The Armor of God Ephesians 6:10-18
Lets revisit the familiar passage from Ephesians that some of you may know by heart. Then let me suggest a few things that I have recently realized it doesn’t say.
Ephesians 6:10-18 (KJV) Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For 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. 13Wherefore 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. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Lets look a little closer at these verses:
Ephesians 6:10 (NIV) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
It is the Lord who is the source of strength—the fight is not one where we try hard and win by discipline and hard work. How many times I have thought this Christian fight required my energy and dedication. God was depending on me and I had to work hard to please Him. I had to study hard and discipline myself to keep focused on the spiritual war.
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 13Therefore 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. 14Stand firm then…
It is not an offensive fight—the goal is to stand in place, unmoved. While the great commission has us go throughout the world making disciples, the armor here is not for attacking. Perhaps you have been around Christians who see their goal to contend for the faith. While heresy is discussed elsewhere, it is not the focus here.
We are not to go out attacking others with the armor. Consider Peter when the soldiers came to take Jesus from Gethsemane—he tried hard but only managed to cut off a servant’s ear—probably he was aiming for the head.
We don’t even attack Satan or his angels with the weapons of our warfare. It is a spiritual fight, and the danger is quite a different one than losing an argument.
The real danger is to doubt what has happened to you. The danger is to move from the place where you are when you first believed. “Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me, Oh Lamb of God, I come.” There is the place we are to stand. The attack from Satan comes in two forms: 1) to doubt your salvation or your initial belief, and 2) to get busy trying to add to it by works.
Therefore, let’s take a quick look at some of the armor pieces
(v 14) Loins girt about with truth (NIV: the belt of truth buckled around your waist).
What truth is in view here? I always thought it was the, “I’m right, you’re wrong” view of the crusaders. It fit in with the offensive-war view. However, what if it is the truth of the gospel—the good news—the good news that our salvation does not depend on our work?
John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
John 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
John 16:12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.
Ephesians 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
(v 14) Having on (NIV: in place) the breastplate of righteousness
Again, I have come to see that this is not to say I can win a fight because I’ve been a good person. The key is the righteousness that is not our own—it is the gift of God by faith and therefore not dependent on our performance.
If I am relying on my performance, as soon as I do anything wrong—or even fail to do something right that I feel I should do—I am wide open to the attack of Satan saying, “See, you’re no good. You can’t live the Christian life. Why don’t you give it up?”
However, if I understand that it is imputed righteousness—the righteousness of Christ, then I am no longer susceptible to such doubts.
Isa 61:10 I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Not, as a friend believes, that I am given a clean robe and it is my job to keep it clean!
Romans 1:17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Romans 4:3 What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” … to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Philippians 3:7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
(v 15) Your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace (NIV: fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace)
This peace is not world peace or even some sort of inner peace, but personal peace with God and the security and assurance that come from that knowledge. I used to think the gospel of peace was what we spread when we went into the entire world—just the use for the armor.
However, if the purpose of the armor is to stand against Satanic attack on our faith, knowing that GOD IS NOT MAD AT YOU is a very useful defense. I have thought that we get the wrong picture of God, mixed up with the old covenant pictures—wiping out an army, killing the firstborn, swallowing up people in the earth.
However, if we rightly understand what Jesus accomplished, we get a new picture. God didn’t change, but his anger was appeased. God isn’t mad any more. Even the bad things that happen in the world are not God’s judgment—He has reserved that for the last day. Under the new covenant, God is longsuffering, patient, not willing that any should perish. I personally think he is not even mad at unbelievers any more. Condemnation will come for those who reject Christ’s finished work—not for those who commit evil. I think disasters and plagues such as AIDS are not God’s work in judgment—they are just the natural result of evil in the world.
Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
Ephesians 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
FAITH & SALVATION
(v 16) Taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked…take the helmet of salvation.
