Am I the only one that was a little scared when in Sunday School, you learned about the fact you had to put on armor and fight in the Lord’s Army? You know the song, right?
I may never march in the infantry
Ride in the cavalry
Shoot the artillery.
I may never fly o’er the enemy,
But I’m in the Lord’s army – yes, sir!!
If you know the song I’m talking about, I’m sure you remember the poster with the Roman soldier decked out in his freshly forged armor. I’m not sure I related so much back then with the fighting theme that Paul is passionate about, but as I’ve grown older, it has become abundantly clear just how vital this armor is.
Let’s read our passage, get an idea of background and context, and then we’ll dig deeper into the importance of two pieces of spiritual armor.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in chapter 6 says:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 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 firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the Gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
“The city of Ephesus was the epicenter of worship for most of the Greek and Roman gods, and for over two years Paul had a really effective missionary presence there, and lots of people became followers of Jesus.” It was from prison or house arrest in Rome years later that Paul wrote this persuasive letter to Christians.
Ephesians is divided into two sections: 1-3 is the doctrinal section – the story of the Gospel and 4-6 is the practical section – how the Gospel should affect the living out of the Gospel. Keep this in mind as we discover the power of the spiritual armor of God and the role of the Belt of Truth and Breastplate of Righteousness.
The Spiritual Armor of God
Like I said earlier, I don’t think that I really connected with the solder/warrior metaphor when I was in Sunday School. It seemed irrelevant and out-of-reach for a 10-year-old in her Sunday best sitting nicely waiting for the “listening nicely” candy award at the end of the lesson. “Are girls supposed to be soldiers?” “That stuff looks heavy.” “The Devil has fiery arrows??” Even though much was lost on me during those Sunday school lessons, I’m thankful for teachers who poured their time, love, and resources into me.
I’ve heard that we should view the putting on of the armor of God as re-dressing. We’re putting off the clothes of the old man and putting on our new clothes (Ephesians 4:24) created in the likeness of God.
I remember several years ago applying for a job at a huge healthcare company. The job I applied for was an administrative assistant to a Senior Director. With the little money I had, I went shopping for the perfect outfit. I bought dress pants, a couple of different tops and a new pair of heels, which I only wore a couple of times but that’s beside the point. Here’s the thing – my new clothes gave me a sense of confidence that I could face that interview; a feeling that I could do a job that I may not have been qualified for.
I realize that that wasn’t a perfect metaphor for the armor of God, but these new clothes we wear and this battle we face cannot be done in our old clothes. We must put on these new clothes and stand firmin our day to day battles that we may be effective in our walk with Christ.
Belt of Truth
The very first piece of armor he tells us about is the Belt of Truth, and he tells us to fasten it. In Roman times, the belt was a vital part of the armor, upon which most of the other pieces connected to. The sword and sheath were fastened to the belt. The breastplate was tucked in behind the belt, and strips of leather hung to protect the lower part of the body. This piece of armor was not decorative, it was a sign of readiness and preparedness.
This readiness hearkens back to Exodus 12 when God told the people to eat the Passover with thier belt fastened. We must be ready; we must be prepared for whatever comes our way this day. Paul writes in 1 Peter that we should gird our minds for action. How do we gird our minds? The meaning of gird is to encircle, secure, or surround. The first thing I think of when I read that in this context is surrounding my mind with truth.
Are you prepared? Are you ready for the day? Surround yourself with truth – the Word of God, the glorious Gospel.
Breastplate of Righteousness
The breastplate was essential in protecting the vital organs of the soldier. It guarded the heart, lungs, and other organs. How important was it for a soldier to wear the breastplate? Life or death.
And so it is life or death for us.
You see, the Breastplate of Righteousness is not just a thing we put on, it’s a person we accept. 1 Cor 9:21 tells us, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Jesus humbled himself (Philippians 2), bore our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4-5), delivered himself to death and was raised to life for our justification (Romans 4:25).
No matter how hard we try, all of our efforts to be righteous are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Alistair Begg gives a fitting analogy: think of a Christmas tree all decked out in Christmas ornaments. The ornaments, lights, and tinsel all make the tree look beautiful, but have no power in and of themselves. Christians trying to be righteous are like trees putting on pretty ornaments, and those ornaments fade, and the tree is tossed aside after serving its purpose. I can read all of the self-help books and try all of the Enneagram strategies to do better and be better, but it is only by putting on Christthat my life will bring forth lasting and abundant fruit, thereby living in the righteousness of God.
Did you know that Paul is not just availing himself of a Roman context for his armor metaphor? He’s pointing us to the Old Testament where Jesus is described as the Messiah King. Isaiah 11 and 59 tell us of a King who put on righteousness as a breastplate who will redeem his people, and Psalm 24 proclaims the “King of Glory is the Lord strong and mighty in battle.”The only righteousness I claim is the shed blood of King Jesus who is seated at the right hand of God ever-living to make intercession for me. So, when the doubts and fears flood my mind, I cling to the truth that Christ is my righteousness! I put on Christ! He has already won! The arrows of the devil fall useless, unable to penetrate the faith and hope of one who stands firm in the righteousness of Jesus.
For a moment, meditate on the truth of this song:
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light my strength my song
This Cornerstone this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love what depths of peace
When fears are stilled when strivings cease
My Comforter my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
It is the power of the Gospel, not only to save me but to keep me.
How many of us are in the midst of a battle right now?
Fear is controlling my decisions.
Doubt is plaguing my mind.
Worry is paralyzing my progress.
You’re not alone. In fact, those things are to be expected. It’s why scripture calls for us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2). A Kingdom Warrior has to be ready – we must be prepared to fight the battles that rage against our souls. In researching this topic, I came across an article called, “30 Practical Strategies to Put on the Armor of God.”
I’ll list some for you but take time to follow the link at the bottom of this post to read all thirty.
- Start the day in the Word and in prayer asking God for His help and strength throughout the day.
- Memorize Scripture to keep your sword sharp.
- Saturate yourself in the Bible: God’s Word is truth that fights against the father of lies.
- Analyze activities/thoughts in your life that increase your faith and include those activities in your life whenever you can.
- Analyze activities/thoughts that harm your faith and avoid them whenever you can.
- Sing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs and thus let the truth and Word of Christ dwell in you richly.
- Ask God to fight for you and help you be “strong in the Lord…”
- Preach the Gospel to yourself daily.
- Preach the Gospel to others whenever God gives you the opportunity.
Today, claim the righteousness of Jesus Christ and surround yourself with the Truth found only in the Word of God.
In Christ alone!
Deanna lives and teaches in Dongguan, China. This year will be her 12th year there, and she is still not used to the smells. No, she really does love it there and all of the unique opportunities that God graciously provides for her. Deanna’s passions in life revolve around children, music, and photography. She has also admitted that she may have a small obsession with coffee.
CCLI Song # 3350395 Keith Getty | Stuart Townend © 2001 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)