“10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armour of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.” Ephesians 6:10-19
There is a plethora of expository commentaries on this familiar passage of Scripture. I hope that here it will suffice to point out that what Paul is communicating in this passage has not so much to do with “getting the victory” as it does with “standing in the victory” of Christ. The encouragement to “stand” is given three times. This foundational Scripture reference for spiritual warfare does not once mention anything like “identifying” and “binding” evil spirits; but rather things which are spiritual, legal, and moral: truth, righteousness, the Gospel, faith, salvation, the word of God and prayer.
Overcoming Fear of Death
I would like you to consider that one of our most powerful weapons in this spiritual warfare is that we “don’t love our lives even when faced with death”.
Alternatively, the fear of death is probably Satan’s single-most effective weapon used against us. This is because the fear of death is foundational to the psyche and existence of fallen humanity. Just two Scriptures references should be able to explain why this is so:
“16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
“For the wages of sin is death.”
But the end of God’s Book tells us how powerful it is to overcome fear of death. It’s written: “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”
Obedience & Self-denial
While our obedience to God is obviously prerequisite for an arsenal of weapons in our warfare, there is much more to simple obedience than meets the eye. To obey God often, if not always, requires self-denial, that is doing what God wants instead of what we want, and/or having to deny ourselves in some way or of some thing in order to obey God. What does it cost to obey God? It could cost time, effort, money, comfort, safety, privacy – it could cost us a relationship, and sometimes it could cost us our life. The self-denial factor in obedience is actually the most powerful thing we can use in our warfare against our spiritual enemies. I say this because, essentially, it was self-denial which God used in Christ to defeat Satan. Jesus defeated Satan with self-denying love for God the Father and Humanity. This is the theme of this message. Hopefully, this powerful truth will unfold and become clear through the next few Scripture references.
Paul wrote this to the Church in Corinth: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every pretension raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.” So Paul says that the weapons to be used against the enemy are not physical, but spiritual, because that’s the nature of the warfare. And again, he identifies the enemy’s weapons as “thoughts” – “speculations” and “pretensions”. Then he brings up this matter of “obedience”, which we are not yet quite clear on just how that might be threatening to the enemy. But then he goes even further to say that when our obedience is complete, we will actually be able to punish all disobedience. What could that possibly mean? Well, Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will obey ….” If we love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we would be “complete” in our obedience. Obedience accomplishes what pleases the Lord, but how would obedience “punish” disobedience?
Do you remember the obedience issue that Jesus worked through in the Garden of Gethsemane where in the end, He said, “Not what I will, but what You will.”?  What was it that He denied Himself to obey? THE CROSS. We are about to see, not only how overcoming fear of death, obedience and self-denial all come together in the cross, but also the absolute wisdom and power of the cross. We are going to see that God’s “weapon of choice” for dealing with the World, the Flesh, and the Devil – His weapon of choice” for dealing with Sin, Satan, and the powers of darkness – was and is THE CROSS. We will also see that, not only does “the cross of Christ” have wisdom and power in this spiritual warfare, so does “your cross” when you “take it up daily, deny your self and follow Him”. We will also see that God has “An Even Greater Commission” than the Great Commission which He has purposed for the Church to fulfill.
Let’s “set the stage” with a quote from “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis. The Witch had bound and killed Aslan on the Stone Table where He lay overnight. But, as the sun rose in the morning, the Stone Table cracked, and Aslan appears to Susan and Lucy. They asked Him, “What does this mean?”
“It means”, said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.”
A passage of Scripture which communicates the truth reflected here in C.S. Lewis’s novel is what the apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth: “We preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ (i.e. a crucified Christ) (is) the power of God and the wisdom of God…. Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
The apostle James describes the wisdom of the world as “self-centered and demonic”. Wisdom is commonly defined as applied knowledge. But applied to what? The wisdom of the world is based on self-serving pragmatism, which ignoring eternity, is solely concerned with the affairs of this life on earth. A shining example of the wisdom of this world is the Declaration of Independence with its pursuit of happiness as an inalienable right. The problem is, through fear and intimidation, the powers of darkness manipulate human beings to be motivated towards their own self-interest. The power of self-interest started with the fall of Humanity – it is inherent in our fallen human nature. Because of this, fallen Humanity “lies under the trance” of the Evil One.
