The Full Armor Of God – Ephesians 6:10-18

God’s armor is the complete spiritual virtue provided by God to believers in order to enable them to war against the forces of evil. The biblical order is for Christians to be clothed in the full armor of God. Through the Bible study of chapter 6 of the Epistle to the Ephesians, we can know God’s armor correctly (Ephesians 6:10-18).

The Full Armor of God

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. 

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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” 

Ephesians 6:10-18 New International Version (NIV)

What is God’s Armor?

The expression “armor of God” is a metaphor that reminds Christians of the importance of being prepared for spiritual battle. Apostle Paul emphasizes that believers must wear “the full armor of God.” This spiritual armor is formed by different elements that design a perfect unity, making you strong against Satan’s attacks.

The Bible says that to be dressed in the whole armor of God means to be strengthened in the Lord, and the strength of his power (Ephesians 6:10). Putting on the armor of God implies living the Christian life correctly and fully.

Without Christ, Christians can do nothing. The source of the Christian’s power is God’s power (John 15: 1-5). The scriptures reveal how infinite the power of God is. But what does Paul mean by “the strength of his power”? In this expression, the apostle uses the same words as when he talks about the power that raised Jesus from the dead, as well as resurrecting believers from their state of spiritual death (Ephesians 1:19; 2: 4-6). So, to put on the whole armor of God is to seek that power of God, and to be infused by it.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:1-5 New International Version (NIV)

The Elements of the Whole Armor of God

The apostle Paul used certain weapons that resembled that of an infantryman in ancient times as a figure of the spiritual weapons that equip believers. It is possible that he had a Roman soldier in mind, although he had some slight differences from the armor he describes compared to those of Roman soldiers. That is why some Bible scholars say that Paul probably combined this figure of the Roman soldier with some Old Testament references that portray God as a warrior. There are six elements of God’s armor, which we have discussed below.

a. Belt of Truth

The first element of God’s armor mentioned by Paul is the belt of truth. Apostle Paul tells believers to stand steadfast and surround themselves with the truth (Ephesians 6:14). With the belt of truth, what the apostle had in mind here is the leather belt that soldiers wore. This belt protected the region of the lower abdomen and played a fundamental role in the rest of the armor. He fastened the soldier’s tunic, held the breastplate, and served as a support for the sword.

In the armor of God, this truth is none other than the truth of Christ, which is the Gospel. Wearing the belt of truth is wearing the truth of Christ. It is having your life supported by the truth of God’s Word. Consequently, he who is clothed in the truth of Christ will also have a life marked by authenticity and sincerity. He will never support deception.

b. Breastplate of Righteousness

After speaking of the belt of truth, Paul says that the believer should wear the breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14). The breastplate was a suit made of metal or a combination of hard leather, which protected the soldier’s torso, where the heart and other vital organs were. As already exemplified here, the breastplate of righteousness speaks of Christ’s righteousness imputed to the believer. But this imputed justice will lead the believer to practical and daily justice.

c. Shoes of Peace

Paul says that we should be prepared to wear the shoes of peace to fight the veil battle (Ephesians 6:15). Roman soldiers wore shoes made of hard leather with the sole studded with sharp nails. These shoes gave stability to the soldier because they were attached to the ground.

Using the analogy of the soldier’s shoes as a figure of the readiness of the Gospel of peace, the apostle speaks of the security, confidence and comfort that exists in the good news of reconciliation with God through the work of Christ. The believer can only fight in the spiritual battle if he has peace with God through Christ.

d. Shield of Faith

The believer must always embrace the shield of faith, with which he will be able to extinguish the fiery darts of the Evil One (Ephesians 6:16). Paul here uses the figure of the oval and rectangular Roman shield that was just over a meter tall. It was large enough to cover the entire body of the soldier who cowered behind him.

These shields were often moistened in order to extinguish the incendiary arrows launched by enemies. Paul compares these arrows that did great damage to Satan’s temptations against believers. But full trust in God and his word is an effective shield against those arrows. The living, true, continuous, and unshakable faith is the strong shield of the believer.

e. Helmet of Salvation

The biblical text says that the believer must take the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17). There is no need to explain how important a soldier’s helmet is on the battlefield. In the armor of God, the helmet is the helmet of salvation. One of Satan’s main intentions is to cast doubt on the believer’s salvation. But equipped with the helmet of salvation, the Christian remains firm in God’s promises about the eternal security of his salvation.

f. Sword of the Spirit

Dressed in the helmet of salvation, the believer must also be wielding the sword of the Spirit. At that time, the sword was an infantryman’s most effective weapon. No soldier went to the battlefield without a sword, so must the believer in the spiritual battle. The type of sword used by Paul in his analogy was a short and lethal weapon, used both to defend himself and to attack. The apostle himself clearly explains that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).

