The Whole Armour of God

In Matthew 24, Jesus said, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumour of wars…for nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom…” (vs. 6-7). As it were, war has indeed plagued the human race from the cradle of civilization to the present time, and while peace activists are clamouring for diplomatic ways to settle disputes, war will never cease until Jesus returns and establishes the Kingdom of God.

As preparation is necessary in physical warfare, even so it is necessary to prepare for spiritual warfare. Scripture states, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world…” (Eph. 6:12). It is important to note that, “though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)…” (11 Cor. 10:3-4).

In our preparation for spiritual warfare, it is imperative that we give attention to the following scriptural exhortations.

Considerations

In discussing the cost of discipleship, Jesus said: “Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?” (Lk. 14:31). The insinuation here is that we should evaluate our spiritual military capability before engaging in combat with the Adversary. There are three basic principles to consider in this passage. We are to:

– Know about war.
– Appraise our own strength and ability.
– Know the enemy – his strength and capability.

Without knowing these principles, it is doubtful whether we will arm ourselves sufficiently for spiritual warfare.

In understanding the importance of having the right armour when fighting the enemy, David rejected King Saul’s armour because he did not “prove it.” (I Sam. 17:38-40). Likewise, we cannot arm ourselves with the wrong armour. Spiritual warfare is fought with spiritual weapons, which only God provides. The Apostle Paul made this clear when he wrote, “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.” (Eph. 6:10). The armour is not of man, but of God!

Paul used the word “finally” to imply that the armour of God is to be worn by those who understand and follow what was said in the preceding chapters in the book of Ephesians. First, the armour is for those who:

– Accept Christ’s position and provision for salvation. (Eph. 1).
– Understand their position in Christ. (Eph. 2-3).
– Implement the prerequisites of walking with Christ. (Eph. 4-6:1-9).

Secondly, the armour of God is not for weaklings, but for those who are “strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.” Before one arms himself for spiritual warfare, he must be endued with God’s inherent power and strength to overcome resistance. The armour of God does not give us strength but protection! Our strength comes from the Lord. David said, “For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle…” (Ps. 18:39).

Thirdly, if we are to survive the relentless onslaught of the enemy, then arming ourselves for spiritual warfare is not a choice, but an urgent requirement!

Fourthly, we are to be fully armed in order to stand against the wiles of the Devil. In this context, “to stand” does not mean to advance against Satan, but to stand firm; to be of a steadfast mind. We are to stand firm “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” In other words, we are expected to protect the territories that Christ and His church have already conquered.

Preparation

The garments and weapons that Paul described for spiritual combat are analogous to the armour of a Roman soldier. He said, “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…” (Eph. 6:14-17). Note that there is no armour for the back! The reason for this is that a Christian soldier is not expected to retreat. (Luke 9:62; cf. Heb. 10:38-39).

Before a Roman soldier puts on his armour, he wears a belt or girdle around his waist to hold his garment together, and to provide a place to hang his weapon. The loin or the hip is the place where the Hebrews thought the generative or procreative power resides. It is considered the most powerful part of both human and beast. When Paul said, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth”, he meant that the child of God should equip and fortify the most powerful and procreative part of his being – the mind – with truth! (I Pet. 1:13)

The girdle of truth is both subjective and objective armour. It holds the rest of the armour of God together and provides support and security for the sword of the Spirit. Objective truth refers to the doctrines and teachings which only intellectualize the believer. On the other hand, subjective truth enhances lifestyle, Christian integrity and faithfulness. It is subjective truth that Paul wrote about in Ephesians 6:1-9 – truth that transforms by the renewing of the mind. (Romans 12:1-2). Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32). Truth frees us from sin, doctrinal misconceptions, and the spirit of the age. Without the girdle of truth, the rest of the armour becomes an impediment to free movement and successful warfare!

The breastplate protects the vital organs such as the heart and lungs, as well as the upper arms and a part of the back. These organs are essential to life and good health, and if not properly protected, injury and death are inevitable. In illustrating the importance of the heart the Lord said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man…” (Matt. 15:18-20a). After the heart is cleansed by asking for forgiveness, it is necessary to protect it from the pestiferous intrusion of the enemy. (Psalm 51:10-11, 17, & Rom. 10:10)

It is noteworthy that the breastplate of righteousness is not ours, but God’s. It is Christ’s instantaneous justification and progressive sanctification which makes us righteous. (Rom. 3:19-25, 1 Cor. 1:30-31). The baptism of the Holy Ghost followed by a life of continuous obedience to God’s Word will guard our hearts from the “fiery darts” of sin, worldliness and religious contamination. (see Romans 6:12-22).

