt of Truth – Discern Truth

3. Breastplate of Righteousness – live righteously

4. Shoes of the Readiness – peaceful readiness

5. Shield of Faith – choose faith

6. Helmet of Salvation – hope of salvation

7. Sword of the Spirit – Speak the word in Spirit

8. Pray for God’s people - make all kinds of requests

9. Pray for God’s leaders - pray for boldness for leaders

10. Then, we will be Strong in the Lord – able to stand firm