Saturday, August 15, 2020

Spiritual Armor and Principalities

 

A word from God has come forth: now is the time where His children may have to put on the armor and stand against what the enemy is trying to bring into this world. We need to look to the Word of God and see what He says about the armor of God and standing against the enemy. Paul wrote a letter to Christians in Ephesus explaining a few foundational principles and the need for the spiritual armor and what we must stand against in our lives as children of God. 

We need to keep the instructions about the armor of God and “standing” in the proper context of the letter to the new believers so here is a brief summary about the prior chapters. 

The Letter to Ephesians

Chapter 1

The opening of Paul’s letters serves to reinforce a basic teaching to those who will receive this letter. The newly converted Gentiles are told that in and through Christ they have received:

  1. all spiritual blessings - everything we need to be spiritually holy and righteous unto God in love (v 3 -4)
  2. adoption as children of God and granted us forgiveness of sins through the blood (v 5-7)
  3. wisdom and good judgment and revealed His mysteries to us (v 8-9)
  4. an inheritance in Heaven to the glory of God (v 10-12)
  5. have been sealed (stamp of promise) as we have received the Holy Spirit who is the sign of the full promise to come (v 13-14)

After reminding them of the benefits of accepting Jesus as Lord after hearing the Gospel, the Apostle Paul includes a copy of the prayer he prayers for them. This is a powerful prayer for wisdom that makes a great daily prayer for every Christian!

Chapter 2

There are no chapter breaks in the original letter. It was one very long message! The next part of the letter addresses the difference between Gentiles and Israel. Gentiles were those without access to God. They are under the rule and power of Satan: the prince of the air (the spirit realm surrounding the earth) and destined to the wrath of God. (v 1-3)

However the sacrifice of Christ has made Gentiles and God’s people one new man. This is the righteousness with God that is accomplished through faith in Jesus as the Son of God by the grace of God. It is so that by the Holy Spirit that we can have access to God because we are the temple of God in which the Holy Spirit can reside. (v 4-22)

Chapter 3

Paul continues to speak about the Gentiles being equal with the Jewish brethren. It is interesting that he mentions that only now is this mystery (revelation, insight) being revealed to the apostles and prophets: proof that God still uses prophets. (v 1-9) God continually brings revelation about His plans, if we will listen. 

It is in this chapter that principalities and powers in heavenly places is first mentioned: 

(I.) To the intent  (II.) that now  (III.) unto the principalities  (IV.) and  (V.) powers  (VI.) in  (VII.) heavenly places  (VIII.) might be known  (IX.) by  (X) the church (XI.) the manifold  (XII.) wisdom of  (XIII.) God (Ephesians 3:10 KJV)

Here is what the Holy Spirit brought me about the way the original Greek words should be translated:

(I.) In order that (II.) at this present time (III.) dominion (IV.) and (V.) the power of judicial decisions (VI.) among (VII.) things taking place in Heaven (VIII.) will be known (IX.) through (X.) the church: (XI.) The manifold (XII.) wisdom of  (XIII.) God evinced in the forming and executing of His counsels.

Each Roman numeral indicates a word and an alternate definition according to Strong’s Concordance. Translated this way, it flows seamlessly into the next paragraph:

This is in accordance with [the terms of] the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him [that is, our faith gives us sufficient courage to freely and openly approach God through Christ]. (Ephesians 3:11-12 APMC)

This states that the eternal purpose of what Jesus did was to give us access to the throne of God where judgments are rendered. The body of Christ has failed to take full advantage of this access. The full correlation of the Greek words can be found in the free book “Destroying Curses in the Courts of Heaven” in the index.

After this statement, Paul goes on to ask that they be strengthened in the inner man and to be rooted and grounded in love. (v 13-17) As well as to fully understand the love of the Lord so that we can do more than we ever thought possible. (v 18-21)

Chapter 4

Up to this point, Paul has given much encouragement, but this chapter takes a turn toward correction. This is the second time he begins a chapter by reminding them that he is a prisoner, as part of his job for the Lord. It is important to remember that being a Christian does not mean we will not suffer. However, if we have a relationship with the Lord we should know what He will expect of us, just as both Peter and Paul knew when the hour of their death was close.

