Jerry C. Brewer
Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 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 (Eph. 6:11).
The child of God must be spiritually clad in the whole armor of God. The “whole armor of God” is not that which God wears, but the armor He provides for the Christian to wear and every item of it is designed and formed by His word.
Like that of the Roman legionnaire, the Christian’s armor is designed for combat—both offensively and defensively. But, unlike the Roman soldier, we fight the battles of a spiritual kingdom (John 18:36); our combat is not “against flesh and blood” but is a spiritual warfare. Therefore, the armor is spiritual in the Christian’s war against the powers enumerated above. Those powers represent Satan’s kingdom and his power of persuasion through the avenues of temptation—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-17; Jas. 1:13-15). These are the things the Christian soldier wars against and in his lifelong warfare it is the whole armor of God that protects his soul and destroys the enemy. Five of the items are defensive, one is offensive, and all are rooted in the word of God.
The Girdle of Truth
The question Pilate asked of Jesus, “What is truth?” was answered in the Lord’s prayer in Gethsemane, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). That was the same truth Jesus used in deflecting the assaults of Satan in His temptation when He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). The girdle of truth protects the Christian from those same temptations, but he must know and love that truth as David, who said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psa. 119:11).
The Breastplate of Righteousness
This righteousness is that which comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:16-17). “The righteousness of God” of which Paul writes is not an attribute of God, but the means by which He makes men righteous—His standard of righteousness for mankind, which is the gospel.
Jesus said the Christian’s righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 5:20). His meaning is not that a Christian should be more righteous than they, but that the standard by which he is made righteous must be a higher standard than theirs. Like their modern denominational counterparts, they ignored God’s standard and set their own. Paul said, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:13).
The Jews were not ignorant that God is righteous. They knew that. But Paul said they were ignorant of the gospel and in not submitting “themselves unto the righteousness of God,” they had not submitted to the gospel standard by which men are made righteous. The breastplate of righteousness is acquired by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Feet Shod With Gospel of Peace
It’s ironic that part of the Christian’s armor called, “the gospel of peace” is among items of warfare. The feet of the gospel messengers were described in Isaiah 52:7, which Paul quoted in Romans 5:15: “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.” The gospel of peace is that message which brings peace, but not peace with the world or Satan. Juxtaposed against this concept is Jesus’ statement in Matthew 10:34: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Yet, at the birth of Jesus, the angels announced, “…on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). There is no contradiction in these statements. The sword (conflict) Jesus spoke of in Matthew 10:34 is explained in the next two verses as conflict within families that would be divided because of His teaching. The peace the angels announced is peace between man and God which comes through obedience to the gospel, and explained by Paul: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). Peace through justification by faith comes when one becomes a child of God and Paul explains how we are justified by faith. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27). Baptism into Christ is justification by faith, thereby making peace with God.
The Shield of Faith
Faith is the shield of the Christian soldier to deflect Satan’s assault, and that faith comes through the word of God. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). It was the word of God which moved the worthies listed in Hebrews 11 to act. By faith, Abel offered (Heb. 11:4), Enoch walked with God and was translated, Noah built the ark and saved his family (Heb. 11:7), Abraham obeyed God’s call (Heb. 11:8) and offered up Isaac (Heb. 11:17). Faith is understanding God’s word and doing what His word directs, and the Christian soldier’s faith is increased by study of God’s word (1 Pet. 1:3-8) In this manner, the Christian’s shield deflects the “fiery darts of the wicked.”
The Helmet of Salvation
The helmet protects the head. It was the head of the serpent that Christ bruised by His resurrection (Gen. 3:15), dealing Satan a death blow. The Christian soldier’s head is protected from a spiritual death blow by his helmet of salvation and that helmet is supplied through the word of God. Paul said the gospel is, “the gospel of your salvation” (Eph. 1:13).
The gospel is the means of salvation (Rom. 1:16-17) and it is by the gospel that God calls men to Himself. “…God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:13-14). Without this helmet, the Christian is vulnerable to Satan.
Salvation is in Christ (2 Tim. 2:10) and in Christ is the saving efficacy of His blood (Eph. 1:7). Outside of Him man is hopelessly lost (Eph. 2:1-2, 11-12), and in that state, one has no helmet of salvation.
The Sword of The Spirit
This is the sword the Holy Spirit forged—the inspired word of God. It is wielded by the Christian soldier and it will prick the hearts of sinners who receive it (Acts 2:37; Heb 4:12). It is often said that the Spirit uses the word in conversion, but that is false. The Christian wields and uses that sword. When Peter preached on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit inspired him, but Peter wielded the sword of the Spirit to prick the hearts of his hearers. That same sword is wielded by the Christian soldier today in converting men to Christ. The gospel is the sword of the Spirit.
Every item of the Christian’s armor is rooted and grounded in the word of God. When we are clad in that armor and use it properly, and add prayer, supplication, watchfulness and perseverance (Eph. 6:18), no power of Satan can overcome us. Faith is the victory which overcomes the world (1 John 5:4) and that faith comes only through the word of God (Rom. 10:17).