|Volume 3||March 1, 2004||Issue 2|
The Devil, His Tricks And The Armor — Part Three
In the two previous issues of Diligence we have discussed how very subtle Satan is and how Christians must aggressively fight against him. We determined that Satan is very crafty and second only to God in the power he holds. We saw that Hebrews 2:14 tells us that he "...holds the power of death...." We noted that as Christians we should expect to receive some wounds during the battle if we are indeed a soldier for Christ. We also mentioned that God gives us the strength and power to be bold and confident warriors as we fight against the wicked schemes of the Devil.
Let's now begin to take a closer, more detailed look at Ephesians 6:10-20, for it is through these verses that we can gain tremendous insight concerning not only how we should prepare for the fight but who it is we might expect to be placed in the path of our Sword (His Word). Let's begin with verses 10 and 11.
"10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." (NIV)
Verse 10 tells us that the strength we need to battle against the evil schemes of the Devil is not of ourselves but is "...in the Lord..." It is "...His mighty power" — not our own. Verse 11 then states that putting on "...the full armor of God..." will provide the needed protection "...so that..." we can effectively use "...HIS mighty power" to help us battle the enemy.
And who is that enemy? Well we just saw in verse 11 that whomever the enemy is, engagement in the battle will require taking a stand against the Devil's schemes. But the writer of Ephesians (Paul) goes into even more detail about the battle we are to expect as Christians. Let's read verse 12.
"12For 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.' (NIV)
It's no wonder that we need the armor about to be listed in this chapter — our struggle is not with flesh and blood — but wait a minute, we already knew that. Flesh and blood foes are nothing more than victims of the Ultimate Hustler — the real enemy lurking behind them is Satan himself. We must never forget that he will use every evil trick in his book to deceive anyone he can. We are in a battle with Satan and if we fail to comprehend that, we're most likely loosing the battle.
Paul then gets even more specific about exactly who it is that Satan has in his control. His list includes: rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (The King James Version uses the terms; principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places). Satan has been at this game of deception for a long time (since Eve in the Garden of Eden) and he has thousands of ways to beguile unstable souls who have not put on the armor listed in this chapter. He's a subtle serpent well experienced in the art of temptation. The phrase "spiritual wickedness in high places" is a reference to the corrupted spirits at his disposal. They have but one goal and that is to assault us in the things that will claim souls for eternal damnation.
Now that Paul has made it clear to us that we're not just dealing with flesh and blood enemies, but with the Devil and all the powers of darkness, let's continue on with verse 13 of Ephesians 6.
"13Therefore, 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." (NASB)
Notice that he says the full armor — not some of the armor, but all of the armor. Of the list that will follow, we are to leave none of it off. All of it is absolutely essential for us to still be standing firm after the battle. We're dealing with a subtle enemy who uses tricks, schemes and wiles to deceive those whom he wishes to devour but the armor Paul is going to list will give us weapons and protection that can knock down the strongholds of the Devil.
"3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds." (II Corinthians 10:3-4 NKJV)
Let's look now — one by one — at the list of armor Paul says we need to "wear" so that we'll be able to stand against the Devil's schemes. Verse 14 reads:
"14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, (NIV)
We notice that the first item he mentions is the "belt of truth." Why does he say the "belt" of truth? What is the significance of a belt as it relates to armor? Why is it that truth is that piece of armor that he refers to as the belt?
A bit of research into the belt that the soldier wore during this time reveals that it was one of the most important pieces of equipment that he put on. It was also the first piece he would put on. It was a wide, tough piece of leather that fastened around the midsection. Aside from the fact that it protected many of the vital organs from the enemies sword, it also served a couple of other very important purposes. The common dress in that time was generally long flowing robes that would definitely hamper the movements of the wearer if it were not for the belt gathering them up and holding them in place, well out of the way during the battle. But another, perhaps even more important function of the belt was that many of the other pieces of armor attached to the belt. The sword, breastplate and other pieces of armor fasted to, and were held in place by the belt. Without the belt, the rest of the soldier's armor would not be held securely in its proper place and would most likely be rendered useless in the heat of a battle. So why did Paul say that we needed the belt of truth buckled around our waist? Because it keeps all of the other "equipment" or armor in place. Truth is absolutely vital for the survival of a soldier of Christ. A few analogies might help us solidify how very important the belt of truth is to the Christian soldier.
