The Invisible War Ephesians 6:10-6:18
I DON’T HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT WE ARE AT WAR IN AMERICA! It’s a dirty war–in some ways, worse than the one we are waging against terrorism. It’s being fought right here on our soil as well as in many other nations. It’s a war for the minds and hearts of people–between the forces of good and evil, between God and Satan.
The stakes in this war are high because the price is heaven or hell, life or death, darkness or light, freedom or slavery, reward of punishment.
Recently National Geographic ran an article about the Alaskan bull moose. The males of the species battle for dominance during the fall breeding season, literally going head-to-head with antlers crunching together as they collide. Often the antlers, their only weapon are broken. That ensures defeat. The heftiest moose, with the largest and strongest antlers, triumphs. Therefore, the battle fought in the fall is really won during the summer, when the moose eat continually. The one that consumes the best diet for growing antlers and gaining weight will be the heavyweight in the fight. Those that eat inadequately sport weaker antlers and less bulk. There is a lesson here for us. Spiritual battles await. Satan will choose a season to attack. Will we be victorious, or will we fall? Much depends on what we do now--before the wars begin. The bull-moose principle: Enduring faith, strength, and wisdom for trials are best developed before they’re needed.
One thing is certain. We cannot afford to be ignorant of this invisible war because it is waged right here and now! The enemy of our souls wants to gain control of our hearts and minds. Look at verse 12 of our text. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual powers. Barna Research Group, Ltd., of Oxnard, California conducted a poll in which they discovered the following. Nearly two out of three American adults (62%) agreed that Satan is not a living being but a symbol of evil. And even more alarming is that among evangelical Christians, 52% deny Satan’s existence! 72% of Catholics say the devil is non-existent. Conclusion: One of the major battlefields is taking place within the Church!
This warfare can be summarized by looking at four things: (1) Our Adversary, (2) Our Armor, (3) Our Allies, (4) Our Plan of Attack.
I. Our Adversary
A. His Many Aliases
5. Prince of this world
6. Prince of demons
8. Father of lies
9. TempterAngel of light
10. Accuser of the brethren
B. His Power
1. A fallen angel (highly intelligent)
2. Power over kingdoms of the world
3. Power to afflict people w/sickness
4. Able to sift the saints
5. Limited power–not equal with God, a created being
C. His Work
2. Perverts the truth
3. Opposes God’s purposes
4. Assumes many disguises
5. Hinders the Gospel
6. Creates doubt, denial and confusion
7. Blinds multitudes to the truth
8. Seeks to destroy faith
9. Seeks to discredit Christ
10. Makes sin attractive
11. Tries to break up families
12. Tries to give the world another gospel (humanism, moralism, universalism, ritualism, evolution)
13. Seeks to discredit the Church
D. His Angels (Fallen)
1. Some are free to roam the earth, fulfilling Satan’s commands
2. Some are bound in darkness until the day of judgment
E. His Defeat
1. Accomplished on the cross and verified by the resurrection of Christ
2. Permitted to operate as a usurper until the time of his final imprisonment
F. His Doom
1. Christians putting on the entire Gospel Armor of God.
II. Our Armor
The Christian will need resources for this warfare. An army does not send its soldiers into battle clad only in shorts and sneakers! Neither does God send his people naked into the world to war with its prince and his demons.
Verse 13 tells believers to put on the FULL armor–not a part of it but all of it! Its God’s armor. It comes from Him. Its spiritual in nature. You can’t buy it. It won’t be given by the government. It is received by faith. It is real. It is necessary. Why? So that when the attack comes (and it will come) we can stand our ground!
This armor is for frontal defense. If we retreat, we leave our backside exposed to the enemy and will suffer grievous wounds. James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” If there’s any running to do, let him do it while you stand in absolute victorious possession of the premises!
Verses 14 to 18 give us a description of the armor
• Helmet of salvation–we have the mind of Christ to keep us in the truth
• Breastplate of righteousness–heart purity
• Shield of faith–in God’s greatness; spiritual protection
• Belt of truth–protects us from error
• Shoes of readiness–so that we can better stand our ground and at times, move forward
Did any of you hear any armor that would protect your back?
III. Our Allies (6:10,11,18)
Our allies are nothing less than the three Persons of the Trinity! We have the Father to pray to, the Spirit to pray in, and the Son to pray through.
We don’t fight for the victory; we fight from the victory. The victory was won for us on Calvary by Jesus Christ. We fight in His name, form a position of victory. Jesus has already put His feet on the neck of the devil and He wants us to follow His example. Romans 16:20 states that “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.”
The unholiest huddle in hell must have taken place at the moment when Jesus emerged from the waters of Jordan, having been baptized by the Holy Spirit and having heard a voice from heaven that said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
And what of Calvary? All the demons and evil spirits from the pits of wickedness were no doubt assembled for their great triumphant day. But their joy was soon turned to terror, for when Jesus said, “It is finished,” they were finished!
IV. Our Plan of Attack
In verses 17-20, the emphasis switches from defense to offense. Ours is not merely a strategy of holding. Our commanding officer has ordered us to take as much territory as we can. We’re to take the battle to the forces of evil. We’re tired of being kicked around, assaulted, and belittled. We’re now going on the offense.
Lucas Sibana, a South African was walking along a remote path, minding his own business when a python slithered out from behind some shrubs. Sibana froze. Within a few seconds the snake had wrapped itself around him and began constricting. Pythons are large snakes that suffocate its victims before swallowing them whole. Sibana was trapped. He didn’t know how he would escape. He decided the only way to get free and save himself was to bite it as hard as he could just below the head. He bit, he kicked and he punched the snake until it released him. Then he killed it with a stick, took it home and skinned it. His family had it for supper.
That’s the kind of tenacity we need to fight Satan with. What do we have at our disposal? Consider...
A. The Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Its not just a protective weapon used for defensive purposes. Its an offensive weapon. It’s a “cutting” weapon. Its quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. Its alive and active. It can hack to pieces all other false religions and philosophies.
B. We can also make use of our supply lines. Verse 18 says, “...praying always with all kinds of prayers and requests.” As long as the lines of communication are open, we can call for firepower to help when we need it on the front lines. Satan fears prayer; he knows what a vital force it is when arrayed against him.
A little girl was praying a little longer than usual one night and her mom asked her why she prayed so long. She replied, “My Sunday school teacher said that the devil trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees. I just thought I’d make him shake a little longer tonight.”
Prayer is a mighty weapon in the hands of a committed Christian. James 5:16: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.”
General Stonewall Jackson had a man on his staff who had become so accustomed to his ways that he was able to discern whenever the General was about to start on an expedition. Someone asked him how he knew the General was about to depart without telling him. “Oh, that’s easy,” answered the man. “The General prays every night and morning. But when he is on the eve of an expedition he prays two or three times during the night. I pack his baggage, for I know he is going out.”
Yes, prayer can be used as a weapon. We can pray against the devil. We can bind him in Jesus’ name. Many of our unsaved friends and loved ones may be released if we engage in this kind of prevailing prayer. In prayer we can bind the binder. We can tie him up and rob his house as Jesus taught us in Matthew 12. For too long the devil has been robbing the church of Christ. Let us turn the table on him!
C. Our strategy is to preach the Gospel. In verse 19 Paul says, “Pray also for me that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the Gospel.” We need spiritual courage for these days. The devil is out to destroy us. But if we work with our allies and let Christ’s victory be ours, we can defeat him.
And if we’ll use the Bible and pray continually and preach the gospel, Satan will be put to flight. That’s the way to victory!