The Holy War of the Christians (Ephesians 6:10-24)

Generally, people know very little about Muslims and about their religion. But a spread word in the last time is jihad – the holy war. Firstly, this was the definition given by Muslims to the war against their  own sinful lusts, but afterwards this word became a definition to the war that they have declared to people and to the nations of other religions for some centuries. The History of Jihad is as long as the history of Islam. But the closest example to this is the event that took place on the 11th of September 2001, when there were destroyed the highest buildings in the world – World Trade Center. Humanity doesn’t accept this as a holy war and is not going to accept it.

Christians also are to fight a true holy war, but only few of them know sufficiently about this war and less are ready to fight it. In this article I want to define the nature of this holy war of the Christians and then to present the weapons that have to be used, to see the responsablities of the soldiers, that are the Christians, in this holy war. The text that shows all these things is found in the Epistle of Paul to Ephesians, chapter 6 and it says:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you. (Ephesians 6:10–12)

1. The definition of the Holy War of the Christians. Apostle Paul explains this thing in contrast. Firstly, he explains what is not our war, when he writes:“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12) The expression “flesh and blood” is used for many times in the Bible to point to the body, that is different from the soul. So, when Simon Peter told Jesus Christ: “Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:16–17) All those who battle in wars figure out their power by the number of the soldiers the army has and how many of them will go to fight on the battlefield. In the same way, those who attacked the World Trade Center wanted to kill as many people as possible – all those that were working in those buldings and didn’t manage to escape. Our holy war is not of the same manner. We are not called to fight against our enemies in order to exterminate them physically or, in other words, we are not called to fight against people. It doesn’t matter what they do believe or don’t, they are not our enemies in this war and that’s why we can not fight against them. Our battle is a spiritual one because our enemies are of spiritual nature and they attack us at the spiritual level. The apostle says that we have to fight against “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) So, we have to fight a spiritual battle against those who attack us on the spiritual domain. The kingdom of darkness has very great and complicated plans to attack people on the spiritual level. We, the Christians, came out of the influence and control of those who make this dark plans, but at the same time we are the main obstacle for them. Every time we go to preach the Gospel and to save souls, we stop and confuse the influence of principalities, powers and rulers of this age. The spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly place come against us, but they can not do any harm to us because God is for us. We can not fight our spiritual, holy war unless we realize who our enemy is. In the same way we can not fight if we don’t know what are the weapons we have to use so that we could win the war.

2.The weapons of a Christian for the Holy War. Verses 13 to 17 from chapter 6 from the Epistle of Ephesians present the necessary weapons for every Christian. He compares them with the weapons of a Roman soldier. So, here are the weapons that represent “the full armor of God” and that we, as Christians have to wear always:

  • The belt – with the belt of truth buckled around your waist(6:14). The belt always helped a soldier to have his weapons close to him. All the weapons are fastened on the belt. A Christian must know the truth and on it are fastened all the other weapons that will help him fight successfully. Our High Priest, Jesus Christ, was praying before His arrest and crucifixion and He emphasized the importance of the truth in the life of His disciples, He said: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

  • The breastplate of righteousness(6:14) – The breastplate is a shirt knitted from metallic rings or only metallic rings, that protect the inner organs of the fighter (heart, lungs, liver, stomach, intestines, etc.) from the hit that can pass near the shield or through the shield. If the Christian doesn’t live a holy life, the principalities, powers and rulers of  the darkness of this age will always find a way to hit him to death, to discredit and to bring him a bad name and testimony. It is really sad to find out how some people who preached the Gospel lived an immoral and a double-faced life. What a hit the enemy gave when he found a such kind of “soldier” who deserted and lost their breastplate of righteousness. Take care to have always the breastplate of righteousness on its place.

  • The footwear – with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.(6:15) The soldiers need comfortable footwear to be able to walk easily on the battlefield. If you have watched movies about the war from Afganistan fought by the Soviet Union, you noticed how the soldiers changed their heavy, uncomfortable footwear, that was given to them and that hurt their feet with boots and in this way went to battle. Of course, only those soldiers who had understanding commanders could wear boots. The uncomfortable footwear can usually decrease the passion and the zeal of a soldier when he goes to fight and especially on the battlefield. God gave us a special spiritual footwear because He thought that we need to be full of passion for the war that He has called us to fight. Our battle is to preach the Gospel and every time we go to preach it to unsaved people, God wants us to be full of zeal and passion. Keep this passion of telling people about Jesus Christ because if you leave it you are barefooted on the battlefield. Your footwear is the zeal of the Gospel, don’t ever loose it!