Salvation and faith go together. I think the faith referred to here is probably the personal belief that God keeps his promises and that we are right with him. I no longer think it is the “Onward Christian Soldiers” sort of thing relating to The Christian Faith as a belief system or religion. If you buy my idea that the armor is defensive, then the protection is in REMINDING YOURSELF of your having believed—not in having a body of theology and rituals.
When growing up in a church that had evangelistic/revival meetings frequently, I have had to come to a place where I told myself I had already believed and therefore was already saved. Once I had settled that, I had only to remind myself that eternal life is just that—eternal. If I believed yesterday, I had salvation then and I still have it now. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to keep me and “no man can snatch me out of the Father’s hand.” That is the security meant here. I am saved now. I have salvation now.
Luke 2:30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
John 14:11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
Romans 3:22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
2 Corinthians 5:7 We live by faith, not by sight.
Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 3:10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
SPIRIT / WORD
(v 17) The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
This is not knowing lots of Scripture so you can win arguments—remember the armor is not offensive—stuff to attack other Christians with to win arguments. It is not just knowing and studying the Word—it is THE HOLY SPIRIT MAKING THE SCRIPTURES RELEVANT TO YOU.
I have known individuals who stuffed themselves full of scripture—memorized, meditated, spend hours reading it repeatedly. The result was total frustration. I don’t mean to say that there is no benefit in reading it, but when the Holy Spirit makes it real to you (the rhema word it is called) then you have something to hold on to in times of attack. When you know that you know that you know…then you are defended from attack. It isn’t just words on a page—it is direct to you because the Spirit has spoken to your heart.
John 14:16-17; 26 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—17the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you…. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Romans 7:6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:14 Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
PRAYER IN THE SPIRIT
(v 18) Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (NIV: 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 saints)
This is more than just going to prayer meetings or even having private times of prayer. I have personally come to believe there is a distinction between speaking in tongues and praying in the Spirit—you may not have heard of either, but in Pentecostal circles it is common to have people speak in tongues in a service. It is undeniably scriptural, as Acts and 1 Corinthians show, and is a gift of the Spirit, but that is an entire study in itself.
I believe, however, that every Christian can pray in the Spirit at any time they choose. I hear myself quietly praying in sounds that make no sense to me. I DO IT BY FAITH THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT IS TAKING THE SOUNDS AND TRANSLATING THEM INTO THE RIGHT REQUESTS FOR THE SITUATION. Most of the time I don’t know very well the people I pray for and the longer I live the less sure I am what to ask for. I would pray for healing but the person might be praying for a quick release. I pray for prosperity while God may have some other lesson to learn. In the Spirit, I am right on the mark!
Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
1 Corinthians 14:14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.
Jude 1:20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.
We have looked at the armor. When would we need it? What does an attack look like? An attack can come in any form, but Satan’s goal is to get you to move—to stop standing firm in Christ.
It could be loss of a job, loss of a loved one, or simply a shot of doubt—“What if this is all just wishful thinking?”
It might be a thought, “I’m such a failure. I never do anything right.”
Or “I can never get victory over that habit or sin—God can’t have enough patience to put up with me.”
God has given us every defense against doubt. We are his children, he is our Daddy, we are righteous because of what Jesus did, when God sees us he sees Jesus, we have assurance of salvation, and we have the Holy Spirit. That is the armor of God. PUT IT ON BY REMINDING YOURSELF OF WHAT JESUS HAS DONE AND WHAT YOU HAVE NOT DONE!
If you have been trying to earn God’s favor since you became a Christian, you have been trying to win something that is already yours. Imagine a child groveling before its parents and pleading,” Oh Father, please let me live in your house and be part of this family. Please be kind to me.” I expect most parents would wonder if they got the wrong one home from the hospital. Imagine God, who sees you as perfect in Christ, wondering what is wrong with you when you plead for a tiny bit of His favor. It is like the Hymn, Showers of Blessing, which I hate. “Mercy drops around us are falling, but for the showers we plead.” Absurd—He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places. Believe Him and take your place as a child.