How to Withstand the Devil’s Attack.

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. – Ephesians 6:13

It is revealed to us in the book of Ephesians, chapter six, that we are in a spiritual battle against very real, invisible forces that seek to exert their evil influence upon the world. These wicked spirits (with Satan at their head) have great power to move the people of this world as they wish. And human flesh is no match for them, for they are greater in power and in strength, and in worldly wisdom, for they have been around much longer than us. Just as David was no match for Goliath according to the flesh, nor are we to them. And unless we are fitted with the ‘armor of God’, as described in this chapter, we cannot be victorious.

It should be known that we are in a very real war. Those who are called to be saints (all Christians) are, upon conversion, immediately drafted into the army of God. The battle begins for us on day one. Training is on the job, and each must learn quickly that ‘Satan comes immediately’ to steal the word out of the hearts of men (Mark 4:14). Fortunately, God has fitted armor for us all with which we can repel Satan’s attacks. With this ‘armor,’ and with His mighty strength in which we can be strong, we can defeat this ‘strong man’ when he comes.

With this in mind, I will seek to explain and prove three things:

  1. That we must withstand Satan’s attacks.
  2. How we are to withstand Satan’s attacks.
  3. That we need to be found standing at the end.

1. That we must withstand Satan’s attack.

The text states that we are to ‘take up the whole armor of God,’ with the purpose that ‘you may be able to withstand in the evil day.’ In this verse we are instructed to both take up the armor of God, and by it withstand in the evil day (i.e. the day when trouble comes). Both of these commands are for us to do, not God. God provides the ‘armor,’ but we must both take it up and use it to withstand the attack. ‘God will soon crush Satan under your feet’ (Romans 16:20), but until then we must resist him ourselves (James 4:7). Not in our own power, of course, but in the ‘power of His might’ (Ephesians 6:10).

This is well illustrated with David, who crushed the giant with a sling and a stone. He could only do so with God’s power, of course, but we must also recognize that it was he that ran into battle, it was he confronted the giant, and he that slung the stone. He went to battle, and God was with him. God will not always fight our battles. We must fight, leaning on His strength, and wielding His weapons.

2. How we are to withstand Satan’s attacks.

The ‘armor of God’ is our protection against spiritual attacks. This ‘armor’ is a metaphor, of course, but it illustrates the fact that we must maintain certainly qualities of mind in order to be effective against spiritual attack. His attacks are primarily against our mind. They are an attempt to move our minds in the way of darkness. Often this is a temptation of some sort, or a lie to either puff us up or tear us down, as we see in his temptation of Jesus. He will tempt us to fulfill some human lust, or he will seek to puff us up in pride, or to bring us down to despair. He brings suggestions or thoughts or impressions upon the mind to move us in the direction that he wishes. Sometimes these thoughts can be overwhelmingly powerful, driving people to extreme measures.

Equipping our minds, however, with this ‘armor of God’ can assist us greatly in overcoming these attacks. I shall take up each piece:

a. The belt of truth.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth… 

We must firmly attach truth to ourselves, like one would secure a belt around his waist. Satan is an exceedingly well practiced liar. His lies are convincing and strong. He often pairs them with half-truths, and reinforces them through various methods. Only those who are well acquainted with the truth can discern them. This is why we must allow the word of Christ to dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16), and ‘gird up the loins of our mind’ (1 Peter 1:13), that is, tighten up the way we think. Think in regard to truth, not in regard to how you might feel at the moment. This is why it is mightily important to not neglect our bibles, church services, and godly fellowship. These things strengthen our minds with the truth, enabling us to see through the lies of the enemy.

b. The breastplate of righteousness

having put on the breastplate of righteousness…

Righteousness is the state of being morally perfect, blameless, without sin or stain. It is to be a person that does no evil and no wrong. This state can only be achieved by living a perfect moral life, like Jesus, or it can be given by God as a gift to those who believe. The Bible teaches that by having this ‘gift of righteousness’ we can ‘reign in life’ (Romans 5:17). That is, with it we can be victorious over spiritual attacks. 

The scripture teaches that when we repent and put our faith in Jesus, God accounts us as righteous (see Romans 4). In other words, He forgives our sins and treats us as if we had never sinned. In that moment, we become just as righteous as Jesus Christ Himself. And when we walk in this righteousness by living a blameless life before God, Satan will be hard pressed to mount any attack against us. The less we sin, the less ammunition we give to him. We ought to strive greatly to live perfect before God, seeking always to do what is pleasing in His sight. 

The Bible calls us to holy living. Paul the apostle tells us in no uncertain terms to ‘awake to righteousness and sin not‘ (1 Corinthians 15:34, emphasis mine). And the apostle John wrote, “I write these things that you may sin not” (1 John 2:1, emphasis mine). In other words, we should make it our aim to never sin again as long as we live. We should be as determined as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego were as they stood before the great fiery furnace. They told the king, “Even if you throw us into the fire, we will not sin against our God!” This should be the attitude of every Christian, and if it is not, then I doubt your salvation, I doubt you are a true believer in Christ, and I doubt that you will ever make it to heaven unless you throughly repent and get your heart right before God. 

But if this is your attitude, that is, if you wish with all your heart that you would never sin again as long as you live, and strive toward that goal, then it is for you that the next words are written by the apostle John: “If we do sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” And, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, emphasis mine). In this way, we can regain our footing and renew our righteousness after we have sinned. God will freely pardon us!

But beware going to battle with sin in your life! If you are living in sin, it is as if going to battle with no breastplate! Loose that millstone from around your neck! Repent, and turn to God He will restore your righteous position and ready you again for victorious battle.

