“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.” Ephesians 6:13
It has been said that when we are born again, we are born onto a spiritual battleground. Ephesians 6 describes the spiritual warfare that individual believers will face and reassures us that we have been given everything we need in order to walk in spiritual victory. The imagery of war used is a metaphor that highlights the many similarities between a physical, earthly war and the unseen spiritual war that believers are a part of whether we realize it or not; we see territories being fought over, the armor required by the individual soldier, spiritual rank and strategies of warfare. As believers, we have been given everything needed in order to walk in victory over the enemy. Author and teacher Dr. Tony Evans defines spiritual warfare as “The conflict in the invisible realm that affects what you’re going through in the visible realm.”
Ephesians chapter 6 describes the reality that there will be specific days when the individual believer will face warfare against evil spirits who have been assigned to derail him or her from fulfilling their God-given purpose in life.
While this reality might sound intimidating, 2 Kings Chapter 6 gives us a reassuring glimpse into the unseen spiritual realm that reveals that we are surrounded by God’s warring angels who come to our defense. In this account, we are told that the King of Aram had surrounded the city of Dothan with horses and chariots in order to capture the prophet Elisha. When Elisha’s servant started to panic, Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid… “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them. And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see. Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:16-17) We are not alone; God is with us, will protect us and will send warring angels to help us. This is why we can say like King David, “I will fear no evil.” (Psalm 23)
Where do spiritual battles take place?
The battle happens in two places. First, the battle occurs in the heavenly places, the unseen realm where angelic and demonic forces are at war. Ephesians 2:6 tells us that this is also where Christ is seated at God’s right hand and where we as believers are seated with Christ. Ephesians 6:12 says, “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.” Heavenly realms refers to the sphere of spiritual activities.
The second place where the battle occurs is in the life of the individual believer. This happens in believer’s mind, emotions and body:
The mind: 2 Corinthians 11:3 says, “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” Again, in 2 Corinthians 10:5 it says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5)
Spiritual battles also occur in the emotions of the believer: Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “…don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. ” Again in 1 Peter 2:11 it says, “Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.” (1 Peter 2:11) Our souls are our mind, our will and our emotions. It is all too easy to assume that emotional distress is due to chemical imbalances, but the truth is, our emotions are affected by the spiritual environment that we are a part of. As we grow in our understanding of the spiritual realm that impacts our emotions, we will be better equipped to process our emotions in a healthy way and to actually allow our emotions to be used as a powerful tool rather than be controlled by them.
Spiritual battles can also affect the body of a believer. Ephesians 2:1-3a says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind…” (Eph. 2:1-3a) Luke 13 also gives the account of a woman who faced a spiritual battle that affected her body when it says, “One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!” 13Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight.”
When does the battle happen? The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:13 that spiritual battles happen on “the day of evil.” What exactly is “the day of evil?” Author and Pastor Chip Ingram explains it this way,
“The day of evil means on a particular day at a particular time…there are specific opportunities and times when the enemy is going to come and try and deceive you or discourage you or to turn you away from your General and Commander, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
It appears that each person’s “day of evil” is the result of strategy on the part of the enemy that is specifically designed with the weaknesses of the individual in mind. Verse 11 says, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Schemes involve making inquiry and the use of deception and craftiness. It appears that the enemy makes inquiry about the individual believer in order to devise the best method to use in warfare against him/her.
Indications that you may be experiencing a “day of evil:”
- When your day is pain-ridden, filled with trouble, agony and misery or when the labor of the day is especially difficult
- When betrayed by someone close to you
- When abandoned by a friend or family member
- When you are falsely accused
- When your spiritual gifts are mocked
- When you are physically, emotionally or spiritually abused
- When you face opposition to your calling
- When you are punished for doing the right thing
- When you are tempted to believe lies about God
- When you are tempted to quit
- When you face opposition to rebuilding your life
- When you are tempted to give in to unbelief about God’s word
- When you are tempted to give in to sin
A day of evil often comes at pivotal times in our lives; i.e., at the birth of a ministry or a child, after marriage, when on vacation. The enemy also likes to kick God’s people when they’re down, such as when we’re grieving or sick.
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground”
What does it mean to “hold your ground”? To hold our ground means to resist, or withstand opposition from the enemy. It means holding to our declared position and holding onto what Christ has given us to possess. It is the knowledge of who God is and who we are as God’s children. It is the promises of God and every spiritual blessing which is ours in Christ. It also includes our spiritual fruit and calling.
What is the armor of God? The armor of God is a metaphor of how we, as believers, can prepare ourselves daily for spiritual warfare. It is the picture of a soldier dressed and ready for battle. Scripture uses the metaphor of physical things that soldiers wear (like a breastplate or a belt) to describe spiritual “clothing,” or “covering.” This spiritual “covering” protects us so that we are able to emerge from spiritual battles not only unharmed by the evil one, but victorious. The armor of God protects our hearts and our minds while in the midst of the battle. Anyone who has ever tried going into battle against the enemy without their armor on could attest to the reality that even in guerrilla warfare, the enemy can still do a lot of damage. Even after Jesus’ resurrection, the Bible describes Satan as a roaring lion, “seeking whom he may devour.” We don’t need to be afraid, but we do need to be aware and use the weapons that God gives us. These weapons are powerful and effective!
How do we put on the armor of God? The Bible tells us that it is our responsibility to put it on, not God’s. Ephesians 6:13 says, “put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.” This means that we pick it up and carry it with us so that we are ready at all times. In the same way that a parent teaches their child to dress themselves so they will be one day able to go out into the world as capable adults, God trains us up into Christian maturity by teaching us how to get dressed. While some people (mighty warriors I might add) have a daily practice of verbally “putting on the armor,” this in itself is only part of what it means to put our armor on. Putting on the armor comes down to the practical choices we make every day. For example, when tempted to lie, do we choose to speak the truth instead? When we choose truth, we have just made the choice to wear the belt of truth. When we are tempted to yield to unbelief rather than to trust that God’s word is true, do we make the choice to trust God’s word over our feelings and perceptions? If so, we have just “taken up the shield of faith.
If we are to win the spiritual battles that we find ourselves in, there are some things to keep in mind. First of all, we are wise to remember that people are not our enemy, Satan is. When Satan acts maliciously against us, it can be so tempting to believe that people are our enemy because the words are coming out of their mouths, but they are aren’t who our struggle is with. Secondly, we need to know and practice the rules of engagement in everyday life. We absolutely cannot win spiritual battles with earthly weapons like positive thinking or human reasoning. The spiritual weapons that we have been given take faith to exercise…faith to believe that if we will but use our weapons, we will see the enemy run. We will at last be able to lift our faces out of the dust, with heads held high, knowing who we are: sons and daughters of the Most High God.
May you hold your ground today,
Reassuring scriptures regarding protection for the believer when engaging in “the battle:”
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
“He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great.” Psalm 18:34-35
“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” Luke 10:19
“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. 14“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.” Psalm 91:11-14
“The name of the LORD is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10
“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Colossians 2:15