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 (Ephesians 6:10,11).
The book of 2 Kings tells the story of an historic military clash – a conflict of human aggression overcome by supernatural protection.
The king of Aram was the antagonist, bent on destroying the people of Israel. But he had a massive nagging doubt: everywhere he intended a pre-emptive strike, the Israelite army had installed a defensive garrison. It got so that the Aramean king concluded in rage that he must have a leak within his war cabinet – how else could the Hebrews anticipate with precision where to establish their strongest defence, each time thwarting his “surprise” attack?
He was shocked by the response of his trusted aides: “Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom”(v.12).
So much for covert military schemes!
The king of Aram logically determined he could advance no further until he had first eliminated Elisha and sent his army to capture the prophet. At the king’s direction, a massive military deployment surrounded the city where the prophet lived. The prophet’s servant was terrified until in response to Elisha’s prayer God gave him supernatural vision. He had failed to see the reality of spiritual protection: “Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (v.17).
With this invincible backup, the prophet struck the entire Aramean army with temporary blindness and lead them unwittingly into the city. When their eyes were opened, they were aghast to discover they were gathered defenceless – totally vulnerable – before the Israelite king and his soldiers.
Against an overwhelmingly superior enemy, the God of Israel had again provided unexpected supernatural protection for His people.
But it required “spiritual vision” for the servant of Elisha to see what was really happening. He was capable of seeing the threat, but was initially blind to the spiritual protection.
In our day, authentic spiritual warfare is not often waged by human armies. Rather, it is a truth encounter – an attempt to twist, confuse, substituting what is false for the authentic.
When speaking of the evil one, the Lord Jesus declared, “there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies”(John 8:44).
And that’s the battle Christ-followers are to be ready to fight – the distortion of truth.
One example: the confusion of contemporary sexual ethics. Albert Mohler has observed that we in the west are experiencing a rare phenomenon, a “cultural reversal”. This is the very uncommon trend where what was recently considered morally wrong, is now not only declared to be right, but celebrated as enlightened thinking; and the failure to celebrate it as ethically correct is itself judged wrong, even bigoted and ignorant. Today, sexual ethical standards that have been upheld for centuries are being overturned before our eyes!
It’s no accident that when speaking to the Ephesian Christians about preparing for spiritual battle, the apostle’s first instruction for putting on the full armour of God is this: “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist” (Ephesians 6:14).
We are called to be people of truth. This does not just mean that we don’t knowingly tell lies; but we are to be constantly challenging our own perceptions – particularly in relationships – to ensure that we are embracing, expressing, and living out truth. To do otherwise is to fall victim to the enemy.
And Paul continues: “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. 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 saints” (v.14-18).
Takeaway: spiritual warfare is a battle for the mind, and always involves a distortion of what God has declared to be true. We are called on to take captives; but such are not enemy combatants, but rather mental concepts that are not aligned with – or obedient to – the truth of God’s Son Who is Truth incarnate. Paul reminded the Lord’s people of this: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3).