“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11)
The passage on the armor of God is one of the most well-known in the Bible. Hundreds of children memorize the various pieces, and we often reference it in conversations. The concept of a spiritual war is intriguing, and we give proper attention to the tools of our defense in this unseen, constant battle. But what exactly does the armor signify? How do you go about putting it on?
Let’s examine each piece. The first one Paul lists is the belt of truth. When we know the truth of God—what He has revealed about Himself in the Bible—we can combat the lies of the devil. Satan is the father of lies, but not even he can withstand the truth. Knowledge of God and His ways is critical in this spiritual war.
The second piece is the breastplate of righteousness. God calls us to live morally upright lives; that is, we are to abstain from evil and work to do good. This is an important piece of armor, as when we are doing God’s will, He blesses us. That certainly doesn’t mean everything will always be good, but it does mean that we are safe in His shelter when we do what He says.
The third item Paul lists is shoes. Traditionally, these are called the “shoes of peace,” but the verse reads, “as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” (Ephesians 6:15) In other words, we need to always be ready to share the good news of the Gospel. This is our main purpose in life, and when we do this, we dash the devil’s plan to pieces.
Fourth, Paul discusses the shield of faith. This is an imperative piece of armor: if we have no faith in God and Who He is, then all our other defenses are useless. Faith is what brings us through every hardship, what gives us the strength to hold onto God’s promises even when we can’t see them. If we have faith, then nothing the devil throws at us can harm us. As Paul says, “you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” (Ephesians 6:16)
The fifth piece is the helmet of salvation. This one is fairly self-explanatory; if we’re not saved, then we’re enslaved to sin and are already under the devil’s dominion. But if we are saved, then he cannot touch us. We are secure in the redemption given to us by Jesus’ blood.
The final piece is the sword of the Spirit, which Paul explains is the word of God. In order to be truly effective in this spiritual war, we must know God’s word so well that we can use it to fight. It is by this that we can defeat the devil’s lies, that we can share the Gospel, that we can have the faith we need to stand firm. Also, a sword is a weapon. All the other pieces provide defense, but the sword of the Spirit is ready to go to war. God doesn’t call us to stand passively to the side and block everything Satan throws at us; He expects us to charge right into the middle of things.
Now, these six pieces are the only ones Paul refers to as armor, but the passage doesn’t end with the sword of the Spirit. Paul’s final admonition is to pray “at all times in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 6:18a) Prayer is perhaps our most powerful weapon; it puts us directly into the presence of God, keeping us in communication with Him. And furthermore, it frightens Satan like nothing else. When we are in the presence of God, we are in a place where he has no power. God is our great Commander, the General Who leads us boldly into war. When we pray, we’re getting our instructions from Him. This spiritual battle may be invisible, but it is as real as anything we can see. God calls us to be ready, and He has given us armor, a weapon, and prayer. The battle lines are drawn; will you go to war?