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Particulars of Christianity:
311 Spiritual Warfare


Spiritual Warfare Part 2b
The Spiritual Warfare of the Believer

Spiritual Warfare Part 1a: A Study of Demonic Activity
Spiritual Warfare Part 1b: A Study of Demonic Activity
Spiritual Warfare Part 2a: The Spiritual Warfare of the Believer
Spiritual Warfare Part 2b: The Spiritual Warfare of the Believer
Spiritual Warfare Part 2c: The Spiritual Warfare of the Believer
Spiritual Warfare Part 2d: The Spiritual Warfare of the Believer
Spiritual Warfare P. 3a: Biblical/Historic View of Angels & Demons
Spiritual Warfare P. 3b: Biblical/Historic View of Angels & Demons
Spiritual Warfare P. 3c: Biblical/Historic View of Angels & Demons
Spiritual Warfare Study Conclusions
Spiritual Warfare Additional Quotes and Definitions



Point No. 4
Studying the Word of God, learning, teaching, defending, and implementing sound doctrine in refutation of false doctrine is our principal act of spiritual warfare.

As we saw earlier, the natural state of sinful man is the carnal mind or the sinful nature. Once we get saved we are delivered from the carnal mind through Jesus' Christ's atoning work. However, this deliverance from the carnal mind is not immediate, but a process as Romans 12:2 states.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed (4964) to this world: but be ye transformed (3339) by the renewing (342) of your mind (3563), that ye may prove (1381) what [is] that good (18), and acceptable (2101), and perfect (5046), will of God

In Romans 12:2 we are told to not be conformed to the world, which includes living our lives according to the wisdom of the world and of the rulers of this world. In order to avoid conforming to this world or "walking according to the course of this world," we must renew our minds. This is consistent with Paul's words from 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, which we looked at earlier, where we are told to make our thoughts and imaginations obedient to Christ. But how do we renew our minds? How do leave behind this sinful mind and become Christ-like? The answer is: with the knowledge of God.

Colossians 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed (341) in the knowledge (1922) after the image of him (1504) that created him:

We escape the pollution of this world through the knowledge of God.

2 Peter 2:20 For if they have escaped (668) the pollutions (3393) of the world (2889) through the knowledge (1922) of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…

In fact, the New Testament repeatedly confirms that God desires for us to come to this knowledge and that His goal for the Church is that we come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son.

Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity (1775) of the faith (4102), and of the knowledge (1922) of the Son of God, unto a perfect (5046) man, unto the measure (3358) of the stature (2244) of the fulness (4138) of Christ

But how do we get the knowledge of God? From the Word of God.

Hebrews 5:12 For when by the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Notice that in Hebrews Paul speaks of those who are yet babies, though he expected that they should have become mature by then. And how does he describe such persons? Well, they lack an understanding of the basic principles of God's Word. They cannot understand the strong meat, but need milk. Then Paul goes on to say that those who use milk are unskillful in the word. But those who are mature, by contrast are skillful in the Word and by constant use of it have trained themselves to distinguish between good and evil.

Paul provides similar instructions in 2 Timothy 2.

2 Timothy 2:15 Study (4704) to shew (3936) thyself approved (1384) unto God, a workman (2040) that needeth not to be ashamed (422), rightly dividing (3718) the word (3056) of truth (225)

So, then those who are mature in Christ are those who are well trained in God's Word, who understand God's word and are skillful in examining and teaching it, and who can distinguish between good and evil. This includes the ability to discern sound and unsound doctrine as Paul clearly states in Ephesians 4.

Ephesians 4:14 That we may be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight (2940) of men, and cunning craftiness (3834), whereby they lie in wait (3180) to deceive (4106)

Again, we can see here that the New Testament discussion of these issues is very consistent. And from these passages we can see that God expects Christians to progress from our unsaved, carnally minded selves, to babes in Christ, to mature Christians who are able to skillfully divide the Word of Truth and distinguish sound doctrine from false doctrine.

There are many passages in the New Testament that stress continued study of the scriptures in connection with the goal of developing into a mature Christian. We have already looked at a few of them above, but here are a few more, which comment on this matter and the danger for Christians who do not continue to devote themselves to the teaching of the Word.

1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal (4559), even as unto babes in Christ.

