Sunday, January 23, 2011
SPIRITUAL WARFARE: The Armor of God, Conduct in the Campaign & Implementing the Victory of Christ in our Lives - Part 3
The ARMOR of GOD – What It Is and Its Functions:
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Taking a Stand
Remember that rallying cry by Aragorn, Captain of the Armies of the West and what he commanded of his men? “. . . STAND, men of the West!”
What about Wallace’ declaration of “FREEDOM”?
We likewise receive our own CAPTAIN of Salvation’s command here via Paul the apostle, to STAND FAST and we acknowledge our FREEDOM or LIBERTY in Christ, being made free from the Law, from the works of the flesh, from the destructive power of sin:
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Therefore, we must “put on” the armor of God; but first we must ask, what is this armor precisely? Are they actual spiritual pieces of armor that fit onto our spirits? Are they mere philosophical abstractions and allegories? Or are they representations of spiritual truths that we obtain and employ spiritually in our warfare against the enemy?
I find it interesting that the phrase “put on” in reference to the armor is likewise used elsewhere in this epistle (and in the scriptures) in the expression of putting on Christ, or putting on the new man (in conjunction with putting off the old man – thus there is a connection to the passage in Isaiah of ‘renewing’ or changing our strength, trading off the old man with his weaknesses and corruptions for the new man created in Christ Jesus; being so empowered, we are able to conduct spiritual living, spiritual warfare and spiritual victory).
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
If I were to stand in opposition to Satan in battle, he would devastate me thoroughly; so much so, there wouldn’t be enough left of me to fill a thimble! I have neither the strength nor the power, being a mere mortal of human frailty and sin, to withstand him at all. I would be as vulnerable to his weapons of attack as a naked soldier would be to the lethally sharp blade of an enemy on the battle front! Yet, let that vulnerable soldier “put on” his armor, and he can indeed withstand the blows of his enemy’s sword, and engage him with a sword of his own, and thereby have the credible chance for victory.
Likewise in this spiritual war, we must put on this armor, which we can equate with putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, and putting on the new man (in Christ) created by God in righteousness and true holiness. Also to shun the old man with his human frailties and repent of all his deeds and deceitful lusts for sin and transgression he is wont to partake of.
No one can engage in this warfare relying on the strength of human ability, for such is cursed before God; only as we are relying upon and trusting in the life and strength that the LORD provides will we be blessed in our engagements against the enemy:
Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.
For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.
For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
(See also Psalm 1, particularly vs. 2-3)
IMPERIALLY IMPERVIOUS -
Thus if one considers that this armor is an allegory of the veritable and actual nature and attributes of Christ Jesus our LORD, “putting on the LORD Jesus Christ” and “put[ting] on the new man” makes perfect sense. Consider how each piece of this armor is named, and you have Jesus Christ and His spiritual integrity, nature and blessings classified in precise terms.
The helmet of SALVATION, the breast plate of RIGHTEOUSNESS; the loins gird about with TRUTH, the preparation of the Gospel of PEACE, the shield of FAITH, the Sword of the SPIRIT are all intertwined in the Person of the LORD Jesus Christ!
Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
In both Matthew and Luke, in their fourth chapters we see Jesus led of the Spirit into the wilderness, and there He was tempted of the devil, yet He did not succumb to his temptations, but remained pure of heart, free of any spiritual defect or sin, and well pleasing to the Father. Later the writer of Hebrews (whom I believe was Paul) confirms in his own epistle this truth, and Peter as well in his:
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
1 Peter 1:19
But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
Not for lack of trying, Satan could not find any weaknesses in Jesus Christ; there was nothing to entice Him with, nothing with which he could lure Him into sin and away from the Father’s will. Jesus declared that He always did the Father’s will (John 8:29) and never varied from it; the Father likewise said of the Son, that He is well pleased with Him (see Matt. 3:17; 17:5).
