A terrorist entered the garden of Eden to capture the heart and soul of man. Adam and Eve succumbed to the enemy when they failed to appropriate God's Word, lift up the shield of faith, and stand against him. Sadly, they didn't realize the importance of that moment, and they doomed all of humanity to slavery under the dominion of sin and the enemy. A promise regarding the Redeemer (Gen. 3:15) formed their only hope, and the first sacrifice by God in the garden pictured that redemption.
The Apostle Paul describes the fight for faith in a fallen world: "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:11). The enemy, the weaponry, and the battleground haven't changed in millennia. To be unprepared is to be defenseless and defeated.
Paul describes the enemy, the prepared soldier, and the battle in Ephesians 6:10-20:
The enemy -- He uses "wiles" (6:11)--he employs questions and makes statements to create doubt about God's character and the veracity of His word. His tactics come straight from Genesis 3:1-5: "Has God indeed said? . . . . You will not surely die. For God knows that that in the day that you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God . . . ." The enemy hasn't changed his strategy. What worked then works now. He still flings faith-wrecking and fiery darts to question the goodness of God's character and the veracity of His word.
The prepared soldier and the battle --"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" (Eph. 6:13). Paul describes the effective soldier as a person of discipline:
Restrained passions, "Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth" (6:14) - Eve made a decision to eat of the forbidden fruit based on the appeal to the eyes and the stomach: "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate" (Gen. 3:6). Thus, revealed truth became secondary to enticed and unrestrained appetites.
Guarded heart, "having put on the breastplate of righteousness" (Eph. 6:14) - Adam and Eve were already created in the image of God, yet they forsook that position before God in exchange for being "like God, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:5). Righteousness is God-produced, not man-produced; therefore the heart must be guarded against suicidal thoughts of self-righteousness.
Intentional living, "and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace" (Eph. 6:15). Cain rebelled against truth and established a path well-worn by the majority of humanity--those who live outside of the presence of God, who "steal, kill, and destroy" like their father (Jn. 10:10; 1 Jn. 3:10-12). Abel, however, established a path where men lived in light of God's promise of redemption, where few have trod. The soldier lives to share the gospel of Christ.
Appropriation of faith, "above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one" (Eph. 6:16). Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17); therefore, knowing and appropriating what God has clearly stated creates a missile-defense shield around the believer, which puts out the fire of the enemy's darts. Truth must be appropriated!
Renewed mind, "And take the helmet of salvation" (Eph. 6:17). The mind naturally defaults to sinful thinking; therefore, a new default must be developed, where errant thoughts are taken captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5).
Offensive use of the Word, "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17). Knowing a few verses here and there limits the soldier in his ability to strike the enemy with a deathblow. Knowing the whole counsel of God, however, gives the believer an arsenal from which to draw. Every believer must have a solid understanding of who God is, who he or she is in Christ, and what story is being played out on today's battlefield.
The soldier--so armed--prays with authority and experiences great victory!
What are the components of Paul's prayer in Colossians 1:9-12? How do these components relate to Paul's description of the soldier and his battle in Ephesians 6?
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