Armor is a subject that I really understand. It makes sense that I “get it.” After all I spent over 27 years in the US Army and my primary job was, as I like to tell young gentlemen callers for my teenage daughters, “Jumping out of airplanes and inflicting mayhem, chaos, death and destruction.” I was a Paratrooper. I really enjoyed the jumping part too, by the way. Because of this I am a big fan of Ephesians 6:10-18:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints”
The various accoutrements listed make sense to me and I understand their function for the warrior. I also understand that the Holy Spirit is telling us what we need in order to not just fight, but to be victorious. This need was true when Paul put this on paper almost 2000 years ago and is even truer today.
With all the evil the enemy is causing today we need to be as strong and prepared as we can be in order to just make it thru the day. Today’s world is full of evil and will continue to grow worse as we rush towards the Rapture and our being called home, which should be soon from the looks of things.
Let’s start from the beginning and go from there. Verse 10 reads, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Strength and endurance are things vitally important to the soldier. These two work hand in hand and are the cornerstone of Military readiness. Not only do these provide the soldier the physical ability to press on and accomplish his mission, they also bolster his confidence in his ability to overcome any and all obstacles and hardships.
What does it mean to be strong in the Lord? It is to always remember that everything unfolds in accordance to His will, even if you don’t see it at the time. It also is the understanding that He will never abandon us, nor place more upon us than we can bear, and we need to trust in Him and ask for His help and guidance. To put it another way, this is the abandonment of placing our trust in ourselves or other men, and placing it firmly in trusting Him. This sounds easier than it actually is thanks to human nature and sin. Like a soldier doing physical training, this is a something that takes time to build-up and also requires constant reinforcement and maintenance. If you are notdoing this then it makes all that follows that much harder.
Next comes our Mission Statement, verse 11, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Having a clearly defined enemy is something every soldier wants. Not knowing who or what exactly you are going up against makes victory an “iffy” proposition at best. So, what are we being told here?
This is our mission statement and consists of two parts, our task and purpose. Our task is to put on the whole armor of God and our purpose for this is to be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. I can’t begin to count how many times I wished I had a Lieutenant that could give me such a clearly articulated task and purpose!
This statement alone is sufficient for me to understand just what the Commander (God) wants and why. Everything else is built on this; without this statement I really have no idea of what I am supposed to do, nor why I am supposed to do it.
Verse 12 identifies exactly who the enemy is; “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” This is our threat briefing. It tells us just who we are up against. We can ascertain important points about our adversary by studying this. First thing to take note of is that our real foe is not of flesh and blood but is spiritual in nature.
Even though many of the actions and counteractions of this war take place in the physical world, the real driving force is from the spiritual world. The last part of this verse not only provides information, it also gives a warning, “against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (emphasis mine). This shows that even though the driving force is not of this world, it has the capability to affect things in the physical world.
This also tells us that this power not only exercises some control over physical reality, but it especially targets and uses leaders and those in positions of authority. That is what is meant by “rulers” and “in high places.” Once we understand this it becomes that much easier to identify and counteract. I think we would all be hard pressed, if not impossible, to identify one world leader that hasn’t succumbed to the wiles of the enemy.
This is especially true of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This is the enemy’s preferred modus operandi, take over the leadership and the rest will fall into lock step or else!
The next verse, verse 13, tells us what we generally need to do in order to combat the enemy, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Notice it says the “whole armour.” Armor is composed of multiple parts and is most effective when used as a whole. If we use all of the armor we have been provided then it will give us complete protection.
To not use it all, or to use it improperly, makes it have a weak spot. You better believe the enemy is looking for any chink in your armor so that he can exploit that weakness in attacking you. The remaining verses break down the different parts of the Armour of God into its component parts and give a description of their function. This is important so we can know if our armor is complete and if we are using it properly.
