God's truth for today's world

 Fight the Battle Message Introduction

Today, we’re continuing our message series called “Bondservant.” A bondservant, serving the Lord lays their life on the line for their master. A servant is also a warrior or soldier for their Captain. Today, our message is entitled “Fight the Battle.”

Around the world today, there are many armed conflicts. Last year there were 4 conflicts with more than 10,000 deaths. An additional 10 conflicts had more than 1000 deaths and 18 conflicts that had more than 100 deaths. These physical armed conflicts are simply outwards symptoms of a spiritual battle. The unseen war between the kingdom of God and the dominion of Satan.

Every person, whether they know it or not is aligned with one side or the other in this unseen spiritual battle. On the side of the kingdom of God are believers, and those who are not believers are aligned with the dominion of darkness. The Bible talks repeatedly of our responsibility as warriors in this conflict.

1 Timothy 6:12a (NIV)  Fight the good fight of the faith.

The fight or battle that God commands us to fight is a good fight, it’s a fight of and for the faith.

2 Corinthians 10:3-4 (NIV)  For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

As warriors of Jesus Christ, we do not fight with swords or machine guns. We do not use the weapons of the world. We fight with spiritual weapons that are divinely powered to destroy evil spiritual fortresses.

What is the goal of this battle? What are the two sides fighting over? The battle is over the most valuable thing on this planet, which is people. The people on Satan’s side have been taken captive by him to do his bidding. Many do not even realize that they are in captivity and fighting Satan’s battles.

Colossians 1:13 (NIV)  For he [God] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,

The goal of the kingdom of Jesus is to rescue people from this dominion of darkness, the dominion of Satan, and bring them into God’s kingdom army.

The battle is more complex than we have talked about. For there are other powerful spiritual beings involved in this spiritual warfare. On the side of the kingdom of God is an amazing hierarchy of mighty angelic beings. The Bible tells us that these angels provide help to believers and wage war against their evil counterparts.

For Satan, has a powerful hierarchy of fallen angels, demonic powers that wage war against God’s angels and against believers. Satan seeks to capture people and take them to hell with him for eternity, while God seeks to rescue people from Satan’s clutches and ultimately take them to heaven forever.

The ultimate end of the battle is not in doubt, for Jesus has won the war on the cross.

Colossians 2:15 (NIV)  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he [Jesus] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Because of Christ’s victory, we as believers have power over Satan and his demonic forces as we fight the battle.

This morning, we are going to look at a passage in Ephesians 6 about spiritual warfare. In order to fight the battle, we must …

Be strong in the Lord

Ephesians 6:10 (NIV)  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

We cannot fight this spiritual battle in our own strength. We must learn to rely on God’s power and ask for His strength when we are in the midst of fighting. 

Stand against the devil’s schemes

Ephesians 6:11 (NIV)  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

The devil is cunning and he has schemes to defeat you and your family. His schemes involve using the temptations that you are vulnerable against. He knows how to accuse you in areas that will make you feel defeated. Satan knows how to intimidate you and cause you be in fear or worry. The devil has plans to deceive you in areas where your understanding of God’s Word is weak. His schemes involve driving wedges between spouses in marriage, between parents and children and between believers in the church.

How can you stand against these schemes? By putting on the full armor of God. We’ll be talking more about that in a minute.

Your battle is against evil spiritual forces

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

This is a very important verse. So often, we think our problems or struggles in life are caused by other people. The Greek word for struggle here implies hand-to-hand combat. This verse tells us that we are not struggling against people, but against levels of evil spiritual powers that are manipulating people.

As Satan is not omnipresent, as God is, he uses these evil spiritual forces to carry out his schemes. These evil forces range from demons that oppress and possess people, to evil powers that are over cities and nations, according to the Bible.

What is the first thing we must do in the battle?

Put on God’s armor

Ephesians 6:13 (NIV)  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

The full armor of God is not just armor that God supplies, it is the armor that God Himself wears in the battle. Isaiah 59:12 speaks of the Lord putting on the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation. The armor of God protects us against the devil’s schemes as battle tactics, so that we can be strong in the Lord.

Notice that the verse says “when the day of evil comes” not “if the day of evil comes.” In other words, you are and will be in the battle with evil, so you must be prepared for the battle.

Let’s talk more about how to apply these truths to our lives. Many people don’t understand the armor of God. First of all, contrary to what many think, as a believer, you don’t have this armor on automatically. When God’s Word commands us to do something, it means that it’s not automatic and if we don’t obey God’s Word, something really bad is going to happen.

What’s going to happen if we don’t put on God’s armor on a daily basis? What’s going to happen is that one of these days, the devil or his minions will attack you and severely injure you, because you don’t have your defensive armor on.

When you don’t have your armor on and the devil wounds you, what does that mean? Without armor, you will succumb to temptation and fall into sin, without armor, you may become addicted to various sins or substances, without armor, you will fall prey to sickness, accident or even death, without armor you will have financial difficulties, job difficulties, relationship problems and I could go on and on. I trust you get the picture.

Many of the difficulties that believers encounter in life is because they did not have their spiritual armor.

Now, only Jesus perfectly had the armor on and He was still persecuted and ultimately put to death on the cross. So, having the armor on does not mean you won’t every have to overcome a problem. But it does mean that you will be able to stand against the attack and have the victory.

So, how do we put on God’s armor?

Stand firm with the …

We’re going to look briefly at each piece of armor to understand what it is and how to put it on.

