Summary: There is a reason we’re exhorted to put on the FULL armor. Satan has more than one attack plan. (#15 in The Christian Victor series)
“Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”
There are a number of stories through history, that impress upon the hearer the importance of full protection in a time of battle.
Most of us know the story of the mythical Achilles; the Greek hero who was dipped as a baby in the river, Styx, which contained magical powers, to make him invincible.
Unfortunately, his mother held him by the heel to do it, and neglected to get the heel all the way in. Later, although a great warrior, he was struck by a Trojan’s arrow in that heel and died.
Another example is in I Kings 22, where Ahab disguises himself so he can go into battle unrecognized, but one of the enemy’s soldiers randomly shoots an arrow into the air, and it goes straight to a joint in Ahab’s armor and kills him. Now in this case we know God directed the arrow, but there was a chink in the armor, nonetheless.
During the Battle of the Wilderness in the Civil War, Union General John Sedgwick was inspecting his troops. At one point he came to a parapet, over which he gazed out in the direction of the enemy. His officers suggested that this was unwise and perhaps he ought to duck while passing the parapet. "Nonsense," snapped the general. "They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist--." A moment later Sedgwick fell to the ground, fatally wounded. Today in the Word, August 30, 1993.
In this case there was no armor involved at all. But if he wasn’t going to wear armor, he should have kept his empty head down.
Few of you will remember this, but on August 1, 1966 Charles Whitman found his way to the tower of Texas University in Austin, Texas, and began shooting people with a high powered rifle. Police agencies learned a lot of lessons from that day, simply because that sort of thing hadn’t happened in our country and no one was prepared for it.
One of the lessons they learned was the difference between cover and concealment. Officers trying to get a shot at the sniper while avoiding being shot themselves, hid behind whatever was available.
The ones who found actual cover, that is, behind stone walls or the corners of buildings, had protection from bullets. Others, hiding behind things like bushes, which do not stop bullets, got shot. They had found concealment, but not cover.
Christians, I wonder, if the spiritual armor of God could be translated into actual, physical armor on each believer, what kind of an army would we appear to be?
When I hear reports and statistics concerning the depth of teaching in many of our churches today, and when I see the floundering and failing of so many who call themselves ‘Christian’, I have to wonder if they would look dressed at all!
THE NEED FOR PROTECTION
The reason for putting on the full armor of God, according to Paul in this verse, is for protection against the devil’s schemes.
I reiterate here; Paul began this letter teaching us about our relationship with God, established entirely by Him through Christ. Then he went on to teach us about our horizontal relationships, as those who have that vertical relationship with Christ. So we might say that he is now teaching us about our dealings, as those in Christ, with those things that are below.
We are saved, and we have the Holy Spirit in and with us, and we are protected by the power of God. But we must never think that while we are in this flesh we are exempt from the devil’s wiles. He hates us, and although he cannot touch us without expressed permission, he loves to keep us ineffectual for kingdom building, and walking joyless and short of victory, through deception.
And while it is true that Satan, as a created being, can only be in one place at a time, he does have his minions to carry out his will and his schemes.
So our protection against his schemes is to be armored, sober, alert.
After Adam and Eve sinned and became ashamed, they hid among the trees. They found concealment, they thought, but they were no less naked and vulnerable.
The truth we can learn from their account is that in fact, their real vulnerability, their real nakedness, existed before they ate the fruit and had their eyes opened to their circumstances.
When the serpent cast doubts on the word of God, Eve misquoted God, adding to His word, and then taking away from His word, and then she departed from His word altogether and listened instead to the serpent.
Remember, Adam was given warning and instruction concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil before she was even created. So if he had properly expounded the word to her, and then she had remembered what she had been taught, she might have used God’s pure word as the sword of the Spirit and stopped the devil in his scheming.