The Spiritual Warfare
By Arlen L. Chitwood
Preparation for the Conflict
Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God;
praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.
The central focus seen in the epistle of Ephesians is heavenly, not earthly; and that which is revealed throughout the epistle has to do with both present and future time. In this epistle, both men and angels are seen occupying the “heavenly places” — Christ and Christians on the one hand, and Satan and his angels on the other (1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12).
In relation to present time, Christ is seated at His Father’s right hand in the heavens (the dwelling place of God, from whence universal rule is administered), awaiting the coming day of His reign; and Christians are positionally seated with Christ, awaiting that coming day as well (Ephesians 1:3ff).
Then, in relation to future time, Christ will be seated on His own throne in the heavens (the heavens associated with and in proximity to the earth, from where a rule over the earth is presently administered and will continue to be administered in that coming day); and Christians, in that coming day, will be seated on the throne as co-heirs with Christ (Ephesians 3:1-11; Revelation 2:26, 27; 3:21).
Insofar as the present government of this earth is concerned (the present rule from the heavens over the earth [from that part of the heavens in proximity to the earth]), this heavenly realm is occupied by Satan and his angels, as Satan rules under God in a rebel capacity.
But the future government of the earth (the future rule from the heavens over the earth [from the same heavenly realm presently occupied by Satan and his angels) will not be administered by angels. This government will be administered by Man; this government will be administered by Christ and His co-heirs (Hebrews 2:5-10).
Present Government, Future Government
Satan is “the prince of the power of the air [or, ‘the ruler of the authority of the air’]” (Ephesians 2:2). The word “ruler” in the latter rendering is a translation of archon in the Greek text, a cognate form of the word arche used in Ephesians 6:12, translated “principalities”; and the word “power” is a rendering of the Greek word exousia, used and translated the same way in Ephesians 6:12. Satan is the “chief ruler” among a great host of other powerful spirit beings; and this entire contingent of rulers, with Satan in command, presently exercises governmental power over the earth from the “heavenly places.”
Christ though has been raised from the dead and placed at His Father’s right hand, also in the heavens but far above the present “heavenly places” occupied by Satan and his angels (Ephesians 1:20; 4:10). God’s “right hand” points to the hand of power, and the matter in view by the Son occupying this place at the Father’s right hand is the future government of the earth (Ephesians 1:21).
The Father has told His Son,
Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool. (Psalm 110:1b)
And, following the Son’s enemies having been made His footstool (following complete subjection of all to the Son), the Son is to rule the earth (hold the scepter) as the second Man, the last Adam, and a King-Priest “after the order of Melchizedek.”
The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion [Jerusalem]. Rule in the midst of Your enemies!
Your people [the Jewish people] shall be volunteers in the day of Your power; in the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of Your youth.
The LORD has sworn and will not relent [will not change His mind], “You are a priest forever [for the age] according to [KJV: ‘after the’] order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:2-4; cf. Genesis 14:17-20; Hebrews 5-7).
Christians are presented in Ephesians as having been raised up together and made to sit together “in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (cf. Ephesians 1:3; 2:6). Christians occupy these “heavenly places,” positionally seated with Christ (“in Christ”) at His Father’s right hand, awaiting a future day.
Christians await that day when Christ will leave His present position at His Father’s right hand and come forth as the great King-Priest “after the order of Melchizedek,” for only when this occurs can they realize the purpose for their present positional standing by ascending the throne and ruling as co-heirs, as “kings and priests,” with Christ in His kingdom (Revelation 5:10). Christ and His co-heirs, forming His bride, will then reside in and rule from the same “heavenly places” presently occupied by Satan and his angels.
Awaiting That Day
The position at the Father’s right hand presently occupied by Christ, and positionally by Christians, portends future governmental power. The Father has invited His Son to occupy this position as Christ awaits the future day of His “power” (Mark 13:26; 2 Peter 1:16; Revelation 11:17), and Christians occupy their position “in Christ” with a view to the outworking of God’s plans and purposes in “the ages to come,” when God will “show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6, 7).