In the reference to John 14:30 the phrase “hath (nothing)” is scheo in the Greek, and can refer to “to hold, directly or remotely, possession, ability, relation or condition”, also its interesting to note that in some applications this word can imply “to reign”. This is in the negative sense, thus Satan has no possession of Jesus Christ, or any relation; he does not reign over Him as he does over sinful mankind as the “god of this world”.
It’s this brand of impregnable, spiritual integrity that Christ Jesus bequeaths to us in the form of this spiritual armor, the armor OF GOD, which alone avails in protecting us from the enemy, his attacks, and enables us to venture forth into his territory of the spiritual kingdom of darkness and rescue souls from that devilish domain.
Therefore we are well “able to stand against the wiles of the devil”. Three times the word “stand (against)” is used in this portion of scripture (“withstand” is of even greater emphasis in vs. 13; we’ll look at that later), and it’s the same Greek word each time: histemi which means, “stand, establish, stand still, abide, appoint, continue, covenant”.
The word “able” is also used three times in this passage: dunamai- “can, to be able, possible, be of power” and is related to the Greek word dunamis. By God’s empowering grace we are indeed ABLE TO STAND AGAINST THE DEVIL, and this reminds me of Caleb in Canaan when he spoke of conquering the land and defeating the enemy that resided there:
And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
If one does a study of warfare campaigns in the conquest of Canaan as recorded in the Old Testament, particularly in the Pentateuch (first Five Books of Moses) and the book of Joshua, you have models (or examples, Rom. 15:4) of spiritual warfare done in the physical domain. Some old hymns refer to crossing the Jordan as leaving this life and entering into heaven; I don’t believe that is the case, not quite. Its more like leaving the old life, and entering into the new: for the Christian this is especially relevant as the new life very much entails struggles and battles in spiritual warfare. We have our giants to slay, just as they had theirs!
Speaking of giants, this might be an opportune time to look at an article FROM the MIND of FIRE about such things:
HAVE YOU SLAIN YOUR GIANT TODAY?
Note that this armor in order to be effective must be entire and complete, that is “the whole armor” and not merely several parts! The LORD’s furnishings for us are entire, and not wanting in any regard. His provisions from His eternal storehouses are generous and ample in supply so that no soldier of the Cross can claim inadequacy in Christ or to say that “the enemy is too strong”. If we suffer defeat it is ourselves to blame, and not God. Yet even in defeat, we are not robbed of the opportunity to regain the victory by God’s grace! Our God isn’t a God of second chances, but rather multiple chances for those of a contrite, meek and repentant heart!
So, what is it that we must stand against? In this Divine appointment by God (and understand that all of us soldiers are appointed by orders from our Captain to so engage in war at the station of His choosing), all of us saints in this world, which dwell behind ‘enemy lines’ are certainly ‘marked targets.’ What covenant are we agreed to and must abide by? That we STAND, resolutely and aggressively against “the wiles of the devil” and ‘wiles’ is a very telling word!
Methodeia – “method, travesty, trickery, wile, to lie in wait. It denotes craft or deceit, a cunning device (plan)”. Note that in this verse, this word is in the plural form. Satan has not merely a single plan to destroy us, but many. If one or a dozen should fail, he has other tactics in his repertoire he may employ for our ruin. Remember that this creature is probably yet the most intelligent and powerful being, second only to God Himself, for this is the one that Ezekiel states was the highest ranking cherub (a super-class of angelic being) in heaven, and appointed (prior to his fall) as perhaps the overseer of all the hosts (armies) of heaven. See Ez. 28:14; for detailed history of Lucifer prior to and during his fall see Isaiah ch. 14 and Ezekiel ch. 28.
This is the great enemy we must be protected from and upon whose kingdom we are ordered to assault; scripture is replete in illustrative examples of the saint being surrounded by God, or protected by God, and secured in Him; just a few examples are –
Job had his hedge of protection by God from the attacks of Satan (Job 1:10)
Noah’s ark, which protected its eight passengers from vile humanity which no doubt would crave entrance (though there is no mention of this, its reasonable that faced with drowning, the victims of the Flood would desperately seek refuge there) once they realized judgment had finally come (Gen. 7: 13-17). Obviously the ark protected its passengers from the judgment of God’s Flood as well.