We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. – 1 John 5:18

c. The shoes of readiness.

and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace… 

The next piece of armor listed is the having our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. A better translation would be, “and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” (Ephesians 4:15 NIV). That is, we must be of a ready mind, prepared at all times for battle. This readiness comes from the fact that of the good news (gospel) that we have ‘peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 5:1). A peaceful mind is a ready mind, for a mind filled with anxiety is a mind that is unprepared for any work. Have you ever tried to give a speech while having an anxious mind? Or take a test? Or have you ever be a passenger with a driver that had an anxious mind? It is the tranquil mind that is most ready for any task, especially the task of spiritual warfare, to which we are all called.

Jesus is the Prince of peace, and peace is promised us throughout scripture, even in the most difficult times. This is a stand out feature of being a Christian. The world does not have this, but we do. And if you don’t have this peace, do what you need to do to obtain it. It is most often lack of prayer or sin in our lives that keep us from peace. Go to God til you get it back. Examine your life. There is no peace for the wicked (Isaiah 48:22), but, for the Christian, there is a peace that Jesus gives that no person or circumstance can take away (John 14:27).

d. The shield of faith.

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 faith is that state of mind that chooses to believe the truth over the lie. Satan’s weapons are lies and deception. They are often very convincing, especially when they accord with the way we feel. But feelings do not always accord with truth, and we should doubt them before we doubt the word of God. There are women who feel fat despite being thinner than all of their peers. Their feelings do not accord with truth, and Satan reinforces the lies to her mind. In a similar way, Satan casts his fiery darts of lies and accusations and fears. There is a GREAT temptation to believe these lies, because we feel them deeply at times. But we must believe what God says over what Satan, or our feelings, might say.

For example, he may say to our minds, “you are dirty and washed up, you are no use to the kingdom of God.” But we must say, “Yes, I was dirty, but now I am cleansed and forgiven. My past is washed away by the blood of Christ. And God is not through with me! He who began a good work in me will complete it!”

He also might say, “you cannot overcome this temptation and sin, you will always be in bondage.” But we must say, “I can, with God’s help, overcome every temptation. For there is no temptation in which God does not provide the way of escape! He will not allow a temptation which I cannot bear” (see 1 Corinthians 10:13).

Or he might say, “It is too late for you, you have failed too many times.” Respond to this lie by saying, “No Satan! For the scripture says that His mercies are new every morning. I may have failed today, but tomorrow is a new day filled with new mercies for me!

e. The helmet of salvation.

And take the helmet of salvation…

The helmet of salvation is in another place spoken of as putting on ‘as a helmet the hope of salvation‘ (1 Thessalonians 5:8, emphasis mine). That is, not the present salvation from inward sin, but the future salvation of both our bodies and this present world when Jesus returns. Even though it is true that every Christian is now saved from the destructive power of sin and its penalty, and will enter heaven upon departure from this world, it is also true that there is a future salvation that will result in the ‘restoration of all things.’ That is, both the earth and our bodies will be restored to their original state of perfection, not marred by sin nor corrupted by evil. It will be the day when we will no longer live in a constant state of war, but will ‘beat our swords into plowshares, and will learn war no more’ (Isaiah 2:4).

It is vitally important to keep this in our minds as we navigate the tempestuous waves of this world, battling with dark forces day by day, lest we think that our lot is to be forever warring. One day soon Satan will be crushed beneath our feet. The battle will be over and we will have won a great victory. In that day we will rest from our labors and enjoy perfect peace in a perfect place. ‘The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them…The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea’ (Isaiah 11:6-9). 

We must wear this understanding like a helmet on our head, knowing that we are but sojourners and pilgrims, that this world is not our final home, but that we ‘seek a city whose builder and maker is God’ (Hebrews 11:10).

f. the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God… 

The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, but not in the same sense as the belt of truth, for here the original Greek word is different, and means the spoken word of God. The sword of the Spirit is the word spoken, or truth spoken. How useless truth is if it remains in our hearts but is not spoken with our lips! If the truth is sealed away in our hearts, how will it be of any help to anyone around us? It may as well be that we have no truth, for it would do the same good. The Bible says that we must speak the word if we are to see anyone come to salvation. “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14)

The sword of the Spirit is our only offensive weapon. The more we use it, the more damage we do to the kingdom of darkness. We should speak it when we are alone, and we should speak it when we are in battle, and we should speak it to those who need to hear it. 

And just like a natural sword, we must learn to become proficient with it. We can learn through both training and use. As we learn to use it, we will become extraordinarily powerful, able to tear down the devil’s kingdom.

3. That we need to be found standing in the end.

having done all, to stand

Finally, the text tells us to be found standing in the end. It is as a fighter who battles throughout a match, often falling and getting back up, but, through it all, is found standing when all is over. This is what the scripture is telling us to do.

The phrase, ‘having done all,’ refers to the work God has called us to. It refers to enduring to the end of our calling. We all have work to do as followers of Christ, and we must be diligent to do it, and continue in it during the difficult times, to get up and back at it when we fall, and ultimately to remain standing in the end. 

The unfortunate truth is that many people will start in the work that God has called them to, they may even continue in it for many years, but they will not finish their race. And as a race goes, we must get all the way to the end to complete it. It doesn’t matter if a man drops out in the beginning or right close to the end, if he doesn’t finish, he will receive no prize, nor will he be able to say, “I have run my race” (2 Timothy 4:7). He will only be able to say, “I started, but was not able to finish” (Luke 14:30).

The good news is that there are no TKO’s in this fight. It doesn’t matter how many times you have been knocked down. And it may be that you have been knocked down for quite some time. It doesn’t matter. If you still have breath in you, it is not too late to rise again to fight another day. God is able to make you stand (Romans 14:4). Stand back up, fight on, fight til the end, and be standing then.

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