In Ephesians chapter six, we find a description of God’s armor. The Apostle Paul utilizes a powerful illustration of the armor worn by the typical Roman soldier of his day. No doubt Paul observed the intricacies of this armor, having been arrested and imprisoned on several occasions, affording him the opportunity of a close-up view. Although armor is mostly defensive (naturally), there are two offensive weapons at our disposal. Any weakness or chink in one’s armor can lead to vulnerability. If one piece of armor is missing or damaged, our spiritual safety will be compromised. Twice in Ephesians chapter six, we’re admonished to put on the ‘whole armor of God.’ Without the full scope of armor, we’re inevitably susceptible to spiritual attack. I also wish to stress, this is ‘God’s armor,’ not our own. Only by being in fellowship with the Holy Spirit and regular consumption of God’s word, are we actively wearing our armor, otherwise it might be at risk of gathering dust, or worse, rust.
Paul’s illustration of the full armor of God, is analogous to the spiritual realm. Often the western mindset is oblivious to the spirit world. Realizing the spiritual equivalency of our armor is crucial to our Christian walk. We should consider that fighting spiritual battles with physical weapons, is like bringing a knife to a gunfight! Understanding each item of armor is essential to our success in this multidimensional sin war. Let’s now explore the famous passage in question and the unique attributes of each piece of armor, Ephesians 6:10–18:
“10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 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.
13 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. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”
The Belt of Truth
Our rules of engagement in spiritual warfare, hang on truth. The belt binds up the garments, also referred to as ‘girding up the loins’ in the Elizabethan prose. The belt is the first piece of equipment we put on, holding all the other pieces in place. The belt is also the least conspicuous piece of armor, yet, the sword and shield, both hang from it. The belt was called the baleus, and without it, the whole armor would fall down (you get the picture). If we don’t walk in truth on a daily basis, we’re left embarrassed, with our pants down! Those who don’t tell the truth, often end up lying to hide their shame. In essence, truth holds everything together, so we must walk with integrity before God and our fellow man.
The Breastplate of Righteousness
The word for breastplate in Greek is ‘thorax’, which literally means, ‘heart protector.’ It was made to be mobile in battle (not rigid). We too must be flexible and move with the Spirit. Did you know Paul also referred to the ‘armor of righteousness’ in 2nd Corinthians 6:7? There’s also mention of the ‘breastplate of righteousness’ and ‘helmet of salvation’ in Isaiah 59:17. Evidently God had this illustration of armor, on His mind long before Paul brought it to our attention. Incidentally, the bottom of the breastplate is tied to the ‘belt of truth.’ Therefore, righteousness must be ‘tied to truth’ because we cannot obtain righteousness (or right standing) with God unless we believe upon His Word. One last thing, on sunny days the breastplate would reflect the sun’s rays and blind the enemy, just as we reflect the ‘Son’s’ rays (i.e., the sun of righteousness-Malachi 4:2). Christ’s reflection is a formidable weapon!
The Sandals of the Gospel of Peace
Leather straps to the knee provided much needed protection for the shins. This open-air, light weight design, allowed a Roman soldier to march up to 50 miles a day, carrying anywhere between a 60-to-100-pound load, consisting of weaponry and provisions, without developing blisters. The open-air circulation also prevented the feet from developing fungi. Under both feet were metal studs of two sizes, providing traction for walking, running and standing for long hours. Just like the Roman centurion, we too are equipped for battle and prepared for difficult terrain, as we share the Gospel of Peace. Peace is a powerful weapon. If we make peace with God, it can become a witness to others. Are you rooted and grounded in Christ Jesus? Time to put your sandals on!
The Shield of Faith
The Roman shield was covered with up to six layers of animal hide. A soldier had to maintain his shield by caring for the animal skin which would often become dry. A dry shield was hazardous for the soldier making it brittle and susceptible to fire (more on this shortly). To prevent ‘dry shields’, soldiers often carried olive oil to rub into the surface. The prophet Isaiah instructed men to ‘anoint their shields’ (Isa 21:15).
We keep our shield of faith ‘oily’ by reading the word, speaking the word and receiving times of refreshing in the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:119-20). Have you anointed your shield with oil lately? It’s our responsibility to ‘quench the fiery darts of the wicked one’ (not God’s). But what exactly is a ‘fiery dart?’…(see the illustration below).