The ages have been planned around the preordained activity of God’s Son within these ages (Hebrews 1:2), and the Messianic Era is the first of an unending array of ages during which the eternal plans and purposes of God will be fulfilled insofar as God’s Son occupying kingly power is concerned.
During the Messianic Era, God’s Son will rule over the present earth from His own throne in the heavens. And during the ages beyond, His rule can only be of a universal nature, for it will emanate from the throne of God and of the Lamb on the new earth (Revelation 3:21; 22:1-3).
(Universal rule emanates from God’s throne today [located at a northernmost place in the universe, north of the earth], and during the ages beyond the Messianic Era, this throne will rest upon the new earth and exist as the Son’s throne as well. In that day, universal rule will emanate from the throne of God and of the Lamb on the new earth.
The Messianic Era should not be thought of as the first of the eternal ages, for it plainly is not. Rather, the Messianic Era will complete the 7,000 years foreshadowed by the six and seven days in Genesis 1:1-2:3 [cf. John 1:1-2:1]. It is foreshadowed by the seventh of these days and is connected with the septenary arrangement of time and events shown by all seven days, not with time and events during the eternal ages that follow.
The Messianic Era though will be the first of the ages in which the eternal plans and purposes of God are worked out. These plans and purposes have to do with this earth alone during the Messianic Era; then, they have to do with the new heavens, the new earth, and the universe at large during the ages beyond.
Thus, even though the eternal plans and purposes of God will be worked out during both the Messianic Era and the ages beyond, these two periods of time, as noted, must be distinguished from one another.)
How though is God going to exhibit His “kindness” to Christians during the coming ages, referred to in Ephesians chapter two? It will simply be by and through man realizing the purpose for his existence.
Christians — those referred to in the passage — will realize the highest of all possible callings, not only in the coming age but in the ages beyond as well. They will occupy positions with Christ on His throne during the coming age and continue to occupy positions with Christ on the throne of God and of the Lamb during the ages beyond (cf. Revelation 2:26, 27; 22:5).
The eschatology of Scripture though concerns itself almost exclusively with the coming age, when God’s Son will ascend His own throne and, along with His co-heirs, rule this present earth with a rod of iron for one thousand years. And attention was called specifically to this age when the Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 3:1ff, began discussing “the mystery” that had previously been revealed to him.
The mystery revealed to Paul had to do with saved Gentiles being made “fellow heirs [‘joint-heirs,’ ‘co-heirs’]” with saved Jews, forming one body, Christ’s body. And, forming Christ’s body together in this manner, both saved Jews and saved Gentiles would be in a position to ascend the throne with Christ as co-heirs with Him during the coming day of His power, when He is revealed as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (cf. Ephesians 3:1-11; Colossians 1:25-29).
But, though attention is called specifically to activities during this one age in chapter three, the thought of “ages” from the preceding chapter would carry over into the whole of the matter. And this could only be particularly true of that which is made known to “the principalities and powers in the heavenly places” through the existence of this new entity, the Church:
to the intent that [‘In order that’] that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by [through] to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,
according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:10, 11).
(The Greek word translated “eternal” [aionios] in verse eleven — God’s “eternal purpose” — does not itself mean “eternal.” There is no one word that, in and of itself, means “eternal” in the Greek text of the New Testament This is the word translated “eternal” throughout the New Testament, but the word itself refers to a long period of time, usually thought of as an age.
Aionios can be understood in the sense of “eternal” if the context permits. The immediate context in Ephesians 3:11 doesn’t [Ephesians 3:1ff]; but the far context, referring to “ages,” does [Ephesians 2:7]. Thus, that which is made known to Satan and his angels by and through the existence of the Church would have to do specifically with the coming age but could only extend out into the ages beyond as well.
To avoid confusion in this realm, in Ephesians chapters two and three, “ages” in Ephesians 3:5, 21, KJV, is a translation of genea in the Greek text and should be rendered “generations,” not “ages.”)
The Church in existence today reveals the outworking of God’s plans and purposes in the preceding respect, not only to men but to angels as well. The very existence of the Church could only cause Satan to act in a contrary manner to that which God has decreed, as did the existence of Adam and Eve in Eden, or the existence of Israel at a later time.
