The Whole Armor of God: get ready for spiritual combat
In the previous article, we introduced what the armor of God is and why it is important, especially as it relates to the lives of Christian believers. In this article, we will focus on the meaning and purpose for each of the six pieces of the armor of God in greater detail. When taken all together, the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the spirit all make up the whole armor of God that every true follower of Jesus Christ needs to wear. As a reminder from the first article, as Christians we are actively fighting daily spiritual battles that require putting on the whole armor of God (which is spiritual rather than physical in nature), in order to withstand the lies of Satan, the world, and our own sinful flesh.
Let’s take a look at Ephesians 6:10-18 again as we consider why God would want us to put on the whole armor of God, rather than only choosing certain bits and pieces:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” ~ Ephesians 6:10-18
In verses 11 and 13, the apostle Paul encourages us to “put on,” or “take up,” the whole armor of God, repeating twice the need to put on this armor. As the Bible clearly states, you need the whole armor of God in order that “you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil,” and “be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” What are the schemes of the devil? We know that since the beginning in Genesis 3, in the book of Job, and in other books throughout the Bible, the devil (Satan) has been actively involved on earth, as the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:4: “The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Thus, as Christians we need spiritual protection against the evil of this world, which often times is not always clearly visible since our battles are spiritual in nature.
Why Is God’s Armor Important?
If the devil has been actively at work doing evil throughout Biblical times, we know that he is still involved today, since Jesus has not returned yet, and the devil has not yet been cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). Thankfully, we can rest in the promises of God knowing that even though life is filled with suffering and will eventually end one day, Isaiah 40:8 states that “the word of our God will stand forever,” meaning that God has the final say in everything, and Satan cannot ruin God’s plans. You might be going through pain and sadness now, but God tells us in Revelation 21:4 that when Jesus Christ returns to earth, “He will wipe every tear from their (our) eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Until that day comes, we as followers of Jesus must live our lives here on earth to please God, to resist the devil, the temptations of this world, and our own sinful desires, and we do this by keeping on the whole armor of God at all times.
Pieces Of The Armor Of God
Now, let’s take a closer look at each individual piece in the whole armor of God, starting with the Belt of Truth (remember, the order in which they are presented in the Bible has its meaning and importance). The next article will go more in depth on the practical ways that you can put on each piece of the whole armor of God, while this section focuses on the spiritual meaning and importance of each armor piece.
1. Belt of Truth
We know that in God, there is no sin, and all of His words are true and alive. He is perfect in all of his ways (Psalm 18:30), whereas Satan “was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Thus, the belt of truth is in essence the truth we find in God himself and His word, whereas Satan’s character displays the complete opposite of truth.
2. Breastplate of Righteousness
The second piece of the whole armor of God is the Breastplate of Righteousness, which we can understand by looking at God’s righteous character. Throughout the Bible, God displays his righteous character, and king David (a man after God’s heart), often wrote about God’s righteousness in the Book of Psalms. Psalm 11:7 states “for the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.” It is said in another part of the Bible that God “is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works” Psalm 145:17. If God is good and righteous, how do we know whether we have any of that righteousness in us? The Bible is clear in Romans 3:11-12 that nobody is righteous by himself, nobody does good, and apart from God seeking out for us, we are lost and unrighteous without Him. That is why the most righteous thing that God has already done for us was through the sacrifice on the cross that Jesus paid on behalf of our sins.
3. Shoes of the Gospel
To be effective soldiers of God, we must be able to move around and spread His word. In Matthew 28:16-20, Jesus called on His disciples, as well as calling on all of His future followers (that would be us today) to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” If you are not actively reaching out others with God’s word and promise of salvation from sins through Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, then you need to be careful to make sure that you are not a lukewarm Christian. Those who claim to follow Jesus while being lukewarm and complacent in their faith will be spit out from God’s mouth (Revelation 3:16).
4. Shield of Faith
To really protect yourself as a Christian and “extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one,” as the Bible says, you must “in all circumstances take up the shield of faith.” Why would faith be represented as a shield in the armor of God? Faith in the Bible in defined in Hebrews 11, where “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We know that since Satan is the father of lies, and those who do not believe in God can challenge your faith in Jesus. By having faith in God and His promises, this will act as a shield to protect us from doubt and the lies thrown at us from the world. Without solid faith in God and His promises, we will fail like Simon Peter (a disciple of Jesus), when he walked across stormy waters and sunk because of His lack of faith (Mathew 14:22-33).
5. Helmet of Salvation
The helmet of salvation is a very crucial piece of spiritual armor, as it involves protecting our head from the lies and doubts about our salvation in Jesus that can be planted in our minds. Salvation is not something we acquire on our own, but rather it is a precious gift that we never deserved, one that God freely gave through His Son Jesus. Looking back at Simon Peter, even though he lacked faith in Jesus many times throughout the Bible (even denying Jesus three times, Luke 22:54-62), God radically changed him to proclaim in Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” At Jesus’ second coming to earth, multitudes will cry out shouting, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Revelation 7:10.
6. Sword of the Spirit
Looking back to our main passage from Ephesians 4, you need to take with you “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The sword of the Spirit is the key weapon in our spiritual arsenal that God has given us to win the battle against the devil, the world’s influence, and our own sin nature. No Bible passage describes it more clearly than in Hebrews 4:12-13, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
Putting on the whole armor of God in practice: the focus of the next article
Thus far, we have examined the meaning and importance of each of the six pieces that together make up the whole armor of God. In the next article, you will learn how to practically put on yourself each of the six pieces of the whole armor of God, in order to protect yourself against the daily pressures and spiritual attacks from the evil forces around you. If these words have encouraged you so far, please be sure to share them with your friends, family, neighbors, and even people you may not know, to equip them for the invisible, spiritual warfare that we face on a daily basis.