Q: #406. What is the armor of God?
By: Steve Shirley
A: The Bible's description of the "armor of God" can found in (Eph 6:10-17). Let's look at these verses: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (11) Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. (12) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (13) Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (14) Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, (15) and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. (16) In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (17) Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
It is important to note what verses 11 and 12 say regarding why we need to put on the "armor of God." We are in a spiritual war against Satan and his demons. Oftentimes, we tend to blame people for our various problems, but these verses clearly tell us that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood" (other people). (1 Pet 5:8) tells us: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." Interestingly, the name "Satan" means "adversary." Satan is called the "wicked one" in (Mt 13:19,38)(1 Jn 2:13-14). Here is a small chart showing some of the things the Bible says Satan does:
|Accuses||(Zech 3:1)(Rev 12:10)||Beguiles||(2 Cor 11:3)|
|Lies/Murders||(Jn 8:44)||Hinders||(1 Th 2:18)|
|Deceives||(Rev 12:9)(Rev 20:7-8,10)||Afflicts||(Job 2:7)|
|Persecutes||(Rev 12:13)||Sifts||(Lk 22:31)|
|Condemns||(1 Tim 3:6)||Blinds||(2 Cor 4:4)|
|Tempts||(Mt 4:3)(1 Th 3:5)|
So, how do we fight against these attacks from Satan and His demons? We must "put on the full armor of God." Two things should be noted about this. First, "put on" implies that this is an action we must take. The armor is available at any time, but if you do not "put it on," it is useless to you. Secondly, we are to put on the "full" armor. This seems to imply that if we don't "put on" ALL of the armor, we could still be vulnerable to "injury."
Now, let's look at the "armor of God." As we can see in the verses above, Paul parallels the spiritual "armor of God" with the armor that a Roman soldier wore in battle. It consists of 6 things. Let's look at each of these, and what it means.
1. "The belt of truth:" - Satan is called the "father of lies" (Jn 8:44). Everything he does is the opposite of truth. Therefore, we must "put on" truth, wrapping it around us like a belt. Jesus is called "truth" (Jn 14:6)(Jn 1:14,17), the Holy Spirit is called "truth" (Jn 14:17)(Jn 15:26)(Jn 16:13)(1 Jn 5:6), God is called "truth" (Ps 31:5)(Isa 65:16), God's Word is called "truth" (Jn 17:17,19)(Eph 1:13)(2 Tim 2:15)(James 1:18)(Dan 10:21), and the Gospel is called "truth" (Gal 2:5,14)(Col 1:5). The belt held other pieces of the Roman soldier's armor together (likely why it is mentioned first). Likewise, in a Christian's armor, "truth" holds other pieces together.
2. "The breastplate of righteousness:" - When a person places his faith in Jesus Christ, the righteousness of Christ's sinless, perfect life is imputed or credited to us. His righteousness becomes our righteousness. (2 Cor 5:19,21) explains this, saying, "to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them... (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Notice the last words "the righteousness of God in him." Only God is truly righteous (Rom 10:3)(Rom 3:5)(Ps 11:7)(Ps 97:6)(Ps 145:17)(Ps 35:28). The righteousness of Jesus (who is God) becomes our righteousness when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior (Rom 3:21-22). We MUST have this righteousness in our battle with Satan.
In addition to this, I believe that the armor of "righteousness" can have a second meaning. In accordance with the righteousness that we receive through Christ, I believe we should live a life of "righteousness." (1 Jn 5:17) says that, "All unrighteousness is sin." Therefore, doesn't it makes sense to say that "righteousness" (or being righteous) can also mean to "not sin," or live according to what God says is right? We are told in (2 Tim 3:16) that the Bible is "for instruction in righteousness." Jesus tells us that we will be "blessed" if we "hunger and thirst for righteousness" (Mt 5:6). Numerous verses in the Bible tells us to be "righteous" (1 Jn 3:7,12)(1 Jn 2:29)(2 Tim 2:22)(Prov 13:5)(Prov 21:26)(Prov 29:7)(Ezek 3:21). (Isa 59:17) tells us that while on Earth, Jesus put on righteousness as a breastplate."
3. "feet fitted with readiness that comes from the gospel of peace:" - Roman soldiers wore heavy, armored, thick soled sandals. These sandals offered them protection when obstacles, rough terrain, mountains, etc. stood in their path. The sandals also gave them sure footing, and helped them to stand fast when in battle. (It is said that sometimes nails were driven through the soles to help them stand their ground.) This pictures the armor of the feet that we need in our battle with satanic powers.
