NOTE: There is an updated and revised version of this study here: The Battle Plan (Ephesians 6:11, 13)
1. The Protection of God (Ephesians 6:11a, 13a)
2. The Plan of Attack (Ephesians 6:11b, 13c, 14a)
3. The Ploy of Satan (Ephesians 6:11c)
4. The Period of Warfare (Ephesians 6:13b)
We are at war. Whether you like it or not, you are living in a war zone. It’s not like the war in Iraq. This is a war that rages on all around us, every day and every night. Most of it is unseen and unheard, but you are in the midst of it. It is spiritual warfare.
As a result, you are faced with a choice. First, you can keep you head low, and try and keep out of sight, and always run away. But in this war, running and hiding is a surefire way to get seriously injured.
So the only thing we really can do is take a stand, and fight. As a believer, you are a soldier in the army of God, and He wants you to stand and fight for Him. But do not worry, greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.
Not only that, God has not left us unprotected or ignorant about what we are up against. As we are going to see in Ephesians 6:11, 13, He has done four things to prepare us for battle. First, God has given us all the protection we need. Second, He has given us our battle plan; what He wants us to do, and how he wants us to fight. Third, He has revealed to us the ploys of our enemy, and the tactics that will be used against us. Finally He has told us how long this battle with last, and what kind of day we live in so that we can be alert and on guard. So God has not left us in the dark to fend for ourselves.
1. The Protection of God (Ephesians 6:11a, 13a)
Ephesians 6:11a. Put on the whole armor of God…
Ephesians 6:13a. Therefore take up the whole armor of God,
When Paul wrote these words, he was in prison in Rome, and so was probably chained to a Roman soldier twenty-four hours a day. When he mentions the armor of God here, and then goes in to greater detail about the armor in Ephesians 6:14-17, he had a first hand opportunity to study and understand the importance of armor. Here in Ephesians 6:11 and 13, he simply talks about the armor in its entirety.
Notice first of all that he doesn’t just tell us to obtain the armor. He doesn’t tell us to obtain it, because it has already been given to each one of us. Each Christian has a complete set of armor from God. 2 Peter 1:3 says that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness.
And notice that this is what Paul hints at here as well. The armor is not ours, but is God’s. Paul calls it the armor of God. It belongs to God, was made by God, and comes from God. It is his, and He has given it to us. That this is God’s armor is seen from passages like Isaiah 11:5 where we read that God has on a belt of righteousness and faithfulness. Or, over in Isaiah 59:17, we read about God wearing a breastplate of righteousness and a helmet of salvation. This armor Paul is talking about in Ephesians 6 is not just armor for us from God, it is actually God’s own armor! These passages in Ephesians which talk about these parts of armor are all in reference to Christ.
As Christians, we are given Christ’s clothes to wear. It is said that the clothes make the man, and these clothes – the armor of God – make us who we are and who God wants us to be. Each piece further makes us into a Christ like person. But we will talk about each piece and how we own it in a few weeks when we begin to look at the individual pieces. But for now, just remember that when you became a Christian, when you became a soldier in Christ’s army, you were given God’s armor. When you have on this armor, you have on the best protection in the universe.
Next, notice that Paul doesn’t just say to get possession of the armor, but rather, to take up and put on the armor. These are commands. Christians are commanded to put on the armor. Obviously, armor sitting on the floor or stuffed the closet never did any soldier any good.
In World War II, as Hitler advanced across Europe in his quest for world domination, many of the battles the Nazi army fought could hardly be called battles. The German army was just plain technologically advanced to most of the underdeveloped nations that it encountered. In some of the nations, the Nazi soldiers were met with nothing but villagers carrying rocks and spears. It was no contest at all because these nations were not equipped for battle. 
The same could be said for far too many Christians today. Satan, like Hitler, is far superior to us in many ways. In fact, some Christians have their heads in the clouds so much, that they don’t even know there is a battle going on until they’ve been struck down! Christians in general make easy prey for Satan. But this should not be. God has given to each one of us armor – His armor – by which we can protect ourselves from the enemy. But it does no good sitting in the closet. We must pick it up. We must put it on. We must wear it night and day until we feel naked and unprotected without it.
