“Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13 KJV)
Ephesians 6:13 is part of a section known as the Christian warfare passage. Some think Christian warfare is about going on the offensive against demonic forces, and that the “armor of God” is something Christians use to engage against demonic attacks.
Some others presume that the phrase, “having done all to stand,” has to do with man’s personal capability and competency to fight against evil. Not to diminish the seriousness of the demonic attacks and satanic temptations we face on a daily basis, but a careful study of the whole passage shows us a better understanding of its true message.
#1: We Are Commanded to Put on the Whole Armor of God
The phrase “take unto you” is written as a command in its original Greek text. This is a concluding proposition from what verses 10 to 12 state. Because the attacks we face from the devil’s supernatural forces are constant, we need to put on “the whole armor of God.”
Verses 14 to 17 lay clear descriptions and functions of this “whole armor of God” we must put on. And Scripture presents this armor as more of a defensive protection against the enemies’ attacks. The text does not really encourage us to go and pick fights against demons. The only points of aggressive action we are to take are with the preaching of the gospel (v.15), the use of God’s Word (v.17), and constant prayer (v.18).
Some Christian groups actively seek out confrontations with demons, exposing themselves to demonic activity. And they use this passage as the basis for their ministry. But Ephesians 6:13 is not the right verse to support taking up arms against the devil and his armies. The verse does not encourage us to actively pursue supernatural conflicts. However, it does help us ready ourselves against supernatural attacks.
To “take unto you the whole armor of God” means to live true to what you profess. It is to make sure that every essential aspect of your faith (from verses 14a to 17b), which is truth, righteousness, gospel, faith, salvation, and God’s Word, is evident in your everyday life. Each part of this armor, along with prayer (v.18), is indispensable in ensuring we have the daily protection we need against the enemy’s attacks.
#2: We Are Given Strength to Resist in Times of Evil
The phrase “that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day” is the subsequent spiritual result of putting on the whole armor of God. We understand that every part of God’s armor is crucial in our battle against demonic attacks and temptations. Now, what does the word “withstand” mean for us?
In today’s usage, we better understand “withstand” as to resist or stand our ground. And this is the clear message of the passage. The full armor of God gives us the protection we need, and thus, the capacity to resist any satanic attack or temptation. It keeps us on track with the ministry God has entrusted us with. It protects us from being sidetracked by such supernatural and spiritual struggles. Armored soldiers of the past used their protective armors for defense and for taking opportunities to strike back. The purpose of God’s protective armor for us Christians today is to resist the enemy so we can focus on the goals God has set for us.
Let’s now talk about what the phrase “be able to withstand” means. This does not mean that the strength or capability to resist and defend ourselves comes from within us. Verse 10 clarifies that the strengthening and ability to withstand comes from the Lord. Through His strength and the essential elements of our faith (that He has provided), we are able to resist and overcome in times of spiritual struggles.
This is a truth we must constantly remember. Otherwise, we may be deceived into thinking that it is through our own strength that we struggle against the enemy. And so we’ll become prideful. Or we can become discouraged and buckle under the struggle to overcome. We must always keep in mind that it is only through His strength that we are able to accomplish things (Philippians 4:13). And indeed, through His strength, we are able!
#3: We Are Encouraged to Do Everything to Stand
It is all through God’s strengthening and provision that we can stand our ground against evil. But this does not mean that we are mere spectators in this spiritual warfare. The phrase “having done all, to stand” is a clear indication of personal responsibility. “Having done all” means to prepare everything necessary. And it talks about our responsibility to make sure that we put on the full armor of God (v.11). Our task is to check that the essential elements of our faith, which make up God’s armor for us, are constantly nurtured and practiced in our lives through the strengthening God continues to provide (v.10).
Spiritual warfare is real. The key to victory over our spiritual struggles is to put on the whole armor of God. We must cultivate a life strongly founded on the essential truths and elements of our faith. We must defensively resist the enemy’s attacks through God’s strength and protection. And we must go on the offense by furthering the gospel, speaking God’s Words, and praying in every situation.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.