The armor of God is God’s preparation list. It was never intended to be the religious prayer children are taught to pray each morning to equip them for their day amidst the evils of the world. The Bible says…
“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. 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.”
Each of the items illustrated by armor are spiritual attributes that need to be developed in the Christian’s life. When they are, they are very effective for protection from the enemy as well as overcoming them offensively. Remember Jesus said of the church, “The gates of hell will not overcome it.” Gates are defensive, indicating the church is to be offensive when it comes to hell and those headed there.
- Stand firm;
This may not seem like part of the armor, but it is important. “After you have done everything, to stand.” There should be a confidence that comes after everything is in place. Confidence is very important when fighting our enemy; they recognize it, they fear it, they want to take it from you. It is also encouraging to weaker brothers and sisters around you when you walk in it. There is a big, yet subtle, difference between confidence and arrogance. It is fully appropriate to be confident in the promises of our God, that we are who He says and can do what He has equipped us to do. Confidence builds more confidence.
- The belt of truth;
Truth holds everything else in place. Just as the belt of a Roman soldier was central to holding all other things in place, truth must be our foundation for all. The enemy is the master of lies. They can see through them, and exploit them. I have often used the truth of my personal weakness in warfare in conjunction with my complete and unwavering faith in my sovereign Lord. They will try to weaken you by challenging your strength. The truth is, we have no strength to fight the enemy apart from that given to us by The Truth Himself.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life”. Having Jesus as your “belt”, at the center of your being, holding all other things in place, is truly the only way to be equipped for battling our enemy.
- The breastplate of righteousness;
Being righteous is an act of our freewill; the decisions we make will either bring about righteousness or sin. Sin makes us vulnerable to personal enemy attacks. Every disagreement with God is sin. Sin, is agreement with the enemy. When we agree with the enemy, we give him permission to attack us. The Bible says, “you are slaves of the one you obey”.
Thanks be to God, Jesus has provided a way for us to be righteous beyond what our choices deserve. Be quick to take your sin to the cross for forgiveness so the enemy has little chance to take advantage. As long as we believe in Jesus we are righteous in God’s sight, justified by the work of Jesus. However, the enemy also has rights. While he cannot take away our good standing with our Father in heaven, he does have a right to attack us when we give him permission through sin.
Biblically it is in our hearts that decisions are made. There is no mention of our head or brain in Scripture regarding use of our freewill. Therefore, the illustration of a “breastplate”, that which protects the heart, is extremely appropriate to describe making right choices to keep your mind and heart protected from enemy attack.
- The Gospel of Peace;
As mentioned earlier, the gates of hell will not overcome the advances of the church. Hell is devastated when we free a child of God from behind the gates of their hellish destination by carrying the gospel to those who need it. The Bible says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
How appropriate that the armor of God includes the “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”? This is the first weapon listed in the armor of God. Know the gospel message well and be prepared to share it. This not only devastates the enemy, but causes all of heaven to celebrate. Keep in mind the gospel of peace is peace with God for fallen man; not peace with the world or the enemy. We, the army of God, are not called to be pacifists but warriors.
- The shield of faith;
“Without faith it is impossible to please God.” The object of our faith must be right for it to shield us. To have faith in ourselves or our abilities will leave us unprotected. To have faith in our leaders will leave us exposed. To have faith in a false god, government, religion, intelligence, science, strength, cunning, wealth, popularity, or anything other than the one true God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ will leave us unshielded.
Faith, confidence, trust in HIM… is a shield. It is essential to know Him. Jesus came to reveal the Father to us. We must spend time getting to know the object of our faith. The Old Testament reveals much of how He interacts. Jesus reveals much of who He is. The New Testament reveals what our response should be to Him. Get to know Him well and you will have faith in Him. THAT faith, will protect you from the flaming arrows of the enemy.
- The helmet of salvation;
The helmet of salvation has nothing to do with protecting our minds or thoughts; it speaks of having a covering. When we enter a relationship with God through salvation, we become family. Clearly, God is the head of the family. The head of the family is its covering. There is a protection and blessings that come down from the covering.
This protection is not a guarantee that no harm will ever come to our physical beings, on the contrary, we are promised trouble in this life. Our covering assures us of things beyond this physical world that make these sufferings comparatively insignificant. Paul spoke about these things extensively throughout his writings in the New Testament.
I believe the helmet of salvation addresses what has been discussed earlier in this writing. Develop a heavenly perspective, understanding there are much more important eternal things at stake than the immediate and temporal. Sacrificing the temporal to gain the eternal is not a real sacrifice at all.
- The sword of the Spirit;
As we are told, the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Without doubt the Scriptures are very effective against the enemy bringing challenge and attack. We see this modelled by Jesus during His encounter with Satan in the desert. We would all do well to know His Word well enough to counter the direct challenges as Jesus did. However, in addition to this there is more to the picture painted here regarding the Word of God being the “sword” of the Spirit. There is an offensive, or weaponized, implication given. This makes more sense when we look at it in the original Greek language.
There are two distinct Greek words that are each translated into English using the word, “word”. Logos means the written word, such as the Scriptures, our Bible. Rhema, however, means the spoken word. Both are used throughout the New Testament, and even though there is a significant difference in meaning, both are simply translated as “word”. In the case of the sword of the Spirit, it is in fact the spoken word of God, rhema, that is used.
With this understanding we should expect the Holy Spirit to SPEAK to us instructions regarding attacking the enemy. I can testify He does this as I experience this often during deliverance ministry. When time allows, look for Him to confirm His spoken word. A more literal translation of 2Cor 13:1 would read, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word (rhema) will be established.
- Pray in the Spirit;
Finally, pray. While this is last on the list, it should be the first thing we practice. No success in any form will come apart from our God, especially in the times to soon come. We are to be thankful to Him always, in all things; petitioning Him to alter things; seeking protection and blessings, healings and provisions; possibly more than anything we could say, listening to what He wants us to hear.
In addition to all of this, pray, as it says, in the Spirit. Those gifted with speaking in other tongues should be using this gift in conjunction with all other prayers. Again, the Lord has taught me and shown me how speaking in tongues has practical application in healing and deliverance. We must get over any insecurities we may have and put into action the very things He has already given to us. If no one in your group already has this gift, ask Him for it. He will not withhold what He has instructed us to put to work.