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THE Armor of God
God has provided us with a complete set of necessary armor for protection and victory in Christ against the onslaught of the devil and his demons. The battles may rage strong, but if we put on the armor, and keep it on, we can always enjoy living victoriously over these intrusions of darkness.
- 1Thessalonians 2:13: "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe."
In the sixth chapter of Ephesians we see an analogy between battle armor and the things true of us in Christ. The passage is a record of practical instruction, instruction to think according to what is true in Christ. It shows us that the key to living victoriously is not works - it is faith; it is not law - it is grace. In this record God pleads with us to trust the good news about Jesus Christ and what has been accomplished on our behalf.
There are practical truths presented in this hub for battles on all levels, seen and unseen. It is in and by truth that we experience victory:
- Ephesians 6:10-18: "10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;"
What does this mean for us? How do we apply the words from this passage? Let's take it verse-by-verse and see:
VERSE 10: "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might."
But how do we "be strong in the Lord"?
"Be strong" is a passive verb in the Greek. This means that we are made strong, not that we make ourselves strong. And this boils down to one very significant point-- we trust in "the Lord" and "the power of his might", not in anything or anyone else. But how?
The power that makes us strong is the power of God. This is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. It is the same power that spoke creation into existence. The power of God is manifested in our lives as we trust in Jesus Christ's accomplished work and what it produces. We cannot live victoriously over the invisible forces of darkness by our own strength. We reign in life by accepting those things freely given to us by God through Christ ("They which receive an abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by Jesus Christ"- Romans 5:17).
VERSE 11: "Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil."
"Put on the full armor of God": This is said twice in the passage (here and again in 6:13), to take up the FULL armor of God. The full armor is complete for both offense and defense, and it protects all the potential areas of vulnerability. How often do you suppose Roman soldiers went into battle wearing all the armor except a sword? Or everything except the helmet? All of these things depend on and work with each other to completely equip us.
"That you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil": The fight, the battle, is not between John Doe or our neighbor or our family or the minister. The enemy is the devil and his goal is to prevent people from knowing God's word, the word of truth. The kingdom of darkness' biggest threat is that the body of Christ would know and believe the good news from God concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. The devil's strategy is to work through his “schemes” via the things and systems of the world to prevent the gospel from living in the hearts and lives of God's people. The enemy does not want us to know or believe who we are and what we have in Christ, nor the authority we have in Christ which is over him and his cohorts. But those losers are little more than a facade, little more than little plastic toy army men - we never suffer defeat with God's word in our hearts and on our lips. We know what happened at Calvary and we also know how the story ends... we are not the ones who have something to be afraid of!
Our battles are first and foremost a matter of believing what God says is true of us in Christ vs. believing the lies of the devil. The presence and forces of evil spirits are invisible, and they are always trying to counterfeit God. We cannot live victorious over the devil by way of our own smarts or strength; he will run all over us. We need God's power! The gospel is the power of God (see the hub, "The Genuine Gospel - Recognizing the Counterfeits").
VERSE 12: "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places [in the spiritual realm]."
Verse 12 is a major key for this passage interpreting itself correctly. By clearly identifying that our real battle is a spiritual battle, the illustrations of the armor of God are understood in their correct context as the proper attire for the spiritual battles that surround us. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood (people are not the enemy, the devil and his demons are; we are free to despise the demons and the sins of people, yet still love the sinning people themselves.).
The enemies are describes as:
- “…principalities…of darkness…”
- "…powers…of darkness…”
- “…rulers…of darkness...”
- “…spiritual hosts of wickedness…”
The victory against these things cannot be realized and experienced in our daily living through the use of earthly weapons and strategies; it can only be realized and experienced by spiritual means. In the physical realm it is the introduction of light that dispels darkness. The same is true in the spiritual realm, it is the introduction of spiritual light that dispels spiritual darkness.
VERSE 13: "Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand [resist] in the evil day, and having done all, to stand..."
"Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God": This is handled above in verse 11, and this statement also conveys that the armor is totally and completely supplied by God. This was a particularly important distinction to the people of the first century, as mythology commonly told tales of gods giving armor and/or special weaponry to mortals who had found favor with their god(s). And who have we found favor with? And why?
- Romans 5:2: "By whom [Christ] also we have access by faith into this grace [unmerited divine favor] wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."
You bet we rejoice! Thank you Father for your grace to us in Christ!
“Resist” and “stand”: Again, as in the comment above from verse 11, these words are passive verbs. This passage is still all about the Lord Jesus Christ and what we have as a result of HIS work. However, we do have something to do, it is taking the full armor of God, putting it on and keeping it on. We walk by what? Yes indeed, faith. We walk by faith and we stand by faith. We believe God! "Resisting" and "standing" are effects and descriptions of doing so.
The devil wants us to depend on our own efforts and on our own abilities and on what we can produce by our own strength. God wants us to depend on His efforts and on His ability via the accomplished work of Jesus Christ and all that it produced/produces. God did not have the Apostle Paul write "the gospel is the power of God" just for kicks. He wants us to believe it. He desires that we trust Him. And this isn't so bad, that the creator of the universe and all that in it is, desires that we trust Him so he can cause us to prosper and be in health. Just look at what John wrote, speaking as an Apostle (one who speaks for God):
- 3John 1:2: "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth."
And if prosperity and health were not good enough reasons for someone to pursue trusting God, there's more! As we submit our thinking to what God says is true of us in Christ, we not only stand, we also walk with the same power over the devil that Jesus did during his earthly ministry. Signs, miracles and wonders follow believing the gospel:
- Mark 16:17, 18: "17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 [If] they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
- John 14:12: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father."
"And having done all, to stand": This phrase is making a VERY significant point. Having done all? What all action has been attributed to our doing at this point of the passage? There is only one: "take unto you the whole armor of God". Take it! Put it on! Keep it on! This is "having done all, to stand."
Do you believe on Christ? Did you know that believing on Christ includes believing that you are complete in Christ? Do you believe that your acceptance with God is 100% based upon the accomplished work of Jesus Christ? Do you believe that you are holy and without blame before God in Love - right now and forevermore - regardless of what you do or do not do? Dear saint, Greatly Beloved of God, there is nothing we can add to our completeness and there is nothing we can take away from it, it is a done did reality. And our God causes the victories in our experiences as we simply trust Him when He tells us in His word that Christ and him Crucified is always sufficient payment for our blessings and victories.
VERSE 14: Ephesians 6:14: "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;"
"Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth": Loins represents the commitment center of your mind (A.K.A. the heart), but where do we get "truth"? The word of truth of course. We need to be reading the Bible asking God to reveal His truth to us. Here is just a touch of truth (loin girting material - brain food) already given in the proceeding chapters here in Ephesians.
- Ephesians 1:4 - We are holy and blameless before God in love.
- Ephesians 2:6 - We were raised with Christ and seated with him (ch 1: at the right hand of God, FAR above all earthly and demonic powers, etc., etc., etc.)
It seems that some people chew on these things for ages and never digest it...
- 2Timothy 3:7: "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge [the Greek is "experiential knowledge"] of the truth."
The context of 2Timothy 3:7 is talking about people who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. Do you know what this means? Do you know what "the power thereof" is? If so, than you are probably putting on the correct armor, you are believing the gospel, you are believing "the word of truth", you are believing on Christ, you are believing God. These are synonymous phrases. The gospel is the power of God.
"The breastplate of righteousness" is acceptance of the righteousness from God we've been made to be in Christ, who is our righteousness. The righteousness of God is the right standing with God that we have through our Lord Jesus Christ. In ourselves, we have no righteousness. As Isaiah 64:6 puts it, "But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags".
Even as the breastplate defends the heart, lungs, and the vital organs contained in the region of the thorax; so this righteousness, defends practically everything on which a Christian's life depends.