Paul continued by saying that our feet should be “shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace…” (vs. 15). Not only to go out and spread the good news of salvation, but to stand sure-footedly on the Word of God and to be prepared to meet the attacks of Satan. The word rendered preparation indicated a readiness to walk in the gospel of peace. The Christian footwear was intended to generate a peaceful confidence similar to that experienced by a Roman soldier. It was first of all designed to take him through obstructions and thorny pathways without impeding his progress, but also to enable him to stand firm so he does not slip back while fighting the enemy.

The fourth piece of armour is the shield, which was oblong or door-like in shape, designed to protect the entire person. The Roman shield was made of wood, then overlaid with linen and leather. It was a piece of defensive armour intended to parry off blows and arrows and put out all the “fiery darts” hurled against it.

Paul said, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” (v. 16). “Above all” does not mean above all in the sense of importance or value, but overall, as a soldier holds his shield and turns it in every direction to defend himself.

The shield of faith is not intended for spectacular miracles, signs and wonders. Rather, it is the faith which gives conviction, assurance and confidence. Faith is the firm conviction that the word of God is a sure foundation for Christian lifestyle. This is the true faith which will keep us protected from the onslaught of the wicked one.

In a world of secular humanism, political correctness and religious ecumenism, it is easy for Satan to use these as fiery darts to weaken our confidence in the ministry as well as mimic sound biblical teaching. “Fiery darts of the wicked” can also refer to many other temptations from the Adversary that are intended to deceive and destroy the child of God. The “shield of faith” will ward off these fiery darts of Satan and assist us in overcoming the world, the flesh and the Devil.

The fifth part of the Roman armour mentioned here is the helmet, which was a cap made of thick leather or brass, fitted to the head, and usually crowned with a plume or crest. Its use was to guard the head from being struck by a sword, a war club, or a battleaxe.

The “helmet of salvation” protects the mind from the fiery darts of evil thoughts that can distort our perception of spiritual things. Jesus admonished the disciples to, “Take heed what you hear…” (Mk. 4:24).

Satan not only affects our hearing but our spiritual eyes as well. In speaking of the Devil, Paul said, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Cor. 4:4). Therefore we should “gird up the loins” of our minds and “be sober, and hope to the end…” (1 Pet. 1:13).

Again in Romans 12:2, we are exhorted not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are to allow our minds to feed only on that which is true, honest, just and pure, as described in Philippians 4:8-9.

The helmet of salvation is not meant to give us salvation, but to protect that which we have already received from God through Christ.

Our ultimate goal is to achieve the Father’s name (nature) “written in” our foreheads. We are to be capable of thinking and making judgment like God the Father. (Rev. 14:3).

Finally, the last part of the armour is the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Failure to comprehend the Word of God and implement it in our daily lives will impede the work of the Holy Ghost in assisting us against satanic onslaught.

It is an absolute necessity that each of us put on the whole armour of God as a means of defense against relentless attacks from Satan. Being partially armed will result in defeat and destruction at the hands of the enemy. On the flip side, putting on the whole armour of God assures us that God will fight for us and that victory is certain.

Paul’s description of the word of God as the “sword of the Spirit” would imply a necessary bonding between the Word and the Holy Ghost. It takes a definite influence of the Spirit of God to illuminate the word of God to the mind of the believer. This will affect a correct understanding of doctrine as well as give guidance for Christian living. The Psalmist declared, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” (Ps. 119:105).

The armour of God is intended to protect us from the influence of the Devil so that we do not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of the scornful. (Ps. 1:1).

The Battle

Now that we have a better understanding of all that entails the armour of God, we must face the reality of the actual battle. It is quite possible that one may be fully clad with a complete suite of armour, and yet not be capable of effectively doing battle. To be victorious in our spiritual warfare, we must first of all put on the whole armour of God, then be able to identify the enemy and lastly, have the ability to war. David said, “He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken in mine arms.” (Ps. 18:34).

The enemy we war against is very powerful and subtle. He will do everything within his power to defeat us. One of his greatest schemes is to disguise himself, and by doing so influences the child of God to wage war against the wrong element. This was a good enough reason for Paul to introduce this subject of warfare by telling the Ephesians, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world…” (Eph. 6:12). Our battle is not carnal or natural, but spiritual. Therefore, “though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal…” (1 Cor. 10:3-4).

The battle cannot be fought mechanically even if we do our best to follow the correct procedures and methods. Let us always remember that it is “not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord.” (Zech 3:6). The Christian soldier must rely heavily on God and not on mere human strength or wisdom. Pretence and hypocrisy must be eliminated while prayer and dedication are pursued desperately.

We should not ignore the fact that it is the anointing that will destroy the yoke – not intelligence or emotional gimmicks. Our weapons cannot be carnal and our methods must not be fleshly. Let us cease from being charlatans for in itself this is the workings of the Devil.

Let us consider the closing remarks of the Apostle Paul as he concluded this lesson to the Ephesians and may God give us understanding.

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.” (Eph. 6:18-19).