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  • Lindsay Esterline

Putting On The Whole Armor Of God

Ephesians 6 - Armor Of God

How do we put on the armor of God? What armor has he provided, and why do we need it?

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. [The reality of a spiritual battle and the need for protection. Who better to provide that protection than the Lord?]

“Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground [withstand], and after you have done everything [all things]*, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 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 6:10-18)

Suit up daily through prayer and earnest study. That seems like the easy answer. But, can we get more specific, or practical?

The word "stand" is translated from the Greek “istēmi”, and in this context it means "to continue, endure, or persist." God knew that we would need his help enduring the attacks of the devil.

God has given us everything we need in order to stand. *The “everything” is putting on the armor provided.

The Belt of Truth

“with the belt of truth buckled around your waist”

A belt is a connection, it gathers up, encloses, holds in connection, and secures. It is also utilitarian in that you can attach and carry other tools easily. So it is interesting that the first item mentioned is a belt, and that belt represents truth.

Some translations say to “gird your loins” - in biblical times men wore long garments that would get in the way of work or fighting, so they would have to prepare by tucking the extra cloth away into the belt.

Paul is asking us to prepare for a fight “against the spiritual forces of evil” by gathering up the truth.

Truth is the opposite of lies. The Bible says that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). It also says that Satan is the “father of lies” (John 8:44). Paul is telling us we need to pick a side; we need to know who God is. Earthly wisdom tells us to “know your enemy”, but that won’t do us any good here since “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). We have to know the God who has the power we need in order to defeat this enemy.

The truth of who God is - his character - is the foundation to understanding all the other pieces of ‘armor’.

How do you find truth?

  • Pray for guidance (James 1:5; Jeremiah 33:3)

  • Study the Bible (John 17:17; Psalms 119:11) as a whole, no cherry picking

  • Trust God (Proverbs 3:5-6)

The Breastplate of Righteousness

“with the breastplate of righteousness in place”

The breastplate’s job is to protect the heart (and other vital organs) in battle. The dictionary defines righteousness as “the quality of being morally right or justifiable.” It is often defined as “right doing” in Christian circles.

God is defined as righteous in John 17:25, “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.” (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 71:19; Isaiah 51:8)

But how do we put on this righteousness? The only way is Jesus!

“I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith” (Philippians 3:9 NLT; see also Genesis 15:6).

Our relationship with God through faith in the Gospel and Christ is “counted” to us as righteousness. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul says, “In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God” (MSG).

We are justified when we accept the gift of salvation through faith. Then the work of sanctification begins:

If you love me, keep my commands.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the 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.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

“Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them” (John 14:15-21).

By knowing what is right, and who we are serving when we do what is right, we are protecting our hearts from the lies and falsehoods of the enemy.

How to put on the Breastplate of Righteousness:

  • Ask for the Holy Spirit to guide you

  • Study the Bible to know what “right doing” is (Romans 6:1-2)

  • Claim the salvation that is given to you through Christ (Romans 10:9-10)

  • Find a trusted mentor or accountability partner

Shoes of the Gospel of Peace

“and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”

“In modern as well as ancient cultures, shoes have served not only a practical function but also an aesthetic one. However, when employed in Biblical ritual, shoes have an almost exclusively symbolic purpose. For example, they can represent one’s preparation for a task (see Exodus 12:11; Ephesians 6:15; Matthew 10:10; Mark 6:9). Sometimes they imply the status of the wearer—freedom for the shod (see Luke 15:22) and enslavement or poverty for the barefoot individual (see 2 Chronicles 28:15; Isaiah 20:2). In contrast, going barefoot is occasionally utilized as a sign of mourning (see 2 Samuel 15:30; Ezekiel 24:17, 23). Finally, perhaps the most commonly associated meanings have to do with the removal of shoes when one enters hallowed ground (see Exodus 3:5; Joshua 5:15; Acts 7:33). Thus, we see footwear as more than a convenience and more than an accessory. Shoes, slippers, and sandals are important symbolic articles for ancient and modern Israel—God’s covenant people.”

The word “readiness” in the verse supports the quote “preparation for a task” found above. But the idea that shoes represent freedom and belonging (think Prodigal’s Son - Luke 15:22) is interesting.

We are also called to “Go [on foot being the most common transportation then], therefore…” (Matthew 28:19-20) to spread the good news, so it is striking that the word ‘gospel’ is the source of the “readiness.” Has the Gospel compelled you to be ready to go? When you truly understand the gift of salvation you are fitted with readiness that comes from the gospel.

The Gospel is also the source of peace. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand [Ephesians 6:10], and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1–2).

The Good News of the Gospel brings us peace when we understand that we have been reconciled with God through Jesus Christ! We no longer have to fear judgment (Zephaniah 3:15; Isaiah 33:22). The absence of this fear is peace in God’s love for us (1 John 4:18). We know from the Bible that God, the Father, loves us (John 16:27). He planned the path of salvation before we even needed it (Ephesians 1:4)!

The word “peace” means oneness or wholeness in Greek. John 17:23 says, “I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” The Gospel is meant to lead us into a relationship of complete unity or oneness/wholeness through Jesus. Not only are we no longer afraid, but we can have peace through knowing we are loved and accepted. We no longer have to search for fulfillment because we have found it in our relationship with God.