- Romans 1:16b, 17a: "16b The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation [deliverance and wholeness]... 17a BECAUSE the righteousness of God is revealed in it [the gospel]."
- Romans 8:33: "Who can bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justified us!"
VERSE 15: "And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;"
"Having your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace": This statement implies something deeper than merely reading the Bible, but rather, learning the lessons contained within in a practical way. The word "preparation" means to prepare ourselves or to equip ourselves ("with the gospel of peace"). If we do not know what the gospel of peace is, then we need to spend time learning from the Bible what Christ came to do for us. Did you know that Christ died for us to reconcile us to God? Did you know that God has already seated us in the Heavenly places with Christ, in His right hand, His hand of blessings? Did you know that we are completely completely complete in Christ? Did you know that we are forevermore holy and without blame before God in love, because of our identity with Christ, because of his accomplished sacrificial work for us at Calvary? God desires to enlighten our eyes to these wonderful truths. He does so through the letters in the Bible which reveal this good news, the letters addressed to us, the church, the members of the body of Christ. This is why they are called "The Church Epistles (letters)". These letters addressed to us are Romans through 2Thessalonians, and they help us obtain full persuasion to these truths from God, plus a whole lot more.
"The gospel of peace": The good news (the gospel) of the New Covenant is referred to by several titles, "the gospel of peace" being one of them. This passage in Ephesians is revealing information about the New Covenant. "The gospel of peace" is not referring to "the four gospels" of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Those four records contain what the Bible refers to as "the gospel of the kingdom" (Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 24:14 and Mark 1:14), and they record the life of Jesus the Christ, the correct meaning and heart of the law, the preaching of the law by Jesus (the true terms of the Old Covenant), the preaching of "The Gospel of the Kingdom" by Jesus and his followers for the children of Israel, the fulfillment of the law by Jesus, and the cutting of the New Covenant (the blood sacrifice of the Christ). The "four gospels" end with Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. The information about what his death, burial and resurrection means to us who are the present recipients of the blessings of "the mystery" starts in the book of Acts, a book that documents the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in the early years of the first century Christian church. The correct meaning and the heart of the New Covenant is recorded in Romans through 2Thessalonians. These nine letters are addressed to the Christians (A.K.A. "saints") living in this age of grace. For us "the great mystery" of this church and age of grace has now been revealed (see the hub "The Riches of the Mystery"), and now everything in the Bible begins to completely open up and fit together as we gain greater understanding of the "Gospel of God" contained in those nine letters, the church epistles.
The various titles in the Bible for the good news about the New Covenant (A.K.A. "the gospel") are as follows: The Gospel of Peace, The Promised Gospel, The Gospel of God, The Gospel of His Son, The Gospel of Christ, The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, The Gospel of the Grace of God, The Message of the Cross, and The Gospel of Your Salvation. These various titles simply emphasize various aspects of the same message - THE Gospel. "The Gospel of Peace" reminds us that we have peace with God because of what our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished for us at the cross. This is good news indeed!
- Romans 5:1: "Therefore being justified by faith [having been declared righteous, not by works, but because we believed God about the Christ], we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:"
- Romans 8:31: "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?"
We have peace with God. We have been delivered into the kingdom of His dear Son. This work for our position with God in His family as His beloved children is finished, and we are seated (it is finished) in Heavenly places in Christ:
- Colossians 1:12, 13: "12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet [adequate, sufficient, qualified] to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son:"
- Ephesians 2:4-9: "4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast."
- Ephesians 2:19 (BBE): "So then you are no longer as those who have no part or place in the kingdom of God, but you are numbered among the saints, and of the family of God,"
VERSE 16: "Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."
Verse 16 is very important and is emphasized by "above all" to show us the most important part of the Armor.
