THE BATTLE OF AGES
The Bible depicts countless battles. From Genesis to Revelation, its pages reveal there are both physical and spiritual wars raging. Physical wars have dominated history’s attention from the time Cain killed his brother Abel, right down to the present day. This should not surprise us, for Jesus predicted, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all [these things] must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” Matthew 24:6, 7
However, the primary focus of Scripture is the ongoing conflict between Christ and Satan. Revelation speaks that what began as a cosmic war in heaven will soon end in Armageddon. In this showdown between the forces of good and the powers of evil, truth and light are under constant attack from deception and darkness.
And like it or not, every single one of us is involved. The battleground for this intense spiritual struggle is not some piece of earthly real estate; it is the human heart. Both Jesus and the devil are supremely interested in winning possession of our minds and hearts. For this reason, Christians are called to be more than peaceful spectators or mediators in this cataclysmic conflict. We must be committed front-line commandos.
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God has designed that all the literal battles recorded in the Bible—from Gideon’s conflict with the Midianites to David’s defeat of Goliath—can serve to teach us how we might experience victory in spiritual combat. Naturally, it should stand to reason that because these battles are of a spiritual nature, the weapons we employ must also be spiritual. This is why Paul reminds us, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12
Although our armor and weapons are spiritual, this does not mean they are unreal or ineffective. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds)” 2 Corinthians 10:3, 4
Paul also makes it clear that the Christian’s commitment to his cause and Commander should be as real and complete as for any earthly soldier. “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of [this] life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” 2 Timothy 2:3, 4 God’s Armor...Not Man’s
It is estimated that more than 14,500 wars have been fought from 3600 B.C. to present day and that number keeps rising.
In fact, during the same time period, there have been 5,305 years of war… and only 292 years of peace.
Belt Of Truth
In Biblical times, the girdle about the waist held together the soldier’s garments, which might otherwise hamper his movements while marching or engaging in combat. The spiritual significance is that God does not simply want us to point at the truth; He wants us to wear it and have it wrapped about us. Not only does the belt hold everything in place, but it also serves to carry the sheath that holds the sword of the Spirit for ready access. Some people have the sword of God’s Word, but without the belt of truth they come to reckless conclusions.
Many confused Christians have fled naked and ashamed when challenged by the enemy because they had not secured the belt of truth. Never forget that wearing the belt of truth. Never forget that wearing the belt of truth also means wearing Christ, for He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6
Breastplate Of Righteousness
The breastplate was an important article of defense that protected the front torso and all of the vital organs from a mortal wound. It was often composed of a solid piece of metal, but it could also contain numerous small pieces that were sewn to cloth or leather that overlapped much like the scales of a fish. These scales could number as many as 700 to 1,000 per “coat.” When the sun shone directly on the armor, it could become very hot. So to avoid being burnt, or even pinched, by the moving metal plates, the soldiers always wore a sturdy robe under the armor.
In other words, wearing the breastplate of righteousness is always in partnership with the robe of Jesus’ righteousness. “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me.” Job 29:14 Also keep in mind that the high priest wore a golden breastplate over his linen robe that was set with 12 precious stones, each inscribed with one of the names of the 12 tribes of Israel. This place represented nearness to the heart. “And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart.” Exodus 28:29 The only way we can experience victory in battle against the devil is through confidence that the righteousness of Jesus covers our hearts and that we are forgiven.
Another interesting aspect of the breastplate was that it offered no protection to the person’s back. It was assumed that soldiers would not turn their backs toward the enemy to retreat. Likewise, Christian soldiers should stand firm and never surrender any ground to the devil. Instead, let the devil flee from your steadfast loyalty. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
Shield Of Faith
The warrior’s shield was his first line of defense. Usually made of wood or bronze, it was often big enough to protect the whole body when the soldier crouched down under a hail of arrows. Likewise, faith in Christ’s blood is our first defense against the great accuser. Zechariah 3:1-5
The enemy is constantly firing volley after volley of those flaming arrows of carnal desire. The purpose for this shield of faith was to deflect the fiery darts of the enemy and prevent them from ever making contact. Multitudes of Christians fall on the battlefield and fail to overcome evil because they wait until they are immersed in the fires of temptation before making any effort to resist. At that point, it is often too late. As soon as you recognize a fiery dart sailing toward you, there is no time to lose. Hold up that shield of faith and do everything in your power to keep as much distance as possible between you and the temptation. If we yield without a fight, we are in reality inviting temptation.
