“Wherefore take unto you the whole amour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
How fierce is the struggle in which the people of God are involved throughout the ages! Are we acquainted with it? This is a spiritual conflict. It is not against flesh and blood and it is not waged with flesh and blood. It is a struggle, according to verse 12, against principalities and powers. . . . It is a struggle which involves forces of light and darkness, which knows of no compromise, a conflict to the death.
Besides, it is a battle which assumes greater significance because this power of darkness has an ally in our own flesh and blood, a struggle in which the people of God are hopelessly outnumbered and outclassed.
Wherefore, because of this, take unto you the armor of God, the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to resist and stand in the evil day.
How necessary is our being fully armed! The apostle speaks of the “evil day.” Does the apostle here refer to a special day, a special attack upon the church by the forces of darkness? This cannot be true. First of all, this explanation coincides with another thought, namely that the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ was regarded at the time of the apostles as imminent, also by the apostles. However, whatever may have been the personal opinion of the apostles, and we do not believe that they entertained this error, it is surely a question of the meaning of the Holy Spirit, and He surely was not of this opinion. Secondly, however, if this “evil day” be a special day, how must we understand the admonitory character of this text and its context? This admonition surely applies to the church of God throughout the ages. And this also appears from Eph. 5:15-16.
This “evil day” must refer to the entire New Dispensation. O, this does not mean that there are not moments when the attack of the wicked is more violent than at other times. However, this evil day is always present. The New Dispensation is surely theevil day in distinction from the Old Dispensation. This is the day when, according to Rev. 12, the devil, frustrated because the Christ-Child was snatched from him, now concentrates his attack more furiously than ever upon the woman of Rev. 12, the church of the glorified Christ.
This is the day of evil. It is a day full of hardships and trouble. This word, “evil,” does not emphasize only one’s personal corruption, but also that one would corrupt others as well as himself. In this sense we speak of evil songs. Ravening beasts are designated by this word. And when the devil is called the evil one this word is used.
We live in an evil day. Do we understand? Do we experience this? Life oftentimes is so enjoyable; the only thing which now and then seems to disturb us and mar our enjoyments is when some unforeseen misery crosses our path. Life appears so often to be serene and quiet. The call of the apostle unto the conflict, his exhortation to put on the whole armor of God seems, then, so unreal to us. In fact, the church today dreams of disarmament rather than armament; it speaks of a universal brotherhood of man rather than of two opposing parties. And the word of the apostle, that we live in a very evil world (as in his epistle to the Galatians where he speaks of this present evil world) appears to fall upon deaf ears.
Indeed, let us not be deceived. Have we fallen asleep; and is it extremely difficult for us to be aroused from this slumber? Whatever armistice may have been declared between the church and the world surely did not proceed from him who is the liar from the beginning. This spiritual conflict, be it in greater or lesser degree, is always with us.
What an evil day! This struggle is exclusively spiritual. On the one hand, it is not against flesh and blood. Yes, it does occur upon the plane of “flesh and blood.” Do we not read that we must hate father and mother and brothers and sisters for Jesus’ sake? Are we not admonished to go out from among them and be separate? This conflict surely affects every phase of our life and existence. Nevertheless, this battle is not against flesh and blood. We cannot fight this battle with tanks and airplanes and atomic bombs, etc. It is not a battle of this world, for this world, by this world. It does not aim at worldly power or possessions or honor or glory. This is not the purpose of the Christian; neither is it the purpose of the kingdom of darkness and of this world. This conflict is exclusively spiritual. It aims at spiritual realities: the truth, righteousness, the glory of the living God and of His Christ. It is the question of the Cause of the living God and of His Christ or the maintaining of the kingdom of sin and of darkness; it is the battle for or against Christ; it is not interested in our gold and silver but in the life that is in us.
And what a struggle it is! Can you conceive, humanly speaking, of a more hopeless situation than that of the church of God in the midst of the world? Compare, if you will, the parties involved, the church and the world. . . .