2 Timothy 3:7 Ever learning (3129), and never able to come to the knowledge (1922) of the truth (225)

Matthew 15:6 Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Matthew 16:6 "Be careful," Jesus said to them. "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

Mark 7:7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Mark 7:13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that."

Matthew 22:29 Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.

Mark 12:24 Jesus replied, "Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?

The above list is by no means exhaustive, but is meant to show the importance of gaining an understanding of God's Will through a devotion to the Word. Clearly, their lack of understanding of the scriptures was in no small measure responsible for much of the Jewish leadership's rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. By contrast we see that the New Testament indicates that it is God's will that we not remain in ignorance or in the error of our previous ways before we came to him, but that we come to the knowledge of the truth. Likewise, we see that this godly knowledge, wisdom, and understanding comes from the Word and is essential to safeguarding ourselves from the deception and plans of the enemy.

Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed (1820) for lack of knowledge (1847)

1 Timothy 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved (4982), to come unto the knowledge (1922) of the truth (225)

Colossians 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed (341) in the knowledge (1922) after the image of him (1504) that created him:

2 Peter 2:20 For if they have escaped (668) the pollutions (3393) of the world (2889) through the knowledge (1922) of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…

Ephesians 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom (4678) and revelation (602) in the knowledge (1922) of him:

Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity (1775) of the faith (4102), and of the knowledge (1922) of the Son of God, unto a perfect (5046) man, unto the measure (3358) of the stature (2244) of the fulness (4138) of Christ

We should note that the word knowledge that appears in 1 Timothy 2:4, Colossians 3:10, 2 Peter 2:20, Ephesians 1:17, and Ephesians 4:13 is the Greek word epignosis (1922), and it refers to a precise and correct knowledge of God. It comes from the Greek word epignosko (1921), which means to become thoroughly acquainted with, to know thoroughly, to know accurately, know well. From this we can see that it is crucial that God's people pursue and come to a thorough understanding of God's Word and that this pursuit is an essential part of the spiritual warfare of the believer.

These verses parallel Jesus own remarks, recorded in John's gospel.

John 14:21 He that hath (2192) my commandments (1785), and keepeth (5083) them, he it is that loveth (25) me…23…if a man love (25) me he will keep (5083) my words (3056)…24 he that loveth (25) me not keepeth (5083) not my sayings (3056)…

In this passage Jesus clearly teaches that those who love him will keep his words and those who do not keep his words don't really love him. The Greek word for "words" or "sayings" in this passage is the word logos, which is used 39 times in the New Testament to refer to the Word of God. The Greek word for "keepeth" (5083) is "tereo," which means to attend to carefully. This passage then is further support that studying and being devoted to God's Word is a critical part of spiritual warfare. We will cover this more momentarily when we take a look at the armor of God.

The New Testament also instructs us regarding our minds, that we should be sober, that is calm, collected, temperate, and prudent. The word sober that appears in the passages below is the Greek word nepho, and it means exactly that.

1 Thessalonians 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober (3525), putting on (1746) the breastplate (2382) of faith (4102) and love (26); and for an helmet (4030), the hope (1680) of salvation (4991).

1 Peter 1:13 Wherefore, gird up (328) the loins (3751) of your mind (1271), be sober (3525)…

1 Peter 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand (1148): be ye therefore sober (4993), and watch (3525) unto prayer (4335)

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober (3525), be vigilant (1127); because your adversary (476) the devil (1228), as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

From these four passages we can make four points. First, Ephesians 5:15 instructs us similarly.

Ephesians 5:15 See then that ye walk (4043) circumspectly (199), not as fools (781), but as wise (4680)

The Greek word translated as circumspectly (199) is akribos. It conveys precision. It means exactly, accurately, or diligently. The word for walk is peripateo (4043), which in this case means to progress, regulate one's life, to conduct oneself, etc. Therefore, we are told to regulate our life in precision, with accuracy, as the wise, and not as those who are not wise.

Second, while these verses instruct us to be sober-minded, James 1:8 warns us about being double-minded.

James 1:8 A double minded (1374) man [is] unstable (182) in all his ways (3598)

The Greek word for double-minded occurs only twice in the New Testament, both cases occur in James' epistle. It is the word dipsuchos (1374), which literally translates to double-minded, but means wavering uncertain, doubting, or divided in interest.

