In 1991 I served in the South African military as an officer in the School of Armor. It was the training base for tanks and mobile artillery. On a few occasions I was able to drive a tank. With a 29-liter v12 motor, a 105mm gun and 58 tons of heavy armor plating, I felt quite secure.
The apostle Paul could not have imagined the armor of a modern day artillery vehicle, but he used the familiar Roman military armor as a picture of the secure protection that we have as Christians against the attacks of the enemy.
As those called by God to follow Jesus and tell others about the Gospel, we are under constant attack (1 Peter 5:8-11). As Paul writes in Ephesians 6:10-13, we are to stand firm against the attacks of Satan and his demons. We can only do this if we dress appropriately. We must ensure that we are putting on the whole armor of God daily (Ephesians 6:13). Each piece of the armor serves a vital role in keeping us safe in the battle. There are six pieces of armor that every Christian should know and apply.
- The Belt of Truth
Questioning the truth has always been one of Satan’s choice weapons. It began in the garden of Eden when he asked Eve, “Did God actually say?” (Genesis 3:1). Sin entered the world because the truth was questioned.
As Christians, we must not only know the truth, but we must be speakers of truth (John 8:32). In Ephesians 4:15, Paul writes that we are to, “speak the truth in love”. In verse 21 of the same chapter, we read that the truth is in Jesus. We need to be people who live and speak the truth, the truth that is found in Jesus (John 14:6).
- The Breastplate of Righteousness
The breastplate cover the chest and the vital organs against the arrows of the enemy. Now, we know that as believers we are covered with the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), and we are secure in that unmerited righteousness. But the righteousness that Paul is encouraging here, is living in personal holiness and purity. We must not give one inch to the enemy by our thoughts and actions, we have a new identity, and we are to live as such (Philippians 4:8).
- Shoes of the Gospel
I love sports, and I have a collection of different shoes for different activities. I would never wear my cycling shoes to a softball game. And likewise, a soldier would never enter the battlefield without proper boots. The Roman soldiers had studs on their shoes that enabled them to have traction on any terrain.
Paul likens the Gospel to a pair of effective shoes that can enable us to have traction even in challenging environments. As we go, we are declaring the Gospel of Peace (Ephesians 6:15). The prophet Isaiah writes that those who bring this Gospel of peace have beautiful feet (Isaiah 52:7). Jesus is the only one in whom peace is found (Ephesians 2:14).
- The Shield of Faith
The ancient Roman soldier carried a huge shield that could be used to build a wall of protection when standing alongside other soldiers. The purpose of the shield was to cover the entire body from the enemy’s darts. David referred to God as our shield (Psalm 18:30).
When we take on our new identity and by faith realize our position in Christ, we have an impenetrable shield protecting us (Ephesians 2:6).
- The Helmet of Salvation
The Roman helmet was a heavy and covered the neck and cheeks of the soldier. It goes without saying that our brains are vulnerable to injury in a battle. That is why it is the primary target for boxers.
Satan also knows that we can be most vulnerable in our thoughts and feelings. Satan’s demons use the darts of fear, depression, discouragement, and anxiety, to attack the child of God. This is why we have the helmet of salvation; our minds need to constantly be reminded of the promises and the truth of our eternal salvation. Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.
We need to go to God daily and be reminded of His love and promises towards us (Ephesians 2:7).
- The Sword of the Spirit
This final piece of the armor is the only offensive weapon we have, and it is sufficient. The Roman soldiers did not have a long medieval sword, their weapon was a short sword that was used in close combat. We must always remember that our battle is deeply personal.
Paul writes that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. The Greek word that he uses for “word” is rhema as opposed to the more common logos. The rhema word is the spoken word that is activated by the Holy Spirit. It is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12).
When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he used the Word of God as his only weapon and Satan left him. The Sword of the Spirit is crucial to our victory, but in order to overcome the enemy, we need to know the word of God.
Our “swords” are useless on the shelf. We need to open, meditate, and memorize the promises of God’s word. Only then will we be effective in our warfare.
One final point to note is that the armor of God does not have any protection for the back of the soldier. This is because in Christ, we are victorious and there is never any thought of retreat. As we see in verses 11 to 14, we are to stand on the victory that Jesus has already won.
Join me this week as we put on the armor of God to stand firm daily.