  • The Shield of the Faith – take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.(6:16) The shield represented the main protection of a soldier. The shields of the roman soldiers were much bigger than the shields of the soldiers of other nations. The soldiers were taught very well to use their shields, so that they could protect themselves and the group. Usually, at the beginning of the war the archers of the armies shot flaming arrows to the enemies. The soldiers quickly were equipped in groups and build like a wall of shields, it was a protection and nothing could get through this wall. The Bible tells us that the evil one continuously shots flaming arrows, of spiritual nature, to attack our souls. That’s why we have to remain strong in faith, because this is the way we can stop the destructive result of these “flaming arrows”. The material that makes our shield be strong is also the Word of God, as the Apostle Paul says: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Ephesians 10:17)

  • The Helmet of Salvation – Take the helmet of salvation(6:17). The shield protects the chest and the inner organs of the soldier, but it can not protect the head and the eyes. The head of every man is very weak in battles and wounds. That’s why every fighter must be sure that the head is very well  protected . If his head is hurt, the soldier loses the control and this will soon lead him to receive some other hits and then he will die. Many times, the powers of the darkness of this age attack the beliefs of a Christian according his salvation. That’s why every Christian has to be sure about his salvation. If you are not absolutely convinced about your salvation, then you are without a helmet, weak and easily attacked by the evil one. Study the Scriptures to be sure that you have been saved. This is one of the reasons why the Epistle to Hebrews was written – to help the recipients understand if they had been saved. Are you saved? Are you sure about this? What are the proofs? If they are not enough, hurry to find this out from the Word of God, so that you will be safe from the flaming arrows of the evil.

  • The Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God(6:17) The only weapon to attack from this military equipment is the sword. All those presented above are for protection. In this holy war we, as Christians are called to be in a permanent offensive through the Gospel, that we preach. We are called to protect the territory occupied by the Word of God, but at the same time, to conquer new territories and to spread this Kingdom of God in the hearts of the people. Our offensive is not done by human wars. Those who tried to do this brought a bad name to Christ. How sad is when you try to say to someone about God’s love and they remind you about inquisitions and crusades. Those who pretended themselves to be soldiers of Christ, fought, in fact against His Word. The true soldiers of God preach the Gospel with passion and great zeal. What kind of soldier are you? One who waits to be attacked or one who goes in offensive with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace? This is one of the qualities and responsabilities of a good soldier of Christ. Let us see what other responsabilities he has in order to win this holy war.

3.The Responsabilities of the Soldier in the Holy War. It is absolutely necessary for every Christian to understand the nature of this holy war and to wear the whole armour. The Apostle Paul writes a list of reponsabilities or duties of every Christian, each of us who has engaged to fight this battle. Let us look at each of these resposabilities, so as they are written in the Epistle to Ephesians 6:10–24:

  • Systematic trainings – Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”(Ephesians 6:10). God blesses us with power, but it is our duty to mantain and to develop this power through systematic trainings. A good soldier always practises to use his weapons. We know what our weapons are and we have to practise continuously to use them, that is to study the Word of God, to live a holy life and to preach the Gospel. We have to do all these things in a team. The soldiers always practise in group, so that they could learn to fight well in a team and that will help them in the real war.
  • Be always ready to fight – The apostle says: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11) and then “…take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”(Ephesians 6:13). Apostle Paul gives a good advice before he enumerates the list of the armour that has to be continously worn by a soldier, he says: “Stand therefore…”(Ephesians 6:14)
  • Have good and permanent relations with the Leader. No soldier of any army in this world has the privilege to come at the commander whenever and how many times he wants, whatever the question is, etc. Only we have this opportunity and our Leader advices us to come always to Him, when He says through Apostle Paul: “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…”(Ephesians 6:18) Starting with the next verse, the author of the epistle explains his situation, but through this testimony he presents a good example of a good soldier of the holy war.

4.The example of the soldier Paul. Paul hadn’t only written all these instructions for the holy war, but he himself was an experienced soldier and saved many souls from death. In the last verses of the passage that we have analized, Paul refers to himself. I don’t think he had this intention, but this references reflect some of his qualities as a good model soldier. Here are some of them:

  • The soldier Paul works with a teamHe writes to the Christians from Ephes:“praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”(Ephesians 6:18–20) Some soldiers, that are looking for a name, intentionally separate themselves from others, so that they will praise themselves with their deeds. Paul is not this kind of person. He asks every soldier to have the same zeal and heroism. He comunicates well with other soldiers and asks them to pray for one another in the war they are fighting.
  • The soldier Paul communicates continuously with the Supreme Commander. He prays and advices all the member from the team to pray as well for him, so that “I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.”(Ephesians 6:19)
  • The soldier Paul uses every opportunity to win the holy war. He personally prays and asks the Christians from Ephes to pray for him, so that every time he opens his mouth to make known the mystery of the Gospel, that is to present it to those who don’t know it and who didn’t receive the gift of eternal life.
  • The soldier Paul doesn’t give up with his passion for the battle. While he is writing this epistle, he is in chains. Usually, when the soldiers become prisoners they are deeply depressed and some of them can even commit suicide. Only those who are strong enough can go on and make a plan to escape, that is to fight further. While he was arrested, Paul asked the other soldiers to pray so that he may continue to fight in a right way where he was and to speak boldly the mystery of the Gospel.
  • The soldier Paul encourages his comrades. He wrote this at the end of his epistle: “But that you also may know my affairs and how I am doing, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make all things known to you; whom I have sent to you for this very purpose, that you may know our affairs, and that he may comfort your hearts.” (Ephesians 6:21–22)

Be a good soldier of Christ in the holy war that we have to fight!.

Translated by Djugostran Felicia