God is building a Church that will be free from this self-interest – a Church that will be willing to serve the purpose of God rather than self – a Church that will demonstrate God’s wisdom to the powers of darkness. The wisdom of God is the morality of God – His nature and His ways. The wisdom of God is based on self-denying sacrifice. The wisdom of God is THE CROSS.
The Cross is that “deeper magic” that goes back “before Time dawned”. The apostle Peter said that God chose Christ, the Lamb of God, “as your ransom long before the world began”. The apostle John referred to Christ as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”. The apostle Paul explains that THE CROSS existed as the wisdom and the power of God in eternity past, “to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That is a significant aspect of the Grand Finale in the Lord’s eternal purposes for the Church. Ultimately, the Church does not exist merely for the meeting of human needs. The Church ultimately exists for God – to be involved in His eternal and cosmic purposes.
But before we go there, we need to be convinced that THE CROSS is indeed God’s “weapon of choice” against the powers of darkness. There is a verse in Paul’s epistle to the Colossians that is very convincing. He wrote: “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” The “it” at the end of this sentence refers to the “CROSS”, which was the last word in the previous sentence. It was indeed through THE CROSS – through His self-denying obedience to the Father – that Jesus Christ “disarmed, made a public spectacle of, and triumphed over” the powers of darkness. It was through His self-denying obedience of THE CROSS that He “punished” the disobedience of the powers of darkness.
Just as it was a “stumbling block” to the Jews, it has always been very difficult for human beings to understand how the suffering and death of someone has the power to overcome sin and evil. Also, we may wonder: “How does THE CROSS “punish” the disobedience of the powers of darkness? Since this is the wisdom of God we are dealing with here, it is indeed difficult to understand. But here are a few thoughts that might give some insight into this mystery: This battle between God and Satan is a spiritual battle – it is a legal battle – it is a moral battle.
For many of us, the term “legal” almost automatically translates into “legalistic” or “legalism” with accompanying negative connotations. But, I have slowly become more aware of the purely legal aspects of God’s redemptive plan, and specifically how they counter Satan, “the accuser of the brethren”. Satan, the Adversary, is simultaneously both the ultimate transgressor and legalist, who uses God’s very law as the basis for his accusations against God’s people. We see Satan accusing Job and Joshua the high priest. But, Colossians 2:14 clearly explains how God dealt legally with this situation: He “… canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Yes, the cross of Christ is also a legal weapon. And the nature of the warfare and the power of the weapons are moral. Good overcomes Evil, Light overcomes Darkness, Truth wins out over Lies, Righteousness over Unrighteousness, Faith over Fear, self-denial over self-aggrandizement. Moral virtues have spiritual power. We human beings tend to think of power in terms of physical might, violence, and destruction. The spiritual realm is a dimension which human beings cannot fully grasp, but God and His angels and Satan and his angles battle in the spiritual dimension of morality. That may sound strange; but are we to imagine their warfare actually consists of stabbing each other with swords, firing AK47s at each other, throwing grenades at each other, utilizing laser technology to destroy one another’s “body” parts? No, by nature of the case, their warfare is not material, but spiritual, as well as, legal and moral.
And here is the amazing thing – not only does the Lord want for us to rise above being used as pawns here on the earth by the powers of darkness, He has actually invited us onto this spiritual battlefield. That is actually a very anemic way of putting it, for God has purposed for us to be involved in this warfare – it is one of His “eternal purposes” for the Church. He has commissioned us into this battle. I call it “The Even Greater Commission”.
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“The Weapons of OUR Warfare” is an excerpt taken from the eBook “The Cross & The Powers of Darkness”, pages 22-31. See the corresponding eBook and Audio Message on our website.
At Christ’s Table – ACTpublications © 2020
“Explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” 1 Corinthians 2:13
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 See APPENDIX p.42
 Revelation 12:11
 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
 Greek: pleroo (Strong’s #4137)
 John 14:15
 Deuteronomy 6:5; Mark 12:30
 Mark 14:32-36
 1 Corinthians 1:18-24; 2:1-8
 1 Corinthians 1:23-24; 2:6-8
 James 3:15 God’s Word Translation
 1 Peter 1:19-20
 Revelation 13:8
 1 Corinthians 1:18-24; 2:1-8
 Ephesians 3:9-11 (NKJV)
 Colossians 2:14-15 (NKJV)
 Revelation 12:10 (cf. Luke 22:31; 1 Peter 5:8)
 Job 1:11, 2:5
 Zechariah 3:1
 Romans 12:21
 John 1:5