The Whole Armor of God
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Eph 6:10-11)
A suit of armor is equipment worn to protect the body in battle. Armor is for soldiers. The Bible says in II Tim. 2:3-4, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”
So, in the New Testament, the real, Biblical Christian Life is described as a battle and a warfare. Those are terms not applied to the Christian life by the so-called leaders in “Christendom” (whatever that is) today, and rightly so; the average, modern “Christians” are less like soldiers in a battle and more like contestants on a game show, with their leaders functioning as the game show hosts. It’s like American Idol, but with less talent.
If you’re interested in being a real, Biblical Christian who wishes to please the One who has given His life for you, and given you your “marching orders,” you’re going to notice something eventually. The more time you spend in the Book and with the “Captain of your salvation” (Heb. 2:10) who wrote It, the more you’re going to notice that modern, contemporary Christianity and BIBLICAL Christianity have about as much in common with one another as an NFL linebacker has with a ballerina. Further, if you attempt to practice Biblical Christianity, you’re going to stick out like John Wayne at a gay pride parade.
Not only is the Christian’s life a battle, but he’s engaged the enemy on three fronts at the same time. When the Christian soldier takes up his sword in this fight, he goes up against the world, the flesh, and the Devil (Gal. 1:4, 5:17; I Pet. 5:8), often simultaneously.
Speaking of Jesus Christ, Galatians 1:4 says, “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father”. The “world” as a group, and the system it operates within is always at odds with the Bible and the Spirit of God. The Christian’s mission is to have compassion on and win the individual souls in that group to Jesus Christ; but the group as a whole is against the Christian soldier, and will give him opposition, distraction, and enticement to defect to their side at every opportunity. Some Christians have a hard time making the distinction between “loving souls” and “hating the enemy,” but the key is found in the approach we are told to have toward the world as a group entity, versus the approach we are to have toward the individual soul in bondage to that entity. It’s simple once that difference is recognized (see Psa. 139:21, 22).
Galatians 5:17 describes the nature of the flesh—“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Paul said, “In my flesh dwelleth no good thing.” Your flesh is the body that houses your spirit and your soul. The spirit is born again and the soul is saved from hell at the point of salvation…but absolutely NOTHING happens to change your body. It’s still a “body of sin” (Rom. 6:6), with fleshly “lusts that war in its members” (Jam. 4:1), and is so “vile” that it must one day be completely changed if it will come into the presence of God in His holiness (Php. 3:21). Most of your trouble will come from this ever-present enemy, for you take him with you wherever you go. It’s an enemy that must “die daily” (I Cor. 15:31). You must fight its pride, it’s foul mouth, its lusts for things it should not have or want, its selfish and self-centered way of doing things and seeing things, and its general disdain for any spiritual activity that would be pleasing to God. The fight is between the old nature of the flesh and the new nature of the Holy Spirit that dwells inside the believer, and the battle is decided when the will of the Christian is submitted to either one. This battle does not exist for the lost man, for he has only ONE nature—the nature of the flesh. He’s bound to do what the flesh tells him, for he has no alternative. The Christian, however, has a choice to make: “please God, or please my flesh.” The battle is won by God’s grace alone, which is supplied immediately when the Christian chooses to submit to the Holy Spirit that indwells him. This battle will not end until the body of flesh is laid down.
The third and final enemy of the Christian is the Devil himself. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8). The Devil’s strategy against the Christian soldier is not what most people imagine. He’s very subtle. He’s not going to come at you dressed in a red suit with horns, pitchfork in hand. Although the Devil is pleased when you sin, he doesn’t make you sin, and it’s not his fault when you sin; that’s your flesh, which we discussed above. In the Bible, the Devil is always concerned with worship. When he shows up to tempt the Lord Jesus, he says, “all these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and WORSHIP ME” (Matt. 4:9).
Worship involves obedience, submission, sacrifice, time, effort and energy (Gen. 22:5; Matt. 4:10). The Devil will be found “in the details.” Satan can’t have your soul once your saved. He’s lost that battle. But the Devil is ultimately concerned with stealing worship from the Lord (Isa. 14), and if Satan can get you to give time, money, attention, energy—in essence, GLORY—to anything or anyone BESIDES THE LORD, he has accomplished his goal and defeated you. Hence, in the life of the Christian, the Devil will be found at work in anything that DISTRACTS him from serving the Lord and INTERRUPTS his Bible reading, prayer life, faithful church attendance, participation in soul-winning, tithing, or ministering and being a help to others for their spiritual well-being. All of those things, if accomplished, will bring GLORY TO GOD, either through the life of the Christian, or through the life of the one he has ministered to; therefore Satan will be actively engaged in trying to steal that glory from God. Satan does not have to take you to hell to win the battle; he just has to disable you from carrying out your orders. Satan doesn’t care what it takes to disable you, as long as it takes you out of the fight. Once your inactive, you are inconsequential to his agenda. He’s won. Satan is so subtle he has most Christians believing they're fighting him when they get sick or lose their job, when in reality, they're actively worshipping the Devil and serving him by bringing their kids to soccer practice on Wednesday night when they should be at prayer meeting; or when they decide to have “family time” and miss Sunday night’s service. “Hey kids, instead of going to church tonight, we’re going to offer a sacrifice to Lucifer! Doesn’t that sound exciting?!”