Belt of truth

Ephesians 6:14a (NIV)  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,

The belt for the Roman soldier was a leather apron that secured the soldier’s tunic and held the sword in place. The belt of truth speaks of honest character, of integrity in your life. Of your speech matching what your actions are.

To put on the belt of truth is to put off hypocrisy, deception and all forms of lying. If the belt of truth is not worn, Satan has an opening to attack your character. Next is …

Breastplate of righteous conduct

Ephesians 6:14b (NIV) … with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

The breastplate provided protection from the neck down to the upper thighs, protecting the vital organs. The breastplate of righteousness refers to righteous conduct, of doing the things that Jesus would have you do. Of living your life according to the word of God. The opposite of righteous conduct is unrighteous conduct or sin. Sin opens the door for your enemy Satan to attack you in important areas of your life.

Boots ready to go

Ephesians 6:15 (NIV)  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

The Roman soldiers was nobnailed sandals with cleat-like studs underneath, so that they could stand firm-footed in hand-to-hand conduct. To put on the boots, is to be steadfast in God’s peace, ready to fight, alert regarding the schemes of the enemy. It means to have our feet firmly planted on the rock of Jesus Christ, our sure foundation.

Shield of faith

Ephesians 6:16 (NIV)  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

The Roman shield was 2 ½ ft wide by 4 ft high, made of layers of wood, bronze and oxhide. In battle, it could be used side by side with others to form a wall of protection in the front or a roof overhead. Before battle, the shield was soaked in water so that flaming arrows dipped in pitch would be extinguished when they struck the shield.

To take up the shield of faith is to be strong in your faith, resisting doubt of every kind. To be joined in your faith with others in the church, so that your shield together with others form a wall of protection. When Satan attacks with his flaming errors, your shield of faith will protect you.

Helmet of salvation

Ephesians 6:17a (NIV)  Take the helmet of salvation …

The helmet of salvation protects our minds from the enemy’s attacks and is a critical part of the armor. The helmet refers to our hope or assurance of our final salvation. Finally, is …

Sword of the Spirit

Ephesians 6:17b (NIV)  … and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

The word for sword refers to a short dagger 12-14 inches long used in hand-to-hand combat. Note that it is the Spirit’s sword. The sword is the word of God. The Greek word for word here is not the usual logos of God, which refers to the written word of God. The Greek word here is rhema which refers to a specific word spoken by the Holy Spirit through us which repels the enemy. Stand firm as you put on the armor of God.

There are two extremes that people go to with respect to the battle with Satan. One extreme is to think that he is no match for you, you’re going to kick him around and stomp on him. The Bible explicitly warns us against such an attitude of underestimating the enemy.

The other extreme is to be fearful of Satan, he’s so big and powerful, there’s nothing that we can do against him. That’s one of Satan’s schemes to get you to believe he’s stronger than God.

It reminds me of a strategy used thousands of years ago by Alexander the Great. On one occasion when Alexander’s army was in full retreat from a larger army, he gave orders for his armorers to construct over-sized breastplates and helmets that would fit men 7-8 ft tall. As this army retreated, they would leave this huge armor behind, leading the enemy to be demoralized from attacking.

Satan tried to play headgames with us as well, making us think that we can’t stand against him, even with God’s help. But when we put God’s armor on and fit with the rhema word of God, we can put him to flight. Finally, the last important aspect of fighting the battle is to …

Pray in the Spirit

Ephesians 6:18a (NIV)  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

The final essential ingredient to fighting the battle is prayer. God’s Word commands us to pray in the Spirit. We are to pray at all times with all kinds of prayers.

What does it mean to pray in the Spirit? It means to pray empowered and directed by the Spirit. Praying in the Spirit can mean either praying with your spirit in an unknown language or praying with your mind in a known language. What are we to pray about?

Pray for the church

Ephesians 6:18b (NIV)  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

We are to pray for other believers in the church. Each of us needs the prayer support of other believers in the battle. When you are under attack, don’t try to fight the battle alone. Engage the support of fellow prayer warriors. Not only are we to pray for the church …

Pray for our witness

Ephesians 6:19 (NIV)  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,

In other words, we are to pray for one another and for ourselves that we would courageously be a witness for Jesus Christ. Of course, that’s the goal of the battle, isn’t it? Rescuing people from the Satan’s dominion and seeing them saved. Pray in the Spirit.

A man named Lee Eclov tells a story about the power of prayer in spiritual warfare. One night while he was sound asleep, he heard the sound of the phone ringing. Half-asleep, he grabbed blindly for the phone and put it to his ear. He heard a menacing voice say “You thought we’d forgotten you.” And then there was silence.

Lee’s mind raced as he wondered who was at the other end of the line. Fear filled his mind as he sensed this was something diabolical. He felt like he couldn’t speak, but finally simply blurted out the prayer “Jesus!” Immediately the fear left him, he work up and realized the phone was not in his hand, but across the room.

But what happened was more than a dream, he had felt the presence of the evil one. But now, he was filled with peace, as the power of Jesus’ name had caused the evil presence to flee.

Fighting the battle with the evil one begins with being strong in the Lord. Put God’s full armor on daily as you stand firm in God’s power. Communicate with your commander in chief by praying in the Spirit. Your goal in the battle is to stand firm and allow God to use you to rescue others from the dominion of Satan. Let’s look forward to many victories in the battle together with God’s help.

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