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 the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
An armor is always a set of clothing that protects a person. “Always” because a single piece of Kevlar jacket only protects one part of the body but leaves everything else vulnerable. God tells us to put on His own armor that we may gain victory over every enemy that is in front of us. However, before putting on armor, we should know the battle we are facing.
The Source of Strength
We cannot put on any form of armor if we do not realize who is calling us to battle. Jesus Christ is leading the charge and is in constant battle with the enemy (Psalm 144:2, 18:2). He is the source of our strength and might. He allows us to put on our armor so that we could withstand te enemy.
Jesus is asking us to put on an armor, a defensive apparel. This armor is not meant for attack but for defense. This is because Jesus is the one fighting for us (1 Samuel 17:47, Zech. 14:3). He provides us with all the necessary defense against the enemies so that He would do the fighting. All we have to do is to trust in the one who gave us an armor.
As Paul have mentioned, the enemy is not a a supernatural creature with horns and with a tail. Instead, it is principalities, powers, rulers of this age and spiritual hosts. This means that our primary enemy is in our mind. We clash principles against principles, ideas versus ideas. The enemy is our own selves against our own dark ideas and selfish desires. Our enemy is powers outside of our control, influences that could not be defeated on our own power. Wickedness and darkness are our enemies and they do not only exist outside but inside us.
The armor consists of several pieces: a waist band of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the footwear of the gospel of peace, the shielf of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit. Each one may cover one distinct part of the body and may have a specific function. But upon closer inspection, we would be comforted with the real identity of the armor of God.
The Belt of Truth
The belt keeps up all the other parts of the armor. It binds all the pieces on the body together that they may be secure and would not fall apart. This is an integral part of the armor which indicates that the knowledge of the truth would keep everything intact. Jesus mentioned in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father, except through me.” Thus the knowledge that Christ is the truth and the only way to the Father would ensure us that all the other parts of the armor would not fall apart.
The Breastplate of Righteousness
A breastplate protects all the internal organs. It is a strong piece of metal placed over the chest and stomach. It protects the most vital organ of all – the heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). This tells us how fickle our hearts coule be that it needs to be guarded. Our emotions, our desires often get the better of us. We are fickle – desiring one thing and another without satisfaction. We are easily driven by fear, doubt, and anxiety. Thus we are told to “guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (Proverbs 4:23).” Therefore, the breastplate is integral in guarding our heart. Righteousness is needed to protect the heart. To be righteous means to have right standing before God. Throughout time, men have tried to do this by doing good works and committing no sin before God. But often man falls short (Galatians 2:16). Thus, God sent His only son so that we could have right standing before God. Jesus Christ died for us so that He can be our righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21, Phil. 3:9, Romans 3:22). Thus the breastplate of Righteousness is none other than Jesus Christ.
Footwear of the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace
While not explicitly mentioning what kind of footwear this is, it can be assumed that it is a shoe. A shoe protects the feet when walking and is important in an armor. Whether a soldier is rushing the enemy or defending, a shoe is important to keep the soldier rooted on the ground to stand strong and tall. Without strong shoes, the soldier will easily be overcome by the enemy. The Lord’s shoes are the gospel of peace because peace is what we need to walk on this earth. Our enemies often shatter our resolve and try to destroy our connection with the Father. Thus we are to cast all our worries to Him (1 Peter 5:7).
Moreover, it is not just called the gospel of peace, but the “footwear of the preparation of the gospel of peace.” This is simply because peace does not come in an instant, instead preparation is necessary. Learning the gospel is also not a one-time thing, it also involves a process. A process involves preparation. Our hearts and minds could not sustain the peace brought by the gospel if it is continuously entertaining troubled thoughts. We have to be ready to accept what the Lord wants to give us. In missionary and evangelistic circles, they call it the “leg-work,” sound familiar?
Christ, himself, tells us that “in the world you will have tribulation,” but also reminds us to have “good cheer,” because “I have overcome the world.” He says these things so that we may have peace (John 16:33). God wants us to wear His footwear so we can be assured of peace which could be found in Jesus Christs. We are not assured that there wont be any worry or any trial, there will definitely be, but we are assured of peace (Philippians 4:6-7). Jesus Christ is the preparation of the gospel of peace. The good news of our salvation brings us the ultimate peace that we could need everyday (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
The Shield of Faith
A shield is an integral part of a soldier’s armor. A shield protects the vital parts of the soldier. A shield ensures a person’s safety from the attacks of the enemy. A shield is held usually by the left hand to protect the most vital part of the body: the heart. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is the evidence of things not seen, the substance of things hoped for.” Faith is to be held the same way the soldier holds a shield – with total conviction and desperation. Faith should be placed in the heart to make sure that it is working. (James 2:26). Faith ensures us salvation (Ephesians 2:8).
This faith that we have would only hold water if the faith that we hold on to is faith in Jesus Christ – not religion, not tradition, not practices. Our faith should be founded in a relationship with a person – Jesus Christ. Thus, our shield of faith should protect our heart from the enemy and should be working in accordance to Jesus Christ.
Helmet of Salvation
A helmet protects the head. While breastplates and shields may have gone out of style in modern warfare, a helmet never goes out of style. After all, the head is the most vital organ of all as it controls all of our thought processes. It needs the most protection after the heart. Salvation only comes from Jesus Christ. It is His death that bought us freedom from sin (Romans 6:22). Salvation is placed on the head because we ought to think about our saved state, about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ every day. Otherwise, we would be overrun with fear of doing efforts to be saved. Isaiah 12:2 tells that “God” is “salvation” “I will trust and not be afraid.” This points us to the idea that salvation gives us confidence and strengthens our faith. Thus we have to remember and think about the salvation that Jesus Christ has given us.
Sword of the Spirit
A sword is an offensive weapon. It is used for killing but at the same time used to protect. It all depends on the user. The same goes with the Word of God. Depending on the user, it could be used to put blame and shame on a fellow sinner, or uplift and edify and inspire. Of course we all know that the Word of God is used only for the latter and it is a sin against God to use it to coerce someone. Only the Holy Spirit could convict and lead people to repentance. Thus, the sword is ascribed to it. The Holy spirit alone could pierce our hears of our sin and protect us from sin. As a tool for defense and offense, the sword of the Spirit could defeat the enemy by leading us towards Jesus Christ. He will be the one to save us from the assailant and deliver the finishing blow.
God’s Armor, Our Action
The whole armor of God could be summed up into one: Jesus Christ. Only through Him could we find and wear the whole armor. He alone equipts us. Like the fruit of the Spirit, the armor is a get one, get all. Get Jesus in your life, and you get the full set of armor.
On the other hand, while God provides the armor, Paul tells us to (1) pray with “all prayer and supplication in the Spirit;” (2) “be watchful to this end;” and (3) “for utterance may be given.” He tells us that our action should only be prayer, preparation and proclamation. Pray for Jesus to come to our lives. Prepare ourselves to be transformed according to His will. Proclaim His name and what He has done to our lives.