The armor of God is described inEphesians 6:10-18. In this passage we are told that our primary battles are of a spiritual nature and that we need spiritual armor to be able to stand firm in the midst of these battles. The armor includes the following pieces:
Belt of truth: The belt of truth is the first item in our arsenal. A belt holds the other pieces of clothing and armor together. It secures the outfit and allows a soldier to move freely. Truth both secures us and gives us freedom (John 8:32). One of Satan’s greatest offensive tactics is to deceive us; he is the “father of lies” (John 8:44). With the belt of truth around our waists, we are prepared to defend against this. This truth also applies to the way we live our lives. When we live with honesty and integrity, the other pieces of our armor – what could be considered our spiritual selves – stay intact. A life of integrity is not easily torn asunder.
Breastplate of righteousness: The breastplate of righteousness covers our hearts and other vital organs. In a sense, the breastplate covers the most vulnerable areas of a warrior.Proverbs 4:23says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” The righteousness that guards a believer’s heart is the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Footwear of the readiness of the gospel: Our feet are to be “fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15 NIV). Because we know the good news of Christ and by that knowledge experience peace in Him (John 14:27), our feet are willing to move. In obedience to Christ, we will flee temptations (1 Corinthians 10:14;1 Timothy 6:11;2 Timothy 2:22) and walk into whatever He has called us to (Psalm 86:11;Isaiah 30:21;John 15:10).
Shield of faith: The shield of faith is used to “extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). When Satan attacks us, our faith in Christ lessens the blow. We are able to withstand the attack because we know whom we have believed (2 Timothy 1:12).
Helmet of salvation: A helmet protects the brain, basically our minds. It is because of salvation that our minds can be sound. We are assured of our eternities, and made righteous recipients of peace, practitioners of faith, and knowers of truth. Our minds are protected because of Jesus’ work on the cross; we have been given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:12-16). A helmet can also serve as a signifier. When the enemy looks at us, he sees that we belong to Christ. We carry with us the seal of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Sword of the Spirit: The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. This includes God’s written Word (the Bible), God’s incarnate Word (Jesus as Logos), and God’s spoken Word (the Holy Spirit within us). The sword is the one offensive weapon in the list. We are told, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).Second Timothy 3:16 (NIV)speaks of Scripture as being “God-breathed.” When God spoke creation came into existence. He breathed life into man. There is power in the Word of God; this is why it is our best offense.
The phrase “full armor of God” comes fromEphesians 6:13-17: “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.”
Ephesians 6:12clearly indicates that the conflict with Satan is spiritual, and therefore no tangible weapons can be effectively employed against him and his minions. We are not given a list of specific tactics Satan will use. However, the passage is quite clear that when we follow all the instructions faithfully, we will be able to stand, and we will have victory regardless of Satan’s strategy.
The first element of our armor is truth (verse 14). This is easy to understand, since Satan is said to be the “father of lies” (John 8:44). Deception is high on the list of things God considers to be an abomination. A “lying tongue” is one of the things He describes as “detestable to Him” (Proverbs 6:16-17). We are therefore exhorted to put on truth for our own sanctification and deliverance, as well as for the benefit of those to whom we witness.
Also in verse 14, we are told to put on the breastplate of righteousness. A breastplate shielded a warrior’s vital organs from blows that would otherwise be fatal. This righteousness is not works of righteousness done by men. Rather, this is the righteousness of Christ, imputed by God and received by faith, which guards our hearts against the accusations and charges of Satan and secures our innermost being from his attacks.
Verse 15 speaks of the preparation of the feet for spiritual conflict. In warfare, sometimes an enemy places dangerous obstacles in the path of advancing soldiers. The idea of the preparation of the gospel of peace as footwear suggests what we need to advance into Satan’s territory, aware that there will be traps, with the message of grace so essential to winning souls to Christ. Satan has many obstacles placed in the path to halt the propagation of the gospel.
The shield of faith spoken of in verse 16 makes Satan’s sowing of doubt about the faithfulness of God and His Word ineffective. Our faith—of which Christ is “the author and perfecter” (Hebrews 12:2)— is like a golden shield, precious, solid, and substantial.
The helmet of salvation in verse 17 is protection for the head, keeping viable a critical part of the body. We could say that our way of thinking needs preservation. The head is the seat of the mind, which, when it has laid hold of the sure gospel hope of eternal life, will not receive false doctrine or give way to Satan’s temptations. The unsaved person has no hope of warding off the blows of false doctrine because he is without the helmet of salvation and his mind is incapable of discerning between spiritual truth and spiritual deception.
Verse 17 interprets itself as to the meaning of the sword of the Spirit—it is the Word of God. While all the other pieces of spiritual armor are defensive in nature, the sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon in the armor of God. It speaks of the holiness and power of the Word of God. A greater spiritual weapon is not conceivable. In Jesus’ temptations in the desert, the Word of God was always His overpowering response to Satan. What a blessing that the same Word is available to us!
In verse 18, we are told to pray in the Spirit (that is, with the mind of Christ, with His heart and His priorities) in addition to wearing the full armor of God. We cannot neglect prayer, as it is the means by which we draw spiritual strength from God. Without prayer, without reliance upon God, our efforts at spiritual warfare are empty and futile. The full armor of God—truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer—are the tools God has given us, through which we can be spiritually victorious, overcoming Satan’s attacks and temptations.