The Armor of God
The Armor of God
Paul exhorts us to “put on the full armor of God” so that we can “stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). This metaphor makes it clear that the spiritual warfare is proactive; we must be prepared, ready to resist, and empowered to advance into enemy territory. Christ is the Victor who calls us to stand on the ground He has won through His blood.
As long as we are prepared for battle, we need not retreat before any intruder. It is wise to pray on the armor of God each morning, because without it we are open to attack. This is particularly important for people who have introspective and passive personalities, since they can be more susceptible in the warfare if they do not develop the discipline of the active stance upon the truth of Christ’s authority. As we have seen, the key to warfare with the flesh is reckoning; the key to warfare with the world is renewing; and the key to warfare with the devil is resisting. The spiritual armor in Ephesians 6:14-18 relates to our victory over all three of these forces.
The Belt of Truth
The Roman soldier’s belt was used to hold his tunic and sword scabbard in place. Satan and his forces are deceivers, and the belt of biblical truth is a weapon that will defend us against their lies. The more we understand about the person of Christ and our invincible position in Him, the more we will be able to stand firm in Christ’s authority against the forces of evil. We should not fear the adversary, because we are more than conquerors in Christ. The Lord Jesus defeated Satan at Calvary, and we are united with Him in His crucifixion, burial, resurrection, ascension, and reign. He has given us His life and we are secure in Him. As we focus on our “in Christ” relationship and ask God to make it not merely a theology but a reality in our thinking and behavior, the word of God will abide in us, and we will overcome the evil one (1 John 2:14).
The Breastplate of Righteousness
A soldier’s breastplate protected the vital organs that would otherwise be vulnerable. In the same way, we are vulnerable unless we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. This righteousness was placed on our account the moment we trusted in Christ. The Lord wants us to be righteous not only in our position, but also in our practice. Paul tells us to “put on the breastplate of faith and love” (1 Thessalonians 5:8), and this is the outworking of righteousness in Christian conduct. We must be careful to walk in dependence on Christ’s righteousness, and not in our own goodness. When we fail, we need to deal promptly with sin in our lives and be quick to forgive those who sin against us so that we will not be victimized by unforgiveness, hate, bitterness, and resentment.
The Sandals of Peace
The soldier’s sandals protected his feet and enabled him to hold his ground or move quickly because the soles were studded with hobnails. The “preparation of the gospel of peace” speaks of a readiness to enter the fray and share the only message which leads to peace with God (Romans 5:1). This peace with God (reconciliation) is the basis for the peace of God (Philippians 4:7) in the believer’s experience. When we walk in fellowship with God by humbling ourselves and casting our anxieties upon Him (1 Peter 5:6-7), we enjoy inner peace even in the midst of adversity (Romans 16:20).
We have fellowship with God by submitting to His purposes for our lives. Similarly, we have fellowship and peace with other believers when we are “subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). We need the strength that comes from the body of Christ; the sheep that wanders from the flock is the most vulnerable to attack. Hebrews encourages us to “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together” (Hebrews 10:24-25). This also involves submission to spiritual authority (Hebrews 13:17).
The Shield of Faith
The large oblong shields used by Roman soldiers actually interlocked and protected them from spears and flaming arrows. The Lord is our shield and protector in all circumstances; our faith should be in Him, not our circumstances or efforts. As we trust in Him, He becomes the source of our confidence and hope. Adopting a faith stance reveals Satan as a defeated foe and enables us to walk in the victory Christ has won for us. It is important that we be preoccupied with our Lord and keep our eyes on Him, not the enemy. He calls us to submit to His sovereign purposes even when we are unable to understand our trials and afflictions. When we affirm His will and cling to Christ in times of adversity, the fruit of the Spirit comes forth. Total commitment means that God is the center of our existence, not our families, careers, or aspirations (Matthew 22:37; John 12:26).
The Helmet of Salvation
A wise soldier would not think of going into battle without headgear. As Christians, we should regularly cover and protect our minds by being conscious of our new position in Christ. This includes monitoring our thought lives by rejecting those things that are not of God (e.g., gossip, criticism, immoral thoughts, self-condemnation, fear), and dwelling on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). This also means avoiding environments, television shows, films, and books that would distort our thinking or solicit us to evil.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, Paul describes the helmet as “the hope of salvation.” When difficult times come, we should not focus on our feelings, but stand by faith on the truth of God’s goodness and love. We have a sure hope in Christ, and in Him, we can overcome the negative thoughts of hopelessness and despair that come from the enemy.
The Sword of the Spirit
This double-edged sword is the offensive weapon in the believer’s panoply. Wielding the weapon of Scripture, believers are to be aggressive combatants, not passive spectators. But a sword will do us little good if we are unskilled in its use. To be effective, we must gain facility in handling the Word so that we can apply it with wisdom to all circumstances. This requires the discipline of a daily investment of time in prayerful and expectant Bible reading. Our minds are renewed as we regularly memorize and meditate on the Word. In this way, we actually put on the mind of Christ. During His temptation, Jesus used the Scriptures to combat the adversary (Luke 4:1-13). How can we expect to overcome temptations and obstacles if we fail to do the same? God’s Word is a lamp (Psalm 119:105), a purifying agent (Psalm 119:11; Ephesians 5:26), a source of spiritual food (Matthew 4:4; 1 Peter 2:2), and a mirror for the soul (James 1:23-25). When we know and understand it, we will be able to use God’s words to pierce through the lies and traps set by the enemy. We will also be able to discern “the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6).
Prayer and Petition
Like the Word, prayer is an offensive weapon that is available to every believer. Nothing accomplishes as much as prayer; it is the means by which we lay hold of our strength in the Lord. Through prayer we put on the armor of God and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. through praise and thanksgiving we silence the enemy and enter into God’s presence (Psalm 100). This is the opposite of the grumbling and complaining that stems from an absence of faith. We must persevere in prayer. The quality of our prayer life will determine the degree of our spiritual vitality. “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Like Bible reading and study, endurance in prayer requires discipline: continuing to trust, laying hold of our position and God’s promises, refusing to doubt or to be overcome by setbacks. Paul tells us to pray not only for ourselves but also to intercede as prayer warriors on behalf of others as the Spirit directs (Ephesians 6:18-19).
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