“A person in a Christless, graceless state is naked and unarmed – totally unequipped to fight sin and Satan. In the beginning, God sent Adam out in complete armour. But by sleight of hand, the devil stripped him. As soon as the first sin was completed, Adam and Eve were naked (Gen. 3:7). Sin robbed them of their armour and left them poor, weak creatures. It cost Satan some fancy footwork to make the first breach, but once man opened the gates to let him in, the devil named himself king and brought to court a whole cortege of deadly sins, without ever drawing a sword.
Here is what I mean: Instead of confessing your sin, Adam and Eve tried to hide from God and became evasive in their dealings with Him. They blamed one another, shifting the responsibility of their disobedience rather than appealing for mercy. How quickly their hearts were hardened by deceit! Man’s basic nature has not changed since that day. This is exactly the condition of every son and daughter of Adam; naked Satan finds us, and slaves he makes us until God, having bought us with the blood of His dear Son, comes to reclaim each penitent soul for service in His own kingdom.
I. ALIENATION FROM GOD “Ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise” (Eph. 2:12). If you are not a kingdom child, you have no more to do with any covenant promise than a citizen of Rome has to do with the charter of London. You are alone in the world, without God. If you get into trouble, you must plead your own case. But if you are a citizen of heaven, God has power to grant you special immunity in any situation. And while the devil’s spite is directed toward you, he dare not come upon God’s ground to touch you without permission.
What a desperate condition, for a soul to be left to his own defense against legions of lusts and devils! He will be torn like a silly hare among a pack of hounds–no God to call them off, but Satan to urge them on. Let God leave a people, no matter how militant, and before long they lose their own front yard. When the Israelites panicked at news of invincible giants and walled cities, Caleb and Joshua pacified them with this assurance: “They are bread for us; their defense is departed from them” (Numbers 14:9). How much more must that soul who has no defense from the Almighty be as bread to Satan?
II. IGNORANCE Only an ignorant soul is foolish enough to ride out of his castle unarmed during a siege. He obviously has not studied the enemy, or he would know what peril lies beyond the gates. To make matters worse, if he fights without putting on Christ, he must fight in the dark. The apostle writes, “Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord” (Eph. 5:8). As a child of light, you who are Christians may be in the dark from time to time concerning some truth or promise. But you always have a spiritual eye which the Christless person lacks. The unregenerate man is always too ignorant to resist Satan, whereas the Christian’s knowledge of the truth pursues and brings back the soul even when taken prisoner by a temptation.
Do not let anyone deceive you. Spiritual darkness can never be expelled except by union with Christ. As the physical eye once put out cannot be restored by human means, so neither can the spiritual eye–lost by Adam’s sin–be restored by the efforts of men or angels. This is one of the diseases Christ came to cure (Luke 4:18).
III. IMPOTENCY When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6). What can an unarmed soul do to shake off the yoke of Satan? No more than an unarmed people can do to shake off the yoke of a conquering army! Satan has such power over the soul that he is called the strong man who keeps the soul as his palace (Luke 11:21). If he has no disturbance from heaven, he need fear no mutiny within. He keeps everything under his control. What the Spirit of God does in a saint, Satan in a diabolical sense does in a sinner. The Spirit fills the heart with love, joy, holy desires; Satan fills the sinner’s heart with pride, lust, lying. And like the drunkard filled with wine, the sinner filled with Satan is not his own man, but an impotent slave.
IV. FRIENDSHIP WITH SIN AND SATAN A soul that refuses to put on Christ declares himself a rebel and makes himself the enemy of God. I think we can safely say that whoever is God’s enemy must be Satan’s friend– and how will you make someone fight against his own friend? Is Satan diveded? Will the devil within fight against the devil without?
Sometimes Satan and a carnal heart appear to scuffle, but it is a farce– like the parrying of two fencers on stage. You would think at first they were in earnest, but when you see how wary they are and where they strike one another, you soon know they do not mean to kill. Any doubt is removed when you see them after the match, making merry together with the proceeds of their performance! Likewise, when you see an unrepentant heart make a great show against sin, follow him off the stage of good works where he has gained the reputation of a saint by playing the hypocrite. There you will doubtless see him and Satan together in a corner as friendly as ever.”
William Gurnall, “The Christian in Complete Armour” 1655 Modernized and Abridged by Banner of Truth, 2009