Spiritual Warfare: Equipped for Battle

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“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,”

– Ephesians 6:10-17

The battle we are fighting is not a battle of the physical, but of the spiritual. It is not an earthly battle, but an eternal battle. It is a battle for our hearts, minds, and souls. It is a battle of our flesh verses our spirit. We are facing an unseen enemy – so we have to put our trust in our unseen God. We have to surrender to His power, His authority, and His control. We have to equip ourselves fully with the armor of God. We have to come to God in prayer – asking Him to make us strong, asking Him to help us stand firm, asking Him to equip us with the tools of the trade. Our calling is high. Our mission is clear. And we can do nothing apart from Him.

Every morning when our feet hit the ground, we are entering a battlefield. The enemy is ready and waiting to devour us – so let us hit our knees in prayer and prepare ourselves with spiritual armor. Let us prepare for battle.

Loins Girded with Truth

In spiritual warfare, our enemy is a liar and a deceiver. John 8:44 says, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” When we understand this key aspect of our enemy, we understand why the first step in preparing our spiritual armor to fight against him is to “gird your loins with truth.” What does it mean to gird your loins? I’ve often seen this image to describe what it would look like in ancient times:

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In this sense, the truth keeps us from tripping over our own feet. Is that not what happens we listen to and believe the lies of the enemy? Girding our loins gives us freedom to fully step into the truth of who we are in Christ. Where the lies of the enemy try to box us in and minimize our calling, the truth of God expands our stride and gives us the flexibility we need to progress into enemy territory and receive the victory that has already been won for us.

In more modern times, “girding your loins” is described more like a belt. In warfare, the belt can help provide protection for many of the vital organs in the lower part of the body. The belt is also important because holds the rest of our spiritual armor in place. It gives us a place to safely hold our sword of the spirit, so we can quickly access it when we need it. The belt of truth literally holds our pants up – keeping our vulnerabilities from being exposed to the enemy, keeping us from the shameful nakedness of our sin. The truth is that God is love (1 John 4:8) and love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). The truth is that His blood cleanses us of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7) and He has nailed our sins to the cross once and for all (Colossians 2:14).

To gird our loins with truth is to wrap truth around us. God is truth. He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:16). We can’t come to the Father except through Him, we can’t overcome the enemy except through Him, and we can’t win the victory over the spiritual forces of evil in this world except through Him. We can’t just gird our loins with truth, we have to gird our loins with The Truth.

The Breastplate of Righteousness

The breastplate of righteousness protects the most vital of organs – the heart and the lungs. Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) tells us to guard our heart “above all else” because everything we do flows from it. Jeremiah 17:9-10 says, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” We hide the word of God in our hearts so that we don’t sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). Our breastplate is made of righteousness. I’ve often heard righteousness described as “right living.” God’s standard of living is intended to keep our hearts pure. In Psalm 24:4-5, David wrote, “Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior.” 

The heart is what keeps the blood pumping throughout our body. The blood is what keeps us alive, and gives us new life. Our lungs give us the ability to inhale and exhale. God breathed the breath of life into us, and it is His Spirit that keeps us alive. Righteousness hides His words in our heart. If ever we let our shield of faith fall short, our breastplate of righteousness is there to protect the weakness of our flesh from the fiery arrows of the enemy.

Feet Shod with Preparation of Gospel of Peace

The Gospel is good news. The Gospel brings peace. Isaiah 52:7 says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!” 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to always be ready to give an answer to anyone that asks us about the hope we have as believers. We have to be prepared. We have to be ready to share the good news. The Gospel is good news for all people (Luke 2:10) and Jesus commissions us to go into the world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). Having our feet shod with the Gospel of peace prepares us for that journey. It protects the soles of our feet from the rocky terrain we may encounter along the way.

