Welcome to the battlefield, soldier.
Maybe you’re surprised to find yourself here. Most of us are at first. It’s always a shock to discover that a war has been raging right under your nose—but here we are. More importantly, here you are.
This is an old war—the oldest war, really—and it’s shown no signs of letting up for thousands of years.
We’re up against an enemy who outclasses us in nearly every way imaginable. He’s more cunning than we are, he’s stronger, he has more experience, and he’s obsessively studied every single one of us.
He’s studied you. He knows your weak points. He knows where to hit you so you’ll crumple faster than a house of cards.
He goes by a lot of different titles. The adversary. The accuser. The father of lies. The murderer. The prince of the power of the air. The roaring lion. The devourer. The ruler of this age. The dragon, that serpent of old.
You probably know him as Satan the devil: fallen angel and enemy of God’s people.
He’s the one who started this fight, and he’s determined to keep on fighting. He doesn’t get tired as we get tired. He doesn’t give up; he only ever waits for a better opportunity to strike. He commands legions of fallen angels as twisted and corrupted as he is, and his sights are set on nothing less than the throne room of heaven itself.
All this is happening on a spiritual plane that we’re powerless to see with our own eyes. Our enemy operates unseen behind this curtain, pulling strings, manipulating events, prodding, provoking, scheming, engineering, setting out all manner of traps designed to entangle and destroy soldiers like us.
That’s what you’re up against.
The good news is that it’s not as bleak as it sounds. It’s every bit as serious, though, and if you’re going to fight this battle, it’s essential that you understand the stakes. But this is far from a hopeless fight. In fact, if you make the right decisions along the way, this is a war where it’s impossible for you to lose.
It’s true what I said earlier. Satan does outclass us in nearly every conceivable way. He’s a powerful, ancient spirit being, and we’re just a bunch of fragile human beings limited to our three-dimensional existence. On our own, he’d crush us like ants.
But we’re not on our own.
And we have a secret weapon.
We serve the God who created this three-dimensional existence and everything beyond it. Satan may be strong, but God is far stronger—and that same God did not put us here to do battle using nothing but our fists. Instead, He provides us access to the equipment we need to stand toe to toe with the devil and not just hold our own, but win.
Another soldier in this war—one who fought his battle a long, long time ago—called that equipment the “armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11). That soldier was Paul the apostle, and the Greek word he used for armor was panoplia—from pas, meaning “all,” and hoplon, meaning “arms” or “armor.” It’s where we get the English word panoply, and it refers to a complete set of armor—weapons included.
The armor of God is more than just a helmet and a shield—it’s the complete set of all the offensive and defensive equipment we need if we want to stand a chance in this fight.
Paul spent two years under house arrest in Rome, physically chained to whatever soldier was on duty at the time. When Paul called himself “an ambassador in chains” (Ephesians 6:20), he wasn’t using flowery language—he was, quite literally, writing while chained to a soldier wearing the armor of the Romans.
Those chains gave Paul a lot of time to inspect the Roman panoply up close. If we’re willing to do the same—to take a few moments to understand the function of first-century Roman armor—we can come away with a clearer understanding of one of the Bible’s most powerful metaphors.
Paul spent a lot of time thinking about this concept of spiritual armor. Sometimes he called it the armor, the hoplon, of light (Romans 13:12). Sometimes he talked about the weapons, the hoplon, of righteousness (2 Corinthians 6:7, New American Standard Bible). In every case, our hoplon is divinely issued and designed to protect every one of God’s servants who steps out onto this spiritual battlefield.
That’s you, soldier. That’s me. That’s all of us. This armor is designed to save your life, but if you’re going to wear it effectively, you need to take the time to understand how it works.
When King Saul offered David his armor before David went to do battle with Goliath, David told Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them” (1 Samuel 17:39). You need to test this armor. You need to study its every facet until the whole panoply is as familiar to you as your own limbs. Each part serves a different function, and as we move through this Journey, we’re going to explore the individual components of this panoply and discover how they work together.
But before we do that, let’s start with the bigger picture.
In the days to come, we’ll take a closer look at specifics, but today’s lesson is this: when you’re using each part of this armor correctly, Satan and his entire host of demons are going to be on the defensive.
It doesn’t mean they’re going to just give up and admit defeat. It doesn’t mean they’re not going to land a few solid hits. Their goal is to derail the plan of God, and that means wresting salvation from the grasp of His people. That’s what this fight is about. There is a door open to you, “an entrance . . . into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11), and Satan wants to shut it.
But he can’t. He’s not strong enough. We serve the God “who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens” (Revelation 3:7-8). So Satan and his army settle for the next best thing: convincing you not to walk through it. Wearing you down through trials and attrition. Distracting you with the cares and pleasures of this life. Encouraging you to relentlessly pursue “new” knowledge, ideas that subtly clash with the truths of God’s Word.
This is where our secret weapon comes into play. To do battle with Satan, we follow Paul’s instructions: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:11-13, English Standard Version).
That’s such a vital part of this battle—the standing. When the enemy comes at us, swinging with everything he’s got, our job is to hold fast—to plant our feet firmly on the truth of God and shout, “Here I stand; I will not move!”
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6, ESV).
You have access to everything you need to win your fight against the enemy.
Don’t underestimate him—he’s clever, and he’s been doing this much, much longer than you. If there are weak points in your armor, he’ll find them, and he’ll exploit them relentlessly. But you’re also not alone out there. You’re standing shoulder to shoulder with legions of other faithful soldiers, and you’re going to be looking out for each other on the field.
You’re also fighting under the banner of God Almighty, Creator and Sustainer of the universe. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
Not Satan. Not the rogue cherub who thought he could replace his Creator. Not the twisted, fallen angels who followed him into darkness and rebellion. They can be intimidating, yes, but they’re on the losing side. Elisha’s words of comfort to his servant all those years ago still ring true today: “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16).
This fight is not beyond you. It is not more than you can handle. With the strength of God and His armor, you’ll be ready to topple the strongholds of the enemy and stand your ground against his attacks.
Tomorrow, we’ll start studying that armor in detail. Until then, soldier—stand fast.