Ephesians 6:11-13 Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 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.
We talked about the armor of God yesterday and today I want to talk about the battle that we encounter with the devil. The first word I want to explore is the word “wiles” in verse 11.
Wiles – schemings; methodology; plans
The devil has a plan for your life. Jesus calls him a thief who comes only to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10) Satan’s plan for your life is to steal from you, kill you and destroy your effectiveness for the kingdom of God.
The next word that I want to discuss is the word “wrestle” in verse 12.
Wrestle – Webster’s 1828 dictionary, which often lists definitions with reference to scriptures, lists the definition of “wrestle” as to strive with arms extended, as two men, who seize each other by the collar and arms, each endeavoring to throw the other by tripping up his heels and twitching him off his center. To struggle; to strive; to contend.
The picture that we ascertain from this definition of “wrestle” is that of a match between two opponents, up close and personal, with no more than an arm’s length between them, each trying to knock the other one off balance so as to win the match against him. A wrestler strives or contends against his opponent. So, to wrestle means to engage actively in one-on-one combat. The word says that our opponent in this wrestling match is principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Does that sound like people to you? No, we are told in the first part of that scripture that it is not flesh and blood, or human beings that we strive against. Satan has a hierarchy of demonic hosts that are strategically placed in his army just like we have different levels of military offices in our armed forces. The battle that we fight against with these spiritual entities is not a physical battle; it is referred to as a wrestling match to give us an illustration of the type of warfare that it is in the spirit realm. Jesus often spoke to people in parables which where earthly stores that had a spiritual meaning. The Bible continues that type of illustration here as we look at the warfare we become involved with as we wrestle with Satan’s army of demons.
The next word I want to discuss here is the word “withstand”. The Greek word for “withstand” is anthistemi. Strong’s #436: From anti, “against”, and histemi, “to cause to stand”. The verb suggests vigorously opposing, bravely resisting, standing face-to-face against an adversary, standing your ground. Just as an antihistamine puts a block on histamine, anthistemi tells us that with the authority and spiritual weapons granted to us we can withstand evil forces.
What the word is saying in Ephesians 6:13 is that when we are suited up in the armor of God we will be able to vigorously oppose and bravely resist the up close and personal attack that comes to us from the enemy. We will be able to stand our ground, blocking his every move. To stand against means to hold at bay aggressively or to stand in front of and oppose. “Having done all, to stand” means that we will be found standing after an active battle and taking our stance for the next battle. From this illustration I get a clear understanding that God intends for us to fight and win!
The Old Testament stories of physical encounters with the enemies of Israel are a type and shadow of the spiritual battles that we, as believers, encounter with our adversary, the devil. In looking at the battle between David and Goliath we see how David suited up with the weapons that he had tried and tested, and found to be effective. His weapons were a slingshot and five smooth stones. He told Saul that it wasn’t the weapons per say that brought the victory between the lion and the bear while he was caring for his father’s sheep, but the Lord was the one who had delivered him in his battles and that His God would deliver him from the hand of the Philistine as well. (1 Samuel 17:37) It is our God that is backing the armor that He provides for us and when we apply the weapons as instructed by the Lord we can know that He is fighting the enemy through us. Just as Goliath started fighting against David by challenging him through words of disdain, trying to cause him to fear, so Satan comes against the believer through thoughts of doubt, unbelief, discouragement, discontent, fear and accusation.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
The battle that we fight against the devil is in our thought processes. God calls them thoughts, arguments, strongholds, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. A stronghold is a fortified place that Satan builds to exalt himself against the knowledge and plans of God in a person’s life. Strongholds often leave the person feeling that their situation is hopeless and there is no way out. A stronghold begins as a thought and as you mull that thought over and over in your mind it reinforces it every time it is thought until it eventually becomes “reality” to you. It is an up close and personal encounter with Satanic forces because many times he is so convincing that you receive the thought as your own, when in actuality, anything that is in opposition to God’s word is a lie, regardless of how good it sounds. Satan is a deceiver, and is described in John 8:44 as a liar and the father of it.
John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is o truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
Satan cannot read a person’s mind, but he can interject thoughts into a person’s mind. He usually begins his attack by speaking to your mind thoughts that counter what God’s word says. Take for example the serpent speaking to Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
Remember that we said earlier that the stories in the Old Testament of physical battles or encounters are types and shadows of the spiritual encounters that we as believers have with the enemy. So, in this instance, notice that the serpent, or to us the devil, in conversation with Eve, questioned what God had instructed them to do about eating of the trees of the garden. He started with causing her to doubt God’s word. Satan will come with a thought placed in your mind that God’s word really doesn’t apply to your situation and that there really isn’t any hope for you; you will have to take control of this situation yourself and figure out how to overcome on your own. It is at this point that we must stand against, or wrestle with the thought bringing it into captivity to God’s word. Many times in years past I have had a thought and had to stop myself and say, “wait a minute; what does God’s word say about this situation?”. I would have to stop and get the proper perspective through knowing the word of God to be able to stand against the wiles, or strategy of the devil at that point in my life. Just as Jesus battled the devil with the word of God when he tempted Him in the wilderness, so you will have to speak the word of God to the enemy when he brings those thoughts and temptations to your mind.
God gives us some instructions in Philippians 4:8 about what we are to think about or meditate on to keep our thought processes in line with His word.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
God is a positive God; He is not negative in His thoughts and He doesn’t want us to dwell on the negative and feel as if there is no hope for us in our warfare against the enemy. Nothing is impossible for God according to Luke 1:37: “For with God nothing will be impossible.” God is for us; He has equipped us to win, to be more than conquerors through Him.
Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Romans 8:37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Strongholds can be brought down through changing what we think about, speak about and act on. Every action begins with a thought and is followed by what we say and then acted out. It is in the beginning thought that we need to bring it to a stop! It is at that point that the wrestling is the most effective. The longer we go dwelling on it the more intense the battle becomes and the more fortified is the stronghold.
Father, I thank You for giving us the weapons that we need to defeat the enemy. Thank You for causing us to be over-comers through Christ Jesus. Please show us the fortified areas in our minds that need to be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Help us to fight a good warfare; one that wins every time. Father, I pray for my friends that You will show them the areas that Satan has used as thoughts that exalt him in their minds instead of Your word. Father, grant them the victory over the enemy. Lord, strengthen their spirits to do battle. Empower them to win and show them that You are right there with them, fighting through them. Thank You, Father, for leading us to triumph in Christ Jesus. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.