Understanding the Full Armor of God

There are two interpretations of how we can understand the armor of God. The first says that the armor of God must be seen as Christ Himself and all that He achieved on the cross on our behalf. So the armor of God is the merits of Christ imputed by God in us. In this aspect, to wear the armor of God is to dress as Christ himself. For example, putting on the breastplate of righteousness is putting on the righteousness of Christ. Dressing the belt of truth is dressing the truth of Christ, etc.

The second interpretation says that the armor of God must be seen as a set of moral virtues that believers must demonstrate in their lives in order not to give the devil an opportunity. For example, wearing the breastplate of righteousness means having a righteous and just life.

The first interpretation undoubtedly seems to be the one that best fits the context. After all, Paul says that believers must be strengthened in the Lord and the strength of his power. However, the second interpretation should not be rejected entirely. This is because those who are dressed in the righteousness of Christ will necessarily seek to live a life characterized by righteousness.

The Importance of God’s Armor

Wearing the armor of God means being able, by the power and virtue of the Lord, to resist evil attacks. This truth reinforces the idea that we need to know very well the context in which we wear the armor of God. First, it was Christ who definitively defeated Satan and conquered the power of sin and death on the cross. Therefore, we are fighting a war whose victory has already been won.

Second, despite being a defeated army, the forces of darkness strive to do as much damage as possible before their final ruin on the day of Christ’s glorious return. Satan and demons cannot escape the destiny that God has already decreed for them. Wherever they go, they drag the curse of divine judgment upon themselves. But as they walk to the place of their eternal damnation, they attack soldiers of the Kingdom of God.

By dressing in the armor of God, our role is similar to that of a soldier who stands guard over the conquered territory. The believer’s struggle is based on the victory won by Christ. That is why Paul is emphatic when he says: You are firm! Resist! Watch and persevere! (Ephesians 6: 10, 13, 14, 18). But don’t confuse this with a purely passive and defensive role. In their resistance, the believers defend themselves, but they also attack. It is an offensive resistance that causes the enemy to retreat.

Furthermore, putting on the full armor of God is also something that includes both God’s sovereign grace and human responsibility. It is the believer who must wear this armor, and it is the believer who must use it completely in his daily life. However, it is God who provided this armor. He is the one who forged these weapons, and as a gift, he gave his armor to his children. So without divine power, no one can wear the armor of God.

Why Should We Wear the Armor of God?

We must be dressed in the full armor of God because every true Christian is involved in an intense spiritual battle. Paul spoke about the beauty of God’s eternal and sovereign plan for salvation. Then he spoke about the Church’s position in Christ, highlighting the blessings and privileges enjoyed by the saved, as well as the duties in their walk in faith towards holiness in all spheres of life through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

But Paul also explains that all of this would not be easy and without opposition. Believers would be challenged and would have to prove day after day that they were called by God. The Christian life is not only about the blessings of salvation, but also includes stands against the sinful desires of the flesh and the spiritual forces of darkness.

Satan and his demonic army are completely dedicated to opposing Christ and his people. The forces of evil want to destroy the work of God. The reality of this war cannot be underestimated. This is not a simple fight against mere human beings. Apostle Paul explains that we are fighting a fight against the evils and rulers of the dark world (Ephesians 6:12). This explains why we should be dressed in the armor of God. Without this armor provided by the Lord, we have no chance in this war. The biblical text explains the fundamental importance of this armor for the Christian life.

How to Dress and Wear the Armor of God

The apostle Paul ends his analogy about the armor of God by teaching how the Christian can wear that armor. He says that it is only through a life of prayer that the believer can be properly equipped with the armor of God and ready for spiritual warfare. We have already said that a Christian can do nothing by his strength. The source of his strength is the power of God Himself. Just as a soldier must be in complete communion with his commander through appropriate communication, the believer must be in full communion with God through prayer.

The apostle is still very specific in talking about what the prayer life of the soldier of God should be like. It should include prayers and supplications. That is a variety that includes worship, thanksgiving, confession, intercession, and petition. As for frequency, it must be at all times. The prayer life of the one wearing the armor of God must be in the Spirit. This means that the believer’s prayer must be submissive and in line with God’s will. Paul still points to vigilance as the way that characterizes the Christian’s prayer life and speaks of the need for perseverance.

Conclusion

We should all go to the battlefield with the full armor of God. Without it, we are completely vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. This is what apostle Paul tries to tell us in Ephesians 6:10-18. On the battlefield, be a good soldier and always be supportive and committed to the companions who fight alongside you.

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