Abraham had his shield, the LORD God Himself (Gen. 15:1)
Moses had a cleft in the Rock which protected him from being destroyed by the glorious presence of God Himself (Ex. 33:18-23).
God is the Strong Tower for those who trust in Him and a refuge for those whose hearts belong to the LORD:
Psalm 9:9; 46: 1-2, 7, 11; 59: 16; 61: 3; 62: 7; 91:1-16; 142: 5-7.
There are a few different Hebrew words used for “refuge” particularly in the Psalms, and they are as follows: misgab, machaceh, manowc, and chacah.
Misgab – used in Ps. 9:9; 46:7, 11; 48:3, and means, “a cliff, altitude, high tower, refuge, defense, high fort.”
Machaceh or machceh – used in Ps. 14:6; 46:1; 62:7 and means, “shelter, hope, (place of) refuge, trust.”
Manowc – used in Ps. 59:16; 142:4, and it means “a retreat, fleeing, apace, escape, flight, refuge.”
Chacah – used exclusively in the O.T. here as “refuge” and it means, “to flee for protection, to confide, to trust, to make a refuge, have hope; it is often used where God is compared to a rock or a shield or One with protective wings.”
And then we have the armor of God which the Christian warrior is to abide in; just as one inhabits a strong tower, a refuge, or dwells within a hedge, so also must we ‘inhabit’ this armor and the nature of its parts must be apprehended into the Christian’s life. We are about to get into all of this, starting with verse 14, however there is still vs. 12 and 13 to ponder.
The INVISIBLE INFANTRIES of INIQUITY –
For 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.
Were we to wrestle with flesh and blood, physical enemies that could be seen with our natural eyes, we would be far more aware of them and on a more urgent alert whenever they came around. However, this is obviously not the case. Our enemies are spiritual in nature, thus invisible to the natural eye, and when they attack, we are inclined to not acknowledge them as the source, but rather natural sources, usually in the form of other people (which could indeed be used as agencies of evil, inspired by these invisible enemies) or even natural causes, such as weather, or sicknesses of various kinds, or accidents, etc.
As Chuck Missler has stated: “This is not only a matter of contending against godless philosophers, crafty gurus, Christ-denying cultists and neo-pagan rulers, but a highly organized army of demonic forces and battalions of fallen angels:
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood . . .” Ephesians 6:12
We cannot afford to become abnormally fixated on spiritual darkness, and attribute every misfortune or sorrow to them (some of these are orchestrated by God, for His own purposes), but we must also be keenly aware and discerning that these angelic agencies of the fallen sort are truly all around us, are working against us, and as long as our attention is focused upon the natural realm, they can find an advantage over us in such a vulnerable state of ignorance.
These evil forces of Satan’s kingdom are militant, and organized in rank and file as the above verse demonstrates: the first ones mentioned are of higher order than the last ones. You will note that the first in rank are “principalities”
The Greek word is “arche” meaning, “chief in rank, order, time or place. A variant of this word, archon refers specifically to a ruler, in this case a ‘chief ruler’ as well as ‘prince’ or ‘magistrate’
According to Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary:
“The archons in Greece were chief magistrates chosen, after the death of Codrus, from the most illustrious families, to superintend civil and religious concerns. They were nine in number; the first was properly the archon; the second was called king; the third, polemarch, or general of the forces. The other six were called thesmothetae, or legislators…”
I find it fascinating that these magistrates were nine in number, because since Paul used this word “arche” being the general term, or “archon” specifically referring to these rulers of Athens – in reference to these “principalities” found here in Ephesians ch. 6:12, these likewise would then presumably be nine in number, that is nine chief angelic rulers in the kingdom of darkness.