Verse 14 starts this breakdown and states, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.” The girding of the loins with the truth starts this explanation. This girding of the loins was an important step in ancient times in preparing for battle. In those days people normally didn’t wear pants but some form of tunic or robe. These were easier to make, general in size and in hot climates actually helped the wearer stay cooler.
However, they were not suited for wearing in combat. Their loose fit and length were a hindrance to the warrior’s freedom of movement because it was easy to get tangled up in his own clothes and restricted his ability to run. To counter this, the ancient warrior would use some type of belt or cord around his waist. He would grab the rear hem of his robe and pull it up between his legs and secure it with the belt. This freed his legs so he could move more easily.
The spiritual equivalent here also helps our freedom of movement when facing the enemy. It allows us to not worry about being tripped up by false statements and false teachers. If we are not girt with the truth of the Scripture it is much easier to fall prey to the devices of the enemy. Christ Himself points this out in John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
The second part of verse 14 continues with, “…and having on the breastplate of righteousness.” The breastplate covers the torso of the wearer and is designed to protect the vital organs. In many cases the breastplate was in two pieces and protected not only the front but the back as well. This obviously is a very important piece in a suit of armor. So, what is meant by the “breastplate of righteousness?” First we need an understanding of just what is meant by righteousness.
Strong’s Concordance has this as word number 1343 and defines it as “in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God; the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God; integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting; in a narrower sense: justice or the virtue which gives each his due.”
We know that we can never of our own ability be righteous in the eyes of God and require the Grace He has extended us thru the sacrifice of His Son in order to be accounted as righteous. Still, that does not mean we don’t continue trying, God forbid! By first being accounted righteous by Grace thru faith and then thru our continued efforts to actually be righteous in our daily lives we will have our vital organs protected from enemy attacks.
I am not advocating a works-based salvation in saying this, I am however saying that a true faith should lead to the wanting to at least try to be worthy of this most precious gift that has been bestowed on us. This righteousness protects us when the enemy attacks us with the sins we have committed by reminding us that even though we are still sinners we are forgiven and accounted as righteous, so these attacks should have no effect on us. Genesis 15: 6 is the best example of how our faith brings us into a state of righteousness, “And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
Verse 15 brings us to the next item, “And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” For the Soldier, footwear is extremely important. It allows us to have a firm footing in difficult terrain so we can remain standing and thereby use our weapons effectively. In ancient times combat was close quarter and hand to hand (hand to hand in this case includes the use of swords and other similar weapons since they required the wielder to be within a very short distance of the enemy).
If you lost your footing or fell down during battle you probably were not going to come thru it in one piece, if at all. So what is meant by the gospel of peace? Once again let’s look to see what Strong’s says for the word peace:
(Strong’s # 1515): “a state of national tranquility; exemption from the rage and havoc of war; peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord; security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous); of the Messiah’s peace; the way that leads to peace (salvation); of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is; the blessed state of devout and upright men after death.”
I think that one of these definitions is the one that is specifically meant in this instance, “of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.” This peace gives us confidence (sure footing) when facing the enemy because the believer knows that no matter what the enemy uses against us he can never take our salvation away from us.
John 10:27-30 tells us this:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” So, knowing this, the true believer must understand: “Once saved, always saved” and should be confident in the peace of this imparts.
This peace does not mean that everything in life will be all peaches and cream after this, in fact quite often the opposite is true since you have now popped up on the enemy’s radar. This is about an inner peace and understanding that no matter what, God has a grip on you and you will not fall no matter what the enemy throws at you. If that does not give one peace of mind and an inner tranquility, then I am at a loss to what could.
Now for verse 16, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” A shield is an interesting part of the armor. I say that because it doesn’t protect just one part of the body but because it can be moved it protects the entire body.
With a large one it is possible for a warrior to get his entire body behind it to protect himself from multiple archers, or to put it parallel to the ground and get under it when the enemy launches a large number of arrows from afar (the ancient equivalent of the modern concept of using indirect fires to fix the enemy in place so as to allow the infantry to move in and finish him off).