God has given us this wonderful gift to protect us from the enemy in this battle, and we must take it up and put it on. Having the armor does no good unless we wear it. And not just a piece or two, but, as Paul says in verses 11 and 13, the whole armor. If you only put on a few pieces, you leave yourself unprotected and vulnerable in certain areas. So you must wear the armor, and you must wear all of it.
So the question is, “How?” How do we put on the armor of God?
You cannot see the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, or the shoes of the Gospel, so how do you strap them on? You cannot go and pick up your shield of faith, your helmet of salvation or the sword of the spirit, so how are you going to make sure you have them with you?
Well, in the coming weeks as we learn what the various pieces of armor are, we will also learn how to put them on. It is not literal armor we’re wearing, so you can’t literally put them on, but the armor is spiritual protection provided by God which you must know how to make use of. In the weeks to come, as we look at each piece, we will also learn how to put it on. It will be like Basic Training, or Boot Camp, where you learn what armor you have, and how to use it.
But we’re not there yet. First, we have to see what God’s plan of attack for us is in this battle.
2. The Plan of Attack (Ephesians 6:11b, 13c, 14a)
Ephesians 6:11b. …that you may be able to stand…
Ephesians 6:13c. …that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Ephesians 6:14a. Stand therefore…
A humorous saying which I used to quote says, “Don’t just do something, stand there!” And that is exactly what Paul calls Christian soldiers to do here. And he wants to emphasize it so much, he doesn’t say it just once, not twice, not even three times, but four times in these few verses. He wanted to get it pounded into our minds that the best thing we can do in Spiritual Warfare is simply to stand our ground.
In the movie Braveheart, there is a scene where the enemy cavalry is charging down on Wallace and his band of Scottish soldiers. The scene keeps cutting back and forth between the charging horses and the standing soldiers. Wallaces’s men are clearly getting nervous seeing these riders racing toward them, and we wonder why they don’t do something? Why don’t they charge? Why don’t they run away?
But then Wallace shouts out, “Steady men! Stand your ground! Steady!”
And we’re thinking, “Stand your ground? You’ll get pulverized as soon as that cavalry gets to you. Don’t stand there. Run!”
But Wallace and his men do stand there. And the horses pound closer. And just as the cavalry is about to come in a slaughter them, Wallace shouts out, “Now!” and all of men bend over, and pick up long poles, sharpened to a point on one end, with the blunt end planted firmly in the ground. The cavalry, which has too much momentum, cannot stop in time, and most of them get impaled on the ends of those poles.
The battle scene continues from there, but Wallace and his men are victorious, because they stood their ground.
That is what Paul is calling to us to do also. Like Wallace, he is shouting out, “Steady! Stand your ground. Stand there! Don’t give up ground. Don’t retreat. But don’t try to advance either.”
Why would we get such orders? What kind of plan of attack is this? Who has ever won a war by just standing their ground?
Well, first of all, we’re not trying to win a war. The war has already been won. Jesus won the entire war for us when He died on the cross and rose from the dead. We don’t have to march out to meet the enemy, because the enemy is already defeated. The enemy has already been vanquished. The enemy has already been conquered. Thankfully, God didn’t tell us to go out there and defeat Satan, because we never could have done that. That would be a suicide mission. He is much stronger and powerful than any one of us. God knows that we would be easily defeated, just like those villagers trying to stand up to Hitler. So, we’re not trying to win this war; we’re just trying to survive the battle, and hold on to the ground God has given to us to defend.
But there’s another reason that we are just to stand our ground. Aside from the fact that on our own, we cannot defeat the enemy, it is also true that God has not given us the right weapons to go on the offensive. In the list of spiritual armor, we read about the sword, but as we will see when we study that item, it was a short sword used primarily for defense, not offense. The primary offensive weapon of the Roman soldier in Paul’s day was a spear, or javelin. And guess what? God didn’t give us one. There is no “spear of spiritual attack” in the spiritual armor.
Why not? Because we are not to attack. We are not on the offensive. We are standing our ground. We are just defending ourselves from the retreating enemy.
