“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11, NASB95)
Every day when we get up we choose to get dressed. We could choose not to do so and we would walk through our days exposed which, contrary the opinion of some, would not be a good thing. Getting dressed is important to me, and I appreciate when others do the same. Paul tells us a similar spiritual truth that in order to be strong in the Lord we have to dress ourselves in “the whole armor of God.” This isn’t a do it in the morning thing and forget about it as it is most days with our clothes, but it is certainly a good thing to walk through this spiritual dress as you attend to your physical dress. What Paul is writing about here is a continual dressing that is particularly important in times of spiritual need.
Kids are an interesting learning ground. How many of you have ever had a child come up to you with frozen fingers after playing in the snow and you asked them where their gloves were to hear that they were not wearing them? You may have had the best weather appropriate gloves in the world and they may have fit them perfectly, but unless they put them on it does absolutely no good. And lest you think it is only kids that do this, how about us as adults who maybe don’t put on a pair of good work gloves before doing some strenuous outdoor work only to find out that you developed some really nice blisters. Or, maybe you went and worked at cutting back the blackberries while wearing shorts, or you went out in the sun for a long period of time without a hat or sunscreen. We all have things in our lives that we did and do where we were not properly prepared and then had to suffer consequences because of it.
All of the examples above spoke to events after they were completed and there was the realization of some form of defeat. I think that all of us can look to our past and find similar spiritual situations where we realized after the fact just how much we might have lost a battle either because we chose to ignore what was right or because we blew right past the warning signs to stop and regroup with God before proceeding. This instruction of verse 11 follows verse 10, where we read “…be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” Verse 11 is the means to accomplishing verse 10. In order to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might we need to “Put on the full armor of God.” Just as a soldier would not go into battle without being properly dressed and equipped, so are we told to make ourselves ready before entering the spiritual battles that we encounter on such a regular basis.
Also in verse 11 we begin to see the real realm in which these relational and other battles are fought. We continue to read, “so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” We do have an intelligent and devious enemy. He is all about destruction, and he will do what he can to take advantage of any situation to bring it about, whether it is an intense trial or a flip comment. It doesn’t matter to him when he finds an open door as we read in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, NASB95)
God warned Cain about this in Genesis chapter 4 after his offering was rejected. “So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”” (Genesis 4:3–7, NASB95) God told Cain to get his heart and his actions right and he will have victory over his attitudes. But Cain did not listen, and verse 8 gives us the tragic consequence. “Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” (Genesis 4:8, NASB95)
We see affirmed in these verses that the devil is indeed real and he is active. The battle we are engaged in is with him, and our only hope for victory in a battle with him and his cohorts is in the strength of the One who defeated him on the cross—Jesus Christ. This is what these verses are all about; about defeating the devil as we are properly armored in Christ who makes us to stand victoriously. He may outsmart us, but there is no way he outsmarts God, and we can be so thankful that God has given us His Word to inform and His Spirit to empower as we fully rest in His Son.