"above all, taking the shield of faith wherewith you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one": The shield of faith only comes by adequately hearing and thinking the gospel. Believing the gospel comes from hearing the gospel. If we do not hear the gospel we will not believe the gospel. If we do not believe the gospel, then we have no chance of standing against the attacks of the devil.
Faith [believing God] is our shield, and by it we can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. The biggest battle for true Christians against the powers of darkness is over what is and what is not true of and in Christ. When we put our trust in God by believing that which is true we are not swayed by what we see, feel, taste, touch or hear. The flesh is weak but the spirit is strong. The devil will do everything he can to strip away truth in Christ, thereby effectively leaving us defenseless and powerless against him. Worse yet, people don't even know what's going on unless they know the truth of Christ! People either know the truth or they are being deceived. It's called deception for a reason. If people knew they were being deceived then it wouldn't be called deception. The gospel of Christ is the light that exposes the devil and his lies. This is why the adversary puts so much effort into trying to kill, steal and destroy the message. When fiery darts come our way via someone or something trying to get us to see ourselves as anything less than what we have been made to be in Christ we have a choice as to what we are going to believe. How does God see you? Does He view you as a new creation in Christ, based entirely upon the finished work of His Son Jesus Christ? Or are your thoughts and ways bigger than His? This is our continual challenge... to believe God... to consider His thoughts and ways higher than our thoughts and ways. We have been made right before God. We have been perfected in Christ. God calls us "saints", holy ones, sanctified ones. Put on the shield, believe what God has made you to be in Christ, and thereby quench the fiery darts of the wicked one by believing God.
- Hebrews 10:14: "For by one offering [Christ crucified] he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified [that's YOU]."
- Romans 8:32: "32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth."
We need to hear the good news so that we can trust in the accomplished work of Jesus Christ and the blessings and power that we have in Christ. You are what the word of God says you are (a member of the body of Christ)! You have what the word of God says you have (authority in his name)! You can do what the word of God says you can do (God is for you, who can be against you?)!
VERSE 17: "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:"
The final pieces of armor are given to us in verse 17, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit.
"The helmet of Salvation" comes from putting our trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross for our salvation. If you're up to doing a Bible word-study on the word "salvation" you will find that this includes our past, present and future deliverance from bad things and into good things. There is nothing that we can add to the finished work of Jesus Christ. We cannot add our good works to it, we cannot add church membership, we cannot add some great feat of faith to it, otherwise we make the death of Christ of no affect in our lives and we get lost in our own reasoning of it all. We are always delivered and made whole because Jesus Christ died for us, was raised from the dead by God, and ascended and sat at God's right hand. That is it, trusting God is trusting in the gospel of Christ, not in anything that we have done or ever will do. A "Godly" walk is produced by "Godly" thoughts. The grace of God labors within those who believe the gospel. The credit and glory all goes to God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ - ours is the joy of it all. Even the "eternal rewards" are based upon our acceptance of the gospel message and what is produced as a result of doing so!
"The sword of the Spirit which is the word of God": Have you ever done a Bible study on the phrases "the word of God" or "God's word"? You might be surprised to find out that it is not used by God in the same way most commonly used and preached today. This too is a subject for another hub. But here in the context of Ephesians it is being used synonymously with "the gospel of Christ". It is the word of God pertaining to Christ, including all that we are and have in Christ.
Know the true message of the gospel when confronted by the lies of the devil, answer with a direct quote from God's word about what is true. When the devil tries to tell you that you are unworthy, tell him that God has made you worthy by the blood of the lamb. He HATES hearing about the blood of Christ. There's power in the message of the cross. It is the power of God. The accomplished work of Jesus Christ at the cross is always sufficient payment for us receiving good from God and eliminating evil from the devil.
1Corinthians 1:17, 18: "17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18 For the message of the cross [the gospel, with the aspect of Christ crucified being the emphasis] is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are being saved it is the power of God."
Galatians 6:14: "God forbid that I should boast, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
Colossians 2:14-15: "14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it."
2Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore if anyone be in Christ, they are a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."