After the brief reminder of the sacrifice he is making, Paul reminds Christians that we must all choose to walk in the fruits of the Spirit: humility, long suffering and love because we are united as one in Christ. (v 1-6) The official list of offices are given (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) with the reminder that each part of the body is important because we are to work together to build one another up so that we may reach full maturity in God. (v 7-15) 

This chapter closes with a reminder of what it means to walk in love: urging us to deal honestly with one another and let go of any anger so Satan will not be able to attack us. (v 26-27) An important list of items that grieve the Holy Spirit is also given:

Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind). (v 31 AMPC)

If we continue to grieve the Holy Spirit, He may withdraw and His voice may be quieted in our lives. The Holy Spirit flows through us when we (v 32 AMPC): 

     are useful and helpful and kind to one another

     tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted)

     forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave us.

Chapter 5

Paul continues to encourage Christians to walk in love and give up certain behaviors (v 1-4 AMPC) 

     immorality (sexual vice)

     impurity of lustful, rich, wasteful living

     greediness

     filthiness (obscenity, indecency)

     foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk

     coarse jesting

To be a “saint” of God we should remove these from our life and instead voice your thankfulness to God.

Two of these items are listed as idolatry (v 5):

  1. sexual vice or impurity in thought or in life
  2. covetousness [who has lustful desire for the property of others and is greedy for gain]

Anyone who continues to habitually do these will see God’s wrath, missing the rapture.  A one time sin is not what Paul is talking about, but a habit of doing any of these is not good! We are not to “delude” or fool ourselves into thinking we can continue on acting this way. We should not continue to associate with those encouraging these behaviors, or continuing in them. (v 6-7)

God does tell us what we should be doing. Each child of God should look carefully then at how we walk (v 15-21 AMPC): 

     live purposefully and worthily and accurately

     making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity]

     understanding and firmly grasp what the will of the Lord is

     do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery

     but ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit.

     speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs

     making melody with all your heart to the Lord

     giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father

Some final instructions are given about submitting to authority (v 22-33 AMPC):

     wives to husband (within the family unit)

     husband to wives (giving to them as Christ gave to the Church)

Chapter 6

The list of submitting to authority continues with (v 1-9):

     children to parents

     fathers not provoking children to wrath

     slaves to masters (employees to your boss)

     even when they are not looking at you

     masters to the Lord (bosses and business owners to the Lord)

Submitting to those over you can only be done with the help of the Lord for Paul encourages believers to “be strong in the Lord,” after giving this list. (v 10) We are to “put on the whole armor of God to withstand the “strategies and deceits” of the devil. (v 11) It doesn’t say put on the armor to attack, only to stand against what may be brought against us.

For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (v 12) 

In other words, our fight isn’t with man, but it is a spiritual battle. This statement comes with a second reminder: 

Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. (v 13 AKJV)

If we were supposed to attack, then it would have told us to attack, not to stand. As a Pharisee Paul knew what the Old Testament says:

The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD's: but the earth has he given to the children of men. (Psalms 115:16 AKJV)

Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53 AKJV)

It is not our place to attack those who reside in Heaven: Principalities, powers, spiritual hosts in heavenly places. Even the Lord had to call upon His Father when He was here on the Earth as a man. Paul knew this which is why he didn’t tell them to attack, only to stand. We are not to fear, though because our Lord has equipped us well. Let’s look at each piece of spiritual armor (v 14-17):

Belt of Truth: to keep our walk protected, we must tighten this around us. In order to come before the Father, we must have our belt in place:

Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 AKJV) 

Our Lord is the truth. We must walk with Him in order to come before God and to stay on the right path. This letter speaks of one particular truth:

In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation (Ephesians 1:13 AKJV) 

The Gospel is the message of Jesus through which we obtain salvation. This is the very first item that must be in place. If you do not know Jesus as your Lord through the Gospel, then you are not equipped for this battle.

