The full armor of God

The Armor of God: How to Gear Up for Spiritual Warfare

When we become a child of God, we not only inherit God’s blessings but God’s enemies as well. The Lord’s foremost enemy is Satan, whose purpose is to destroy his work (John 8:44), but Jesus came in order to “destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8).

Satan is a fallen angel (Isaiah 14:12– 15) and as such, is only a created being. He is in no way equal to God, the Creator. While Satan is superior in intellect and strength to mankind, he is inferior to God in every way. Believers have the power of the indwelling resurrected Christ over them and protecting them (1 John 4:4).

Through Christ and his Holy Spirit, believers have been given the whole armor of God “take [their] stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11). Each piece of the armor is to be “put on” to help believers overcome the temptations and attacks of the evil one.

Seven Parts of the Full Armor of God

1. The Belt of Truth Buckled Around Your Waist (Ephesians 6:14)

One of Satan’s most effective weapons is the lie. As he did in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-12), Satan uses all kinds of influences to convince us that we’re “less than,” that we’re unworthy of God’s or other people’s love; or, conversely, that we can make it through this life and into the next on our own, and that we don’t need help from the Savior who longs to draw us to himself. When we listen to these lies, we become convinced that God is not a loving God—which stands in direct contrast to the teaching of Scripture: John 3:16; Romans 8:39; Ephesians 2:4; 1 John 3:1; 4:8.

The waist or abdomen area was generally thought to be the seat of emotions. To gird this area with truth is to commit your emotions to believe the truth. Often a person knowingly allows themselves to believe a lie because of fear or self-pity. Believers must hold a commitment to truth regardless of the repercussions (John 8:32,36).

The picture of God’s armor is of a Roman soldier’s tunic, pulled up and tucked into his belt, so that he could fight or work unhindered. Living a life of honesty and integrity enables the Christian to be one in purpose with Jesus Christ, who is the Truth, and to be unhindered in the battle against Satan, who is a deceiver and liar.

Apply It:

  • Be aware of how social media and other influences are making you feel. Are you looking at what others are posting and it’s making you feel “less than”? Or are you using posts to bolster the way you feel about yourself? Understanding who you are in God’s eyes—his beloved child, for whom he sent his Son to die—can help you understand the lies resident in what social and other media is telling you about yourself.
  • Pray to God using Scriptures that help you understand who God is and what his power means for your life: Psalm 46:2-4,9-12; 63:1-8; 71:17-22; Isaiah 45:5-6.
  • Hold on to these truths when your feelings are overwhelmed with the noise of this world.

2. The Breastplate of Righteousness in Place (Ephesians 6:14)

The breast holds the heart, which is generally thought of as the place of the soul. The heart must be kept pure and righteous because sin in the heart gives a foothold to the enemy. Confession and forgiveness on the basis of the blood of Christ cleanses the heart (1 John 1:9).

The breastplate covered the body from neck to thigh and was usually made of bronze. Believers do not need to seek protection or right standing with God through works of their own; they can confidently stand in what Christ has done in their behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Apply It:

  • When we think of protecting our hearts, Jeremiah 17:9 comes to mind. That verse says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” As such, the heart needs to be wrapped in a righteousness that goes well beyond what our human efforts can possibly produce. When we understand that giving our hearts to Jesus allows us to claim his righteousness as our own, we can begin to live under the protection that this breastplate offers: Romans 5:19; 10:4; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
  • Job 11:13-19 tells us about the real, tangible benefits that this surrender produces:

“Yet if you devote your heart to him
and stretch out your hands to him,
if you put away the sin that is in your hand
and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,
then, free of fault, you will lift up your face;
you will stand firm and without fear.
You will surely forget your trouble,
recalling it only as waters gone by.
Life will be brighter than noonday,
and darkness will become like morning.
You will be secure, because there is hope;
you will look about you and take your rest in safety.
You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid,
and many will court your favor.”

3. Your Feet Fitted with the Readiness that Comes from the Gospel of Peace (Ephesians 6:15)

Proper shoes enable the feet to go from place to place. The believer is to be about their Father’s business, which is to spread the gospel of peace and reconciliation. An undaunted sense of this mission keeps the believer headed in the right direction (Matthew 28:19– 20).

The soldier wore sandals with cleats made of sharp nails designed to give firm footing on even the most rugged terrain. “Readiness” may have the sense of preparation to share the gospel with others at a moment’s notice. “Readiness” may also refer to a prepared foundation that consists of the gospel of peace with God (Ephesians 2:17).

Apply It:

  • As Christians, we want to build our lives on the firm foundation of Jesus. The Bible is the source of that foundation—our guidebook for understanding who God is and how he supports us, for this life and the next: “God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his’” (2 Timothy 2:19).
  • We don’t want to be like one who builds a house on the shifting sands of culture and fad and philosophies that stand against God: “He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure” (Isaiah 33:6).
  • As you start your day each day, visualize your feet standing on the firm foundation of God’s Word. Pray for the Holy Spirit to be the one who helps you stand firm, no matter what your circumstances. And pray that he will also help you as you guide your family to stand firm on that same solid foundation: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2).

