THE ARMOR OF GOD
Having completed our study of the ministry gifts of Christ, the fruit of the Spirit, and the gifts of the Spirit, we turn our attention to the purpose of these provisions of God:
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (Eph. 4:12-13).
This perfecting (katartidzo--"supplying what is necessary"), or equipping, of the saints with what is necessary for them to edify the body of Christ provides them with the armor of God.
One of Paul's favorite images portraying the Christian life is that of warfare. Lying in prison chained to a Roman soldier probably made an indelible impression upon Paul's mind, and he transferred the physical elements of the soldier's armor to the spiritual provisions God has made for His church: the armor of God.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 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. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints
At the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, I looked at the armor exhibit, and Paul's teaching became more significant. I saw suits of armor weighing 60 to 80 pounds, large shields, and broad swords, and I marveled that the soldiers were able to fight wearing such heavy armor and carrying such weapons. But even as the soldiers in Paul's day were equipped for battle with armor of steel, Paul challenges every Christian to put on the whole armor of God, not just certain parts, but all of it.
LOINS GIRDED ABOUT WITH TRUTH
First, we wrap ourselves in the truth. In the museum I saw the quilted vests knights wore under the armor so the armor would not chafe their skin. I thought, that must be what Paul was thinking about when he talked of girding our loins with truth. If we clothe ourselves in truth, then nothing can chafe us or make us uncomfortable. We are comfortable and protected regardless of conditions or circumstances. Sometimes we need to be protected even from the armor, because the weapons of our warfare make us uncomfortable if we are not living in truth. If we wrap ourselves in the truth, nothing can irritate us.
BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
The breastplate of righteousness, which is our right standing with God, protects our vital organs. As long as we know that we are in a right relationship with God, we will live free from guilt and condemnation. Paul says,
Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us
If God has justified us, we are righteous. Again Paul wrote,
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:l).
The righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to us. Our breastplate protects our hearts from guilt and condemnation as we stand in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE
Our feet are shod (hupodeo--to bind underneath) with the preparation (hetoimasia--firm footing) of the gospel of peace. Our Christian walk is on the firm footing of the gospel of peace. We walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4); we walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16); we walk by faith (2 Cor. 5:7); we walk in love (Eph. 5:2); we walk in honesty (Rom. 13:13); we walk circumspectly (Eph. 5:15); we walk in Him (Col. 2:6); we walk in wisdom (Col. 4:5); we walk in truth (3 John 3); and we walk after the commandments of the Lord (2 John 6). This is our walk if our feet are bound by the gospel of peace. Also, we are ready to bear witness to the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ:
How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things (Rom. 10:15).
We bear the glad tidings of peace.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH
Paul emphasizes the fact that we must take the shield of faith, whereby we can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. The fiery darts of the wicked are the imaginations, the high things that exalt themselves against our knowledge of God, the doubts, the fears, and the impulses to temptation that Satan brings against us to destroy us. Using the shield of faith, we can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God; therefore, our best defense, our shield of faith, is our knowledge of the Word of God.
THE HELMET OF SALVATION
The helmet of salvation is a covering for our heads, a protection for our minds. This helmet is the knowledge of our present relationship with Jesus Christ, knowing that we are delivered from our enemies in the present moment.
The remission of our sins gives the knowledge of salvation--this knowledge is the helmet, the covering for our heads. Our salvation is past--we have been saved; present--we are being saved; and future--we shall be saved. Paul echoes the same concepts in his letter to the Thessalonians,
But let us who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation (I Thess. 5:8).
In this scripture, Paul says that our helmet is our hope of salvation: the knowledge and assurance of the Lord's return. The knowledge of the present state of our salvation and the knowledge of our complete salvation at the Lord's return serve as a covering around our heads to keep doubts, fears, and anxieties from entering our minds.
THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
The shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, are the parts of the armor that are the weapons of our warfare. Paul writes that the
Weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (II Cor. 10:4-5).
We wrestle not against flesh and blood. Our battle is not with people. Our battle is with the spiritual forces that influence people: principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness. If our loved ones are not Christian, our battle is not with them. Our battle is with the spiritual forces that control or influence them. We must challenge the forces that influence them and rebuke the powers of the enemy that would cause them to resist the will of God. We have to fight the battle in the spirit realm; therefore, we must not only have the proper weapons but must learn how to use each of them: the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit.
After Jesus was baptized of John in Jordan, the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness to be tempted of Satan, to fight the initial battle against His enemy. Satan tempted Jesus with the three temptations common to man as set forth by John:
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world (I John 2:16).
The temptations of Jesus were the lust of the flesh--"command that these stones be made bread," the lust of the eyes-- "sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world...all these things will I give thee," and the pride of life--"Cast thyself down... angels shall bear thee up." To quench the fiery darts in each trial and to put the enemy to flight, Jesus used the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit; He used the Word of God--"It is written" (Matt. 4:1-11). We sometimes make excuses when we compare ourselves with Jesus; however, Jesus never used any power to achieve any purpose but the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Word of God, which are available to every Child of God. Not only do we have the same weapons that Jesus had, not only does Jesus give us the Holy Spirit to indwell us as He indwelt Him, but also we have Jesus Christ abiding within us to strengthen us. It is imperative that we remember that the shield and the sword are our knowledge of and ability to use the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. A knowledge of that Word builds for us a shield of faith, and the ability to use that Word is our sword.
The writer to the Hebrews describes the word of God:
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb. 4:12).
PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT
Usually, we do not include prayer in the armor. However, Oral Roberts calls praying in the Spirit the "seventh piece of the whole armor of God," and he says that the "only way you can pray ALWAYS . . . is not with your mind but with your spirit. Tongues is praying IN and WITH your spirit by the utterance of the Holy Spirit" (The Holy Bible with Personal Commentary, comment on Ephesians 6:10-18). We pray with the Spirit but we must also pray with the understanding. On the Spirituals chart, I have connected these pieces of the armor with the gifts of tongues and interpretation of tongues.
The sword and shield are our weapons, and when we add them to the rest of the armor provided for us by the Spirit, we shall be equipped for a ministry and ready to edify the body of Christ in love.Go to TOP