The Church is in existence to fulfill an eternal purpose that God “accomplished [KJV: ‘purposed’] in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:11; cf. Ephesians 1:11). The working out of this purpose will occur in the coming age first, then throughout all of the ages beyond.
In this respect, the immediate or near purpose for the existence of the Church is a rule with Christ from His own throne in the heavenlies over this present earth in the stead of the incumbent “principalities and powers”; and the far purpose is a continued rule with Christ as He sits with His Father on the throne of God and of the Lamb on the new earth, which, as previously noted, can only be universal in scope.
Satan and his angels know the position that Christians will occupy during the Millennium, and, resultantly, warfare ensues. And the warfare could only be further intensified by their knowledge of the position that Christians will occupy beyond the Millennium.
Not only will Christ and His co-heirs move into positions presently occupied by Satan and his angels and rule the earth for one thousand years but they will, following the Millennium, rule out in that realm beyond the earth where Satan and his angels sought to rule. And their God-dishonoring aspirations in time past resulted in their disqualification to even continue occupying regal power and authority in the one realm where they had originally been placed.
Thus, an irony of the entire matter is seen in that which will occur beyond the Millennium, which could only result in Satan’s further hatred for and onslaught against Christians. Satan and his angels will not only relinquish their God-appointed positions over the earth but they will relinquish these positions to individuals who will eventually move out into the far reaches of the universe itself and evidently occupy comparable positions to those which they (Satan and his angels) at a time, in the distant past, sought to occupy.
Satan’s knowledge of these things is why the apostle Paul closed his epistle “to the saints . . . at Ephesus” with information and instructions concerning the warfare in which Christians find themselves. He had been writing about the Christians’ position in the heavenlies (present and future) throughout the epistle. This is what Ephesians is about.
Christians have been saved and positioned in the heavenlies, “in Christ,” for a purpose.
And whether Christians understand this purpose or not, one can rest assured that Satan and his angels understand and know what’s happening, resulting in the existing onslaught against Christians by the world-rulers of this present darkness.
(In relation to man’s calling to one day occupy regal positions in the heavenly places, there is an interesting paradox when this is viewed in the light of the aspirations of both saved and unsaved man today.
Unsaved man on the earth has no calling to go out into the heavens; but, nonetheless, he expresses a desire to go anyway [to the moon, to Mars, and beyond within man’s present space program]. Saved man on the earth, on the other hand, has a calling to one day go out into the heavens — the heavens associated with this earth during the Messianic Era, and the heavens associated with the universe at large in the ages beyond. But, in the main, saved man is not interested.
In short, unsaved man is interested in that which God has no interest in; and saved man, for the most part, shows little to no interest in that which occupies, in reality, the central place in God’s interest surrounding the saved.
Saved man thinks in terms of dying [or being removed from the earth alive at the time of the rapture] and going to heaven, with that being somewhat the end of the matter. But Scripture deals with saved man after an entirely different fashion. Scripture deals with saved man in relation to a rule over this present earth for 1,000 years, from the heavenly places [the heavenly places in relation to the earth, not from the heavenly place where God presently dwells]; and Scripture deals with saved man beyond the 1,000 years ruling out in the universe from a new earth, a rule that will extend throughout the subsequent eternal ages.
The entire matter is regal in nature. Regality marks man’s beginning in Genesis chapter one, and this never changes throughout Scripture, throughout man’s existence, which is eternal.)
God has placed pastor-teachers in the Church to lead Christians from immaturity to maturity in the faith, and the revealed reason is given in Ephesians 4:14:
That we should no longer be children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.
In the epistle of Ephesians, instruction provided by pastor-teachers would, of necessity, have to center on:
1) One’s positional standing “in Christ” in the heavenlies (1:3, 20).
2) The “inheritance” awaiting Christians (1:11, 17, 18).
3) The very purpose for one’s salvation (2:6, 7).
4) The “fellowship [‘dispensation’] of the mystery” (3:1-11).
5) The necessity for maturity in the faith (4:11-16).
6) The necessity for being filled with the Spirit (5:18-20).