When Satan throws obstacles in our path, gives us mountains to climb, or when we are in battle with him; through Jesus, we can overcome those obstacles, successfully climb those mountains, and stand our ground, becoming victorious in battle. In the midst of it all, we can have "peace." Jesus is the way to have this peace (Jn 14:27)(Jn 16:33)(Rom 5:1)(Col 1:20). It is peace "which surpasses all understanding" (Phil 4:7). For a great parallel on how we can have peace thru Jesus in the midst of the storm, see (Mk 4:35-41). (For more on peace, please go here.)
We must remember that God is totally in control (Prov 20:24)(Ps 37:23). God tells us not to worry (1 Pet 5:6-7)(Ps 55:22)(Phil 4:6-7)(Ps 37:4-5)(Lk 10:41-42)(Ps 145:18-19)(Ps 62:5-8), or fear (2 Tim 1:7)(Rom 8:15)(Isa 41:10,13)(Josh 1:9)(Isa 35:4). God will NEVER leave nor forsake us (Heb 13:5) if we are His children by faith in Jesus Christ (Gal 3:26). He also promises to work ALL things together for good (Rom 8:28).
This armor might also be speaking in part about taking (being ready to use our feet) the Gospel (of peace in Jesus) to all the world. (Rom 10:15) says, "And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the FEET of them that preach the GOSPEL OF PEACE, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (Caps emphasis mine)
4. "The shield of faith:" - As we see in verse 16 above, it says this shield of faith is to "extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." Historically, it is said that in war, the enemy would often light the tips of their arrows on fire before shooting to cause maximum damage. In response to this, Roman soldiers would soak their shields in water to extinguish the arrows when they struck. This gives us a good picture of our war with Satan. Our faith in God/Jesus and His promises will be like a shield in front of us, protecting us, and extinguishing Satan's "flaming arrows." In the book of Psalms, God is called a "shield" 11 times (i.e. Ps 3:3, Ps 28:7, Ps 144:1-2). Our faith, "overcomes the world" (1 Jn 5:4)! (1 Cor 16:13)(NASB) says, "Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." I speak much more on faith here.
5. "The helmet of salvation:" - The head is obviously the most important part of the body. The brain is the control center of our body. If an injury occurs there, it can affect the rest of the body, and even result in death. In light of this, I find it interesting that this armor of the head is connected with "salvation." It seems clear to me that this is pointing to having assurance of your salvation in the midst of the battle. I have seen time and time again that perhaps the greatest attack of Satan is to make a person doubt their salvation, ESPECIALLY in a new Christian. Christians become doubtful and discouraged when they are in a struggle to overcome a besetting sin, or when they commit a grievous sin, or when they aren't as close to God as they once were, etc... When they get in this condition, Satan is winning.
However, we need to "take" this helmet, put it on, and have assurance of our salvation. This helmet will protect our brain/mind from attacks from Satan on our thought life. Rather than list all of the numerous verses on having assurance of our salvation (Eternal Security), I ask you to please go here, where I discuss this subject at length.
6. "The sword of the Spirit:" This piece of armor is clearly defined as: "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." This is the only piece of armor that is offensive rather than defensive. Notice that this "sword" is given to us by the "Spirit." The "Word of God" was inspired by the Spirit (2 Pet 1:21). It is described as a "two-edged sword" (Heb 4:12). We MUST use the Word of God against Satan in our fight with him and his evil forces. Jesus gives us the perfect example of how to do this during His temptation by Satan in the wilderness (Mt 4:1-11)(Lk 4:1-13). The Word is also pictured as a sword that Jesus will use during war in the end times (Rev 19:15).
In the New Testament, two Greek words are primarily used for "word:" "logos" and "rhema." I love how Strong's Concordance describes the distinction between these two Greek words: "rhema... is exemplified in the injunction to take "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," Eph 6:17; here the reference is not to the whole Bible as such, but to the individual scripture which the Spirit brings to our remembrance for use in time of need, a prerequisite being the regular storing of the mind with Scripture."
Finally, while not a not described as a piece of the "armor of God," verse 18 follows the armor verses, saying: "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints." This is also key, because prayer is CRUCIAL in our war with Satan. It is our direct communication with the Lord. I will not go into all of the verses on the importance of prayer, but please go here to read this.
It is interesting to note that no pieces of armor protected the back. This implies that we must not turn our back to the enemy, nor should we retreat. We must move forward, or at least stand our ground! We CAN do this when we are fully covered with the "armor of God."
(2 Cor 10:3-4) "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (4) (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)"