In occult and New Age literature there is often mention of “the Nine” or “the Nine Unknowns [or Unknown Men]” and the Theosophical Society often makes mention of these “Ascended Masters”:
“One definition of an ascended master is an individual who has undergone the process of ascension. Throughout history, there have been stories of these individuals who have reached a higher state of spiritual awareness and placed themselves in service to humanity. One concept of an ascended master derives from the teachings of Theosophy.
“In Theosophy, and various [derivatives] and offshoots of theosophy, ascended masters are a group of spiritually enlightened beings, once mere mortals, who have undergone a process of spiritual transformation. According to these teachings, they remain attentive to the spiritual needs of humanity, and act as superintendents of its spiritual growth. In this, they can be compared to the Great White Brotherhood or Secret Chiefs who are posited by various magical organizations; and more remotely, to the bodhisattvas of Buddhism, or the saints of Catholic and Orthodox Christianity.
“The term may actually have originated with Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who in his satirical book The Coming Race posited the existence of "Nine Unknown Men" who secretly run things in the world.” (Taken from - RUMORS OF THE NINE and WHO THEY ARE).
On a peripheral note I conjecture that these Nine Angelic Overlords directly under Lucifer embody, probably temporarily, these nine ‘unknown’ men who are used as conduits to express the will of Lucifer, the god of this world, but that is only my opinion that perhaps warrants some merit.
These are the paramount of evil with which we contend (excluding Satan himself) and wrestle. The word, “wrestle” or pallo in the Greek, in vs. 12 refers to “wrestling, to sway, to vibrate” connected with “esti” which typically refers to a third person singular, present tense, most commonly used with the word “wrestle”. This is a great struggle that requires concerted effort; a contest not easily won, for our adversary is tenacious and proud, and shall refuse to relent willingly.
“. . . against principalities, against powers . . .”. Exousia in the Greek, means, “force, magistrate, superhuman, potentate, delegated authority, jurisdiction; the power of rule or government,” it’s the same word used in Eph. 1:21 and 2: 2 where there as well it refers to spiritual powers but in 2:2 specifies satanic power, that is, “the prince of the power of the air”.
As part of the definitive rendering of this word involves jurisdiction, there may be some justification that these powers have jurisdictional territories over which they preside (see Dan. 10:13 – 20)*. However as is often the case with certain churches, extra-biblical beliefs are taught that these jurisdictional powers all have names and by knowing the names of these powers, the Christian can effectively ‘bind’ them, then lay claim to the souls in that jurisdiction for Christ. In order to arrive at such conclusions one must take various scriptures out of context, misconstrue their meaning, and resort to other non-biblical texts in order to learn the supposed names of these powers (Matt. 12:29 and Mark 3:27 are used, but no where are territories or names required in order to ‘bind’ and in no instance are cities, or areas taken back, but in this case, a single demoniac).These practices are not taught by the LORD Jesus Christ (on one occasion only He demanded the name of the demon (Legion) as found in Luke 8:30), nor are there any doctrinal teachings found anywhere in the epistles on this and must therefore be rejected as legitimate material for learning about spiritual warfare.
* See the following article by Dr. Chuck Missler –
OUR DESPERATE WARFARE
“. . . the rulers of the darkness of this world . . .”
“Rulers” is Kosmoskrator in the Greek and refers to “a world-ruler; an epithet of Satan. It is used in the plural form as well, and refers to non-physical rulers, spirit powers under the permissive will of God, and in consequence to human sin, exercise satanic and therefore antagonistic authority over the world in its present condition of spiritual darkness and alienation from God.”
“Darkness” in this passage of Ephesians has the same Greek word as used almost everywhere else in the New Testament, and other passages use similar, related Greek words, except in two places; once in 2 Peter 2:4 and once in Jude 6. In both instances it refers to the “[everlasting] chains of darkness” in which certain fallen angels are held captive for desperately wicked acts (many scholars believe those to be documented in Genesis ch. 6 in regards to fallen angels “the sons of God [or ‘bene ha Eloheim’] cohabitating with human females, resulting in a hybrid species known as ‘the fallen ones’ or nephilim.).