Breastplate of Righteousness: Our right standing with God comes from Jesus. It will keep us humble when we are firmly aware of this fact so that our heart is protected from pride. 

Pride goes before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18 AKJV)

This letter speaks specifically about being equipped with righteousness:

That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

We must “put on” the new person we have become in the Lord. Strapping on a breastplate takes effort. King Solomon taught about this:

Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from you a fraudulent mouth, and perverse lips put far from you. (Proverbs 4:23-24 AKJV)

Our words can poison our hearts. We need to put away even speaking in the defiled way we used to, in order to keep the breastplate of righteousness in place.

Shoes of the Gospel of Peace: The “gospel” is the message that we are no longer estranged from God, but adopted as sons and daughters through the sacrifice of Jesus. It is through Him that we have peace.

And that He might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:16-18 AKJV)

Jesus is our peace, it is through Him that we have access by the Spirit to God. We must walk with Jesus in order to remain at peace.

Shield of Faith: We are told to “lift up” this shield “upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked one.” In the Word of God, projectiles are words. These are accusations of Satan against us. Paul mentioned faith before when he spoke of principalities:

In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him… (Ephesians 3:12 AKJV) 

A shield is a defense, we can defend ourselves in the Courts of Heaven because of what Jesus has done. Our access to the Throne of God is through Him! Knowing that we have access to God as Judge over Heaven and Earth to defend against the accusations of the enemy is a powerful defense.

Helmet of Salvation: We are saved through Jesus.

In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise… (Ephesians 1:13 AKJV)

A helmet sits on your head. What the Lord has done for us must always be a part of our thinking. It cannot be only on Sunday that we consider the fact that we are sworn to Jesus as Lord, ruler of our life. We must subject every thought, every idea, to the Word of God. 

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds: Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ… (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 AKJV) 

The real battle isn’t with what exists in this world (carnal) but what is happening in the spirit. There are spiritual strongholds that need to be removed or prevented from developing by “placing” the helmet of salvation on our heads.  

Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God: Jesus is the Word, He is our defender. This letter speaks of the Word and Spirit in another scripture:

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish… (Ephesians 5:25-27)

The Holy Spirit is often referred to as “water” when speaking about Christians (John 7:38). Physical water cannot clean or sanctify us, but the Holy Spirit can. He does this by revelation in the Word of God. The point of the Word is to reveal sin which keeps us from deeper fellowship with our Heavenly Father.

Though we have a sword, this verse doesn’t tell us to attack the enemy with it, but to rely upon the Word. There is another place where the Word of God is a sword.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 AKJV)

The Word of God will tell us what is right and wrong and will reveal anything that we need to be separated from so that the attacks of the enemy can be removed. A few verses later we see that this is indeed the purpose of the sword of the Spirit: 

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 AKJV) 

If we were not under an attack, we would not need help. We must be equipped with the Word of God when we approach His throne. When Job was suffering, he stated: 

Behold now, I have prepared my case; I know that I shall be justified and vindicated. (Job 13:18 AMPC) 

Through Jesus we have access to the throne of God where we can remove the fiery darts of the enemy with the shield of faith. Nevertheless we must know the Word of God and be ready to let it remove any sin that may be allowing Satan to attack us.

After having all of these items in place, then we are told what to do:

with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints… (v 18)

When the Holy Spirit prays through us, then God is speaking. If the saints (those devoted to God) are strengthened, then God can move more through them. This is the way we combat principalities, powers and wickedness in Heavenly places.

The armor of God contains all that the Lord has done for us. It enables us to approach the throne of grace and receive mercy. Not because we deserve it, but because our Lord paid the entry fee for us. We must equip ourselves in the armor in order to be able to stand against the wiles of the enemy.


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FREE Books

Believers' Boot Camp series

Believers' Boot Camp - Volume One
Believers' Boot Camp: Volume Two
Roadmap to Heaven
Destroying Curses
in the Courts of Heaven


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