10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. 19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. 20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.
Part of living in God’s power means accepting God’s provision. It’s here that we discover how gracious God is to us? He doesn’t ask us to stand defenseless before superior forces. No he gives us His armor so that we will be thoroughly equipped for the battle. This idea of the Roman soldier’s armor is probably foreign to most of us today. But think of our modern day equivalent: the American football uniform or for the rest of the world the cricketer’s outfit. Both involve pads, a helmet and boots with cleats to help you get a grip. All of these pieces are designed for a specific purpose, to protect those on the field of play from being hurt by their opponents. The difference between those protective pads and what Paul is telling us to put on, is that this is God’s armor. Just as Olympic athletes are given their country’s uniform to wear, so we’re given God’s armor to wear in the battle. We don’t stand in our own strength, nor do we wear our own uniforms. Rather we wear the uniform, the armor, that God provides, that both carries the power of God, as well as identifies us as part of God’s team. So what is this armor that God supplies? First I want you to notice that it is the full armor, meaning that it covers all of us. The word is panoply and was used of the full battle kit of the Roman soldier. Here is what it consists of.
• The belt of truth.
Today we use a belt to keep our pants from falling down, but back then the belt was used to tuck your tunic in so you could move freely without tripping over. So when Paul talks of the belt of truth he is reminding us of the ways in which we can be so easily tripped up by the devil’s tricks if we’re not firmly anchored in truth. Satan is known as the father of lies, John 8:44 and what is the best defense against a lie? It’s the truth. Of course today this is not as simple a matter as it once was because we have complicated and clouded truth. There was a time when everyone acknowledged the truth of a matter. But these days truth has become relative, where what is true for me won’t necessarily be true for you. Today we have replaced facts with feelings, so truth now depends on how it makes you feel. This is why it is critical that we come back to the foundation of God’s Word, so that we don’t flip flop back and forth on the shifting sands of secular thinking. Next we come to the:
• Breastplate of righteousness.
That is, the righteousness that Christ has given us by grace alone. The breastplate is the piece of the armor that protects the vital organs, the heart and lungs, etc. But for the Christian what does this Piece of armor protect us from? Primarily, I think, it’s protecting us against the false accusations of the devil. How many times have you felt that fear that maybe you’re not good enough for God, that maybe you’ve finally gone too far in your sinfulness and there’s no forgiveness for you? When you feel like that the best thing you can do is to claim the righteousness we have by faith in Christ’s death and resurrection, a righteousness that’s by grace and that grace is unending. Next we come to:
• The shoes of peace
It’s here that Paul tells us to put on peace that comes from the Good news so that we will be fully prepared. Roman footwear was designed to provide strength with flexibility, so the soldier could stand on rocky ground without stumbling no matter what came at him. So we need to be prepared with a clear understanding of the gospel, to share it whenever the situation demands, or the opportunity arises; and in the context of a quest for unity in the church, notice that he’s talking here of the gospel of peace. When disputes arise, be ready to apply the gospel of peace to the situation. So often we shod our feet not with peace but with our personal feelings. Instead of responding like Christ and bringing healing we respond to the hurts. And hurt people tend to hurt others. Next we are called to take up the:
• The shield of faith
The purpose of this shield is to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. The Roman shield was made of two layers of timber overlaid with linen, then leather and bound with iron. It was specially designed to stop flaming arrows and put them out. And it was designed so that soldiers standing side by side would form an impenetrable wall of shields that nothing could get through. Just like those Roman shields locked together, Faith is something that becomes stronger when we stand together. Satan struggles to weaken our faith if we’re serving God together as a team. And what are the flaming darts of the evil one that our faith is meant to stop? Well, no doubt they’re the accusations that the devil fires at us, that inflame our consciences with false guilt. But also, they’re the temptations to doubt and disobedience, to rebellion, to lust and envy and malice and fear. So how does faith help us against that? In at least two ways. First it lays hold of the promises of God in moments of doubt or depression. It reminds us that Christ has died to bring us forgiveness; that Satan’s accusations won’t stand up. And secondly, it looks to the power of God in moments of temptation. It says, God has promised to provide everything I need, so I’m going to believe that and rely on his help to provide me with what I need. If you want to stand firm in God’s power you need to lay hold of his provision. As you look at the armor mentioned so far are there any pieces you have been neglecting to pick up and put on?