7) The spiritual warfare at hand (3:10; 6:10ff).
Concluding his epistle with the exhortation, “Put on the whole armor of God” (6:11), the writer uses similar wording in the Greek text to that which he had used in Ephesians 4:14.
This earlier verse (4:14) concerns proper preparation through spiritual maturity in order to avoid being led astray by the “cunning craftiness” of those who “lie in wait to deceive” (KJV). And the later verse (6:11) concerns one being clothed in “the whole armor of God” in order that he might be able to “stand against the wiles of the devil.”
The thought in both instances has to do with a settled plan, a systematic strategy used by those who have set about to deceive and lead Christians astray relative to matters surrounding their calling, as revealed in Ephesians; and Christians, in both instances, are to be properly prepared for such deception.
Instruction is progressive throughout Ephesians (and elsewhere in Scripture), and the concluding exhortation in Ephesians 6:10ff is really for Christians who have attained an element of spiritual maturity in their lives. This is very evident from what is stated in the passage.
There can be no such thing as a spiritually immature Christian being “strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” (v. 10); nor can there be any such thing as a spiritually immature Christian being able to properly clothe himself in “the whole armor of God” and “stand against the wiles of the devil” (v. 11). Spiritually immature Christians have little to no understanding of the warfare, much less how to properly clothe themselves.
This can be easily demonstrated from an Old Testament type, which is the central type in the Old Testament dealing with this subject — the Israelites under Moses at Kadesh-Barnea, in a position to go in, take the land, and realize an inheritance therein.
The march from Egypt to Kadesh-Barnea was by way of the wilderness of Sinai, where detailed instructions from the Lord were given to the people of Israel through Moses. And when the Israelites subsequently reached Kadesh-Barnea, spies were sent into the land ahead of the nation to gather information concerning the land and the inhabitants therein. These spies spent forty days and nights in the land, traversing it from one end to the other, and returned not only with information concerning the land and its inhabitants but with actual samples of the fruits of the land itself.
The people of Israel had received the Word of God at Sinai. They had then heard the report concerning the land and the inhabitants therein, and they had tasted the actual fruits of the land at Kadesh-Barnea before thought was given to entering the land and combating the inhabitants. That is, the people of Israel had been led from a rudimentary knowledge of their salvation in Egypt (through death and shed blood, where the death of the firstborn occurred by means of a substitute) to a mature knowledge concerning God’s plans and purposes relating to the nation at Kadesh-Barnea (where a revealed inheritance lay before the people). And the entire matter had to do with the Israelites going into the land, warring against the inhabitants, being victorious over the inhabitants, and realizing God’s purpose for the nation, within a theocracy.
And that which this overall type foreshadows, seen in the antitype today (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11; Hebrews 3, 4), is exactly the same. Growth from immaturity to maturity in the Christian life is likewise for a purpose (Hebrews 5), and that purpose has to do with being able to achieve victory over the enemy and to one day realize an inheritance in a heavenly land within a theocracy (Hebrews 6, 10, 12).
Christians are to be fully capable of clothing themselves in the whole armor of God that they might be able to “withstand in the evil day.” The word “withstand” is a translation of the Greek word anthistemi, which is a compound word comprised of anti (“against”) and histemi (“to stand”). Thus, the thought, beginning in verse ten, is to be “strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might [note where one’s strength lies — not in himself, but in the Lord]”; and in conjunction with an exhibition of this type of strength, one is told, “Put on the whole armor of God,” for only by so doing will he be able to firmly stand against the settled plan, the systematic strategy of Satan, holding his ground and giving no place to the enemy.
1) Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth (v. 14a)
Following the events of the Passover in Egypt during the days of Moses, 3,500 years ago (Exodus 12:1ff), the people of Israel were to be led out of Egypt in order to realize an inheritance in another land. They were to be removed from Egypt and established in the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And the people of Israel were to be established in this land in the position of God’s firstborn son (the nation that God recognized as possessing the rights of primogeniture). As God’s firstborn son, Israel would be the ruling nation within a theocracy, and the Gentile nations would then not only be ruled by Israel but these same nations would also be blessed through Israel (Genesis 12:2, 3; 22:17, 18; Exodus 4:22, 23; 19:5, 6).