This past January, a drug company issued a recall of the antibiotic Vantin. The recall came after a pharmacist discovered Lanoxin, a heart medication, inside a bottle falsely labeled as the antibiotic Vantin. The recall stated that there was a risk of death if patients swallowed Lanoxin believing that it was Vantin. It's easy to see that the truth about what was actually inside the bottle was absolutely necessary since the error was potentially deadly. Truth matters!
It was a cold December day in 1799 when George Washington became very ill. His doctors prescribed "bleeding" in an effort to cure him. After removing approximately five pints of blood, Washington died. One historian has stated "there can be little doubt that excessive bleeding reduced him to a low state and very much aggravated his disease." His doctors were acting with the greatest of sincerity. They truly believed they were doing what was best for Washington but their treatment was not based on truth. Error in the field of medicine killed George Washington and error in the spiritual realm will destroy souls. Sincerity about a belief just isn't enough. As Christians we must distinguish truth from error or we will die spiritually. Truth matters!
Let's suppose you wake up one morning with a high fever and sore throat. You call your doctor to get an appointment and he tells you to "...just take a pill." Your response is "what should I take?" When he says "it doesn't matter, just any pill will do" you know that simply isn't right. Why? Because the medication must be based on the truth of exactly what will help you to recover. Not just any medication will make you well. Neither will just any belief save your soul. Yet many individuals today treat their salvation like "any pill will do." Today, many say "it doesn't matter which denomination you belong to — any of them will do." If we recognize that treatment of our physical body must be based on truth if we expect to recover, why in the world would we think our spiritual well being can be based on an "any pill will do" belief? Truth matters!
Who among us would be willing to live in a house that was not built on the truth concerning basic construction design? Who among us would have a mechanic work on our cars who knew not one grain of truth about how to fix it? Who among us would fly in an airplane that had a pilot who had no knowledge of the truth about how to control that plane? We readily admit that error in the physical realm can be deadly. How is that Satan can convince some individuals that error in the spiritual realm would not be just as deadly — deadly for all of eternity? We can't afford to be careless when it comes to truth. We can't afford to let our eternal life depend on anything but truth. Truth matters!
So how do we buckle the belt of truth around our waist? There are three things absolutely necessary to assure that we will put on that belt. Those three things are: desire, desire and desire. Without desire we will never take any further steps to know the truth. William Gurnall, an English author in the 1600's, in his Treatise entitled The Christian In Complete Armor wrote; "Truth is loved and prized only (by) those that know it. And not to desire to know it, is...to reject it....Truth and error are all one to the ignorant man, so it hath but the name of truth. Leah and Rachel were both alike to Jacob in the dark. Indeed it is said, 'In the morning behold it was Leah,' Gen. 29:25. So in the morning, when it is day in the understanding, then the deceived person will see he hath had a false bride in his bosom; will cry out, Behold, it is an error which I took for a truth. You have, maybe, heard of the covetous man, that hugged himself in the many bags of gold he had, but never opened them or used them. When the thief took away his gold, and left him his bags full of pebbles...he was as happy as when he had his gold, for he looked not on the one or other...Both are alike to him, day and night (are) all one to a blind man."
Strapping on the belt of truth through regular individual Bible study will assure the Christian that truth and error will not look the same. It is necessary that we each know Biblical truth well enough to personally recognize when a church has fallen deep into error. Like the covetous man with his gold, individuals who stop studying the Scriptures for themselves, hardly know the difference if truth is stolen from their church by false teachers. The heart of a believer that is not protected by the belt of truth is one that can be easily influenced to accept false teachings. It is a heart open to being taught by man's persuadings rather than a heart persuaded by God's teachings. It is a heart not prepared for battle against Satan. "A false heart usually...can hide itself in a crowd. and have (a) store of company, under which it may shroud itself....What most do, that (it) will be easily persuaded to do...therefore (it will) seldom...swim against the tide of corrupt times. Light things are carried by the stream, and light spirits by the multitude. But the sincere Christian is massy and weighty. He will sooner sink to the bottom, and yield to the fury of a multitude by suffering from them, than float after their example in sinning with them...(the false heart) hath no inward principle,...and therefore, like the dead fish, must drive with the current. (William Gurnall)
Next issue — The Devil, His Tricks And The Armor — Part Three Continued