The Whole Armor of God

by Mike Ratliff

1 Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you. 2 But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. 2 Corinthians 10:1-6 (NKJV) 

Satan opposes the believer in many ways. No matter how he attempts to subvert our faith, the method he uses is a fiery missile. With these fiery darts he attempts to attack or question or deny God’s character and credibility. We see this as he works through those who hate Christianity and the God of the Bible. Their attacks will always be to try to bring doubt into our hearts about God’s faithfulness and our faith. If we are successful in our service to God he will try to undermine our victories by generating trouble that makes life difficult, thereby temping us to forsake obedience to God’s standards and calling.

He attacks believers through doctrinal confusion and falsehood. Remember he cannot attack God so he attacks the church. He wants to destroy unity in the Body of Christ. What better way to divide God’s people than over doctrine? He also attacks God’s people by hindering their service to Him. I have a great deal of experience in this. It seems that every time I would have a role to play in some ministry at church, there would be things that would go wrong. These things could be anything, but many times it was people who seemed bent on thwarting our efforts through non-cooperation or some other method in which we could not follow through in what we needed to do. Through this, divisions in the body would become apparent.

He attacks believers by persuading them to trust their own resources. This is an area in which we can all testify I’m sure. If we are trusting in our own abilities then we will be an easy target for one of Satan’s fiery darts. He also attacks believers by leading them into hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is a fruit of pride and no believer is where they should be if they are functioning from pride. Humility, knowing who we are in Christ, functioning within His Lordship, and obeying Him as servants to all is where we should be, but our enemy will convince some that their righteousness is somehow earned. This is the beginning of hypocrisy.

He attacks believers by leading them into worldliness. This is a slippery slide. Once we step off into compromise with the world, we will find the next step a little easier then before we know it we are on a slippery slide into apostasy. He attacks believers by leading them to disobey God’s Word. If there are parts of the Bible we hate to read because we do not want to submit to what it says then we have been attacked by Satan and have given in to him. This is not good. However, although we should be aware of all of these devices of Satan, our defense against them is not simply our knowledge of them, but rather God’s provision to meet them.

The armor of God that Paul gives us in Ephesians 6 can be divided into two groups of three. The first three, the belt or girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the feet shod with the Gospel are long range protection from Satan’s schemes and darts. If these three are actively being used, Satan will struggle mightily in getting close enough to find an opening in which to attack. The second three, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit are for hand to hand combat. These defensive weapons are for use when he does get in close. Now, let’s take a closer look at each.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth Ephesians 6:14a (NKJV)

The fastening on the belt is also stated as girding the loins. This was a mark of preparedness. Soldiers who were serious about fighting were sure to secure their tunics with their belts. This was an act of gathering together the loose ends of their tunic then stuffing them into the belt. This demonstrates the believer’s readiness for war. This readiness is truth. The false schemes of Satan can be successfully encountered only with the truth of the Word of God. This is why I do not allow debate on this blog except from the basis of scripture. The Greek word for truth here can also refer to the attitude of truthfulness. This represents not only the accuracy of specific truths but the quality of truthfulness. It has to do with the self-descipline of total commitment. This attitude is developed through mind renewal. (Romans 12:1-2)

having put on the breastplate of righteousness Ephesians 6:14b (NKJV)

The breastplate of righteousness is armor that covers the full torso. It protects the vital organs. Spiritually speaking, the mind and the will (the heart), and the emotions and feelings (the bowels) would be covered by this piece of armor. This is a description of righteousness that is taken and wrapped around our whole being. This, of course, is not self-righetoousness nor imputed righteousness, but the practical righteousness of a life lived in obedience to God’s Word. This is a description of being Spirit-filled. To put on the breastplate of righteousness is to live in daily, moment-by-moment obedience to our heavenly Father. To neglect this piece of armer will cost the Christian his or her joy. It will cause fruitlessness, loss of reward, and bring reproach on God’s glory. This is why it is imperative that we disciple new believers to become Spirit-filled, living sacrifices for the opposite is a Christian life that does not honor or bring glory to God.

