Aug 27, 2008

Bible study - spiritual warfare - Eph 6:10-18

I would like this to be formed as a study on the various aspects of spiritual warfare.

In the beginning when the first Adam was in the paradise, came the first sin where in Adam disobeyed the word of God. There in the garden of Eden, Man fell to temptation and experienced sin which separated him from God. Sin is essentially a turning away from the living word of God. When a person becomes born again, he experiences a renewed closeness with God due to the fact that his heart has been reopened to the word. He turns away from sin by accepting the word of God made flesh and the promise of eternal life therein in the word of God.

Being in sin separates us from God. The only way to be together with him is in the new acceptance of Christ , His son, as our personal lord and savior. Till a person is born again, he is in conflict with God. But he is not at conflict with the flesh (the call of the flesh, the call of the body, the sensual life) since his mind listens not to the spirit within but to the flesh. But once you are born again, your old Adam is replaced by Christ the new Adam; your spirit is renewed by the Holy spirit and your mind undergoes a slow transformation or renewal.

Even after being born again, the believer has to be In this world. The world is devil's domain and thus we would be faced with temptations and battles (thus making the process of being renewed in the mind a painfully slow one - since it involves a constancy of being in the spirit and being away from the flesh; It requires us to be ever more in the word and listening carefully to the prompting of the holy spirit, discerning the deceptions of Satan)

Is it like our Father to lead us in His grace to the new life and not to give us the necessary things needed for our survival and victory ?! No sir. That’s not like Him at all. As always, He gives us the word to give us the necessary preparation for the spiritual battles which we could face when in this world. God knows the struggles in the world - His Son has faced all the struggles which we could face here - and emerged victorious (even victorious unto death!) Praise Him ! He was tempted on earth, by the devil himself - and He emerged victorious by the word.

There's a constant conflict that is happening in the spiritual realm - And once we are part of God's family, Satan takes a personal interest in leading a warfare against you - A worrying thought , till you remember the promises of the Lord who sends His angels to watch over you. And more than often, the battle rages on in your mind itself (in terms of circumstances, thoughts, giving into sin, etc).

When the Lord calls, some of us come to Him - in complete surrender, and in faith and follow Him. As a follower of Jesus Christ, you are a soldier. You are in a war. That war is against Satan. It is against the forces of darkness. The battle that the new Christian could face is called spiritual warfare. Here's the comfort for us from the word.
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
(1Pe 4:12-14 KJVR)

For those who submit to God, He gives them His Spirit and power to overcome evil. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
(1Jn 4:4 KJVR)
Till the day you die (or are raptured), this battle can be expected to continue for your soul. The conflict inside you, at times, may seem almost unbearable, but do not give up or despair. For the Lord Jesus said, These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
(Joh 16:33 KJVR)

But never underestimate the Satan and his ability to deceive. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
(1Pe 5:8 KJVR)

One of the best sections on spiritual warfare is Eph 6. Such a beautiful solace to us believers.

Eph 6:10-18 KJVR Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (11) Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (12) 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. (13) Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (14) Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; (15) And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; (16) Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (18) Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Hallelujah ! That's the message of the lord that I would like to share in study with you today.

(10)Firstly, our power comes from being in union with Jesus. We are in a struggle, and we need to defend ourselves using God’s ways, not man’s ways. We need His strength and His power. (which are ours through the Holy spirit he has given in us)

(11)In our battle, God advices us to use the spiritual weapons (Godly weapons) as against satan's worldly weapons. God's ways, traits and His weapons are what will help us in our spiritual battle. The armor mentioned here is for protection - protection against the fall , for release from the bondage of disobedience and sin, to discern the subtlety of Satan, stand against his wiles, protect our minds and for the ultimate victory which is ours through Christ.

(12)This is a battle for our soul. God in his mercy and love is not willing to let any of his loved ones perish. Satan tries to lead us away from God - towards him. In our battles, we do not grapple the physical enemy, but the battle is against the highest demonic authorities in this world - the utmost powers of the satan, against the unseen rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness (which could come down into our minds too unless we are guarded) When do we know we are wrestling in battle ? Often we have a choice of doing the right thing (scripturally right thing to do!), and the other options seem easier and more tempting to do. When there are tiny thoughts in your mind, leading you to sin. When the various small reasons keep us away from the word or from doing good deeds , etc, then we know that the struggle is on, and is being lost. Personally, at times, I can literally feel the struggle tearing me apart and screaming in my mind. Nevertheless, by FAITH we overcome all these struggles.

