Holy Living In An Unholy World,

Preparing For War

By Dr. Robert Jeffress

General Douglas MacArthur was a successful general and gifted military strategist during the Second World War.  He once penned an article for an Army journal titled “Requisites for Military Success.” In the article, he described four essentials for military victory:

  1. Morale must be encouraged. There must be a will to win and a cause worth dying for. This is often referred to as esprit de corps.
  2. Strength must be maintained. Any fighting force must be adequately trained and well-equipped.
  3. Supply lines must remain open. Every fighting man must have weapons, ammunition, food, and water. And those items must continue to flow to the battlefront.

But MacArthur spent the bulk of the article on the fourth essential: Knowledge of the enemy. “The greater the knowledge of the enemy, the greater the potential of victory,” MacArthur wrote.

Knowledge of the enemy is not only essential for physical warfare but also spiritual warfare.

1. The Reality of Spiritual Warfare (Ephesians 6:10-12)

As General MacArthur said, knowledge of the enemy is essential to victory. Here, in Verse 11, Paul tells us the name of our enemy. He is the devil. We’re introduced to him in the opening chapters of the book of Genesis and see him in the final chapters of the book of Revelation.

There are two origins in the Bible that the book of Genesis never attempts to explain—one is the origin of God—”in the beginning God…” and the other is Satan.

According to Ezekiel 28—Satan, which means “adversary,” originally named Lucifer, was the leader of a group of angels known as the cherubim—the highest of angelic order. Thus, Satan is not the opposite of God; he is a being created by God.

But Isaiah 14 tells us that Lucifer became filled with pride and said, “I will become God, I will become the possessor of heaven and earth. No longer am I content to be a creature. I want to be the creator.” Before this moment, there was only one will in the universe. Now, there were two wills, two agendas, God’s and Satan’s.

As a result of Lucifer’s rebellion, he was cast out of heaven and took a group of angels who are known today as demons.

Ever since Satan was cast from heaven, his goal has been to build a rival kingdom that will ultimately defeat the Kingdom of God. He is building a shadow kingdom built on the belief that life apart from God is both possible and profitable.

He is building that kingdom by blinding non-Christians from receiving the gospel of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4), but also by deceiving, disarming, and even destroying Christians. 

And that is why Paul says you need to understand the Devil’s (or Accuser’s) “schemes” in verse 11. This word “scheme” is the Greek word “methodia” from which we get the word “methods.” It refers to “cunning arts, deceit, craft, trickery.” It might be used to refer to a wild animal that “cunningly stalks and then pounces” on its prey.

Did you know that Satan is cunningly stalking you? He has a blueprint for the destruction of your joy, your effectiveness as a Christian, the destruction of your marriage, your children, and sometimes even our physical life.”

He’s watching, he’s observing, and he is planning. That is why Peter warned, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert, your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8).

Right now, you may be involved in some kind of struggle or conflict—in your job, in a friendship, in your addictions, or in your family. It is very easy to think that the source of the conflict is an adverse person or adverse circumstance.

No, Paul says, the real source of our conflict is not people or circumstances but the rulers, the powers, against the spiritual forces of wickedness that have been directed by Satan against you.

Satan has you in his crosshairs, and yet most of us don’t even realize it.

Paul is saying, wake up out of your stupor, realize you are in the midst of a fierce battle, and prepare yourself accordingly. This is what Paul began this section in verse 10 with this admonishment: “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” 

The Greek word for “strong” can be translated in one of two ways: either as a passive voice—“allow the Lord to strengthen you”—or as a middle voice —“strengthen yourself in the Lord.” 

But since the Lord is the source of strength in both instances, I think it means both: allow the Lord to strengthen you while you’re working on strengthening yourself in the Lord through spending time with Him in His Word, in prayer, and in corporate worship.

2. The Believer’s Armor Against Satan (Ephesians 6:13-20)

Remember, as Paul wrote, he was under house arrest in Rome, chained to a Roman guard. In eight to 10-hour shifts, a different guard watched over Paul. Though the guards changed, what didn’t change was the uniform they wore and the weapons they carried. I imagine as Paul looked at each guard that came and went—day in and day out, he thought to himself, “The six pieces of these Roman soldiers’ physical armor have a spiritual counterpart that’s available to the Christians to defend themselves against and fight the spiritual forces of darkness.” 

And so, Paul gives us, here in Ephesians 6:13–17, a list of what he called the “armor of God.”  A Roman infantryman’s armor was made up of five defense pieces and one offensive piece.

  1. Belt of Truth
  2. Breastplate of Righteousness
  3. Gospel of Peace
  4. Shield of Faith
  5. Helmet of Salvation
  6. Sword of the Spirit

Remember, the power of God’s Word is not in what it does to Satan but in what it does to us. The right passage from God’s Word cuts through the fog of Satan’s deceptions for whatever temptation we are facing and gives us the resolve to say “no” to his temptations.  

In Psalm 119:11, David declares, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against God.”

Listen to me. Satan has a well-crafted plan to stop you in your pursuit of God’s plan for your life.  But God has provided you with the spiritual equipment you need to move forward in spite of the flaming arrows the devil launches in your direction. Against this spiritual weaponry God has provided you, the Enemy doesn’t have a prayer.