 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Ephesians 6:15 (NKJV)

A Christian without spiritual footwear is destined to stumble, fall, and suffer many defeats. This passage is describing readiness. The Gospel of peace refers to the good news that believers are at peace with God. They are reconciled to Him through faith in His Son. They are one with Him. Therefore, they stand in the confidence of God’s love for them, His union with them, and His commitment to fight for us.

These three pieces of armor help the Christian keep Satan and his forces from getting near. Obedient Christians who live lives saturated in God’s truth will be able to thwart His attacks from long distance. Why? They have discernment and wisdom. However, as they become more and more successful in this battle, the enemy will seek to sneak in for close, hand-to-hand combat in an attempt to defeat them. God’s provision for this type of battle are the next three pieces of armor.

 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Ephesians 6:16 (NKJV)

This shield is the large rectangular shield that enabled Roman soldiers to create a temporary wall on the battle field. They could lock them together then approach in line to the enemy or they could withstand all sorts of attacks, even an arrow barrage, by relying on these shields. The shield of faith protects the entire body. This faith is not the body of Christian beliefs, but basic trust in God. The saving faith in Christ continues to bring blessing and strength as it trusts Him for daily provision and help. This faith is powerful and effective because the object of faith, Jesus Christ, is infinitely powerful and absolutely dependable. Christian faith never fails because the one in whom that faith is placed never fails. The spiritual flaming missiles against which believers need protection would seem primarily to be temptations. Every temptation, directly or indirectly, is the temptation to doubt and distrust God. The purpose of all of Satan’s missiles is to cause believers to forsake their trust in God. The only way to extinguish Satan’s flaming missiles of temptation to doubt God is to believe God, taking up the shield of faith.

And take the helmet of salvation, Ephesians 6:17a (NKJV)

The purpose of the helmet was to protect the head and the face from injury. The fact that the helmet is related to salvation indicates that Satan’s blows are directed at the believer’s security and assurance in Christ. The two dangerous edges of Satan’s spiritual broadsword are discouragement and doubt. He attempts to make us lose confidence in the love and care of our heavenly Father. The test of a person’s character is what it takes to stop him. (Job 13:15) Since Paul is addressing believers, putting on the helmet of salvation cannot refer to receiving Christ as Saviour. This means that the helmet is not referring to our justification or sanctification, but to our glorification. Our glorification is when we shall one day be saved altogether and forever from sin’s presence. If we lose hope in the future promise of salvation, there can be no security in the present. The helmet of salvation is the great hope of final salvation that gives us confidence and assurance that our present struggle with Satan will not last forever and we will be victorious in the end. (1 Peter 1:3-5; Hebrews 6:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; Ephesians 6:17b (NKJV)

The sword is the principle weapon in hand-to-hand combat. It is always at hand and ready for use. In the spiritual sense this weapon is to be used in our struggle against enemies. The Holy Spirit is the origin of the sword as the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17), the Holy Spirit is the believer’s resident truth teacher who teaches us all things and brings God’s Word to our remembrance. The sword is scripture. Scripture offers limitless resources and blessings to the believer. It is the source of truth (John 17:17). It is the source of happiness (Proverbs 8:34). It is the source of spiritual growth (1 Peter 2:2). It is the believer’s source of power (Hebrews 4:12). It is the source of guidance (Psalm 119:105). It is the source of comfort (Romans 15:4). It is the source of righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). It is the source of victory over our great spiritual enemy. It is not the general knowledge of Scripture, but the precision that comes by knowledge and understanding of specific truths. In the hands of an armored up Christian, the sword of the Spirit is like a very sharp, deadly, dagger in it’s precision.

This battle must be fought by believers who wear this armor and know how to use it. My own experience in it is the fiery darts I have to handle are extremely deceitful and deceptive. In other words, my long range armor is fine and I have had to use the hand-to-hand armor a great deal. It is imperative that we become very knowledgeable about The Bible. We must learn it and live in it in such a way that it saturates our entire being. As I studied the Bible for this post I was struck at how powerful the helmet of Salvation is in this battle. If we have the hope of our glorification and it is our blessed hope then it does not matter how we are persecuted or attacked. We will remain faithful and ready to obey our Lord in all things.

Soli Deo Gloria!