But this is actually a very good plan of attack as well. As we often heard it said in sports, the best offense is a good defense. And this is true in war as well. When you have a good defense, all you really have to do to win a battle is simply stand there and let your attackers destroy themselves against your impenetrable walls. This is what Paul had in mind here, because this is the way the Roman Empire conquered the world. This seems backward to us, because we think, “Well, how could the Roman empire conquer the world if all they did was defend themselves?”
Let me explain to you how. The Roman army was so powerful because of their military formation. The Roman military historian by the name of Vegetius, which I talked about last week, tells us that the smallest Roman security force was a guard unit made up of 16 men. These 16 men were spaced evenly over 36 square yards, or in other words, one every six feet. And they were trained to focus on one thing and one thing only—do not let a single enemy soldier enter into their six feet.
In other words, each individual soldier was told to do one thing: stand your ground. Do not let the enemy into your six foot square area. How big is a six foot square area? If you stand up, and hold your arms out straight, that is about six feet from fingertip to fingertip. That’s not much ground to protect, is it?
If you were a soldier and you were told that all you had to do in any war was cover one little six foot by six foot section, that doesn’t seem too hard. Especially if you had a thousand soldiers in every direction of you who were doing the same exact thing. They were all just standing their ground, protecting their little piece of land.
This was the genius of the Roman military. Vegetius tells us that when arranged in this way, and when each soldier understood that all he had to do was stand his ground, his little six-by-six foot section of ground, that those 16 men could stand up against 500 attacking enemies!  You’ve probably all heard of King Leonidas and his 300 Spartan warriors who held their ground against the invading Persian army of over 240,000 men.
That is impossible odds, but they did it by finding a narrow ravine which could be easily defended, and then they just stood their ground. Eventually, the 300 Spartans were killed, but only because they were betrayed. However, Herodotus reports that when the battle was over, those 300 Spartans had killed 20,000 Persians. It’s one of the most amazing accounts in military history. Now, of course, the Spartans were Greeks, but the Romans gained most of their military ideas from the Greeks, especially the greatest Greek General of all, Alexander the Great. The Roman army would advance into a region where there was an enemy, set up in their defensive formation, and then let the enemy come to them and throw themselves against the impenetrable wall.
When viewed this way, the battle before us is really not that hard. I think sometimes we look out at all the sin and corruption and evil in this world, and we get scared. We think, “How can I, one single person, do anything to fight against that? If I try and stand up against those waves of darkness, I’ll get overwhelmed!” But Paul is telling us here to take heart. God does not expect you to fight the swarming hoards all by yourself. It is not you against the spiritual realm of darkness.
No, Paul says, it is so simple. You have been given a little tiny bit of ground. Just a tiny little 6 by 6 foot section. Stand in it and defend it. That’s it. Do not let a single enemy enter into your space. That is the area God has entrusted to you, and he wants you to stand your ground. Your ground may be your home, or your workplace, your thought life, what you allow your eyes to see, or the words that come out of your mouth. Everywhere you go, you must be on the defensive, ready to stand your ground. Your six by six foot section of ground to defend may be your own life. What you see. What you say. What you think. Protect your life from sin at all costs, by simply standing your ground.
Now, to stand your ground, it will be helpful to know what tactics and strategies the enemy will come at you with, right? What are the ploys of Satan? Well thankfully, God tells us this next in Ephesians 6:11.
3. The Ploy of Satan (Ephesians 6:11c)
Ephesians 6:11c. …against the wiles of the devil.
When we stand our ground, we do not have to stand against the devil himself, just against his wiles. If we had to stand against Satan himself, none of us would survive. We do not have to fight against Satan. We just have to stand against his schemes. We just have to stand against the wiles of the devil.
The Greek word for wiles here is the word methodeia. It is from this that we get our word “methods.” Satan has his methods by which to injure and wound us as soldiers of Christ. And he is very crafty in his wiles. In fact, he is so good at what he does, that sometimes, according to 1 Corinthians 11:3, 14, he appears as an angel of light. This means that sometimes, although people think they are worshipping God, they are actually following a wile of the devil. But none of us, I hope, want to be duped in such a way. None of us want to believe and obey the father of lies.