4. The Shield of Faith (Ephesians 6:16)

The wicked one is “the accuser of our brothers and sisters” (Revelation 12:10) and will send his fiery darts to instill doubt, fear, and guilt in each of our lives. Faith acts as an invisible shield that deflects such false accusations (Hebrews 11:6) and helps us understand who we truly are in God’s eyes.

The long, oblong or oval shield was crafted from two layers of wood covered with linen or animal hides, bound together with iron. When fighting side by side, soldiers could hold these shields together to form a long wall. Soaked in water, they served as adequate defense against the enemy’s “flaming arrows”— arrows that had been dipped in pitch and ignited.

The shield of faith offers God’s unlimited resources of power and wisdom (Ephesians 3:16–21) to resist the flaming arrows of distressing circumstances and temptation to evil (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Apply It:

  • Ask that God literally increase your faith (Mark 9:24).
  • If you’re feeling like the darts of the evil one are finding their mark, understand that finding others to link arms with can be a great encouragement. Talk to your believing friends, or find a qualified Christian counselor to talk to about how to take up this shield and guard your life from the lies and accusations of Satan. And ask for the prayers of others so that your shields are joined together. Supportive Christian community can become a powerful defense in the face of spiritual attack.
  • Realize that, even though you’re called to take up this shield yourself, the shield is given to you by God, and you hold it through the power he provides: “The Lord is my strength and my shield;my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one” (Psalm 28:7-8, emphasis added).

5. The Helmet of Salvation (Ephesians 6:17)

A helmet protects the head, that is, the brain and thoughts. Assurance of salvation is a mighty defense against doubt and insecurity and the kinds of works bred by them (1 John 5:11– 13).

The soldier’s bronze helmet had leather attachments to hold it in place. Christians can experience protection from Satan’s attacks as they rest confidently in their position as members of God’s family (John 1:12– 13), set apart for his purposes (2 Thessalonians 2:13). Further, they can know God’s present work or sanctification in their lives, experiencing deliverance from sin (Galatians 5:16; Philippians 2:12– 13) and having the guarantee of future, eternal deliverance from every kind of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:8).

Apply It:

  • The mind is the place where spiritual battle takes place. Having the helmet of salvation securely fastened to protect our mind allows us to gain a perspective on our circumstances. When our salvation in Jesus is foremost in our minds, we are able to set our minds on God’s priorities, not our own (Colossians 3:2).
  • Are you struggling to find God’s path forward in your life? Have your financial or family or emotional circumstances derailed you from what you believed was God’s plan for you? If so, Romans 12:2 offers guidance in this area: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
  • Understand that the helmet of salvation, rightly secured, connects our minds—our wills, emotions, and actions—to the path that God wants us to take. Consider this Scripture:

“Above all else, guard your heart [or your mind],
for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.”
Proverbs 4:23-27 (brackets added).

6. The Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17)

The Word of God, the only offensive weapon in this armor, was used by the Lord Jesus against Satan (Luke 4:1– 13). The living Word is powerful, effective, and instructive (Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16– 17).

The short, two- edged sword enabled the heavily-armed soldier to attack deftly and defeat his enemy at close range. The believer’s sword may be understood to be either supplied by the Spirit or used by the Spirit. Paul further identified this sword as “the word of God” (see Hebrews 4:12). “Word” (Gk. rhema) most probably refers to specific sections of Scripture the Holy Spirit brings to mind to meet a particular need. Jesus’ use of specific sections of Deuteronomy in his encounter with Satan in the wilderness exemplified this (Matthew 4:4,7,10).

Apply It:

  • Using a weapon requires that we understand its potential. That can only be done in this case by reading the Word of God regularly.
  • The Spirit equips us with this sword, and it is his joy and responsibility to help us understand how to use it: “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). Pray that the Spirit will give you the instruction you need to use this sword when you need it.
  • The Spirit will empower us as we take up this sword. As Jesus told his disciples, “Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11).

7. Pray in the Spirit on All Occasions (Ephesians 6:18)

Prayer opens the channels between us and God. In the midst of battle, we as believers must keep in constant communication with our Leader for directions and encouragement. Our prayers for one another are important and effectual (James 5:16).

Prayer is not listed as a separate weapon of warfare but is rather given an all-encompassing status. Prayer is to be constant (1 Thessalonians 5:17) as the Christian prepares for battle, engages in it, and rests from it. All kinds of prayers are to be offered through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Apply It:

  • Make prayer your first response rather than your last resort.
  • Learn how to focus as you come to God in prayer by following Jesus’ specific instructions: “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).
  • Bathe your life and your family in prayer before you do anything else: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
  • Pray with confidence that God hears you—“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” (Ephesians 3:12)—and that he cares for you: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

As we’ve observed in this post, the spiritual realm is very real.  While they may be invisible to us, we as Christians understand that there are powers at work trying to influence our hearts and minds every single day. This is exactly why Paul gave us these instructions for protecting ourselves with God’s armor. Through his Word and Spirit, God gives Christians the resources to fight and empowers us to follow his way.

Pray that God will clearly guide and transform your thoughts and desires as you seek to walk closely with him.

Adapted from the NIV Woman’s Study Bible.

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