When I think about the relationship between feet and the Gospel, I think about the story of Jesus kneeling to wash the feet of his disciples during the last supper on the night He was arrested. He was preparing them for the journey ahead. He knew the warfare they would be coming up against. John 13:4 -5 says, “He got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” When Jesus wrapped that towel around His waist, He was girding His loins. He was preparing for His own spiritual warfare. He knew He would be betrayed. He knew He would be denied. He knew He would be killed for their sins, and for our sins. But He still humbled Himself. He still served. He still sacrificed. When He had finished washing their feet, He said to them, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” He washed their feet and sent them out to the battleground to be messengers of the Good News.

The Shield of Faith

When we are covered head to foot in spiritual armor, the shield of faith provides an extra layer of protection. To use a shield in warfare requires faith. We hold the shield out in front of us with confidence that the fiery arrows coming against us will hit against it and fall to the ground. We trust the shield to take the hits for us. We trust the shield to withstand the impact for us.

In battle, we try to anticipate where our next attack will be coming from. The benefit of the shield is we can move it from one area to another. We move the shield of faith to the areas where we need coverage the most. We need that extra layer of protection in the areas where we feel the weakest. We need a shield of faith in the areas where our doubt is the most present. Satan will take advantage of any inch, any opening, where He could sneak in and cause us to doubt. We have to keep ourselves covered by continuing to trust in God to be our defense against those fiery arrows.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). The greatest strategy of our spiritual warfare, is that we are trusting in a commander with a different perspective than our own. Our God is seated on high. We don’t know when or where Satan may choose to attack. Our vision is limited – but when we put our trust in God then He provides clear instruction to us. Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” We hear His Word, we trust His Word, and we move in accordance to His Word. We put our faith into action, and we watch what He does through our obedience. We watch His faithfulness unfold morning after morning.

The Helmet of Salvation

The helmet of salvation protects our head, our brain – the seat of all our wisdom, thought, knowledge, and understanding. This is a vital piece of armor. We learn through the story of David and Goliath that one single blow to the head can send even the most intimidating of giant warriors crashing to the ground. Salvation guards our thoughts. Romans 10:17 tells us faith comes through hearing the Word of God. We believe with our heart, but Romans 10:9-10 tells us it is made into salvation with a mouth confession. We use our minds to process what we hear, and to formulate what we speak. 2 Corinthians 2:16 tells us we have the mind of Christ. The battle we are fighting is a battle of the mind, and a battle for the mind. If Satan can influence our thoughts, he can influence our actions. That’s why Colossians 3:2 tells us to set our minds on things above and 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.

The Sword of the Spirit

As we equip ourselves for battle, the only offensive weapon we’re instructed to carry is a sword – the sword of the Spirit. We are equipped with the Word of God. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Truth. Righteousness. The Gospel of Peace. Faith. Salvation. These are all aspects of our spiritual warfare that we find in the Word of God. His Spirit unites them all. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” In the NIV, this verse says “all scripture is God-breathed.” That’s what the Spirit does – He breaths and brings life.

When we carry such a powerful weapon into the battlefield, we have to be careful not to abuse that power. We are quick to draw the sword, and we’re often tempted to use it in a way that causes more harm than good. Do you remember what happened on the night Jesus was arrested? When the disciples saw that Jesus had been betrayed, they asked, “Lord shall we strike with the sword?” (Luke 22:49) but they didn’t wait for His response. Scripture says Peter drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus responded saying, “‘Stop! No more of this.’ And He touched his ear and healed him” (Luke 22:50). 

Jesus doesn’t need us to defend Him. He is more than capable of defending Himself. He is the one defending us. He is the one fighting for us. When we ask for His guidance, we need to wait and listen for His response. When He instructs us to move, we move. When He instructs us to stay, we stay. That’s why prayer is such an important part of our spiritual warfare – prayer is how we communicate with Him. Prayer is how we open our ears, open our minds, and open our hearts. Prayer is how we tune in to His still small voice. Prayer is how we receive our commands to advance, and our commands to withdraw. Prayer is the guiding force of our spiritual warfare. We need only be strong, stand still, and resist the enemy. Our God is fighting for us.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

– Exodus 14:14 NIV

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