How Can We Be Victorious?
When the serpent tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden and she and Adam violated God’s law, the struggle with evil began. All humanity became involved in this struggle.
Christ won the ultimate victory in that struggle through His death and resurrection, but the individual battles of the spiritual war are still being fought. As Christians, we have been redeemed by God and now we wage war against sin, the sinful nature, and the devil. Sometimes the enemy is clearly seen; other times, the battle is against a foe that cannot be identified.
In the middle of desperate struggles, how can we be victorious? How can we actually be prepared to fight spiritual wars? These are questions faced by God’s people through the ages, and for answers we turn to God’s Word.
From ancient times to the present, wars have been a persistent, tragic reality of human existence on this planet. Accounts of the wars of Israel with pagan nations of the Middle East fill many pages of the Old Testament.
Those wars, because they were struggles between a nation of people who believed in the true God and nations of people who worshiped false gods, were symbolically representative of the ongoing conflict between good and evil.
For this reason, the biblical stories of the wars of ancient Israel are of interest to the Christian. The age long battle between good and evil still rages and the struggle will never cease this side of Heaven. While we are in the world there is absolutely no way of avoiding some kind of conflict.
If this sounds discouraging, we must remember Jesus’ words.
John 16:33 (Jesus speaking)
These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Because He is victorious, we, through Him, and by following His instructions, can also overcome. We do not have to live defeated lives.
It is important for the Christian to know how he may be equipped for spiritual warfare. God has a divine armor. He provides the most wonderful protection for the whole personality. If we will only put on what Heaven provides, we are assured of triumph.
The Christian conflict never ceases in this life. We finish one conflict and enter immediately into another.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.
Paul admonished us in this verse from Ephesians by reminding us that if we are in Christ, then we are strong enough for any struggle we face. Every evil force imaginable assailed Paul, but not one was able to defeat him. Standing strong in Christ, we need never be victims of panic or fear. In quietness we shall possess our souls.
Luke 21:19 (Jesus speaking)
In your patience possess ye your souls.
Then, as the songwriter expressed it, “When peace, like a river attendeth my way,” we will be able to say, “It is well with my soul.”
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
We are to put on the whole armor of God. If we leave any piece off, that may well be where the enemy will attack us. Paul believed in the personality of the devil. He was no vague symbol, not just an influence of bad habits and unfortunate surroundings. He was a wicked, powerful spirit, planning and scheming with all his might for the spiritual downfall and eternal death of the Christian.
This armor consists of six parts. Each piece in the outfit is necessary. The omission of even one will place the individual going to battle in deadly peril.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
This Verse 12 does not refer to the neighbor down the street who ridicules the Christian faith. Paul was not talking about the person at the office or at work who laughs or jeers at our stand for Christ. These things are hardships, and they can crowd our path with trials and sometimes test our patience, but they are not the adversaries Paul was referring to.
Behind all the temptations and tribulations we experience, there is a host of powers whose goal is to destroy us so that they might triumph over God. Behind all the daily difficulties that harass us, in life’s experiences, are fearful forces sent to destroy the followers of God. As soon as we are brought into communion with God, we need to be fitted for the fight of faith.
All the authorities of hell and all the rulers of the darkness of this world, who are in league with the devil, are opposed to the progress of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
The words, “having done all, to stand,” the apostle was urging believers not to shirk from the battle, but in the hour of conflict, “quit yourselves like men.”
1 Samuel 4:9
Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight.
Remember that when the last arrow has been shot, the dangers are not over for the Christian soldier. If he grows careless or relaxed or proud or confident, it is still possible to lose what has been won.
The armor of God consists of parts.
First, the Girdle of Truth.
The girdle of truth holds the other parts of the armor together and truth is the integrating force in the life of the victorious Christian. A man of integrity, with a clear conscience, can face the enemy without fear. The girdle also held the sword. Unless we practice the truth, we cannot use the word of truth. The better we know God’s Word the more equipped we shall be to meet the assaults of the enemy. Ignorance of the Word means failure.
Second, the Breastplate of Righteousness.
This piece of armor covered the body from the neck to the waist. It protects the heart, which is the life. This protection is our righteousness, our holiness, our obedience to God’s laws. When Satan accuses the Christian, it is the righteousness of Christ that assures the believer of his salvation; however, unrighteous acts committed by a Christian rob us of the vital protection and expose our spiritual heart to Satan.
Third is the Sandals of the Gospel.
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
If a warrior is to stand, he must have a good foothold. The feet are the instruments and, therefore, the appropriate symbols of motion. The Christian soldier, whose life is a march and a battle, must always keep himself in marching order. He must be ready for either marching or fighting at a moment’s notice and he is to get that readiness from the gospel of peace.
