My friend was a missionary in South Asia when the friendly local people suddenly became suspicious and questioning. One day, everyone is smiling and friendly; the next day, everyone is suspicious and asking personal questions: Who are you? Where are you from? What are you doing here?
Apparently, a British visitor had done something illegal, so now they were questioning his nationality and purpose for being in their country. So what happened to bring about this sudden change?
Our experience might not seem as grandiose, but all of us have experienced some kind of hostility in relationships that were formerly friendly. This can be due to simple misunderstandings or we could be experiencing spiritual warfare.
Whenever we engage in battle, it is wise to be prepared, so let us look at a soldier’s armor.
What is armor? “An armor, in military terms, is a protective gear worn by soldiers and war animals, as a covering to prevent themselves from getting injured or hurt.” [Historyplex]
“The ancient Roman Empire possessed a huge military-infantry. A Roman soldier was an important unit of the military, and those in power seemed to take the utmost care regarding the safety and security of the soldiers at the time of war. In this respect, what played the most significant role was the armor that the soldiers wore.” [Historyplex]
When Paul wrote to the Believers in Ephesus, “Ephesus was the capital city of the Roman Province of Asia [modern-day Asia Minor]. It was the most populous and important cities in the Roman Empire, serving as a gateway between the eastern and western worlds.” [Kidd]
So we find a Believer’s armor being compared to the Roman soldier’s armor. And we find the Believer’s citizenship under the King of heaven being compared to Roman citizenship in Ephesus under Roman rule.
“Paul preached ‘the Kingdom of God’ with the gospel being cosmic in scope. It is the message that our divine King is using His power and authority to subject His enemies and to conquer sin, to redeem his people from their bondage and to establish them as rulers over the New Earth. Paul instructed the Ephesians regarding the nature of the kingdom of God, and he was giving them the larger picture of the gospel.” [Kidd]
Dr. Kidd states that “Paul drew attention to God’s kingdom in six ways
- Concept of citizenship – God was their king and they were the citizens of His kingdom
- Concept of inheritance – inheritance rights were only available to citizens of the kingdom
- Concept of military service – implied citizenship in God’s kingdom when Christians engage in spiritual warfare
- Concept of rule over creation – Christ is King; Believers are both citizens and authorities in His Kingdom; Believers are seated with Christ in positions of authority over all creation
- Concept of naming – Royal name; God’s people were called by His name because they were a part of His Kingdom
- Concept of ambassadorship – an ambassador was an official representative of the King”
Dr. Kidd continues, “Citizens in God’s kingdom may either obey or disobey Christ. If they obey, they inherit the blessings of the covenant, including forgiveness of sins, and eternal life. If a citizen rejects Christ, rebelling against the king and the salvation He offers, that person has no inheritance in Christ’s kingdom.”
Armor of God
We find that the Believers are to make known “The manifold wisdom of God to the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 3)
Some call this engagement of the Kingdom of Light with the Kingdom of darkness, spiritual warfare. Just as natural soldiers wear armor to protect themselves in battle, so Believers wear the armor of God to provide spiritual protection.
The Armor of God encompasses the following pieces
- Helmet of Salvation
- The Breastplate of Righteousness
- The Belt of Truth
- Feet shod with the Gospel of Peace
- Shield of Faith
- Sword of the Spirit
We’ll examine each piece of armor separately, but first, let’s look at the spiritual battle which deems the armor necessary.
The Apostle Paul says in Ephesians, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
“The battle is against demonic forces, against battalions of fallen angels, against evil spirits who wield tremendous power…who try to oppress and harass us. We do not need to live in fear of demons. In the armor of God, we have all we need to hold our ground against their onslaught.” [MacDonald]
We don’t have to fear spiritual forces, “For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.”
“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:13-17)
We don’t have to worry about our weaknesses because “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.” (1 Corinthians 1:27)
And we have nothing to fear because “When we were dead in our transgressions and the uncircumcision of our flesh, He made us alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” (Colossians 2:13-15)
“These pieces of armor are for the believer’s protection. The Christian must fight spiritual enemies with spiritual weapons (2 Corinthians 10:4), and the Word of God is the only sword we need. God’s sword has life and power (Hebrews 4:12) and never grows dull. Christians conquer as they understand God’s Word, memorize it, and obey it.” [WEO]
Put on God’s Armor
The Apostle Paul encourages us to ‘be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.’ Paul recommends we ‘put on’ the full armor of God that we might be able ‘to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.’ Paul urges us to ‘take up’ the full armor of God that we might be able ‘to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.’
