Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
The armor of God enables us to “be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Satan and his minons attack God’s people through their schemes. They do not have only one approach, but many creative and different approaches. The word “schemes” speaks of the trickery of the devil in his use of evil. One commentator writes,
Evil rarely looks evil until it accomplishes its goal; it gains entrance by appearing attractive, desirable and perfectly legitimate. It is a baited and camouflaged trap. The Bible describes many schemes that the devil uses. We will look at 7.
First, Satan tries to make the Word of God ineffective in our lives by snatching it away (Matt. 13:19) or by choking it out through the cares of life and the deceitfulness of riches (Matt. 13:22). We see this in the parable of the sower. Look at Matthew 13:19-22.
"When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful."
Second, he attempts to cause people to doubt and deny Christ by sifting them through difficult experiences and afflictions. Look at Luke 22:31-34.
"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." Peter said to him, "Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death." Jesus said, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me."
Third, he tries to make us feel timid or ashamed of Christ and His Word. Look at Matt. 26:69-75. Remember that Jesus had told Peter that Satan wanted to sift him.
"Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, "You also were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you mean." And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." And again he denied it with an oath: "I do not know the man." After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you." Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, "I do not know the man." And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly."
Fourth, he tries to get us to withhold forgiveness when it is due. This leads to strife, tension, bitterness, and destruction of people. Look at 2 Cor. 2:10-11.
"Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs."
Fifth, he tries to deceive us by false doctrine. Look at 2 Cor. 11:3-4.
"But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough."
Sixth, he can act like he is our friend. Look at Genesis 3:1-5.
"Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'"
Seventh, he can appear holy and beautiful for the purpose of deceiving us. Look at 2 Cor 11:13-15.
"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds."
We need to keep these schemes in mind because Satan will try to destroy us through them. Peter describes Satan as a roaring lion. Look at 1 Peter 5:8,
"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."
The power and trickery of Satan may cause some to be discouraged or fearful, but this passage is meant to encourage us. The armor of God protects us from Satan and it shows us that God has already won the victory. That is the only reason we have spiritual warfare. We would not be in this warfare if Satan was not defeated. The fact that he is defeated angers him and causes him to try and harm us. But God protects us with His armor.