On April 19, 1951, General Douglas MacArthur, the famous American general who commanded the Allied troops during the Pacific campaign against Japanese forces in World War II, spoke these words to the U.S. Congress during his farewell speech. “War’s very object is victory, not prolonged indecision. In war, there is no substitute for victory!” General MacArthur’s lifelong experience in the military, gave him a complete understanding of war, including the aspects of defeat and most importantly, victory.
In a later speech on July 7, 1952, General MacArthur also stated… “It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it!”
We, too, are soldiers. However, we are not physical soldiers like General MacArthur. We are spiritual soldiers fighting against the most DEADLY enemy one could ever face, Satan the Devil. We too, want to be victorious! General MacArthur’s words can be applied spiritually as well! “In war, there is no substitute for victory!”
We are Spiritual Soldiers
The apostle Paul, in his first epistle to Timothy, wrote, “This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare” (I Timothy 1:18). We, like Paul and Timothy are in a spiritual warfare.
In II Timothy 2:3-4, we read, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” Paul said, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (I Timothy 6:12). We MUST fight the valuable fight as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 6:12 makes it clear that we “...wrestle not against flesh and blood”, This could be regarded as a daunting and physically frightening task, but the good news is that we are not fighting this war alone! God the Father and Jesus Christ are right there with us all of the way!
Commander and Captain
As we read in Romans 8:31, “…If God is for us, who can be against us?” King David expressed the following thought in Psalm 27:1, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?”
As God is our Supreme Commander, Jesus Christ is our chief leader, the author, prince, and Captain of our Salvation!Hebrews 2:10 reveals to us…“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the CAPTAIN of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
Jesus Christ is the same CAPTAIN today, just as He was for Joshua’s army of Israelites, illustrated by the story of the fall of the city of Jericho. “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as CAPTAIN of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the CAPTAIN of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so” (Joshua 5:13-15 KJV). God the Father and Jesus Christ are right there, leading the way for us.
Our Spiritual Armor
Satan is a formidable enemy, full of cunning and with more experience in deception and modes of attack than we, by ourselves, could ever fathom. Although God the Father and Jesus Christ are, by far, stronger and more powerful than Satan could ever be, like all soldiers in any warfare or combat, we are responsible for carrying our weight in this war. We must be prepared on an individual level for every attack thrust upon us by our insidious enemy. That means we must, on an individual basis, have the spiritual armor necessary to ward off deadly attacks.
What exactly is our spiritual armor? Do we realize that we absolutely need this armor to survive the spiritual warfare we’re in? In Ephesians 6, we clearly see the need for us to have our spiritual armor in place. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (verse 11). Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (verse 13).
We need to realize that each and every piece of that armor is necessary to succeed in battle!
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary explains that armor is a “defensive covering for the body.” The armor of God should be our defensive covering against the wiles of Satan and his “fiery darts”(Ephesians 6:16). As soldiers, we MUST put on the WHOLE armor of God for our defense!
The apostle Paul used the analogy of a suit of armor to depict our own spiritual protection. A full suit of armor consisted of a girdle, breastplate, footwear, shield, helmet, and sword. The enemy (Satan) wants us to believe that this suit of armor is too heavy and constricting. Satan uses his subtle influence to try to persuade us to take off this armor, piece by piece, until, unbeknownst to us; we are totally vulnerable and UNPROTECTED! We might be convinced to believe that it is easier to fight without the weight of that armor. We must not let ourselves be deceived!
Forms of Attack
With the spiritual warfare we are in, the enemy hits us with surprise attacks in many different forms, including doubt, personal trials, and frontal attacks on our faith.
Have we ever had even one doubt? Have we ever wondered about our calling, or heard others denounce Mr. Armstrong as being the end-time Elijah? Has anyone ever tried to introduce doubt about doctrinal TRUTHS into our minds? Make no mistake about it - these are not innocent questions or doubts - their key root are the “fiery darts” of Satan himself!
All of us face personal trials of a variety of types. Some of God’s soldiers may face job loss, while other might face serious illness. The list of problems we face might seem endless, but in reality they are often used as “spears” in Satan’s attack on our defenses.
All the while, Satan is shooting “darts” or arrows at us to try to find cracks in our defense of faith. The spiritual armor of God is crucially necessary to keep these poisonous arrows from defeating us!
Girdle of TRUTH
The first part of the armor mentioned in Ephesians 6 is the girdle of Truth. “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth...” (Ephesians 6:14). Nelson’s Commentary tells us that, “The ancient soldier’s loins (“waist”) were girt about with a leather belt which held most of the other pieces of his armor in place”. Clearly, without this girdle or belt, the soldier could not safely and conveniently place his weapons in the necessary close proximity to his body for combat purposes. We can see an example of this in II Samuel 20:8.