Fourth is the Shield of Faith.
The Shield was large, usually about 4 feet by 2 feet, made of wood and covered with leather. As the soldier held before it him, it protected him from spears, arrows and fiery darts. Fiery darts were arrows that were set on fire and hurled at the enemy. James declared that our whole being is capable of being “set on fire of hell”.
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
Appetites, desires, ambitions, hungers and thirst need only a spark to touch off a fire in the soul. Other fiery darts of the devil are pride, envy, worry, impurity, unbelief and the list goes on. The Shield of Faith has quenching power as long as we are in Christ.
Fifth is the Helmet of Salvation.
The assurance of salvation is a mighty protection for the head in these days when there is so much false teaching all about us. Satan wants to attack the mind the way he defeated Eve.
The helmet refers to the mind controlled by God. It is too bad that many Christians have the idea that the intellect is not important, when in reality it plays a vital role in Christian growth, service and victory. When God controls the mind, Satan cannot lead the believer astray. We are to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 3:18
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
Sixth is the Sword of the Spirit.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged 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.
This compares the Word of God to a sword because it is sharp and is able to pierce the inner man just as a material sword pierced the body.
You and I were “cut to the heart” when the word convicted us of our sins. Peter tried to use a sword to defend Jesus in the Garden, but he learned at Pentecost that the “sword of the Spirit” does a much better job.
A material sword pierces the body, but the Word of God pierces the heart. A physical sword wounds to hurt and kill while the sword of the Spirit wounds to heal and give life.
18Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Prayer is the energy that enables the Christian soldier to wear the armor and wield the sword. We cannot fight the battle in our own power, no matter how strong or talented we may think we are.
When the Amalekites attacked the Israelites, Moses went to the mountaintop to pray, while Joshua used the sword down in the valley.
8Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. 9And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. 10So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. 14And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. 15And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi: 16For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.
8Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. 9And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him. 10Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
It took both to defeat Amalek: Moses’ intercession on the mountain and Joshua’s use of the sword in the valley.
Prayer is the power for victory and we should do as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us, “pray without ceasing” because we are always subject to temptations and attacks of the devil.
1 Thessalonians 5:17
Pray without ceasing.
A surprise attack has defeated lots of believers who forgot to pray without ceasing. There is more than one kind of praying, prayer, supplication, intercession and thanksgiving. Prayer changes things and praise changes things.
Peter went to sleep when he should have been praying and the result was victory for Satan. Jesus tells us to “watch and pray” and to persevere. That means that we don’t quit.
The Lord’s prayer begins with “Our Father.” We pray as part of a great family and God wants us to pray for each other. Even Paul asked for the prayer support of the Ephesians, and he had been to the 3rd Heaven and back. If Paul needed the prayer of the saints, how much more do you and I need prayer!
Notice that Paul did not ask them to pray for his comfort or safety, but for the effectiveness of his witness and ministry. The church is an army, and the soldiers need to stand together and fight together, not fight each other.
Notice the words of Paul as he closes this letter: peace, love, faith and grace. He was a prisoner of Rome, yet he was richer than the Emperor. No matter what our circumstances may be, in Jesus Christ, we are “blessed with all spiritual blessings.” We as Christians are rich.
Pray without ceasing.
Mark 11:24 (Jesus speaking)
Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
There are two kinds of personality that illustrate these two kinds of praying. First of all, the story of Peter and his walking upon the water. He sees Jesus coming to them upon the sea and he said, “Lord, bid me come unto thee.” The Lord said “Come” and Peter jumps out of the boat in his impetuous character, and off he starts toward the Lord. He’s doing great, but the text says: When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid and he began to sink.
28And Peter answered Him and said, Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water. 29And He said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
Peter was a double-minded man at first. He saw only the Lord Jesus and was confident that the Lord could do in him what he could not do for himself, and he kept his eyes on Jesus. After he got going, he forgot where his power and his source was, and he began to look around at the circumstances and down he went. The “double-minded man” is unstable in all of his ways and he shall not receive anything that he asks.
The other example is Job in the Old Testament. Tried by the furnace of God’s testing, his wife told him to give up on God. If you read the Book of Job and the 23rd chapter, you’ll discover that he did not waiver.
He says in Job 13:15
Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him:
Job 23:10 and 15
10But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
15Though He slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
What’s the difference between those two men? Very simple. Peter started out with faith for his need, but he took his eyes off Jesus, and to get his own perspective, which was the sea and the wind and the waves and all the rest and down Peter went.
Job in the midst of the storm of his trial and suffering had every reason to look around at his circumstances, but he did not. He kept his eye of faith glued to God and the result was that he went right through that situation in strength and gave the glowing testimony of faith.
Let’s keep our faith strong and watch God go to work for us.