So on the one hand we are told to be sober minded, prudent, to study the scriptures so that we can rightly divide God's word, distinguish between good and evil and so that we are not tossed to and fro by every wave of new doctrine. And on the other hand we are warned against being wavering, uncertain, and doubtful in our understanding and acceptance of God's word, and against having our interest divided between the things of God and the things of this world.

Third, we should notice from these four passages Peter's explanation that the reason we should be sober minded and vigilant is in order to safeguard ourselves from the attacks and intentions of the enemy. This means that these instructions regarding being sober-minded are directly connected with the spiritual warfare of the believer.

And fourth, we should also notice the mention of pieces of armor in 1 Thessalonians 5:8 as well as Peter's instruction to gird up the loins of our minds. These passages take us into our discussion of the armor of God, which is presented for us in the following four places.


The Armor of God

Romans 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles (3180) of the devil 12 For we wrestle (3823) not against flesh and blood, but against principalities (746), powers (1849), against the rulers (2888) of the darkness (4655) of this world (165), against spiritual (4152) wickedness in high (2032) [places] 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armor (3833) of God, that ye may be able to withstand (436) in the evil (4190) day, and having done all, to stand (2476). 14 Stand (2476) therefore, having your loins (3751) gird about (4024) with truth (225), and having on the breastplate (2382) of righteousness (1343); 15 and your feet shod (5265) with the preparation (2091) of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield (2375) of faith (4102), wherewith ye shall be able to quench (4570) the fiery (4448) darts of the wicked (4190). And take the helmet (403) of salvation (4992), and the sword (3162) of the Spirit, which is the word (4487) of God. Praying always…

2 Corinthians 6:7 By the word (3056) of truth, by the power of God, by the armor (3696) of righteousness (1343) on the right hand and on the left

1 Thessalonians 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober (3525), putting on (1746) the breastplate (2382) of faith (4102) and love (26); and for an helmet (4030), the hope (1680) of salvation (4991).

From these passages we can learn a lot about this armor that we are to put on as we engage in spiritual warfare. The most important point that we can conclude is as follows:


Point No. 5
The Armor of God is a metaphorical reminder to walk uprightly, prepared, in sound doctrine, in love, in hope, and in knowledge of the truth. It is NOT some spiritual prayer gear that our spirits dawn in heavenly realms where we sword fight with fallen angels.

We can support this claim by first making a list of the apparel mentioned in these passages.

Ephesians 6:14-15
1. Our loins are to be gird about with the truth.
2. The breastplate of righteousness.
3. Our feet are to be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.
4. The shield of faith.
5. The helmet of salvation.
6. The sword of the spirit.

1 Thessalonians 5:8
1. The breastplate of faith and love.
2. The helmet of the hope of salvation.

The first thing to notice about this list is that there is some deviation and some redundancy. This is not hard to account for if Paul is simply using the armor as a metaphorical device to instruct the church about spiritual warfare. However, if Paul is meaning to convey that these items are each real, spiritual, battle gear that our spirits dawn as we combat with angels in heavenly realms, then these deviations and redundancies are difficult to explain.

For instance, if we assume that these items are all real, spiritual battle gear, then we must wonder which breastplate we are to wear, the breastplate of righteousness or the breastplate of faith and love? How many breastplates are there? How many do we need to wear? Will just one do or should we wear both?

Also, is the helmet a helmet of salvation or of the hope of salvation? Additionally, while each of the other items of armor have unique identification, both the breastplate and the shield are described as being "of faith." If these are meant to be understood as actual, spiritual battle gear, then we must answer these questions for a soldier would not want to enter the battle and engage the enemy until he has made sure that he has appropriately prepared himself. If he will need a radiation suit to protect him and he instead wears a bio-chemical suit, he may surely die of radiation sickness. Likewise, if we need righteousness as our breastplate and we instead use faith and love, we may leave ourselves vulnerable to the enemy's attack.

Now, if you feel we are being rather ridiculous in our argumentation here you are correct. In fact, this was our intention. Our point is that it is ridiculous, completely absurd, in fact to consider such questions, which is why the spiritual armor of God cannot be taken to be actual spiritual battle gear. Instead, we must understand that the armor is meant as a metaphorical device to remind and instruct Christians about how to be prepared in spiritual warfare. That this is the case can be made clear by taking a closer look at the apparel itself. Most of the cases are a direct reference to some New Testament teaching or instruction for the believer. We'll start with the "belt of truth."