I put my armor on first thing today. No, I’m not re-enacting a joust or trying to blend in at a Renaissance Faire, I’m referring to the full armor of God that the Apostle Paul wrote about in Ephesians 6:10-18
It might seem peculiar to some that the God of peace, love and forgiveness would also make a soldier’s armor necessary. However, if you have been a follower of Jesus Christ for any length of time, you know all too well the battle that rages on around you. Thankfully, nothing about this struggle is a surprise to the Almighty. Therefore, He gives us access to all we need to carry on each day.
Paul knew full well the spiritual battle that was happening in his time. He used the familiar picture of a Roman, dressed in full battle regalia, to describe what and how God was providing for our spiritual protection. The Apostle then describes why we need it:
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. (Ephesians 6:11-12) NIV
Paul establishes that there is an unseen battle going on around us and that we do have a common enemy, the devil. Not to give the old liar too much credit, but he is a powerful and nasty adversary who wants nothing more than to cause strife and division, especially among those who profess faith in Christ.
I am eternally grateful that our God is more powerful than Satan. (Spoiler alert: if you read the Bible all the way to the end, you’ll see it proved forever!) Having said that, the Bible also teaches that the devil is still active in this world. Peter describes him as a roaring lion prowling around looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Knowing this, putting on the full protection of God’s armor seems like a no-brainer.
Let’s go through the various pieces of this God-given armor to see how they work to protect us.
The belt of truth is the first piece. Whereas if may sound weird to us to put a belt on first, in this case it makes sense. A Roman soldier put this piece of his armor on first because all the rest of his gear would be attached to it. This holds true for our spiritual protection as well. We must be able to ‘wear’ the truth of who God is if we are going to be able to stand at all in the battles we encounter.
With apologies to those who hold that truth is a relative thing, the truth of God is all encompassing and unchanging. God is who He says He is and does what He promises to do.
The truth is that Jesus is the Savior of the world; there is no other way to heaven accept through His death and resurrection. This has to be firmly buckled into our being if we are to put on the rest of the armor of God.
The breastplate of righteousness then attaches to the belt of truth. A soldier’s breastplate protected his vital organs from harm. This piece of godly armor does the same for us. Righteousness, a term that sometimes gets thrown around in Christendom, simply means to be in right standing with God. The position of being righteous in God’s eyes is necessary because He is perfect and without sin. I, for one, am not. The bible says He imputes righteousness to believers and I could never hope to be in His presence if He didn’t. Because of this breastplate He provides, I am protected from His wrath. God hates sin; the breastplate of righteousness keeps me shielded from the eternal consequences of it because He provides it to those who have put their faith in Him.
Verse 15 of Ephesians Chapter 6 then tells us that our feet are fitted with readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. I love the fact that this is fitted to each of us personally. God’s peace, which we cannot fully grasp, is tailor made in such a way by the Master that even though we don’t understand it, we can live and move about with the assurance of the peace that salvation brings.
Once our shoes are on, we are to take up the shield of faith because by carrying it we can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. The Roman soldier’s shield was curved in such a way that things would bounce off it. As we carry our shield of faith, the lies and deceptions our enemy throws at us will also be deflected, bringing us no harm.
With our bodies now protected, we are instructed to put on the helmet of salvation. Helmets, of course, are designed to protect the head. The helmet of salvation does the same in a spiritual sense. By donning it, we are to keep in the forefront of our mind the salvation God has given us. By staying mindful of the of the grace of God that has been poured out on us, we are better able to stay focused on Him. As we go through our days in this way, we are far less likely to fall victim to wrong thinking of the deceitfulness of the world around us.
As we are now fully clothed in the armor of God, we are then to pick up the only weapon we need, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17). Much as a sword was the common weapon of the foot soldier in Paul’s day, the word of God is for us. However, this sword has no equal. In fact, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews describes it thus: The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), God’s infallible Word is unmatched by any other weapon or tool. It contains the very essence of God, making it supreme to all things. What weapon would we possibly want to carry in its place?
Paul concludes this teaching of the full armor of God by reminding us all that once clothed in it, we must never forget to pray. The list of what we could pray about is endless, but in this context, I would recommend praying to have awareness of the battles going on around us, and the wisdom to now when to engage the enemy and when to wait for re-enforcements. It is then a very good idea to be praying for others that are on the battlefront, that they too are fully protected and moving within the will of God.
There you have it, my friends. The full armor of God. As was recommended to me years ago, I pass on to you. Get into the practice of thinking about putting on this armor every day. As you do, consider what each piece represents and how God has supplied it for you and the specific battles and struggles you are up against. Remember, He who has made this armor is perfect. What He makes is also perfect and perfectly molded to fit your needs. All that is left is for us to put it on.
Thanks for reading,