It is a trick of the enemy to get you to put your trust in anything other than God. That’s not news to many, but let me make this very clear. The enemy is very good at playing his role. He is committed. He has rehearsed every line and prepared ahead of time to use every opportunity to his advantage. With that said, we are not left to fend for ourselves against his schemes. We have a solid line of defense available to us in every situation we face. We have the full armor of God.
Whenever something is repeated in scripture, it highlights an important point for our understanding. In Ephesians 6:10-18 NIV, the words “put on the full armor of God” are repeated twice within two verses (v. 11 and 13). The most significant word in this repetition is “full.” We must put on the full armor, not just parts of it. This repeated command has crucial information sandwiched in between and I think it would be negligent for us to move forward without briefly exploring what is listed:
“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.“Ephesians 6:12 NIV
The first thing we are informed of is what our struggle is not against. This is a point of reflection. When we face struggles, we need to ensure that we are approaching things with a clear understanding of what is actually occurring. Sometimes, the best way to gain clarity is to first identify what is not a threat to us. In this case, our grievance is not with humanity but with something else entirely.
Next, we are given a list of attributes that help us identify the actual threat. Based on the description, there is presence of demonic activity both here on earth as well as in heaven. “This dark world” is a reference to the sinful state of the earth. “The heavenly realms” refers to the residence of God and His angels. Rulers, authorities, and powers represent leadership and large-scale influence. This combined information should help us to adjust our perspective of everything that happens here on earth, particularly in and through places and persons of power. Remember, the enemy can and will use everything available to him.
Taking a step back to acknowledge the leading command of this entire passage, we receive our primary instruction that helps us to better understand the part that we are encouraged to play in verse 13. Verse 10 states, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Here, we are given a two-part command to place our strength in Jesus and in His mighty power (Note that the word mighty is used to distinguish the Lord’s power from that of the evil forces of this world). This helps to clarify the instructions we receive:
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.Ephesians 6:13 NIV
Putting on the full armor of God allows us to be amply prepared for the battles we will face in this evil world (notice that it says “when” not “if”). Our ability to stand our ground, resisting the enemy, as referenced in 1 Peter 5:9, is rooted in the complete and proper use of the armor available to us. The way we utilize this armor indicates whether we have “done everything” we’re able to so that we can remain standing in faith as the Lord does what only He can. Our next instructions clarify the way to properly use the armor God gave us:
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.Ephesians 6: 14-17 NIV
- V. 14 – “belt of truth”: When looking at the definition of the word truth, the words honesty and integrity are used (dictionary.com). A belt has two important purposes: fastening things together and holding things up. Considered in combination, this tells us a lot about the characteristics we should embody. Dishonesty is not from God, but the enemy. When we operate in honesty and integrity, then we are ensuring that our words and actions can be trusted to stand the test of time. This can be viewed as the piece that alters the effectiveness of our other pieces of armor.
- V. 14 – “breastplate of righteousness”: In order for the breastplate to remain “in place,” the belt of truth must be present. Righteousness is another synonym for integrity and holiness and it’s location signifies that it should be visible to others.
- V. 15 – “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”: The gospel is the Good News about Jesus, which should bring us peace because we know that, as believers, we are saved. Being “fitted with readiness” denotes the call for all Christ-followers to share the gospel with all of creation (Mark 16:15 NIV).
- V. 16 – “shield of faith”: When we have faith, it is a protection against fear and doubt. It protects our minds from going to negative thoughts when difficult things occur in our lives. It protects us from the lies, “flaming arrows,” of the enemy because we are holding strong to the truth of God in our hearts.
- V. 17 – “helmet of salvation”: Salvation is the (re)assurance of the eternal life we receive when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. A helmet is used as a means of protection. This (re)assurance and protection are echoed in scripture through the reminder that, when our minds are submitted to Christ, we are able to have life and peace (Romans 8:6 NIV).
- V. 17 – “sword of the Spirit”: A sword is a weapon of both defense and offense. On the defense, the word of God is a measure that can be used to separate the truth from lies when we are faced with tests and trials. On the offense, the word of God is used against the enemy to silence and resist him. When we speak the truth of God’s word over our lives, we drown out the lies of the enemy.
If you haven’t already caught on, these instructions are not intended for occasional use. They are a biblical mandate exhorting all believers to remain armored against the plots and schemes of the evil one. However, these elements are also essential to every believer’s daily walk with God, not just in situations of spiritual warfare. We are left with one more reminder in the final verse of our focus today:
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 6:18 NIV
Prayer is a necessary component to the spiritual armor of God. As stated, this applies to “all occasions” as well. To pray in the Spirit is to submit ourselves to the influence of God, through the Holy Spirit, in prayer (Romans 8:26). Praying with “all kinds of prayer and requests” means that there is no limit to what belongs in prayer. Prayer should touch every aspect of our lives. To “be alert” is to be cautiously aware of anything potentially dangerous or unusual. We are also instructed to pray continually, not just for ourselves, but for all of God’s people (this includes all of humanity).
One last thing I will leave you with is the reminder to ensure that you are aware of the value of the full armor for yourself. This is not something that anyone else can evaluate for you. The way that you utilize this armor is closely tied to the way that you view and experience your relationship with God. So, don’t take His provision for granted and never forget that He is fighting alongside you. You are never alone.
Song Selection: War Cry by Queen Naija
‘Til next time,