Charles Spurgeon, the great British Baptist Defender of the Faith, said, “The Devil never beats a dead horse.” He knew whereof he spoke. Spurgeon was embroiled in three great battles in London at Metropolitan Tabernacle. Ian Murray in The Forgotten Spurgeon, records the three famous conflicts Spurgeon fought as England’s leading pastor. The three confrontations were with preachers of Arminianism (works for salvation), preachers of baptismal regeneration (works for salvation by water baptism) and the Downgrade Controversy (Liberalism in Spurgeon’s denomination, the Baptist Union). Spurgeon earnestly contended for the faith and probably went to an early grave as a consequence.
If you and your church preach and defend doctrine, the emphasis of Ephesians 1-3, and practice what you believe, the point of Ephesians 4-6, you can expect “to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Paul in the final section of Ephesians equips us to “resist the Devil” (James 4:7).
1. By Depending on God’s Strength (6:10-11a) see How to Resist the Devil, Part 1 and 2
2. By Knowing your Enemy (6:11b-12)
First, we must comprehend our enemy’s “wiles” or methods.
Satan’s methods are based on lies in order to deceive. Jesus identified the Devil as “a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). The first time we see the Devil after his fall, he is lying to Eve (Genesis 3:1ff). Those controlled by Satan lie (Acts 5:1ff). For example, Peter said to Ananias and Sapphira, “Why has Satan filled (controlled) your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit.”
Satan lies to sinners in a church service at the invitation. I remember as an unsaved youth being convicted by the preaching of God’s Word and wanting to respond at the gospel invitation and Satan whispering, “You don’t have to go forward this Sunday morning. You have plenty of time to get saved.” Satan does not try to get the sinner to put off salvation forever, just one day at a time.
Satan lies to believers like he did to Ananias and his wife Sapphira. The father of lies says, “You can sin and get away with it. “ Then when the believer sins, Satan accuses the brethren, “You can’t get away with that sin.” Even we preachers of the Word of truth must be on guard against embellishments and becoming the hero of all our personal illustrations.
Next, we must know our enemy’s instruments.
If Satan is the Commander-in-Chief, his demons are his boots on the ground. The organization of Satan’s army is found in 6:12. But first Paul says that our enemy is “not against flesh and blood.” That sounds impossible because most of our conflicts are interpersonal. Paul has just spent twenty five verses instructing us how to get along with our wives/husbands, children/parents, and employees/employers. If you have gone through a divorce, the pain of a wayward child, or the difficulty of an abusive boss, you are thinking, “flesh and blood” is a real enemy.
These relationships will defeat us only as we allow our greater enemy to use them. We don’t battle these people with the carnal weapons of arguing, manipulating, bulling, or retaliating. Rather we battle our greater enemy by putting on the spiritual armor provided by God which is Paul’s third tactical instruction for resisting the Devil.
3. By Putting on God’s Spiritual Armor (6:13-20)
Some divide the seven pieces of armor (I am including prayer as the last piece) between the armor attached permanently to the soldier’s body (belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, and the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace) and the pieces not attached but which must be taken up in the battle: Shield of faith, helmet of salvation, Sword of the Spirit and prayer.
Others divide the armor between the defensive pieces (belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, and helmet) and the offensive pieces (sword and prayer).
Next week is Week Twelve. In our following posts, we begin to examine each piece of armor.