The Helmet of Salvation
In Roman times the helmet was made from a copper-iron alloy, which greatly increased its strength. The helmet also carried the army’s insignia on it. It was bowl shaped, featuring a ‘neck guard’ in the back, a ‘brow guard’ in the front and ‘cheek guards’ to each side. The helmet provided protection from all angles, front, top, side and back…friend, your salvation covers all angles of attack, with the mind as the primary battlefield.
The Book of Revelation describes the name of God etched into our foreheads (Rev 14:1). Guess what? The enemy knows which army you’re in because God’s name is beamed from your forehead, in the spiritual realm! Is it any wonder the Antichrist tries to stamp his name into the foreheads of the lost, in the tribulation period via the Mark of the Beast (Rev 13:16-18)? This is merely an imitation of God’s intention all along.
The Sword of the Spirit
The Sword of the Spirit represents the word of God, the most powerful substance in the known universe. God’s word was sent forth to bring about creation and the spoken word can still save, heal and deliver today. There were many swords enjoying wide circulation in Roman times, the Pompei sword, Calvary sword and Macharia sword, to name a few. But for the Roman soldier, it came down to five, each with its own distinct advantages and disadvantages. These were the Republican Gladius, Mainz Gladius, Pompeian Gladius, Spatha (long blade) and finally the Galdius Hispaniensis (aka the ‘Spanish sword’).
The primary weapon of choice for the Roman Soldier (Galdius Hispaniensis aka the ‘Spanish sword’) was beautifully crafted and perfectly balanced to cater for short range combat and tight spaces. The short handle was made of wood and could be covered in bronze sheeting or plated with silver. Sometimes four grooves were made in the handle to give a better grip. A pommel at the end of the handle, gave the sword a good balance so it could be used to slash with great force if necessary.
The relatively short, double-edged blade made it ideal for the cutting and thrusting motions required for confined proximity. The short blade of the Gladius Hispaniensis gave its carrier a distinct advantage over an opponent armed with an unwieldy and heavier, longer-bladed sword. In other words, the sharp-edged sword of God’s word is ideal for close combat with the devil. Have you wielded yours lately or is it stuck in its scabbard? The Gladius Hispaniensis was made of iron. It represented God’s Word which is also double edged and as hard as iron. One side is mercy, the other side judgment (Heb 4:12). God’s word is ‘quick and powerful,’ sharper than any sword in question. The two-sided blade also represents the two types of word, ‘logos’ (written) and ‘rhema’ (spoken). Time to pull your sword free from its scabbard and thrust it into the heart of your enemy!
The Spear or Lance of Prayer
Although not mentioned explicitly, ‘praying with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,’ can be likened to a spear or lance. The Pilum was typically thrown at enemies from a distance like a javelin but could also be used to ‘jab’ or ‘shank’ opponents at close quarters. The pilum was equivalent to the spear or lance of the Middle Ages.
Although Paul doesn’t mention the spear specifically as part of God’s armor, it was well known that in open battle, spears were commonly used at a distance in unison with arrows. Intercession and supplication are our equivalent means of long-range attack. Why wait for the devil to get up close and personal when you can spear him from afar? This is where prayer comes in…Prayer is a ‘long range weapon.’ If we can take the enemy out at long distance, we don’t have to confront him in close proximity. Too many Christians’ wait till the enemy is breathing down their neck, but by interceding and supplicating, we’re able to take care of business from a distance.
What is the purpose of our armor? Eph 4:13-14, reveals the answer, “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. 14 Stand therefore.” It’s time to stand friend, stand for your kids, your family, your church and your community. Spiritual warfare is not ‘fighting the devil.’ The Body of Christ is an occupying army. An occupying army stands guard over the territory that’s already been won for us by Christ Jesus. No matter how impressive you are in the flesh, you’re no match for the enemy without God’s armor! Therefore, our strength comes from knowing our identity in Christ and staying in close fellowship with our Heavenly Father, not from our education, intellect, looks, finances, talents, friends or anything else.
Keep your armor on, and stand therefore in the liberty that the Gospel provides!
Have you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ? If not, click here to find out more…
Author – Carl G.M. Joseph
Dressed to Kill: A Biblical Approach to Spiritual Warfare and Armor (Rick Renner, Teach all Nations Publishing, Tulsa, OK, 2007)
Spiritual Weapons to defeat the Enemy: Overcoming the Wiles, Devices and Deception of the Devil (Rick Renner, Harrison House Publishers; New edition, Tulsa, OK, 2013)
Related Keyword Searches: