Identifying the Enemy
By Dr. Tom Walker
Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
Our arch-enemy is the Devil. He hates God’s people because when we believed, we were made one with Christ; we became His dear children. I have learned after living many years for the Lord that one must have victory over the Devil if he or she is to be successful for the Lord. Our adversary will do his very best to defeat us and turn us away from the obedient life. Our lives are powerful when we surrender to the Lord and allow Him to be God in our lives.
Those in warfare need armor to be able to stand when there is intense hatred toward God’s genuine people. The New Testament teaches us that matters will grow worse and worse in this world of sin and sorrow.
In the context of spiritual warfare, Paul uses the metaphor of the armor worn by a Roman soldier. What kind of armor the soldier wore was somewhat dependent on the rank of a warrior. Weapons must be both defensive and offensive. Most of the armament consists of defensive weapons rather than offensive. In fact, only the sword is mentioned as an offensive weapon. The Apostle Paul pictures the warfare mentioned as brutal hand-to-hand combat. It is viewed as a brutal fight against an enemy who desires to maim and kill us.
It is important to note that in the Old Testament, God (Yahweh) is portrayed as a warrior. Here are several proof texts:
“But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.”
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”
“For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke.”
We are going to divide our thinking today into three main headings. First, there is our responsibility (put on the whole armor of God). Secondly, there is our weakness (that ye might be able to stand), and thirdly there is our adversary (against the wiles of the devil).
(put on the whole armor of God)
If we don’t have on the armor it is our own fault. God would not ask us to put something on if He had not made it available to you and me. Look at the first verb, or action word, mentioned in his potent, practical verse. It is the verb “put.” The word is translated several other ways in our KJV, such as an array, clothe, endue, and have put on. If we closely examine the verb “put” we can discover several things about it.
It can literally mean sinking into a garment or literally or figuratively investing with clothing. It is second person plural, which means it is not just for one believer to do this, but it is for all believers to comply. It is also aorist tense which goes back to a time in the past when this is to have happened, that is when we were saved. It is also in the imperative mode in Greek, meaning this is not just something good to do or a mere suggestion, it is essential or a command. To put on the whole armor of God is of the utmost importance if we are going to successfully stand against the forces of evil that oppose us.
We cannot just put on part of the armor. If one part is left off it may lead to injury or even death. Notice the Bible says we are to put on the “whole armor of God.” “Armor” comes from two words, one that means all, and another that means armor or weaponry. We are to take advantage of all the weaponry that God provides for us. Not to do so is to settle for defeat in our Christian warfare. God does not list one unnecessary part of the whole of the Christian weaponry. That is all a vital part of our success.
We must adorn all the armor provided by our God. Note the phrase, “the whole armor of God.” That little preposition “of” tells us where the idea of weaponry originated. It is “of God” or God is the one who supplies the weapons we need in our spiritual struggle against Satan and his devious cohorts.
(that ye may be able to stand)
To stand against a potent, powerful enemy involves strength to be able to hold our ground. The Apostle Paul dealt with that in verse number ten. We must be strong in the Lord and the power of His divine might.
God wants individuals to stand. Paul uses the words “that ye.” Now, he is talking about more than one person, but each of those persons is an individual. God is interested in you personally and He wants you as an individual to stand tall for Him and not cower in this spiritual battle in which we are engaged. That is part of the joy we experience as a believer. God takes an interest in each one of us as though we were His only child.
We must go beyond ourselves to find the strength we need. The Bible reveals to us how weak we are without the Lord. The Apostle Paul may be the greatest Christian who ever lived on the earth, but he had problems with his flesh in reference to his fallen, Adamic nature. Consider the following verses:
Matthew tells us in Matthew 26:41: “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”
Paul writes in Galatians 5:17 about this problem: “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” It is evident that even the Apostle Paul dealt with an evil heart. God does not improve our fallen natures in conversion, rather, He gives us a new nature created in holiness, to give competition to and counteract the fallen nature. We received that depraved nature at the time of our natural birth. We will struggle with this flesh until our bodies are redeemed at a time in the future. One thing is sure since we have divine natures imparted to us at the time of our salvation, we do not have to suffer defeat.
We need to understand some thoughts about the verb “stand.” It means we do not have to fall and suffer defeat. Standing is not something God does for us or it would be a passive voice. But, through God’s strength and power, we are to actively do the standing. It is our responsibility with His help.
(stand against the wiles of the Devil)
The word “wiles” is the Greek word transliterated as “methodia.” It is the picture of one who is deceitfully hiding, lying in wait to attack us at every opportunity. It is translated “lie in wait” in Ephesians 4:14. It is used in that verse of false teachers, lying in wait with their devilish doctrines, to seek to persuade the people they are right and everyone else is wrong.
It is interesting how cults deceive people. When they are done with some individuals, they may think their praying, godly mother was wrong in her beliefs, making them willing to embrace and believe new doctrines that are not of God.
What does Satan try to deceive people about? Let me suggest a few things to you.
He will attempt to deceive you about the way of salvation. Any doctrine of salvation that does believe what Ephesians 2:8-9 says is of Satanic origin. It states, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” We cannot save ourselves by our works or goodness, we are saved through faith by the undeserved mercy and grace of God.
He will attempt to deceive you about the Bible. Some folks today try to say it is not the Word of God. But here is what the Bible says about itself:
2 Timothy 3:16 tells us, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” The word “inspired” simply means God-breathed. I will accept what God says about the Bible rather than what ungodly men and women say about it.
He will attempt to deceive you about holy living. The Bible says we are to avoid even the very appearance of evil. God says, “Be ye holy for I am holy.” God desires that those whom he has saved live righteous and holy lives before the ungodly. The Bible says, “…Sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
Remember, fellow Christians are not our enemy, but Satan surely is. Make sure and stand against His trickery and deceit.