The shield was not held loosely in the soldier’s hand, but was firmly strapped to his forearm so he could resist the mighty blows of an enemy’s sword without fear of dropping it. Likewise, Christians cannot afford to have a flimsy faith while in the heat of spiritual battle.
The shields of old were also often of a distinctive nature, sometimes marked with the insignia or name of the king to help soldiers avoid fighting their own comrades in the confusion of battle. In the same way, when the devil sends his flaming arrows of temptation, we are to hold up the shield bearing the name of our King of kings, Jesus. Through faith in His name, we can resist any enticement. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13
Helmet Of Salvation
Some professed Christians have “rocks in the head” from neglecting to wear their helmets. But the purpose for this helmet of salvation is not only to keep out the rocks, but also to keep in the brains! Your mind should not be open to anything and everything. As we study and come to understand God’s Word, there should be a settling into the truth "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;" Ephesians 4:14
Your body has seven sacred openings from the neck up: two nostrils, two ears, two eyes, and one mouth. (Our biggest problems usually come from what enters and exits the mouth. This might be why the Lord gave us only one - see James 3:5.) Only in eternity will we appreciate how pivotal to each person’s salvation were their choices concerning what they allowed to enter their minds through these vital senses. We must firmly strap the helmet of salvation in place and guard these avenues to the soul.
Sword Of God's Word
The sword was the most common weapon in battle. Indeed, the word “sword” appears 449 times in Scripture. The other armaments in God’s arsenal are defensive in nature, but the sword is primarily an offensive weapon. In fact, the sword of God’s Word is what Jesus used against the devil and it also gave the beast of Revelation 13 a deadly wound.
Revelation 13:3, 14 When Jesus said, “I did not come to bring peace but a sword,” He was not saying that He, the Prince of peace, had come to start wars. Matthew 10:34 Rather, He was pointing out that the sword of God’s Word has a dividing effect.
The two edges of the Spirit’s sword are the two witnesses of God’s Word, the New and Old Testaments. It is also called a two-edged sword because it is to be used both against the enemy and for personal use. Like the Philippian jailer, we must be ready to apply the sword of God’s Word to ourselves. Acts 16:27
Ancient soldiers also used their swords for cooking, splitting kindling, and for cutting the ropes that bound their captives to set them free. Likewise, the Word of God is a practical tool for every area of life, as well as in fighting the devil. In Bible times, there was no stainless steel. A sword unused became rusty, dull, and pitted. Swords were kept clean by frequent use or by honing them against a stone (the Rock of Ages) or another soldier’s sword. “Iron sharpeneth iron.” Proverbs 27:17 Likewise, when we study the Bible with others, our skill in the Word is sharpened. A soldier traveling in enemy territory never left his sword out of reach. In the same way, a Christian should “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” 1 Peter 3:15
The last of the armaments was really an attitude. Any general knows that victory almost always depends on which army has the element of surprise. In the story of Gideon, the soldiers were chosen based upon their watchfulness, and they caught the enemy sleeping and won through surprise. Even the best of armor is almost useless if the soldiers are found dozing. We are commanded to be "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;" Ephesians 6:18
Stand Your Ground
Three times Paul urges his readers to “stand” with the armor. An army is no better than its discipline; without it they are doomed. It is time that we, as God’s soldiers, stop simply discussing His commands and begin obeying them. “Fight the good fight of faith.”
1 Timothy 6:12 If we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything.
Too many of God’s soldiers are fraternizing with the enemy and trying to reach the world by bringing the standards of the church down to its level. God is calling us to bravely come up to His standard. If you were baptized, you made a promise to God, and the force of that commitment has not diminished at all over time. When you enlisted in God’s army, you promised to work in and attend the church, return your tithe, dress modestly, eat and drink to the glory of God, and care for your body temple. God calls you to be extraordinary and different; to stand firm in a world of gutless wonders. If you’ve been tempted to retreat, turn around and come back up to His standard.
In closing, we want to assure you that although we are in a war, we need not fear. God’s Word tells us how the battle will end and who will be the final victor. The One who forged our armor guarantees its effectiveness and promises that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
How can we stand? How can we fight? Paul gives us the answer in the beginning of our passage. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Ephesians 6:10 Jesus said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5 But we are also assured, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13
Until then, we’ll fight for the day when “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
FIGHTING THE BATTLE
In order to fight the good fight and win we as Christian have to properly prepare ourselves like the tells us. Here's what we need and we have to keep it on to win.