What are the “devil’s schemes”? They are vast! His arsenal seems unlimited. He knows our weaknesses from observing us, and he knows, too, just where to strike us to make the biggest impact. Sometimes, he knows us better than we know ourselves, because we can often get blinded to our own weaknesses and vulnerabilities, if we are not watchful, and if we are not ready to act. He has watched us very patiently, waiting for just the right moments to strike his mighty blows against us, and then down we come, and we don’t even know, sometimes, what hit us, or where it came from.
The Devil’s Schemes
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Eph. 6:10 NIV
Our foe is relentless, too. He “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” So, we must be sober-minded and alert (watchful). And, we must “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1Pet. 5:8-9 NIV).
So, we must be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. So, how do we do this? We can’t do it in our own strength and power, for sure. We can’t do it if we are giving him a foothold in our lives, too. We cannot be on seesaw, going back and forth in our faith and trust in the Lord, and be strong in the Lord, too. We cannot be strong in the Lord, as well, if we are continually giving in to the weaknesses of our flesh, and leaving doors wide open for temptation in our lives by refusing to take the necessary steps to avoid such temptation. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?
We have to be serious-minded about this or we will continue to make ourselves vulnerable to Satan’s evil schemes against us. We can’t play with fire and expect not to get burned. Wisdom says to stop tempting fate.
There is no way we can put on the armor of God if we are still walking in the flesh, or if we are continually yielding to our flesh through willful disobedience to God. We leave ourselves wide open for the enemy to attack us and to trip us up and to lead us to fall. We also cannot put on the armor of God if daily we are putting on what is opposed to God via the things we allow into our minds. If daily we are consuming the filth of the world, this is what we are putting on instead of the armor of God.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Eph. 6:11-13 NIV
That word “struggle” has taken on a completely new meaning these days. So many people will say they are “struggling” with pornography addiction, as though that makes it acceptable, or as though it says they are “working on it,” and so it is alright to maintain that status. But, what this word really means in today’s usage of it, is that they are regularly and consistently giving in to the lusts of their flesh, and they are not taking the necessary steps to cut this out of their lives, once and for all. They are playing with fire, so they keep getting burned, and then they seem surprised by it.
What this word “struggle” really means, though, in this biblical context, is a “wrestling bout, a fight, a conflict, a contest” (biblehub.com). It is hand-to-hand combat. Our enemy throws his punches, and not only do we put up our defenses, but we hit (strike) back. And, we don’t give up and give in. We put on our boxing gloves and our protective garments so that we can win the battle against our foe, and we don’t leave ourselves unprotected and expect not to get hit. We study and we prepare and we practice so that when we go into that arena we are prepared to win this contest.
And, this is what it means to put on the armor of God so that we can stand our ground against the devil’s schemes against us. And, the only way we are going to be able to stand is if we are prepared and fully dressed for this battle. We have to be determined. We have to hate sin. And, we have to set our faces like flint so that when temptation comes our way we immediately put up our shield of faith and we draw out that sword of the Spirit and we use it against our enemy, who is Satan and his evil spirits.
But, our armor is not just our determination, or it will fail. Our armor is our faith and trust in the Lord and in his Word. It is daily spending time with the Lord in prayer, in his Word, in listening to what the Lord says, and then in obeying it, i.e. obedience is when we put it on. If we don’t obey, then our armor is just hanging in the closet. It looks good, but it serves no valuable purpose if we don’t put it on through obedience. If we continue to give in to the flesh, willfully, and knowingly, we open ourselves wide for Satan to draw us deeper and deeper into sin and to sear our consciences.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Eph. 6:14-17 NIV
Again, if we are going to stand firm and put on the armor of God, we have to, by the Spirit, be putting off the deeds of the flesh. We have to get rid of our TVs or our internet or our smart phones or tablets (IPads), etc., if they are what continually trip us up. We have to stop going to where we know we are going to be tempted to sin. And, we have to walk in the opposite direction. We can’t just meander throughout life with no plan in place, no protection against the enemy, and then keep claiming we are “struggling.”
I don’t have a TV, and for good reason. I don’t watch movies, either, because even Christian films are often filled with compromises of the flesh and sensuality. I don’t go places where I know I might give in to sin. I don’t have private conversations with men, either, unless it is quick and to the point, and it is done with. Most of the time I am conscious to make certain my husband is always copied on any communications I must have with a man. I make it a practice not to talk with men about my emotions, either. And, I avoid even Christian gatherings if they are promoting the flesh.
I take sin very seriously, because I know, from experience, that sin destroys us. It takes us down and it ruins our lives if we continue to give in. If we don’t take this battle seriously, we will fail, and we will fall. It is a given.
God has given us the way out. We just have to take it. We have to do what he says, for if we do not, then all bets are off. We have chosen the way of our flesh, and we will reap what we sow. That is just the reality of it all. And, if we think differently, then we are only fooling ourselves.
We have to stop lying, and we have to put on the truth, and tell the truth, and not withhold what is necessary to our freedom and deliverance. We have to put off the flesh and walk in the Spirit and in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. Instead of living for ourselves and our own pleasure, we need to care about other people and especially about those who are dying and going to hell, and we need to be sharing with them the gospel of our salvation, but the whole gospel, which preaches repentance and obedience. And, we definitely have to fight off Satan’s lies with the truth of God’s Word.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Eph. 6:18-20 NIV
We have to be in continual communion with our Lord. But, if we are walking in disobedience, regularly and consistently and knowingly giving in to the lusts of our flesh, then we can’t expect God to hear us, or for us to hear him when he speaks, because we break that fellowship with him by our sins.
So, we have to first of all repent of (turn from) our sins, humble ourselves before God, and submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives, then follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will, daily putting sin to death, by the Spirit.
When we walk according to the Spirit, and we are led by the Spirit, and we no longer live to satisfy the cravings of our sinful flesh, then we will hear God speaking his truths to our hearts throughout the day and even in the night. We will be in a continual attitude of prayer to where he can speak, we hear, we respond, we speak, he listens, and he responds. He will make us aware of what we need to pray for and he will make us sensitive to people’s needs, too. And, if we are open and are listening, he will lead us to pray for those who are in need of prayer, especially for his saints who are suffering persecution for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We do need to pray for one another, because we are all in this spiritual battle together, and we need to encourage one another, too, so that we can together fight this enemy with the armor of God, in the power of God.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus’ name
When Darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
Wednesday, January 24, 2018, 10:36 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from your Word. Bring it home to our hearts, I pray. Amen!