WHAT IT MEANS
We must take unto ourselves the whole armor of God, as recorded in the verses 14-17. We cannot, of course, treat this rich passage in detail at this time. First of all, it is not difficult to see that all the parts of this armor are concentrated in the Word of God. We read in this passage of the girdle of truth and of the gospel of peace. Besides, this girdle of truth is mentioned first.
Secondly, how beautifully striking these various parts of the Christian’s armor have been arranged by the apostle, namely: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, eternal salvation, the sword of the Spirit! The truth, the truth of the Scriptures, is first. We must be founded upon the Word of God. This righteousness is our justification which we possess in Christ, the blessed assurance that all our sins are paid and forgiven and that we are heirs of everlasting life and glory. The fruit of this righteousness is peace, and peace is our blessed reconciliation with God, the assurance that God is for us and nothing is and can be against us. And this assurance we have through faith. Let these evil powers now hurl their fiery darts; let them accuse me, together with my evil conscience, of sin and evil. Through faith I take hold of Jesus, know that I belong to Him, even eternally, and through that faith in Christ Jesus, I, having been justified through the blood of the cross, have peace toward God forevermore. And now, thus at peace with God through Jesus Christ, my Lord, I can put on the helmet of salvation. Here the apostle surely refers to salvation from the viewpoint of its eternal fulfillment and consummation. Whereas there is now no condemnation for me in Christ Jesus, I, being an heir of everlasting life, may well lift up my head and be assured of everlasting glory. And then the apostle mentions the only offensive weapon in this arsenal of the Christian: the sword of the Spirit. With this sword of the Spirit the Christian warrior is able to slay all the enemies of darkness.
Now we can also understand why the apostle speaks of this armor as the armor of God. This expression means that this is God’s armor, the armor which God alone has provided for us and which, therefore, is of God. And this does not merely mean that the Scriptures are of God. Of course, it is true that this is God’s armor in the sense that the Scriptures are the infallibly inspired, unerring Word of God. But this does not exhaust the meaning of the apostle. This entire armor, all these blessings of salvation are of God. He conceived of these blessings, also bestows them upon us. And it is God’s armor also because He enables us to fight the good fight of faith, even until the end. God, our blessed Savior, through Christ Jesus, is our sure defense.
This armor we must now take unto ourselves. This armor is pictured here as lying at the soldier’s feet. He must take it up. Indeed, the work of salvation is of God alone. This, of course, the Scriptures teach. God, however, saves us as moral-rational creatures. He causes us to stand in His salvation. We must, therefore, stand consciously in and appropriate unto ourselves this glorious armor of God. Let us put on the girdle of truth, know the Scriptures, embrace them with all our heart and life. Let us put on all these wonderful weapons in the arsenal of the Christian soldier.
Besides, let us put on the whole armor of God. We need every part of it. We must not neglect any element of it. Let us use it in its entirety, the whole Word of God, the truth in all its glorious details, the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus but also the hope of everlasting life, the girdle and the breastplate and the shield and the spiked shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace, and apply them, in all our life and vicissitudes, trusting in the glorious God of our salvation. And, forget it not: we must always put on this armor of God. Do not ever become complacent, feeling yourselves to be safe and secure in yourselves. Know the Scriptures, constantly; believe in Jesus, constantly; always seek the things that are above; pray and be sober, always. May the Lord be our constant help and sure defense.
Doing this, we shall be able to stand. The words, “having done all,” surely mean that the Christian warrior has done all required of him in the battle. He has fought unto the end. Having thus done all, he will stand; not having succumbed to the enemy, he has withstood in the day of evil.
Indeed, we have met the enemy. We have resisted his attack. We have warded off all his fiery darts. This, we understand, continues throughout our entire lives. Throughout our earthly involvement with the forces of darkness, we must resist them. They attack us, wave upon wave. But, having resisted the enemy after one attack, we are ready to meet the next onslaught. Succumbing to the onslaught of this mighty, relentless foe, we will be in no position to withstand in the evil day. Then, having resisted these powers of darkness, having “dug in,” we shall be able to stand, until that day when all this weary night will be over. Then we shall receive the crown of victory, given to us of divinely sovereign grace, only because of Him Who is the Captain of our salvation and the Finisher of our faith.