Paul compares spiritual armor to the Roman armor. He speaks of putting on: the buckle of Truth, the breastplate of Righteousness, and fitting our feet with the Gospel of Peace. In Roman times, the buckle, breastplate, and footwear were continually worn by the soldiers.
When it was time for battle, then the Romans would take up their helmets, shields and swords. “The Roman soldier’s helmet was fashioned from bronze or iron. His helmet protected his skull and neck from his enemy’s weapons and falling debris.” [Rose] Paul tells us (Christians) to take up: the shield of Faith, the helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit.
“The first three pieces of armor (belt, breastplate, shoes) were worn continually on the battlefield; the last three (shield, helmet, sword) were kept ready for use when actual fighting began.” [MacArthur]
“Put on conveys the idea of permanence, indicating that armor [needs to] be the Christian’s sustained, life-long attire. Paul uses the common armor worn by Roman soldiers as the analogy for the believer’s spiritual defense and affirms its necessity if one is to hold his position while under attack.” [MacArthur]
In writing about the different pieces of armor, I’m going to take the liberty to place them in this order: helmet, breastplate, buckle, footwear, shield and sword. For me, it’s a simple a way of remembering the pieces as I go from head to foot, then take up the two pieces held by hand.
Helmet of Salvation
“The soldier’s head is one of his most vulnerable areas. Without his helmet, one blow to the head would prove fatal. The believer’s helmet of salvation is the most crucial piece of armor for the Christian. Salvation empowers believers to fight. It protects us in our weaknesses. Without salvation, there is no victory” [Connect Us]
Paul announces, “Take up the full armor of God that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:13)
James says, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:7-8a)
Paul moans, “I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)
Peter communicates, “Be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:17-18)
Paul urges us to “See to it that no one takes us captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him we have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.” (Colossians 2:8-10)
Paul articulates, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
Foundational Thoughts on the Helmet of Salvation
Moody states, “Confidence in daily battles comes from knowing that rescue from future judgment has already been given to us freely from God (Romans 6:23).”
MacDonald declares, “The helmet God provides is salvation (Isaiah 59:17). No matter how hot the battle, the Christian is not daunted, since he knows that ultimate victory is sure. Assurance of eventual deliverance preserves him from retreat or surrender. ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (Romans 8:31).”
MacArthur asserts, “The helmet protects the head, always a major target in battle. Paul is speaking to those who are already saved, and is therefore not speaking here about attaining salvation. Rather, satan seeks to destroy a believer’s assurance of salvation with his weapons of doubt and discouragement.”
Wiersbe proclaims, “Satan wants to attack the mind, the way he defeated Eve (2 Corinthians 11:3). The helmet refers to the mind controlled by God. It is too bad that many Christians have the idea that the intellect is not important, when in reality it plays a vital role in Christian growth, service, and victory. When God controls the mind, satan cannot lead the believer astray.”
Wiersbe continues his affirmation, “The Christian who studies his Bible and learns the meaning of Bible doctrines is not going to be led astray too easily. We need to be ‘taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus’ (Ephesians 4:21). We are to ‘grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 3:18). Wherever Paul ministered, he taught the new converts the truths of the Word of God, and this helmet protected them from satan’s lies.” [WBC]
Isaiah refers to Jesus, “Now the Lord saw, and it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no one to intercede; then His own arm brought salvation to Him; and His righteousness upheld Him. And He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head.” (Isaiah 59:15c-17b)
Helmet of Salvation Application
“The helmet of salvation points to God’s ultimate victory over the forces of evil. Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead provides all believers with freedom from the bondage of sin, and with eternal life with God in heaven.” [Rose]
Paul admonishes us, “Since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
“Without salvation, one will not survive spiritually.”[Stedman] “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
“A helmet protects our minds and thoughts. This is why the Bible so often counsels us to be wise and think correctly, and it warns us that the pattern of our thought becomes the pattern of our lives. We need to carefully guard our thought-lives.” [Stedman]
“When you know without a doubt that you are going to heaven because of what Christ did on the cross, not even death can defeat you. You can stand on the conviction of your salvation. And you can be intentional about feeding your mind with spiritual food throughout the day.” [Connect Us]
And we can take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ Jesus just as Paul encourages, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:5)
Full Armor of God Scripture
In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might. Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly [supernatural] places.
Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious].
So stand firm and hold your ground, having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), and having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news].
Above all, lift up the [protective] shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. (Ephesians 6:10-17 AMP)
Purpose of the Armor of God
God desires to show the mystery of Christ through Believers to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. When we obey our Commander-in-Chief, then He is glorified. Just as a regular soldier, we follow our commander wherever He leads. It is important to know His voice and to only obey Him.
“To me, the very least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things through Jesus Christ, to the intent that now through the assembly the manifold wisdom of God might be made known to the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“In Him we have boldness and access in confidence through our faith in Him. Therefore I ask that you may not lose heart at my troubles for you, which are your glory. (Ephesians 3:8-13 WEB)
In summary, whether we want to admit it or not, Believers are in a battle between the Kingdom of Light and the kingdom of darkness. God has already won the victory through Jesus Christ, but He calls us to put on our armor, to stand firm and hold our ground, and to show forth the wisdom of God in the heavenly realm.
“For this cause, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, that you may be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner person, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, to the end that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strengthened to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and height and depth, and to know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. “
“Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be the glory in the assembly and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21 WEB)
Isaiah 59:15c-17b; Romans 6:23, 8:31; 1 Corinthians 1:27; 2 Corinthians 2:5, 10:3-5, 11:3; Ephesians 3:8-21, 6:10-17; Colossians 1:13-17, 2:8-10, 13-15; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; James 4:7-8a; 2 Peter 3:17-18
Living for an Audience of One is a life-altering decision and a life-long journey https://strengthwithdignity.com/audience-of-one-god-alone/
To read about the 3 types of fear and the 5 ways to overcome fear https://strengthwithdignity.com/fear-or-not-to-fear-man-or-god/
Amplified Bible. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation, 2015.
Armor of God. Kindle edition. Rose Publishing, 2005.
Kidd, Dr. Reggie. Paul and the Ephesians (Lesson 3 in the series Paul’s Prison Epistles). Third Millennium Ministries. Retrieved July 15, 2021 from https://thirdmill.org/seminary/lesson.asp/vid/19/version/
[Third Millennium’s Mission: to equip church leaders in their own lands by creating a multimedia seminary curriculum in five major languages for free. Lessons currently produced in: English, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Mandarin. Retrieved July 15, 2021 from https://greatnonprofits.org/org/third-millennium-ministries-inc ]
MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Bible Commentary. Thomas Nelson, 2005, pages 1704 and 1706.
MacDonald, William. The Believer’s Bible Commentary. Thomas Nelson, 2016, pages 1991-1992.
New American Standard Bible. Copyright 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.
Stedman, Rick. Praying the Armor of God – Trusting God to Protect You and the People You Love. Harvest House Publishers, Kindle edition, 2015.
The 7 Pieces of the Armor of God and How to Use Them. Written by the Editor in Chief of Connect Us. Published December 2, 2019. Retrieved June 28, 2021 from https://connectusfund.org/7-pieces-of-the-armor-of-god
The Diverse and Effective Variations in Ancient Roman Armor. Published by Historyplex and Buzzle.com, Inc. Retrieved July 15, 2021 from https://historyplex.com/ancient-roman-armor
The Moody Bible Commentary. General Editors: Michael Rydelnik and Michael Van Laningham. Moody Publishers, 2014, page 1855.
Wiersbe, Warren B. The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: The Complete New Testament. [WBC] Published by David C. Cook, 2007, pages 623-624.
Wiersbe, Warren B. Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament. [WEO] Published by David C. Cook, 1992, page 555.
World English Bible (WEB) by Public Domain. The name “World English Bible” is trademarked.