Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”
We’ve already discussed that the command to “walk worthy” in Ephesians 4 pertains to our attitude; frankly, it is a mindset of gratitude. The command in Ephesians 5, to “walk in love as children of light,” is the active response to this perspective, that of speaking the truth of the gospel in love. Before, however, we can successfully accomplish that; we need to heed the advice of Ephesians 6, which instructs us to “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” These three chapters, then, form the trifecta of the engaged role as believers in Christ Jesus.
But, the clarity of the first two commands gives way to a much more complicated situation regarding the third of “standing firm.”
Standing firm is an empowerment sequence, that of the Lord’s strength and as against the “spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places,” which Ephesians 6:12 records. As such, it includes the full armor of Ephesians 6:14-17 including, “…having girded your loins with truth…put on the breastplate of righteousness…shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace…taken up the shield of faith…the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Quite an arsenal with both defensive and offensive armaments.
As a believer, the thought is rather sobering. There is, in fact, a spiritual war, and we are part of that conflict – like it or not. In preparation, subsequent to being saved, we need to stand on solid footing concerning the gospel and the doctrines of Christianity. In fact, this power to “stand firm,” as Ephesians 6:11 requires, is in sharp contrast to Ephesians 4:14, which remarks that “we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming [of the devil].” Without a belief in and knowledge of the biblical doctrines of Christianity, we are lacking in all our offensive and defensive weapons against Satan.
But what’s the worst that can happen to believers?
Indeed, a Christian is unable to lose their salvation, as John 6:39 promises, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all [the believers] that He [the father] has given me, but raise it up on the last day” and Ephesians 1:13-14 records, “In Him [Christ] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.”
Additionally, Satan is unable, without God’s permission (see Job for a rare example), to harm us. James 4:7 confirms this when it declares, “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Also, 1 John 4:4 acknowledges, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He [the Holy Spirit] who is in you is greater than he [Satan] who is in the world.”
But Satan is able to make believers, without the standing of His armor, ineffective. This is alluded to in 2 Corinthians 2:11, where it states, “So that we would not be outwitted by Satan…” Thus, because Satan’s primary concern is to oppose Christ’s efforts, whose direct earthly purpose is to offer salvation to mankind, as evidenced by John 3:17, which promises, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him,” this “outwitting” refers to salvific efforts.
In contrast to believers, what is the worst that can happen to unbelievers?
This is revealed in 2 Corinthians 4:4, which warns, “In their case the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Consequently, without believers “standing firm against the devil’s schemes,” nonbelievers are substantially disadvantaged—a development with eternal consequences.
Is it incumbent, then, for believers to adhere to the admonishments of Ephesians 6?
Romans 10:14-15 addresses this directly, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’”
Apparently, yes! After all, from where did we originate?