But God has prepared us even here. We do not have to wonder what kind of attacks or tricks Satan has prepared, because God has given to us the devil’s playbook. And as it turns out, Satan’s not very creative. We can see what these ploys, these wiles, these methods of the devil are, by looking at how Satan tempted Jesus in the desert. We can be certain that when Satan tempted Jesus, Satan brought out the big guns. And so if we can learn from the methods Satan used against Jesus, we can know that there is nothing greater he can bring against us.
In Luke 4, we see that Satan has only three types of temptations. Satan wanted Jesus to turn stone into bread (the lust of the flesh), the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world (the lust of the eyes), and tempted Jesus to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the temple in order to easily declare himself as the Messiah and prove that God was working for him (the pride of life). Those are Satan’s only three temptations.
And Satan has only one tactic in using those three temptations. Always, always, always, Satan tries to raise doubt in our minds about the Word of God. He twists the Word of God. He makes subtle changes to the Word of God. He adds to the Word of God, or subtracts from the Word of God. He rips verses out of context from the Word of God. All of Satan’s temptations revolve around misusing or abusing the Word of God. That is how he tempted Eve in Genesis 3, the way he tempted the Israelites in the wilderness, the way he tempted the kings of Israel, that is the way he tempts Jesus in the wilderness, and that is the way he tempts us.
He twists the Word of God, and raises doubt about what God has said. This is why it is so vitally important to know the Word of God. That is why it is so important to be studying the Word daily, to attend a church where the Word is faithfully taught from the pulpit, and to attend Bible studies and learn good Bible study methods. If you don’t know the Word of God, and you don’t know how to correctly handle the Word of God, you will be easy prey for the devil. Because I guarantee you, he is a student of the Word. Not so that he can obey it, but so that he can twist it. The Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit which is used to stand against the devil. And if you are not proficient with the Word, Satan will use his twisted version of God’s Word against you.
The remedy for all of Satan’s devices is to get daily and regularly into the Word of God. That’s it. A simple cure for a complex problem. When Satan tries to attack the Word of God, you just have to know the Word and use it to defend yourself against his wiles.
So we’ve seen the protection of God, the plan of attack, the ploys of Satan. Let’s conclude by looking at the timeframe, or period of warfare. In other words, when does this battle take place?
4. The Period of Warfare (Ephesians 6:13b)
Ephesians 6:13b. …in the evil day
When is this? No surprise here. This is now. Ephesians 5:16 tells us that the days are evil. The evil day, the day when Satan is hardest at work is the age we are living in. This is the day of darkness. The is the night. This is the day of sin. The day of temptation. Today, this age, is the evil day.
But God can always take what is evil and use it for good. So although this is the evil day, for us Christians, this is also the day of opportunity. In this dark day of evil, God is looking for people who will be lights for him and heroes in battle. Although the battle has already been won, we are still behind enemy lines, and there are still millions of people who are tied up, and bound and held captive by the enemy.
There are millions of P.O.W.’s. And during this evil day, God wants us to rescue as many of them as possible. To watch out for the booby traps set by the enemy, and rescue our fellow men and women from the clutches of the devil. I’m talking about evangelism. And I’m not telling you, as some pastors do, to go out and be evangelists. You are already out there. You don’t have to “go out.” You’re there already. All you have to do is be a witness, be a light, wherever you already are.
Here’s why. A day is coming when this evil day will be over. A day is coming when our victorious king will return to this earth. It will be a triumphal entry. The king will set up His throne in Jerusalem and set the whole world straight. He will reward His faithful servants and punish those who rebelled against Him. On that glorious day, faithful and heroic men and women of God will receive their medals of honor and courage.
Although we now live in the evil day. And although it now seems like Satan gets his way far too often, and he has free reign, a day is coming, when he will no longer be able to tempt and destroy. The book of Revelation tells us that he will be cast into the lake of fire forever.
Jesus Christ has won it all. Just stand your ground a few days more, until this evil day is at an end, and the glorious day begins. And this day of glory will never end.
Do you want to learn about spiritual warfare and how to put on the full armor of God? If you want to defeat sin and gain victory in your life over temptation so you can better follow Jesus, take my course on the Armor of God as it is explained in Ephesians 6:10-20. This course costs $297, but when you join the Discipleship group, you can to take the entire course for free.