Now, as an individual Christian, you must engage the enemy. Somebody once said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.” You are a casualty already if you don’t get in battle. You must engage. In all the Hollywood war movies, the Hero and the Villain always wind up facing off individually with one another, in an epic standoff. Ironically, that’s how it’s going to be for you. Although you have fellow-soldiers in this battle, you fight as an individual on a daily basis. You must look beyond all the distractions, all the decoys, and all the deceptions and locate and engage your real enemy. You must fight, or be destroyed.
The Battle is serious, and you’re going to need some serious armor to make it. Let’s examine Ephesians 6:10-18.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (v10). HIS might. This battle will not be fought and won in your strength, but in God’s strength. It’s a spiritual warfare, not a physical one. The muslims and the Catholics think it’s a physical war, but unlike them, no Bible-believing Christian would ever be found harming or killing those who disagreed with him in any way. Our battle is not with “flesh and blood” (v12, 13).
“Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (v11). Don’t leave a piece out! You will need every piece of armor he’s about to describe in order to survive.
“That ye may be able to stand…and having done all, to stand” (v11, 13).
Notice the goal is not to win, but to “stand.” The victory belongs to the Lord. As a matter of fact, that victory has already been won; we are to be found faithful and standing at the end of the battle. We are given offensive and defensive weapons to accomplish this, but don’t forget that your goal is not to save the world, turn the country “back to God,” or “bring in the kingdom” on this earth. Those are distractions that will “entangle the soldier in the affairs of this life”, and get him involved in a PHYSICAL warfare against flesh and blood.
Furthermore, the effort to turn physical nations and governments to God will pit the Christian against the scriptures, as the Bible has prophesied in at least a hundred places that the nations of this world are destined for a global government under the Antichrist, and will never become “the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ” until Jesus Christ takes them by force, and in Person, at the 2nd Advent (Rev. 11:15). Our mission is simply to STAND, and be found STANDING at the end of the day.
“For 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. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (v12, 13).
These are the Christian warriors foes. We wage a spiritual warfare against a spiritual enemy—our adversary the devil and all his minions. When you yield to the temptations and distractions of the world, the Devil gets a victory because he is “the god of this world” (I Cor. 4:4). When you yield to the flesh, the Devil gets a victory, ultimately, because “they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8). As we stated earlier, the Devil is pleased as long as God is displeased.
“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth…” (v14).
The Girdle of Truth holds the sheath for the Sword of the Spirit. It’s not a girdle to keep your stomach in (!), but rather functions to hold the rest of the armor together and in place. The girdle of truth is listed first because that is where the first attack is ordered. In Gen. 3:1, Satan attacks the truth of the words of God. Christian, you better find the truth, know the truth, and love the truth even when it goes against you; and you must believe the truth, even when its unpopular. Your King James Bible is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God. (The other versions have subtracted from the truth, and added to the truth, therefore they are not the truth and the truth alone.) Satan has not ceased his attack on the truth from Gen. 3, and if you gird yourself with it, you will face his attacks as well. Be ready.
“And having on the breastplate of righteousness” (v14).
The Breastplate of Righteousness covers your vital organs; especially the heart. This is not Christ’s righteousness, given to us as a free gift in salvation. Paul says here that the Christian is to “put on” this armor, so this is something else. This will be the Christian’s personal righteousness; his efforts at moral purity and virtue. The Christian’s righteousness protects him from the world, the flesh and the snares of the Devil. Knowing what is right, and doing what is right in a given situation is often all you need to escape harm. The consequences of sin bring heartache and heartbreak that can stop the soldier in his tracks, along with potential defilement that can spiritually maim and disable for life. When you do right, not only do you get God’s smile and blessing for the righteous act, but you also avoid reaping the consequences of the wrong action. The arrows bounce off the breastplate, and your heart is protected.
“And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (v15).
