It would seem that once someone makes the decision to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, two-thirds of the battle would be over. Yet the truth is, that’s when the battle really begins. Satan unleashed all the forces of hell against a man named Job, not because Job was evil and near the point of falling away, but because Job was – “blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.” (Job 1:1 NLT) Scripture teaches us that as God’s people, we are wrestling against: evil rulers, authorities of the unseen world, mighty powers in this dark world and evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12) Or in other words, we are fighting every evil force imaginable in every place imaginable.
Many years ago, a man by the name of George Duffield, Jr. wrote a song entitled – “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.” The purpose of his song was to encourage Christians to stand firm in their faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. Though Satan and his forces will fight against you, do not allow him to gain the victory. Stand up, stand up for Jesus! But Duffield also gave us a very important piece of advice in his song –
Stand up, stand up for Jesus! Stand in His strength alone,
The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own;
Put on the gospel armor, and watching unto prayer,
Where calls the voice of duty, be never wanting there.
“The arm of flesh will fail you, you dare not trust you own.” Though you and I may have every desire to live for Jesus, our good intentions are not enough. Our flesh is no match against the wiles of the Devil. We must stand in Christ’s strength alone.
Duffield wrote those words because that is what scripture teaches us.
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. (Eph 6:10-11, 13 NLT)
As I have taken a fresh look at what Paul calls our spiritual armor, I have come to realize that although it can help protect us, it is also meant to empower us. Or in the words of George Duffield, it can enable us to “Stand up, stand up for Jesus!”
Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph 6:14-17 NLT)
Paul told the Corinthians that the first and foremost message he brought to them was the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul was not a man to cower in the corner and hope that the devil would leave him alone. For to him to live was Christ and therefore Jesus and Him crucified was all that he determined to know. At least five times in his various New Testament letters, Paul called himself a ‘prisoner of Jesus Christ’ and in Eph 6:20 he said that he was an ‘ambassador in bonds.’ Perhaps by Paul calling himself a prisoner of Christ, he meant that he was bound ‘to’ Jesus and His gospel. Perhaps he meant that he was bound ‘for’ Jesus and His gospel. Both statements were true. But a sentence of death did not silence Paul. Even in prison he continued to preach to the guards and all those who would listen. It was in prison that he met a runaway slave named Onesimus and led him to the Lord. In was in prison that he found a way to take the gospel into the household of Caesar. With that kind of thinking forefront in his mind, Paul was always sharing the gospel and seeking to encourage others to do the same. As the Spirit was leading him to write this letter to the Ephesians, a Roman solider caught his eye and he began to compare the pieces of the soldier’s armor to the power of Christ’s presence in a believer’s life.
Notice if you will that the very first piece of armament Paul mentioned was the belt of truth. Humanly speaking, that was the most ‘insignificant’ piece of the armor. In and of itself, it had no protective power. As I have searched to learn why a Roman soldier wore this belt, I have discovered that the primary purpose was to help hold his sword. If that is the case, then we should note that Paul begins and ends his description of our armor by stressing the importance of always having ready the Word of God. ‘Sanctify them by Thy truth. Thy Word is truth” Jesus prayed to the Father. At our right hand should always be God’s Word. It does the surgery necessary to separate us unto the Lord and it is our most powerful weapon against the forces of evil. “It is written…” Jesus repeatedly told the devil. Dare we say anything less?
Stand up, stand up, for Jesus,
ye soldiers of the cross;
lift high his royal banner,
it must not suffer loss:
from victory unto victory
his army shall he lead,
till every foe is vanquished
and Christ is Lord indeed.