Exactly the same things apply in relation to Christians, except a heavenly land is in view. Christ has died, His blood has been shed; and the firstborn has died vicariously, through the provided Substitute. And, exactly as in the type, an inheritance in another land is in view.
That is to say, an individual has been saved for a revealed purpose, and that purpose in the antitype is the same as seen in the type.
Then He brought us out from there [out of Egypt], that He might bring us in [into the land to which they had been called], to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers. (Deuteronomy 6:23).
Christians, from a typical standpoint, have been saved in Egypt (a type of the world) to realize an inheritance in Canaan (a type of the heavenly land to which they have been called). That is, Christians have been saved in the world in order to one day be established in a heavenly land as God’s firstborn son (that “holy nation” that God recognizes as possessing the rights of primogeniture [Hebrews 12:23; 1 Peter 2:9]); and as God’s firstborn, Christians will rule as co-heirs with Christ, within a theocracy. The Gentile nations will not only be ruled by Christ and His co-heirs but these same nations will also be blessed through Christ and His co-heirs (Genesis 22:17, 18; Ephesians 1:3; Philippians 3:20; Colossians 1:5; Hebrews 3:1; 1 Peter 1:4).
(Spiritual blessings in that day can and will flow not only from Christ and Israel on earth [Christ seated on David’s throne, in the midst of the Jewish people] but through Christ and His co-heirs in the heavens as well [Christ seated on His own throne, with His bride], in complete accordance with Genesis 12:3; 22:17, 18.
And this can be true because all those associated with Christ in this manner [both on earth and in the heavens] will be of the seed of Abraham [Galatians 3:29], the seed through whom God has decreed that all spiritual blessings are to flow.)
The Israelites in the type had been led from Egypt through the wilderness to the borders of the land of Canaan at Kadesh-Barnea. They were in possession of the Word of God received at Sinai, they had heard the report of the spies who had traversed the land of Canaan, and they had tasted the actual fruits of the land that the spies had brought back with them. The Israelites had moved from a simple knowledge of the rudimentary things surrounding the death of the firstborn in Egypt to an extensive knowledge concerning the plans and purposes of God for the nation (which centered on the land of Canaan and the purpose for Israel’s calling).
In the terminology of Scripture, the Israelites had moved from a state of gnosis (“knowledge”) to a state of epignosis (“mature knowledge [especially as it related to the things surrounding the purpose for their calling]”). They were now ready to enter the land, combat the “giants” inhabiting this land (Numbers 13:32, 33), and possess the land in accordance with their calling and God’s promise.
Their seeming inability to conquer the “giants,” who were far stronger, was to be of no consequence. They were to recognize that the battle belonged to the Lord (1 Samuel 17:47) and that circumstances were not to be viewed from a naturalistic standpoint but from a divine viewpoint. They were to know that the enemy could not be overcome within their own strength (Numbers 14:42-45) but, rather, through the strength of the One dwelling in their midst.
Such was the attitude exhibited by Caleb and Joshua (two of the twelve spies) as they sought to present the truth of the matter to a people who had been troubled by the preliminary report given by the spies concerning the land and its inhabitants (Numbers 13:26-30). And this is what is in view in Ephesians 6:14 when Christians are told to have their waists “girded . . . with truth.”
“Truth” in this passage is not a reference to the Word of God. A person clothing himself to enter the conflict with the inhabitants of the land wherein his inheritance lies occurs, as in the type, at Kadesh-Barnea when he enters the conflict, not back in Egypt. At this point, the person properly clothing himself could only have previously moved from an immature understanding of the Word to one that would allow him to grasp various things about the spiritual warfare at hand. That is, such a person would not only be in possession of the Word but he would be in possession of an understanding of this Word, particularly as it relates to things surrounding the battle for the land and Christians ultimately holding regal positions therein.
Taking and using the Word already in one’s possession is seen later, in verse seventeen, not at this point in the instructions, in verse fourteen.
