The Armor of God


In Ephesians 6:13 we heard Paul remind us and the Ephesian Church to put on the whole armor of God. Why? We need all of it in order to withstand in the evil day, and then, to stand firm. “Stand therefore,” he says as he introduces the specific items included in the armor.

“The order in which the pieces of armour are described is the order in which the soldier would put them on.” [1]

“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, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:14-20 ESV

The Belt of Truth

The first item in the listed equipment is the belt of truth. A friend recently shared the following passage with me. The Psalmist longs to be strengthened by the Lord and for falsehood to be far from him. May this be our longing as well.

Psalm 119:28-32

My soul melts away for sorrow;

strengthen me according to your word!

Put false ways far from me

and graciously teach me your law!

I have chosen the way of faithfulness;

I set your rules before me.

I cling to your testimonies, O Lord;

let me not be put to shame!

I will run in the way of your commandments

when you enlarge my heart! [2]


In recent years I was blessed to study The Armor of God with some women from church. We used the study by Priscilla Shirer (LifeWay Press, 2016). Though I’ve read the description in Scripture countless times, Shirer’s words on the vital importance of the truth were eye opening. Everything depends on it.

“Remember, the enemy’s overarching device is deception…His packaging is so clever that unless we know what’s true – I mean really know it, know it at our core – we easily fall prey to his ploys.” (Shirer, p.43) I’m tired of being deceived! What about you? How do we deal with the fact that the enemy of our souls despises us and the God we serve? Let’s put on the belt of truth.

“The Roman soldier’s belt or girdle served several purposes. One was to add support and strength to his core, as we’ve already discussed. But another purpose was equally important: the belt secured several additional pieces of his armor and kept them solidly in place.” (p.52, Shirer)

“So the girdle did three things:

1. Gave support to the core

2. Held and stabilized other key pieces of armor

3. Secured the tunic” (p.52, The Armor of God, Shirer)

The enemy of my soul speaks lies, partial truths, and deceptions. I need God’s truth to be ready for that deceitful attack.

The Breastplate of Righteousness

He put on righteousness as a breastplate,

and a helmet of salvation on his head;

he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,

and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak. [3]

Isaiah 59:17

“To neglect what we know to be righteous action is to leave a gaping hole in our armour. We may compare this use of the word righteousness with that in 5:9 and in Romans 6:13 and 14:17.” (Foulkes) [4]

Shirer mentions (p.54) that a Roman soldier’s “full service marching armor” weighed around 66 pounds, including his food rations). The belt helped carry some of the weight. Imagine trying to carry that much equipment. Imagine trying to carry your own righteousness! “But with God’s truth strapped around your body you’re relieved of that pressure. God’s Word – truth – reveals that righteousness has been given to you through faith in Christ as a free gift, freeing you from living with the weight of all that sin on your shoulders.” (p.54, Shirer)

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” [5] Romans 6:12-14 ESV

The righteousness of Christ has been credited to us! It sounds impossible, but Scripture makes this clear (Colossians 1:21-23). Our desire, as believers, is to live for our holy Lord! It is His righteousness I cling to. His Spirit enables me to live for Him.

Shoes, Readiness Given by the Gospel of Peace

Have you ever headed out and wondered if you wore the right shoes. Strappy sandals may be great at the beach but won’t be as fabulous when working in the kitchen where spills are happening. I love wearing gardening boots outside, but they do not present the professionalism expected in the classroom. Footwear matters.

Psalm 119:165ESV

165 Great peace have those who love your law;

nothing can make them stumble.

166 I hope for your salvation, O Lord,

and I do your commandments.

167 My soul keeps your testimonies;

I love them exceedingly.” [6]

“Instead of slipping and sliding on slick terrain, causing their feet to be swept out from under them during intense struggle, the caliga offered firm footing” (Shirer, p.101). “Soldiers, by definition, operate as a unit” (Shirer, p.102). Throughout Ephesians, Paul has reminded the believers that we are one.