Spiritually, the Girdle of Truth is the inspired Word of God. Just as a physical girdle is used to tightly brace the body, so should our spiritual girdle be fitted tightly to each of our bodies. We must be well grounded in the Truth of God and treasure it, in order to have it as a girdle of protection about our body. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning;” (Luke 12:34-35).
We should be firmly grounded in the doctrines and truth that God has revealed to us. As we see in III John 3-4, “For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” Only when we know and embrace God’s Truth can we firmly have that girdle of protection bound securely to us!
Breastplate of Righteousness
In the latter part of Ephesians 6:14, we see the second portion of the armor of God described as, “...having put on the breastplate of righteousness”. According to Clark’s Commentary, in ancient times, the breastplate, “…consisted of two parts...one covered the whole region of the thorax or breast, in which the principle viscera of life are contained; and the other covered the back, as far down as the front part extended.”
Spiritually, the Breastplate of Righteousness represents our obedience to God’s Commandments. In I John 5:2-3, we read,“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome”. It is very important to God that we live by His commandments! “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:14).
We desperately must put on the Breastplate of Righteousness daily, to spiritually protect what is vital to us!
Feet Shod with the Gospel of Peace
During the time Jesus Christ lived His life on this earth, Roman soldier wore, “special shoes called calligae on his feet, enabling him to advance against his enemy” (Nelson’s Commentary). From Clark’s Commentary, we know that these same shoes were also known as “Greaves”. Greaves, or “brazen boots”, were found to have “covered the shin or front part of the leg; a kind of solea was often used, which covered the sole, and laced about the instep, and prevented the foot from being wounded by rugged ways, thorns and stones…”
If we examine the spiritual meaning of the same footwear, we find that the feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace represents the gospel of Jesus Christ - the good news of the coming of God’s Kingdom and the Family of God! “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:14).
In our present climate, Satan has ambushed God’s people, causing many to lose sight of the true Gospel. But, God’s loyal people will never lose sight of the true gospel, “...having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). Our feet must be shod with the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Shield of Faith
Continuing our study into Ephesians 6, verse 16 tells us, “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” Physically, according to Clark’s Commentary, the shield was sometimes made of wood or metal, often oblong in shape and designed to “embrace the whole forepart of the body”.Spiritually, the shield of faith is the faith of Jesus Christ given by God through the Holy Spirit. Faith is one of the important fruits of God’s Spirit, as mentioned in Galatians 5:22, and is defined in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Faith is absolutely essential in the life of every true Christian! “Now the just shall live by faith…” (Hebrews 10:38). Theshield of faith is necessary to protect one from doubts and worries thrust upon us. Without the Shield of Faith, Satan’s “fiery darts” (Ephesians 6:16)WILL bring us down!
Helmet of Salvation
“And take the helmet of salvation...” (Ephesians 6:17). For a soldier, the head is considered to be the most vulnerable area of the body and has been traditionally protected by helmets of one kind or another. Spiritually, the helmet of salvationtypifies God’s Holy Spirit, protecting the mind of God’s people!
In Psalms 18:2, we read, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” We must hold fast to the helmet of salvation for the sake of our future in God’s Kingdom!
Sword of the Spirit
The final portion of the armor consists of the sword. The Columbia Encyclopedia describes the physical sword as a“weapon of offense and defense in personal combat, consisting of a blade with a sharp point and one or two cutting edges” To surrender one’s sword is viewed as a token of defeat.
Spiritually, the Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God - the Bible! “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). We should be sure to include daily Bible Study in our arsenal when facing Satan’s society each day! Remember, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16).
The Whole Armor of God
Remember, God’s people are engaged in a fierce spiritual war (Ephesians 6:12). We cannot afford to leave off even ONE piece of armor God provides for our defenses. Satan’s “fiery darts” will pierce even the tiniest of GAPS that may be exposed! We must be well-grounded in the TRUTH, live in obedience to God’s commandments, keep our eyes on the TRUE gospel, and pray daily that we will have more of the faith of Christ to help us through the trials and obstacles we face. Finally, we must pour ourselves into the scriptures daily, to sharpen our only “offensive” weapon, the sword of the Spirit.
As General MacArthur said, “It is FATAL to enter any war without the will to win it!”
We must remain alert and be in complete touch with God daily to reach our victory (Matthew 24:13). Again, as General MacArthur said, “In war, there is no substitute for victory”.