“Truth” in this passage is a reference to entering the conflict after the same fashion Caleb and Joshua were exhorting the people to enter the conflict during their day:
Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30)
“Truth” with which one enters the conflict, in this respect, is sincerity, earnestness as the person goes forth, relying upon the Lord (“. . . be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” [Ephesians 6:10]).
One has to, first of all, be sincere and earnest about the conflict in which he finds himself engaged. This battle isn’t something that one can enter after any type of frivolous fashion. There is a systematic, well-planned effort on the part of Satan to bring about a Christian’s defeat; and a Christian, to be victorious in battle, must exhibit the same type of attitude as manifested by Caleb and Joshua.
(The “giants [Hebrew: nephilim, ‘fallen ones’]” inhabiting the land during Moses’ day were the offspring of a cohabitation of the sons of God with the daughters of men — the offspring of a cohabitation between fallen angels in Satan’s kingdom and female members of the human race. Thus, the battle set before the Israelites for possession of the land, as the battle set before Christians for possession of a land today, involved things beyond the natural, requiring God’s supernatural intervention on behalf of His people.)
2) . . . having put on the breastplate of righteousness (v. 14b)
The girdle is the first piece of armor mentioned in Ephesians chapter six; and a warrior arraying himself for battle was to put the girdle on first, for other pieces of the armor were attached to the girdle.
The breastplate, the next piece of armor mentioned, was normally attached to the girdle in both the front and the rear, making the girdle necessary for the breastplate to be held firmly in place.
The thought is that there must first be a Caleb- and Joshua-type attitude on the part of the Christian before going beyond this point in properly clothing himself. One must first have on the girdle of sincerity, earnestness and truthfulness before the breastplate can be properly affixed.
It is a simple thing to see that the breastplate can have nothing to do with the righteousness of God that has been imputed to every believer. The righteousness of God is a righteousness with which God clothes us at the point of salvation, as He clothed Adam and Eve with animal skins following their fall (requiring death and shed blood).
The righteousness in view in Ephesians 6:14 is a righteousness that the Christian himself is to put on. It is a righteousness to be put on by the one already in possession of the imputed righteousness of God.
This is the personal righteousness mentioned in Revelation 19:8, associated with the wedding garment. This garment is made up of “the righteousness of saints.” The word “righteousness” is plural in the Greek text and should be translated “righteousnesses,” or “righteous acts.” These are the justifying acts referred to in James 2:21-25.
A man is first justified by faith (Romans 5:15-18), being clothed in the righteousness of God (spoken of in a singular sense — one justifying act [performed by Christ]); and the man is then to be justified by works (James 2:24), clothing himself by righteous acts (spoken of in a plural sense — justifying acts [performed by the one already justified by faith, justified through the act of Another]).
Righteous acts performed by Christians simply have to do with exercising faithfulness within the scope of one’s particular calling, fulfilling his particular responsibility as a servant in the Lord’s house. And, as one exercises faithfulness, waiting upon the Lord, righteous acts will be the natural outworking of faithfulness as the person follows the leadership of the indwelling Spirit.
That is to say, in relation to that which is seen in Ephesians 6:14, after one exhibits the proper attitude toward the battle at hand, he is then to exercise faithfulness as a servant in the house. Such will result in works, righteous acts, allowing that person to have on (he will have put it on himself) the breastplate of righteousness and allowing that person to one day be clothed (actually, he will one day clothe himself) in the wedding garment.
(For the proper relationship that faith and works occupy in relation to one another, refer to the author’s book, Salvation of the Soul, Chapter 5, “Faith Made Mature,” and the Appendix, “Faith and Works.”)
3) And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace (v. 15)
Note the emphasis in verses eleven, thirteen, and fourteen relative to standing as one goes forth to battle: “to stand” (v. 11), “withstand [lit. ‘stand against’],” “to stand” (v. 13), and “Stand” (v. 14). One must have solid footing to stand upon. Both feet must be firmly planted, “having shod your feet with the preparation [‘readiness’] of the gospel of peace.”
There are two aspects to the gospel in Scripture. One appears in connection with “peace with God,” and the other appears in connection with “the peace of God.”
