I’ve really enjoyed studying through the armor of God with you and will be writing a more extended version on this subject soon. Below is a brief summary/review. In case you missed a week, each section title is a link to the full blog on the particular piece of armor.
The full armor of God has six pieces. First, is the belt of truth. “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.” Eph. 6:14-15 The belt of truth refers to the condition of your private life. In the context of this passage it isn’t merely referring to a correct creed or doctrine, as important as those are. Wearing the belt of truth represents an inner life that is properly relating to God. It’s about integrity, having a pure heart before God, and being honest with yourself and those in your inner circle, spouse first and foremost. Being authentic and vulnerable are two vital elements of the belt of truth.
Righteousness is “imputed” to us. Christ in you, is your righteousness. It’s who you are; a legal transfer from Jesus, into you. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor. 5:21 Growing in this revelation, seeing yourself as one of the Father’s children, having your heart saturated with a sense of God’s acceptance – this translates into armor for the heart.
To consistently have this breastplate of righteousness, we must be seeing God as our Father versus seeing Him primarily as Judge. For example, a judge bases his decision on what a person does, whether or not he obeys the law. What counts, is the rules. Relationship does not come into play in the courtroom. If this is my filter, then the bar will always be too high, the standard unreachable. A father, on the other hand, is not a judge in a court of law. For a father, relationship is the bottom line, not rules. The story of the Prodigal Son is a prime example. True righteousness is grounded in a relationship of grace.
The third piece of armor is having your “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” What does this piece of armor provide? Athletes wear cleats to guarantee firm footing when they compete. The Roman soldiers of old were no different. Bits of nails or spikes were attached to their shoes to enable them to traverse all types of ground. In the rigors of battle, the soldier needed confidence that he could stop and pivot quickly. In the Roman world, armies did not have land mines. Instead, they used sharpened spikes just beneath the surface of the ground, camouflaged with leaves or soft dirt. An advancing soldier needed sturdy boots to stop the spikes from penetrating or he would suffer a debilitating injury. Perhaps you’ve had the experience of wading into the water at the beach, where rocks and sharp stones are causing you to gingerly walk off balance. Contrast that with the same experience while wearing “water shoes.” Hardly feeling a thing, you are able to walk quickly and securely.
It’s clear that faith means believing or trusting. This fourth piece represents my being consistent to believe and trust God. Let’s go a bit further and look at three different shades of meaning. First, there is saving faith, by which we are born again. It’s been forty-four years since I first laid aside the deeds of darkness and put on Christ. It boggles my mind that I lived for twenty-one years with little or no, shield of faith. I must have looked like a pin cushion on fire, if you know what I mean. Second, there is the fruit of faith, or faithfulness. Gal. 5:22 We are full of faith, and shielded, when we maintain a daily trust in God. And third, is what has been called enduring faith.
The whole context of Ephesians six is not about salvation, or daily faith, but about wrestling against spiritual forces of evil. The shield of faith in essence, is enduring faith, that persistently finds a way to rise above whatever the situation might be. It’s very helpful when a marriage has saving faith (both spouses are believers) and the fruit of faith (daily trust), but when the ante goes up into a full scale assault from the forces of darkness, having the enduring shield in play is essential. By the way, this applies foremost to personal battles, i.e. what one spouse might be going through, not even related to an interpersonal marital conflict at all. There is a subtle, deadly nuance as well, when the spouse who is struggling goes deep into hiding, perhaps from shame, and the other spouse is mystified by the passive/aggressive behavior they are encountering.
The clearest Biblical definition of the helmet of salvation is found here: “You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober…putting on…the hope of salvation as a helmet.” 1 Thes. 5:5,6,8 There is a wide range of meaning to “salvation”, which includes being rescued from the consequences of sin. It also carries the meaning of an endowment or a gift, with an eternal future expectation. Staying strong in the midst of a dark world mandates that I carry a confident assurance of my identity in Christ.
This sixth piece is a deep and profound one. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Heb. 4:12 The word of God is not only for use against the enemy, but it is also designed for self-application, its presence being a deterrent to sin. I would venture to say that my success in receiving the penetration of this sword into my own heart, correlates with my level of success in using it against the enemy.
Perhaps it seems obvious, but still too important not to mention. As goes my prayer life, so goes the effectiveness of the armor. A lifestyle of prayer is our greatest protection and most potent weapon. “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 Lord’s people.” Eph. 6:18
“Prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (Message)