Your salvation is sure (John 10:27–28). All you have to do is claim it! The best way to stay confident (keep worry at bay) is to look for opportunities to share the Gospel with others.

How do we ready ourselves to share the peace that comes from this Good News?

  • Stay connected to the Gospel through prayer and study

  • Memorize scripture for use when you are tempted to question your salvation (Romans 8:38-39; John 10:29; John 5:24; 1 John 5:12-13)

  • Share the Gospel

The Shield of Faith

“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

A shield is a tool of defense. In order to stand our ground, we must believe that we are protected, or shielded from harm. In Psalm 62:5-7, David says, “I depend on God alone; I put my hope in him. He alone protects and saves me; he is my defender, and I shall never be defeated. My salvation and honor depend on God; he is my strong protector; he is my shelter” (GNT).

I am sure David saw his share of “flaming arrows” in battle! There is some conflicting information about whether or not Romans wet the leather on their shields for the purpose of extinguishing the fire that was hurled at them. Either way, a shield would be a useful way to protect yourself from such an attack. But, David is not just talking about a physical attack from a human enemy. God is our protector. The trials the enemy sends our way are designed to undermine our confidence in him. Faith, then, is believing God is who he says he is, and will do what he says he will do even when we are going through the valley (Psalms 23:1-6).

Hebrew 11:1 defines faith as, “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Do you trust (belt) in a God that you cannot see? Do you have confidence in his shield even when you feel unprotected?

The Bible says that God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), so it can be hard to “count it all joy” when he allows trials (arrows) in our lives (James 1:2-4). But he asks us to “taste and see” (Psalm 34:8), and he offers us the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) during the hard times. All we have to do is learn to lean on him (Proverbs 3:5-6).

How do we grow to trust this shield of faith?

  • Remember faith is based on God’s righteousness, not your circumstance (Romans 1:17)

  • Ask for God’s help (Mark 9:24)

  • Find support in other believers (Proverbs 17:17)

The Helmet of Salvation

“Take the helmet of salvation”

Helmets protect our heads. Spiritual battles are fought in the mind. Satan’s attacks are designed to destroy our confidence in God and his saving power. The Gospel, or good news of salvation, is the ultimate response to these attacks!

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13 NASB). And that is exactly what Jesus did for us! The plan of salvation was set into motion in Genesis (Genesis 3:15). The entire Old Testament was written to point to the coming Messiah (Luke 24:27). The New Testament tells us how Jesus lived, died, and rose again, and the reconciliation that we have because of what he has done.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21 says, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (ESV).

Through faith in Jesus, who proved that God is who he says, we accept the justification and reconciliation that is offered to us (Romans 5:1-19). We are then adopted into the family of God (Ephesians 1:5). We are children of God (Galatians 3:26)!

John 10:28 says, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (NIV). Once you have accepted this gift (justification), the work of sanctification through the Holy Spirit begins. In verse 27 of John 10, we see what that looks like, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.”

When we put on the Helmet of Salvation we are accepting an invitation into God’s family. We are accepting a gift, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8 NIV). We are inviting the Holy Spirit to teach us to know God and trust him (Phililpians 1:6). We are saying that we are willing to have our minds transformed by the love of God and grow in the confidence of his salvation (Philipians 2:5; Ephesians 2:9).

How do we put on the Helmet of Salvation?

  • Contemplate the Cross and what it really means (2 Corinthians 3:18)

  • Study God’s character (1 John 4:16)

  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s will (John 14:26)

Sword of the Spirit

“and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”

A sword is both defensive and offensive. And the verse clearly states that this sword is the “the word of God.” It can be used to defend yourself from attack as Jesus did when tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4). Or it can be used to attack. But that doesn’t sound very “Christian-like” does it? We are not supposed to “beat people over the head with the Bible.” Allow me to explain.

The “word of God” can refer to two things: the scriptures, and Jesus.

The written word (graphē) of God can be used for defense against temptations (Satan’s attacks), or for conviction and instruction in our lives (2 Timothy 3:16).

In Ephesians 6 a different Greek word is used in the phrase “word of God, ”rēma.” This is the spoken word. When we cross reference the entire phrase “the word” we see that it is an audible message (often from God as in “the word of the Lord”).

But then we have verses like John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (NASB).

Or Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (NIV).

The Greek word here is “logos.” Logos is defined as speech, even thoughts, but it is also a clear reference to Jesus. This understanding of the original language leads us to conclude that the sword of the spirit does have two functions - one that we wield (defensively), and another that is left to Jesus to wield (offensively)! Jesus is the one that will be penetrating/dividing and judging (Hebrews 4:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10). The death of Jesus Christ on the cross was a direct attack against the lies the enemy has been spreading!

How do we take up the sword of the Spirit?

  • Study God’s written word (2 Timothy 3:16)

  • Pray for “the word of the Lord” to be spoken into your heart by the Holy Spirit

  • Accept Christ’s offensive use of the sword on your behalf

Paul ends his letter to the Ephesians with this, before his final salutation:

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. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (Ephesians 6:18-20 NIV).

Pray! Pray for the Spirit, in the Spirit. Pray for others. Pray for the right words and the boldness to speak them! Pray for the spreading of the Gospel.

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