Foulkes shares that the word translated as “equipment” in Ephesians 6:15 can have two distinct meanings. One option is preparedness. “Part of their necessary equipment, therefore, is the readiness at any moment to take out the good news of peace to others. It has been argued that the apostle’s thought has moved from Isaiah 59 to Isaiah 52:7, which was in his mind in 2:17”[7] “Another meaning of the Greek noun hetoimasia, however, is ‘preparation’ in the sense of a ‘prepared foundation’, and thus it appears to be used in the Greek of Psalm 89:14 (88:15 in lxx). This would give the meaning here that the knowledge of the dependence on the gospel that gives a person peace in heart and life is a necessary equipment (like the hobnailed sandals of the Roman soldier) if he is to have a firm foothold in the conflict.”[8]

I’m so glad that God, who calls us to stand firm in battle, did not leave us barefoot!


Shield of Faith


The enemy sends fiery darts or arrows. I have been told that a shield could be covered in leather and saturated in water. When flaming arrows hit, they would be extinguished.



Helmet of Salvation


“The soul’s deliverance is not a matter of uncertainty to the end. In Isaiah 59:17 the divine warrior wears ‘the helmet of salvation’ as the worker and bringer of salvation.”[9] (Foulkes)

Looking at flowers outside yesterday, I saw a hummingbird. Rather than getting up to grab a camera (which is my default when I see something interesting), I chose to just take the moment in. The tail of the small bird moved up and down as the wings buzzed. Soon I was crying. God created this intricate creature and in that moment He allowed me to see it. How many times do I miss something majestic? Why would the Creator of galaxies and hummingbirds care to know me? How can He love me? I am a sinner. I am so fallen but He has chosen salvation as a helmet for me.


“My soul longs for your salvation;

I hope in your word.” [10] Psalm 119:81


Sword of the Spirit (the Word of God)


“The Lord’s use of the word of Scripture in his temptations (Matt. 4:1–10) is sufficient illustration and incentive for Christians to fortify themselves with the knowledge and understanding of the word that they may with similar conviction and power defend themselves by it in the onslaughts of the enemy.”[11] (Foulkes)


As a child I knew that Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. Whenever I read it, I am reminded at how we are to love the God’s Word. We love Him, the giver of the word.


Prayer


“Like the early apostles (Acts 4:29) his prayer was not for success, nor for deliverance from danger or suffering, but for boldness in proclaiming the gospel of God that was entrusted to him.” [12] May we pray and live with bold, obedient faith.

Be Strong, Stand Firm

We are told to put on the armor of God, piece by piece. Paul then points out the reality the chains that have been put on him and his position of being an ambassador. For this mysterious gospel Paul has and will speak. What about you and me? Will we choose truth when it hurts? Will we take our assignment from our King seriously; ready to obey whatever the cost? We have brothers and sisters around the planet right now who are choosing Christ day after day. Though they, like Paul was, are in chains, they choose Him. Though it doesn’t often make the news, our Family is suffering for their faith. We are to remember them, as if we were in chains beside them. Let’s pray that they will remain strong, standing firm in the faith.

“I have set the Lord always before me;

because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. [13] Psalm 16:8

A Prayer

Lord Jesus,

Please cause truth to be beautiful to me because it is to you. Please cause me to be active, obedient, and ready to do your will. Truth cuases me to be ready for battle. Please work in me. May my walk and talk speak Your truth. Cause me to love you with all that I am. Thank you for Your armor. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions to Ponder


How have you seen God’s Word at work in your life?


What equipment do you desire most right now? Why?

Works Cited

[1] Foulkes, F. (1989). Ephesians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 10, pp. 179–180). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. [2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 119:28–32). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles. [3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Is 59:17). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles. [4] Foulkes, F. (1989). Ephesians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 10, p. 180). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. [5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 6:12–14). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles. [6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 119:165–167). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles. [7] Foulkes, F. (1989). Ephesians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 10, p. 180). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. [8] Foulkes, F. (1989). Ephesians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 10, p. 180). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. [9] Foulkes, F. (1989). Ephesians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 10, p. 181). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. [10] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 119:81). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles. [11] Foulkes, F. (1989). Ephesians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 10, p. 182). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. [12] Foulkes, F. (1989). Ephesians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 10, p. 184). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. [13] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 16:8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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