The Armor of God

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. Ephesians 6:10-17

Ready For Battle

In Ephesians 6: 10-17, Paul provides an effective strategy for fighting our spiritual enemy. He exhorts us to put on the full armor of God. The reference here has to do with the Roman soldier putting on all of his military gear as he goes to war. The full armor was designed to protect all the vital organs of the body, including his head, his chest, his arm, and his feet. In verse 10, Paul begins by exhorting the Ephesians to be strong in the Lord and his mighty power. Paul uses the Greek endynamoo for strong. That word comes from the same root as dynamite. He is thus asking the Ephesians to put dynamite power in themselves. The literal translation would be “put strength in yourselves in the Lord.” He probably took the idea from 1 Samuel 30:6, where it is said that David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. Paul also wants the Ephesians to strengthen themselves according to the work of power (Greek Kratos) of God. In verse 11, he gives them a powerful illustration to which the Ephesians could relate to making his point about what it means to strengthen themselves in the Lord. He alludes to the armor of Roman soldiers and describes the intricate pieces that make up the full armor. Paul was chained with a Roman soldier day and night by the wrist for a year as he awaits trial before Caesar. He had enough time to ask about the purpose of each armor that is worn by a Roman soldier and draw a parallel between a physical armor and a spiritual armor. In verse 12, Paul uses war language to dramatize the nature of the spiritual struggle of the believer. From his perspective, our struggle is against powerful demonic forces of different ranks. “Paul’s idea here is much the same as in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4: For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.”

Because of the seriousness of the spiritual struggle in which believers are entangled, they need to put on the full armor of God. Paul is convinced that without the full armor of God, the believer cannot outlast the attacks of the powers and principalities of this dark world. He knew that “God has given His people a call, a mission, and a course to fulfill. Satan will do his best to stop it. When he attacks and intimidates, we are to stand. It is plain that this is Paul’s emphasis in Ephesians 6:11 and 6:13. We do the Lord’s work and stand against every hint of spiritual opposition.” In verse 14, he begins to outline the specific spiritual equipment the armor of God contains. He begins with the belt of truth. The belt worn by Roman soldiers was called a “balteus.” It was used to tuck clothing into or to hold the sword or dagger. In addition, the Nelson Study Bible says from the belt "hung strips of leather to protect the lower body." The Matthew Henry Commentary says the belt "girds on [secures] all the other pieces of our armor." Truth should cleave to us as a belt cleaves to our body. Why would Paul equate the belt with "truth?" Wrapping ourselves with the truth helps to keep all of our spiritual armor together in our warfare against spiritual enemies. It allows us to move with boldness while in the service of our Lord. The truth not only sets us free, but it also empowers us to live boldly and above reproach. The truth comes from the Word of God. When we wrap ourselves with the Word of God, we stand ready against spiritual attacks. The next piece of military equipment is the breastplate of righteousness. The purpose of the breastplate was to protect the heart and vital organs of Roman soldiers. Righteousness is a biblical concept. It is not something that can be taught in academia. It is a Divine tool with which servants of God are equipped for the work of ministry. The world does not care about righteousness. Instead, they value the rights of individuals over righteousness. They prefer political correctness over godliness.

We have to be intentional about protecting our hearts and vital organs. Our body is the temple of God. We should aim to have a pure heart with a sanctified body. Our eyes should not look at filth because it is the portal of the soul. God should be able to use our hands to implement his purposes on earth. He should use our mouths to declare His mighty Word. We have to give God control over our ears and not allow ourselves to be engaged in gossiping. In verse 15, Paul recommends that believers have their feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Historian Josephus described the shoes worn by Roman soldiers as “thickly studded with sharp nails’…. So as to ensure a good grip.” Roman soldiers’ shoes were the “Caligae and Calcei.” “The military successes both of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar were due in large measure to their armies’ being well shod and thus able to undertake long marches at incredible speed over rough terrain.” (Wood) “The gospel provides the footing for everything we do. However powerful the rest of your body is if you are wounded in your feet, you are easy prey for the enemy.” “Paul had Isaiah 52:7 in mind when he referred to having shod your feet: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” In verse 16, Paul instructs the Ephesians to take up the shield of faith. According to military scholars, a warrior’s shield was his first line of defense. Romans soldiers had a long, rectangular, knees-to-chin shield, usually made of bronze or wood that protected from arrows and spears and could be knelt behind during a barrage of arrows. It was heavy and often big enough to protect the whole body. Roman soldiers were well-trained in the use of the shield. They had a series of exercises, a manual of arms, designed to give them flexibility and strength in the use of the shield (Christian arsenal.com).

As believers in Jesus, we need the shield of faith in the Word of God to shield us from the firing volley of flaming arrows of carnal desire that the enemy is launching against us to destroy our relationship with our Father in Heaven. Too many Christians are allowing their spiritual defenses to be pierced by the flaming arrows of the lust of the eyes and lust of the flesh. We allow the enemy to lure us into compromising situations because of our carnal desires. Some of us even try to justify those desires simply because society validates them. We get immersed in the fires of temptation before making any effort to resist. Paul concludes the section on the spiritual armor with the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. The helmet worn by Roman Legionnaires was called “Galea.” “This usually was a leather cap studded with metal for extra strength. Often some kind of plume or decoration was added, perhaps to identify the solider to his regiment.” The helmet of salvation protects believers against discouragement, giving us assurance about our salvation. “1 Thessalonians 5:8 speaks of the helmet of salvation in connection to the hope of salvation. One of Satan’s most effective weapons against us is discouragement. When we are properly equipped with the helmet of salvation, it’s hard to stay discouraged.” (Guzik) The sword of the Spirit symbolizes the word of God. Hebrews 4:12 describes the word as “alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” The sword used by Roman soldiers was called “Gladius.” A Roman soldier wore his sword high on the right side of his body. This enabled it to be drawn underarm with his right hand without interfering with the shield that he carried in his left.

Application

We have to learn to protect all of our vital spiritual organs so that when the day of evil comes, we may be able to stand our ground. Too many of us are going to war against our spiritual enemy ill-prepared and without a strategy. We assume that attending Sunday service is good enough. Some of us think that being a leader in a local church is good enough. The fact of the matter is that it takes more than church attendance and church titles to defeat our spiritual enemy. We have to put on the full armor of God.

No one is exempt from spiritual attack. Therefore, we all need an effective strategy to withstand the attack of the enemy. We have to be willing to use all of the spiritual weapons at our disposal, including prayer, fasting, meditation, memorizing scripture, abstaining from ungodly places and practices, etc. And after we’ve done all we can, we have to be willing to stand. Indeed, after you’ve prayed, fasted, read the word of God, serve, forgive, love, meditate, and worship all you can, you just have to stand. That means trusting God as we walk in victory. For they that trust the Lord in times of trials shall not be defeated.

To wage an effective war against our spiritual enemy, we have to have the right spiritual defensive posture. We have to be intentional about sanctifying our lives so we can be protected against the darts and arrows of the enemy. Walking in victory does not happen by luck. It takes spiritual discipline. Too many of us are wishing for a good spiritual life without taking the necessary steps to live holy.

Living holy does not mean living a perfect life. It means making sure that all actions, thoughts, decisions, plans, and words are Holy Spirit led. It requires spiritual cleansing. This process begins in the heart. “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45).

Prayer

Blessed Lord, thank you for the protection you provide to your followers in our struggle against our spiritual enemy.

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