Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 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, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
However, the primary focus of Scripture is the ongoing conflict between Christ and Satan. Revelation speaks that what began as a cosmic war in heaven will soon end in Armageddon. In this showdown between the forces of good and the powers of evil, truth and light are under constant attack from deception and darkness.
And like it or not, every single one of us is involved. The battleground for this intense spiritual struggle is not some piece of earthly real estate; it is the human heart. Both Jesus and the devil are supremely interested in winning possession of our minds and hearts. For this reason, Christians are called to be more than peaceful spectators or mediators in this cataclysmic conflict. We must be committed front-line commandos.
God has designed that all the literal battles recorded in the Bible—from Gideon’s conflict with the Midianites to David’s defeat of Goliath—can serve to teach us how we might experience victory in spiritual combat. Naturally, it should stand to reason that because these battles are of a spiritual nature, the weapons we employ must also be spiritual. This is why Paul reminds us, “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” (Ephesians 6:12).
Although our armor and weapons are spiritual, this does not mean they are unreal or ineffective. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds)” (2 Corinthians 10:3, 4).
Paul also makes it clear that the Christian’s commitment to his cause and Commander should be as real and complete as for any earthly soldier. “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3, 4, NKJV).God’s Armor—Not Man’s
The first time I did a study on the armor of God, I looked up all the Bible references to armor, searching for passages that would support and enhance the importance of wearing armor when charging off into battle. I was a bit disappointed to find that Saul’s armor did not fit David and that Goliath’s armor was useless against David’s stone. I also discovered that a stray arrow found a crack in Ahab’s armor, killing the wicked king. “So much for the value of armor!” I thought.
But then I realized that we are not called to wear the faulty body armor of Saul, Ahab, or Goliath. Rather, we must put on the unfailing armor of God! In fact, at the very moment that Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians, he might well have been chained to a soldier sporting the armor of the Roman Empire. Paul could see firsthand how frail the defenses of man were against the prince of darkness. This is why he twice emphasized “the armor of God.” It is also clear that Paul was expanding on the words of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, who had made a similar spiritual association for two of the articles of armor. “For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head” (Isaiah 59:17).
Now that we have established that we are to wear the armor of God and not of man, we must be careful not to miss the admonition to wear all of the articles God provides. Ephesians 6:11 cautions, “Put on the whole armour of God,” and Ephesians 6:13 declares, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God.” This is where many Christians fail. They take some of the armor, but forget one or two parts of the suit—and pay an eternal price for their neglect. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul attaches a spiritual association to seven implements of earthly armor. Let’s consider each of these articles of defense one by one to see what we can learn.