“Peace with God” comes about through justification by grace through faith, as seen in Ephesians 2:8, 9. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). This peace results from one being placed upon the foundation, with the most sure, steadfast footing possible, apart from which there can be no conflict.
However, distinctions between “peace with God” and “the peace of God” are not what is in view in Ephesians 6:15, for availing oneself of the proper footwear (for both feet) is something that, contextually, occurs following salvation.
In a parallel passage to that which is in view, the latter part of Romans 10:15 states,
How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!
The feet are seen as the vehicle of transportation for the messenger, as he goes about proclaiming good news concerning peace. Within the overall scope of the good news, as previously stated, there is a facet of the message having to do with “peace with God” (for the unsaved [Romans 5:1]) and there is a facet of the message having to do with the “peace of God” (for the saved [Philippians 4:5-7]). The contextual emphasis in Romans 10:15 though has to do with the saved, not with the unsaved.
Exactly the same thought is in view regarding the armor in Ephesians 6:15. Having one’s feet properly shod has to do with proper preparation relative to the good news concerning peace, as it pertains to the saved, exactly as seen in Romans 10:15; and this would be based on the person already having “peace with God,” as seen in Romans 5:1.
The messenger’s feet being properly shod shows a proper preparation of the messenger as he goes about proclaiming this message concerning peace. And this message of peace would have two facets — the peace of God now (having to do with the present aspect of salvation, the outworking of the saving of the soul), culminating in a future peace when the Prince of Peace is Himself present (having to do with the future aspect of salvation, when the salvation of the soul will be realized).
4) Above all, taking the shield of faith . . . (v. 16)
The weakness of the average Christian is lack of faith, wrought through the neglect of prayerful study and meditation on the Word of God.
“Faith” is simply believing God, and God speaks to us today through His Word. This is the reason that “faith comes by [‘out of’] hearing, and hearing by [‘through’] the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). We find what God has to say about a matter in His Word; and we can then either exercise faith by believing that which He has said, or we can fail to exercise faith through unbelief.
Caleb and Joshua at Kadesh-Barnea exercised “faith.” They believed that which God had to say about entering into and possessing the land of Canaan (Exodus 2:24, 25; 3:7, 8; 6:4-8; 13:5, 11, 19; Numbers 13:30). However, the remainder of the nation, led astray by the “evil report” presented by the other ten spies, failed to exercise “faith.” They didn’t believe God concerning entrance into the land, and they even went so far as to consider appointing a new leader (someone other than Moses) and returning to Egypt (Numbers 13:31-14:4).
Exactly the same thing confronts Christians today: Will you exercise faith concerning that which God has to say about entrance into the land (in line with that manifested by Caleb and Joshua)? Or, will you fail to exercise faith concerning that which God has to say about entrance into the land (in line with that manifested by the remainder of the nation)?
Caleb and Joshua possessed “the shield of faith”; the remainder of the nation though didn’t possess this shield. The “shield of faith” is put on by and through simply believing that which God has to say concerning entrance into the land. It is put on by trusting the Lord to see you safely through the conflict with the world-rulers of this present darkness, resulting in your realizing an inheritance in the land during that coming day.
Possessing the shield of faith would be synonymous with earnestly striving with respect to the faith in Jude 3 or striving in the good contest of the faith in 1 Timothy 6:12.
5) And take the helmet of salvation . . . (v. 17a)
This is something that a person already in possession of salvation is to, himself, put on; and it is to be put on in view of a warfare. Thus, it can be easily seen that putting on “the helmet of salvation” has to do with things beyond that which is foreshadowed by the death of the firstborn and application of the blood in Egypt. Continuing with the type, it has to do with being properly arrayed (by having arrayed oneself) at Kadesh-Barnea, with a view to entering the land and combating the giants.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 reveals that “the helmet of salvation” is the hope of salvation:
But let us who are of the day [Christians waiting and watching for their Lord’s return (vv. 6, 7)] be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and for an helmet the hope of salvation.
The “hope of salvation” is a reference to the salvation that will be revealed at the time of Christ’s return — the salvation of the soul. The “hope” is something that may or may not be realized (cf. Luke 23:8; Acts 16:19; 27:20). And the salvation of one’s soul, inseparably connected with hope, has to do with realizing an inheritance as God’s firstborn son in the land to which Christians have been called — something that Christians, individually, may or may not realize.