So, what is meant by faith? Two of Strong’s definitions fit this specific usage: “conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it” and “a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God” (Strong’s # 4102).
Once again, this is based on our faith in God and in His Son. If our faith is strong, then we will be able to withstand all the attacks the enemy will throw at us.
Verse 17 reads, “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” First the helmet. The helmet protects the most vital area, the head. An interesting point in all this is the connecting of the head (helmet) and salvation. In Ephesians 5:23 we are told that Christ is the head of the church:
“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body” (emphasis mine), and two of the three meanings of the word salvation: “he who embodies this salvation, or through whom God is about to achieve it; the hope of (future) salvation” (Strong’s # 4992).
Ephesians 5:23 is also interesting where it says, “…and he is the saviour of the body.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 tells us that we are the Body of Christ, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.”
In other words, the head (Christ), is the Savior of the Body (us) and the tool used to save us is salvation, or in other words, Christ. So He leads or heads us and saves us at the same time. If we don’t have Christ, then we are very much vulnerable to mortal attacks. We need to not only believe in Him, but also to allow Him to be our salvation and the one who will save us.
The second part of verse 17 is extremely important because of how it is different than all the proceeding parts, “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” All the other parts of the armor prior to this are defensive in nature but a sword is both offensive and defensive in nature. It also requires the most preparation and continued practice to be able to use effectively. The Spirit referred to in this passage is the Holy Spirit. This ties in the third person of the Trinity with our protection.
This also points out that we need to be armed with a complete knowledge of the Scriptures in order to ward off blows and to rebut any attacks. Christ Himself used Scripture all the time to not only teach, but to defend Himself from attacks.
Matthew 4: 1-11 is one of many instances where He uses Scriptures in just this manner. Here He used it against the enemy himself. He could have just ordered the enemy to just be gone and leave Him alone, but He didn’t.
He used this as an example for us to follow throughout the Church Age. Like the effective use of a sword, this takes much preparation and continuous practice to maintain proficiency. We cannot just read the Bible once and be done. We need to read it over and over, to study it and to learn it and to understand it. Rote memorization of a few passages doesn’t count either. The only way to achieve this is thru prolonged study and praying for guidance and understanding, which leads into verse 18.
Many people would not include verse 18 as part of this passage on the whole armor of God. However, since verse 17 ends with a colon, then the next verse is a part of it too; “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”
(Although verse 18 ends with a semi-colon, verses 19 and 20 were specific to the church in Ephesus and for that time frame, i.e. Paul asking for their prayers, so they are not part of this.)
This teaches us that prayer, communicating with God, is an important part in all this. How can a soldier know what direction he is to go, or what he is supposed to do if he doesn’t communicate with his commander? This also holds true for the believer. We are to pray to, communicate with, God daily.
When we do this we need to remember to not hog the conversation and give Him a chance to speak too. This is how we will get our marching orders and receive reinforcements, meaning gain strength and courage thru the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
What all this is telling us is that we need to be strong in our faith and trust in the Lord, but we also need to prepare ourselves. This preparation is thru the continual study of Scriptures and daily prayer. This Scriptural preparation is pointed to in each part of the armor when you look at it in this light. The Scriptural preparation and having a strong faith are the bulwarks of our defenses.
Without these we are hard pressed to defend ourselves from the wiles of the enemy. These will not only bolster our ability to ward off the attacks of the enemy, they will also make us better evangelists in bringing lost sheep to the Lord. We are not to just sit back and say that God will make it happen if that is what He wants.
That makes us no better than the Moslem and their “Inshallah” or “god willing” attitude. We are to be active, not passive, for the Lord. Activity requires preparation, and this preparation needs to be continually reinforced and refined. So now you have your marching orders, so let’s get crackin’!
All Scripture references are from the King James Version of the Bible.
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