The Preparation of the Gospel has to do with the soldiers feet. Every soldier needs a good pair of boots. (Good boots that keep the feet warm and dry would have prevented the “jungle rot”---called “trench foot” in WWII---the soldiers in Vietnam dealt with, being unable to take their wet boots off for days at a time.) The Christian soldier’s mission is to carry the gospel over any and every kind of terrain on earth. You should be prepared to take the truth anywhere your feet take you, in order to search out and rescue sinners from the clutches of a mad dictator who wants nothing but to make their lives miserable and destroy them. We are to be “ambassadors for Christ” (II Cor. 5:17-20).
“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (v16).
The Shield of Faith is not to be considered “above all” in the sense of “more importantly than anything else,” but “above all” in terms of coverage. The shield of faith is to be a complete covering. Heb. 11:6 says “Without faith it is impossible to please him”. Since the soldier exists only to “please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (II Tim. 2:4), every action taken by the soldier is to be taken in faith. Faith in what God has said, and trust in His provision and protection in the results. Without the shield of faith, the fiery darts of doubt, false doctrine, suffering, loss, discouragement, and many others will turn you into a casualty. Satan’s arrows take many forms, and it really doesn’t matter what form they take, as long as they take you out. Without faith, you’ve already lost.
“And take the helmet of salvation…” (v17).
General Patton made his soldiers sleep and eat while wearing their helmets. For their safety, they were to never take it off. Now, the saved Christian is born again, so he’s actually INCAPABLE of removing his helmet of salvation, but notice once again (as with the breastplate) that the Christian soldier who is already saved is commanded to “take” this helmet and put it on. The context implies that the importance of the helmet has to do with the soldier’s knowledge and assurance of salvation, more so than simply being saved. The helmet protects the most important part of your body—the head. Head injuries are the most dangerous to sustain. Paul says over and over, “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren”; but there are some ignorant brethren out there. A man can be saved and be ignorant of it, or fail to consider the reason for it, and therefore fail to get in, or stay in the battle.
When a man fails to understand salvation, or doubts his salvation, he has a head problem that will render him totally useless until he gets it resolved. He will be ineffective as a soldier; living in fear and ducking down in the foxhole instead of returning fire at the enemy. He will neglect his orders, being consumed with checking and rechecking if he “actually enlisted.”
Contrariwise, the soldier who has taken his helmet and put it on, with full assurance of the protection the helmet gives (Rom. 8:29-39), will be an unstoppable force in the battle. The helmet of salvation is IMPERVIOUS, and the soldier who knows that is a force to be reckoned with. In fact, the enemy cannot actually defeat the Christian soldier unless the soldier surrenders. Killing him just sends him home to his family in good health!
Patton’s men used their helmets as pillows—it’s good to pillow your head in full assurance of where you’ll spend eternity.
“And the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God” (v17).
The Roman soldier sharpened his sword on both sides until it had a razor’s edge. Our weapon is even sharper and more devastating to the enemy than that. Heb. 4:12 says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and SHARPER than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” The sword of the spirit is INFALLIBLE. It’s the Christian’s primary weapon, and it can be a defense and an offense. Having two edges, It can destroy, or it can cut away infection like a scalpel. That black-backed, .66 calibre King James Bible is the weapon that will win the day against any and all of your adversaries. Not to have it or not to use it is to be weak, ignorant, defeated, and useless as a Christian. When the enemy attacks, the soldier has access to the same weapon his Captain uses (Matt. 4)—“It is written...it is written...IT IS WRITTEN!”
There is a very important rule to be observed when utilizing this weapon: Don’t sheath It without drawing blood. The Book says, “Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully, and cursed be he that KEEPETH BACK HIS SWORD FROM BLOOD” (Jer. 48:10). The Book is designed to be read, understood, believed, and the PUT INTO PRACTICE. It is not a trophy to place on a shelf and collect dust. It’s not a tool to be used to gain an income. It’s a heat seeking (Heb. 4:12), laser-guided, nuclear missile, which will destroy those who despise It, deceive those who approach It dishonestly, and empower those who wield It fearfully and honestly.
The careful observer will note there are three components conveniently missing from the suit of armor described:
1) Leg protection. The reason no shin guards or leg armour is needed is because the Christian soldier fights his spiritual battle on his knees. Notice verse 18 in the passage— “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints”.
2) Back armor. No protection is needed for the soldier’s back side because the only direction he is to move is FORWARD. (Php. 3:13). Retreat is not an option!
3) Throat protection. Even hockey goalies wear this protection, but the Christian soldier has no use for it. His head is bowed in humility.
“Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand in the evil day.” That evil day is upon us, Christian. Will you stand? Then suit up!