(13)Put on the complete armor as God tells us here - that we may be able to withstand (stand ground in strong defense). We need to understand that the weapons of our war are not carnal, but mighty through our God. (2Cor 10:4)We need to take care that when Satan comes charging, we do not lose heart, turn away from God, turn towards the enemy and fall. As God prompts us, his full armor would stand us in good heed when the evil days may fall upon us. [Let us take a few moments and examine our lives - are there areas of our life where we have not had the protection, and are exposed to the satan ? Do we reflect Christ in our public and private lives ? Do we display the fruits as we would if we were to be living Christian lives ? Do we sense the complete armor of God as written here ? Have we Christ centric lives ? You armor is chink free only if you consciously examine your life to be Christian.

(14)The lord starts this verse with a command to us to resist every attack of the devil. The girdle is what holds the entire armor together. Truth is supposed to help hold our defense together in times of trouble. Truth comforts. Truth enables faith. Truth is the essence of God. Truth helps conquer the lies of satan. Truth is the word of God. Jesus defeated Satan with the truth.
A man's core is his heart - pumping lively blood to all his body. The breastplate protects all these vital parts of a human being. When we are under attack, righteousness (Christian integrity, holiness, purity of life, piety, sincerity, etc) would protect our core from the arrows of the enemy. (Look at the righteousness of Job which enables him to face his trials in triumph through the lord!) And this righteousness can be given completely only by the lord - It is written that it comes to us through faith. We have to walk in righteousness, worthy to the calling we have received.

(15)Our ability to stand firm in our battle comes from our feet being shod with the Gospel of peace (In fact, god mentions - preparation for the gospel - which is our readiness to quote the word, which is our readiness to preach the gospel, etc) Even in a battle with a formidable adversary, our defense is the defense of Christ (the Gospel of peace)

(16)A shield protects the complete man and his armor - In our battle, Faith is our shield. It is the ultimate protection for us ! Faith is complete trust and dependence on God in all ways and for all things. It is an unwavering confidence in Jesus Christ. We need to have childlike faith. Faith in Jesus Christ (your shield) puts "Him" between you and the enemy. Through faith, all things can be overcome. (Immense are the promises for those who overcome - remember the promises which our Lord gives to the churches (to him that overcometh - etc - in revelation) 1 John 5:4 - And this is the victory that overcometh, even our faith. With our faith, we shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the enemy. (This also gives an indication of the strong attack on us by Satan - Fiery darts) And there's enough fuel in our adamic nature to destroy ourselves when the fiery darts come. (All attack on us comes through a combination of thoughts, emotions and flesh) The shield of faith comes from hearing, reading and believing the word of God. Also, it is promised - submit yourself therefore to God; Resist the devil and he will flee from you. How apt when you consider that faith is indeed submission to God. (And angels will minister to you in your weakness as they did when Jesus was victorious in temptation)

(17)No soldier can fight well unless he keeps his head (literally and figuratively!) And no soldier can fight a successful battle unless he has the hope of victory with him. Likewise, the hope of salvation is what protects the Christian's soul (likened to a soldier's head) in our spiritual battle. We cannot fight the devil unless we have the hope of salvation, and once we have the hope of salvation, we have nothing to fear ! (Also, a helmet protects our thoughts - truly, does the hope of salvation)
The word of God is mentioned as the sword, the only weapon in our battle against the devil. While the word of God can be used as a defense, it is also the main weapon for us! Also, here, God presses on us to invoke the Holy spirit in our battles - (sword of the spirit , which is the word of God!) It is with this weapon that Jesus met satan in the wilderness. Unless we are armed with the truth, we can never discern the lies of the devil (Also see Heb 4:12 about the word of God likened to a sword)
Study the bible to understand the truth
Let the mind be ready with the right scripture as our savior had (prompted by the holy spirit)
Do not depend on our wisdom but look to the word for the truth

Another thought - finally all these defenses centre on the word
Truth - the word of God is the truth
Righteousness - comes through faith (Rom 4:5) and faith through hearing the word of God (Rom 10:17)
Gospel of peace - the word of God
Salvation - by faith through grace (again from the word) - believing (in) the word of God (Christ)
Faith - comes from hearing the word of God
What a beautiful revelation !! The essence of spiritual warfare is the word of God !!

(18)Did you ever know of a Christian soldier who goes to battle without prayer ? Prayer crowns all lawful efforts with success and gives a victory where nothing else could. Prayer unleashes the grace of our lord. (and God says - "always" - meaning it is to be a constant factor in our lives , when we are facing our battle, when we are preparing for the battle, etc) I cannot even begin to examine the depth of this verse !! Oh it is so filled with meaning ! Some keywords - always, prayer, in the spirit, watching, perseverance, for all saints (Christians)

In summary - be cheerful in the lord in our spiritual battles - arm yourself with truth, righteousness, faith, gospel, faith , hope of salvation and the word of God. Be in prayer always - and our God has promised us victory in Him !