Young boys and men who have even been involved with the Boy Scouts of America know the motto of this great organization. Each scout is instructed to “Be Prepared.” It is the object of scouting to teach young men truths and skills that will prepare them for the challenges of adulthood.
The Apostle Paul, in the last verses of his letter to the Ephesians, instructs his readers to prepare themselves for the spiritual warfare to come.
He uses the word “finally” to signal the beginning of his conclusion, where he will give vital information to his readers. He already has shared how important the need is that they should be united as the body of believers, now he gives another reason for this unity. They are going to be involved in spiritual warfare in which they will have to stand against “the devil’s schemes” (v. 11).
Paul’s admonition to his readers in 6:10-13 reveals to them that Satan is a strong enemy, and they will need all of God’s power to overcome his schemes. To be successful in this battle, Paul instructs his readers to “put on the whole armor of God” (v. 11) because their struggle is not “against flesh and blood, but against demons over whom Satan has control (v. 12).
As Christians, believers are engaged in a spiritual battle of universal proportions. The battle is real and it is vicious. In verse 13, he draws the logical conclusion as to how believers should react to the reality of this battle. Paul repeats himself by telling them to put on the spiritual armor God had made available for them battle the enemy and to be victorious. “Put on” is a technical military term describing preparation for battle.
In 6:14-17, Paul’s readers are told to “stand firm” (v. 14) in their spiritual armor in their preparation for battle. The first piece of the armor is the “belt of truth.” As the belt formed the foundation of the soldier’s armor, truth is the foundation of the Christian life. When the enemy, Satan, attacks with his lies and half-truths, Christians can stand on the truth they believe.
The “breast plate of righteousness” is the next piece to be put on. Protecting the vital organs of was a critical piece of a soldier’s armor. No soldier would go into battle without this. This spiritual breastplate protects the heart of the believer, his seat of emotions, self-worth and trust. “Righteousness” provides a significant defense; it gives the evidence that believers have been made right with God through Jesus. This evidence is shown through the spiritual warrior’s life of integrity and uprightness.
Next, Paul mentions “shoes fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (v. 15). With this footgear God gives believers the ability to proclaim the true peace that is available in God which everyone needs to hear.
“The shield of faith” is used by the believer-warrior to “extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one” (v. 16). What are the “the flaming arrows”? Satan attacks in the form of insults, setbacks and temptations. With the “shield of faith,” believers can see beyond circumstances and know ultimate victory is theirs.
With the “helmet of salvation” (v. 17), the believer’s mind is protected from doubting God’s saving work.
Finally, Paul mentions the only offensive weapon in this list of armor. It is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v. 17). There are times when the believer has to take the offense against Satan. When this happens, the believer’s spiritual ability to handle to word of God effectively gives them the advantage needed to defeat “wiles of the devil.”
The energy that enables Christian soldiers to wear the armor and use the sword, Paul shares is praying “in the spirit on all occasions” (v. 18). Prayer is the most practical work God gives his believers as he sends them out to do battle.
Henry Blackaby goes farther when he writes, “Prayer does not just prepare us for the work of the kingdom; it is the greatest work God has given us.” If the believer is to resist the evil he faces, he needs to make prayer a consistent priority and that includes intercessory prayer for others.
In 6:21-24, Paul concludes his letter by introducing Tychicus to his readers. He encouraged the Ephesians in two ways by sharing that Tychicus was an encouragement to Paul and he was sending this servant of the Lord to them for their encouragement. He then closes his blessing of “peace” and “grace.”
In essence, Paul uses 6:10-24, to give the Ephesians spiritual and practical advise in what he believed they needed in being prepared to do battle with Satan. Believers, individually and collectively as a church, prepare themselves for battle by getting spiritually stronger, standing firm in the spiritual conflict, praying always, and encouraging one another. In other words, “Be prepared!”