A Christian can forfeit his inheritance and lose his soul, which itself has nothing to do with his presently possessed eternal salvation. Again, bear in mind, this is something (as seen in the type) that occurs at Kadesh-Barnea and beyond, not something that occurs back in Egypt.
One clothes himself with the helmet of salvation — the hope of salvation — in view of achieving victory over the inhabitants of the land to which he has been called. His hope is that of being victorious — being an overcomer — and one day being privileged to ascend the throne and rule as co-heir with Christ in this land.
This is a hope that results in purification in a believer’s life and is a hope that should be on the lips of every believer, as a ready testimony surrounding the purpose for his salvation (1 Peter 3:15; 1 John 3:3).
(See the author’s book, Salvation of the Soul, chapter 6, “Hope, Inheritance, Salvation,” for a more comprehensive discussion of this subject.)
6) . . . and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (v. 17b)
A Christian having his waist “girded with truth,” having on “the breastplate of righteousness,” having his “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace,” taking “the shield of faith,” and having on “the helmet of salvation” is then to take “the sword of the Spirit” — the Word of God — as he goes forth to combat Satan. After being properly arrayed in all the other revealed fashions, he is then to take the one thing that God has provided as a weapon to be used against the enemy.
2 Timothy 3:16 in the KJV reads,
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God . . . .
The words, “given by inspiration of God,” are a translation of one Greek word, Theopneustos, meaning “God-breathed.” This is a compound word comprised of Theos (“God”) and pneuma (“breath” in this particular usage [this is also the word used for “Spirit” in the New Testament — the Holy Spirit, man’s spirit, and the use of spirit in general; also “wind” in John 3:8]).
That which is meant by and the implications of Scripture being God-breathed are given in a somewhat simple manner in Scripture, but one has to look at and compare related parts of both Testaments before he can really begin to see and understand that which is involved. A person has to reference passages in one Testament, then passages in the other. He has to compare scripture with scripture, i.e., he has to compare “spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13).
First note Hebrews 4:12:
The Word of God is quick [lit., alive], and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword . . . .
Why is the Word of God “alive,” “powerful,” and “sharper than any two-edged sword”? The answer: Because of its origin. The Word is “Theopneustos”; the Word is “God-breathed.”
But, what does that mean? And why is the Word “alive” because of its origin? This is where one has to go back to beginning points in the Old Testament and find the first mention in Scripture of God bringing a matter to pass through the use of His breath.
This is necessary not only because of the need to compare scripture with scripture but also because of a principle of biblical interpretation called, The First-Mention Principle.
This principle has to do with unchangeableness, and it centers on an unchangeable structure of the Word given by the unchangeable God. Because of the inherent nature of the Word, the first time a subject is mentioned in Scripture, a pattern, a mold is established at that point that remains unchanged throughout all subsequent Scripture.
Remaining within this principle, the first time one finds the breath of God mentioned in Scripture is in Genesis 2:7, where life was imparted to man by and through God’s breath. And, consequently, at this beginning point, this verse connects life with the breath of God after an unchangeable fashion.
God formed and fashioned man from the dust of the ground, but man was not created alive. Life was subsequently imparted through God breathing into man’s “nostrils the breath of life,” resulting in man becoming “a living soul.”
Thus, in Genesis 2:7, the unchangeable connection between God’s breath and life in relation to man is established and set. Only God can produce life, and any time life is produced beyond this point it must always be through the one means set forth at the beginning, revealed in Genesis 2:7.
There is nothing more powerful at a Christian’s disposal than the Word of God. It was this Word that Satan chose to use against Christ in the wilderness, and Christ used this same Word as He countered Satan (Matthew 4:1-11).
And going forth, properly arrayed for battle, using the Word as a weapon against the world-rulers of this present darkness, a Christian, at the same time, is to constantly be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (v. 18).
If the provided instructions are followed, victory after victory in the present spiritual warfare will ensue. But, if the provided instructions are not followed . . . .