Here in Eph. 6:12 the word ‘darkness’ is skotos, meaning, “obscurity, shadiness, and mostly, darkness; the exact opposite of light (phos); physical darkness, intellectual darkness, blindness, the place of punishment, moral and spiritual darkness, evil works, of evil powers that dominate the world”, and this last definition best suits the passage in question.
“. . . against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Pneumatikos is used for “spiritual” here (and in the vast majority of the NT, excluding the Gospels only); its predominant usage is found post-Pentecost. It’s the very opposite of physical or gross, and means “ethereal, a spirit, supernatural, and regenerate (in regards to man’s spiritual state once faith is placed in Christ). It connotes the ideas both of invisibility and power, and involves spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
Poneria is here employed for “wickedness” and it means, “the active exercise of a vicious disposition.” The Greek word, kakia is defined as having “a vicious disposition” only, but poneria has the added dimension of active exercise, that is, being involved in wickedness in a vicious manner.
In the book of Colossians the Word of God brings supplementation to our understanding of the spiritual realm of the angelic powers, all of which is created by Jesus Christ:
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
“Thrones” or thronos refers to “a stately seat, power, authority, potentate” in connection with earthly thrones as well as heavenly; to the throne of grace, and those places of powers for angelic beings.”
“Dominions” or kuriotes meaning, “mastery, rulers, dominion, and prominently, government; lordship either human or angelic; both here in this passage as well as in Ephesians 1:21, it indicates a grade in the angelic orders, in which it stands second.”
“. . . against spiritual wickedness in high places . . .” The word for ‘high’ here is translated as “heavenly” elsewhere in the New Testament, and in the epistle to the Ephesians as well (1:2, 20; 2:6; 3:10) – epouranios, meaning “above the sky, celestial, spiritual as opposed to physical; heavenly opposed to earthly.”
There is the idea of a first, second and third heaven in scripture, as can be attested to by Paul’s vision/visitation of heaven as documented in scripture:
2 Cor 12:2
I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
The first heaven would be the atmospheric realm that encompasses our planet; the second would be the celestial realm of outer space, and the third heaven that region of spiritual reality in which angels both holy and evil traffic and its uppermost regions being that place of the abode of the Most High and Holy God (see Is. 57: 15; 63: 15; Ps. 33: 13-14; 61:4; 65:4)!
So we see that we have an invisible enemy, highly organized and dominating every area of this world, with abilities that go well beyond the physical dimensions we reside in, and have the intent of our total spiritual ruin or at the least, our spiritual nullification. By their sheer numbers they can incorporate a nearly flawless imitation of omniscience (all knowing) and omnipresence (all present; acting in concert with one another) and have such power and ability that would render any sinner entirely helpless and unable to resist.
For us who are the saints, should we rely upon our own understanding and senses, we would quickly and easily become despondent if we were ever exposed to the full brunt of Satan’s power utilizing all of his angelic agencies. However in the face of such adversarial opponents, we can remain steadfast in both courage and bravery, knowing that this battle is not ours, but rather, as David said to Goliath the Philistine:
1 Sam 17:47
And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD'S, and he will give you into our hands.
And remember the words of Elisha the Prophet to his servant that was dismayed at the sight of the enemies of Israel’s mighty military hosts:
2 Kings 6:16
And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
Note precisely what the prophet said to his servant; not: “they that be with us are more then they” but rather, “they that be with us (God’s mighty angelic hosts) are more than they that be with them (the Syrian army). So who are the “they” that were with the Syrian army? I believe it was the counterpart to God’s heavenly army, that is, the satanic forces behind the pagan powers of Syria.
Still, those that are with us are MORE than they that are with the worldly systems of evil!
On that gladsome note, this concludes the third segment of this article; may the LORD bless us as we seek His face and by holy endeavor lay hold of the Word of Truth, both in understanding and in obedience!
Posted by James J. Fire at 12:15 AM