“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:13, NASB95)
Again we are told to wear the armor of God. We were told to put it on in verse 11 and here we are told to take it up. Both of these instruct us that we have a role. God is not going to keep us from attacks of the evil one. He has not put us in some kind of bubble that keeps us exempt from all that the world experiences, but rather He has chosen to equip us to stand when these things do happen. And His method for doing this is to give us what we might look at as pieces of armor which we will explore further in the posts to come. This why we read that we are “therefore take up the whole armor of God.” The battle we are engaged in is not with a flesh and blood enemy but a spiritual one, thus we are to prepare by equipping ourselves for battle with the spiritual armor which God supplies.
The armor is here. It is available to us. But just as having clothes sitting in a drawer really serves no purpose unless they are worn, so are we to dress ourselves constantly in that which God supplies us in order to protect us against attack. And, we know that Paul is speaking about attack because we see even in this verse words such as “withstand” and “stand firm.” Think about it. Are these offensive words or defensive words? Are these words that direct us to go out and engage the enemy or ones that tell us how to prepare ourselves for when the enemy attacks?
We sing the song “Onward Christian Soldiers,” and we picture ourselves marching out to war in order to win the world for Jesus Christ. And in that sense we ARE sent into the world as His ambassadors knowing that we may be persecuted. But this is not what Ephesians 6 is about. It is about those times when we know something is coming our way and we need to be ready. It is about those times when we are blindsided when we are least expecting it. It is even about guarding our own hearts and minds against some of the regular battles we have within ourselves. It is about all of these, and being able to stand firm in Christ when the darts fly in. Whether they are anticipated or not, we certainly know that they will come.
We also read in this verse about a time for which we are to be prepared. Notice the expression, “in the evil day.” This does not refer as much to the time period we are in today lasting until when Jesus comes again as it does to the seasons of intense struggle that we each face from time to time. Every day is not the same. There are some days that are more intense than others, just like war. Not every day for a soldier is the same in intensity, though they may string together with periods of sporadic calm.
This passage was given to us to teach us how to face those days or seasons in our lives when we are under attack from the wicked one. The objective is that we will be able to stand our ground firm, having resisted Satan and become secure in the truth we know about God and ourselves. Paul wants us to learn how to maintain the stance of soldiers who are victors rather than the fallen nature of a victim.
(Note: A good portion of the text of these posts on Ephesians 6:10-17 is taken from a sermon series given after preparing the course in Spiritual Warfare. A good portion of the text of the course was prepared by Bob Bonner, teaching pastor at Calvary Crossroads. Recognizing this there may be portions of these posts that are his words and not mine. After so many years of teaching this material combined I seem to have lost the line between the two. Thanks Bob for letting me be a part of this.)