Life often feels like an ongoing battle. On a raging battlefield, what protects a soldier? Armor. Can you imagine any soldier stepping onto the battlefield without it? He or she would be defenseless, cut down in minutes!
In the book of Ephesians, in the New Testament, the apostle Paul uses the analogy of armor to describe how Christians can create a strong spiritual defense against the world’s secular influence. I’ve laid out each piece of the armor Paul mentions, for us to discern their unique purposes and to see how they strengthen and sustain us with God’s supernatural power.
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. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)
Paul uses a lot of great metaphors in this passage to help us to understand how God can empower us to resist temptation and do good. As we go through each piece of armor, make note of whether you’re already wearing it.
Belt of Truth
Truth is a central theme in the Bible. Jesus, for example, proclaims himself to be “the way, the truth, and the life.” When I get confused by the world’s perspective of truth and lies, I turn to the Bible’s truth to gain clarity. Reading about Jesus’ teachings to his disciples really helps me to know what is true.
Breastplate of Righteousness
Righteousness is about applying God’s truth to our lives. In verse 14 Paul tells us to wear “righteousness like armor on your chest.” Most of our vital organs are located in our chest area. Our heart and lungs, for example. But Paul is actually referring to the condition of our heart.
Seeking to live with righteousness influences how we think, how we treat others, and how we respond to situations and temptations. But to live righteously, we must base our thoughts and actions on God’s standard of righteousness, not our own personal standard.
There are times when I get irritated with someone. But God’s Word tells me how to respond: with humility. Knowing this helps me to keep my temper in check. God knows my heart, and he is pleased when I choose to respond in ways that honor him. It’s not always easy, but I’m getting better at it each day.
Gospel of Peace
In verse 15 Paul tells us to fit our feet “with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” To demonstrate God’s righteousness, we should look like Jesus in how we treat others. Our words and actions matter to God, because every single person matters to God.
The world does all it can to entice us to live self-centeredly. But living to our own standard of righteousness tends to create drama and conflict. But when we stay focused on the Gospel, we gain a “readiness” to live in peace with others.
Shield of Faith
Paul then tells us to “take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
In Paul’s time, armies added fire to their arrows, to cause more damage when attacking their enemies. The Romans designed their shields to withstand these flames. Similarly, our faith in God shields us from fiery attacks. And the deeper we know and trust God, the stronger our faith grows.
One way that I grow my faith is by daily reading the Bible, which shows me God’s nature. This knowledge helps me to see when Satan tries to lead me into unrighteousness. I also build my faith by praying. Especially when I feel anxious. I always feel stronger after I spend quiet time with God.
Helmet of Salvation/Sword of the Spirit
In verse 17 Paul tells us to “take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Wearing the helmet of salvation protects our head, but it also changes our heart.
Because I know that God has promised to forgive my sin, I can ignore Satan when he tries to tell me that God hasn’t really forgiven me, and doesn’t really love me. Or that I’m not really saved. I like thinking of the Holy Spirit as a sword to help me battle Satan’s lies.
The Word of God is our defense against worldly arguments, and a weapon to dismantle them. As I read my Bible, I am growing my knowledge of God’s truth. I want to fully understand the Bible, so I pray over its meaning and research what confuses me. I also seek the counsel of the people of faith that God has placed in my life to help me gain clarity.
We leave ourselves vulnerable to attack if we leave off even one piece of armor. Are there any pieces of armor you need to add to be protected by God’s supernatural power?