We have battle armour…
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. (Eph. 6:10-18 NKJV)
Spiritual warfare is not optional for followers of Jesus Christ. If we belong to Him, we are automatically enlisted in God’s army, regardless of whether we signed up for it or not. We cannot bury our heads in the sand and pretend spiritual warfare is not real. It is very real. Furthermore, once you make a decision to step into your God-given destiny and calling, you will experience warfare. I could tell you plenty of stories of wrestling with spiritual entities but I don’t want to freak you out. Maybe I’ll tell some later…
Regardless of the reality of spiritual warfare, God has not left us defenseless.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all. (Ps. 34:19 NKJV)
He has given us armour. It is described in detail in Ephesians 6 using a metaphor of Roman armour which would have been familiar to the first-century audience. There are seven pieces to this armour. The seventh piece is often overlooked but vitally important. I pray you receive some useful insight into the armour that is available to you through the finished work of Christ.
It is important to highlight the majority of the armour is defensive in nature. This is important because the passage above tells us to stand in the “evil day”. Standing is primarily a defensive posture. We must stand our ground when all hell is breaking loose.
Belt of Truth
I think it is interesting the first piece of armour reflects truth. In the Roman legionary’s armoury the belt held every other part of the armour together. The sword and dagger were placed on the belt. The armour simply does not work without the belt.
Truth has to be the bedrock upon which we base all of our thinking and subsequently, our actions. I do not, and have never held to a postmodern perspective on truth. Truth is not relative. Postmodernism has kind of missed the point. Truth is not a concept. It is a Person.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NKJV)
Jesus IS grace and He IS truth in equal measure. You cannot separate the two. They are indivisible because they are the essence of His divine nature.
How do you know you are founded in truth? You need to read the Word of God, AKA–Jesus in print, and have it firmly implanted in your heart. The most effective weapon against the enemy is the Word of God. I will discuss this further when we look at the sword of the Spirit.
I would also stress here it is important to know Jesus personally. Truth will always align perfectly with the scriptures and the nature of God. The two are wholly entwined. God will never say anything which does not line up with both His Word and His character. This is why it is vital to know God so that scripture is properly interpreted. The Bible is very easily misquoted and taken out of context. Scripture must interpret scripture. Truth cannot be separated from knowing both God and His Word.
Breastplate of Righteousness
The breastplate of righteousness protects our heart. We are commanded in scripture to guard our hearts because every thing we do flows from the heart.
Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life. (Prov. 4:23 NLT)
Our hearts are not just a reservoir but a wellspring from which living water is meant to flow. This is God’s design. The temperature of our heart is measured by what comes out of our mouths.
For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (Matt. 12:34b NKJV)
For this reason, our heart is meant to be protected by the righteousness of God made available to us through our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not our righteousness which protects us. Our righteousness is as “filthy rags” (Is. 64:6). We receive His righteousness as a free gift when we are born again into new life in Christ.
Righteousness means ‘right-standing with God’. The shed blood of Christ atones for all of our sin, past, present and future. It is His blood and only His blood which washes away our sin. When we receive His righteousness and we know in our hearts we belong to Him, our hearts are safe.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe. (Prov. 18:10 NKJV, emphasis added)
Shoes of Peace
It’s not wise to go anywhere without shoes. You are not prepared for the ground you may walk on.
Our feet need to be prepared with the gospel of peace. Why peace? Because peace is the one thing the world really wants and needs but cannot hope to attain. As followers of Jesus, we are called to be freedom fighters. The fight we are called to does not have the usual rules of engagement the world is accustomed to. We are required to spread the gospel through peace and combat evil with prayer and non-violent protest–turning the other cheek per se (Matt. 5:39). When Jesus sent out the seventy in His earthly ministry, He commissioned them to spread peace:
Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house’. (Luke 10:5 NLT)
I believe some Christians can often mistake spreading peace for passivity. We are not called to be passive. Shoes are both offensive and defensive weapons. When we advance in peace, we are spreading a powerful message which combats the forces of hell. If people are not prepared to receive the gospel of peace, we simply take it back and move on. I love what Jesus said to the seventy, illustrated beautifully here in the Passion Translation:
But when you enter a city and they do not receive you, say to them publicly, ‘We wipe from our feet the very dust of your streets as a testimony before you! Understand this: God’s kingdom realm came within your reach and yet you have rejected God’s invitation!’ (Luke 10:10 TPT, emphasis added)
Our fight is bold and unashamed. It just doesn’t use tactics of the enemy, such as fear, pride, anger or manipulation. In saying this though, peace is not advanced with Facebook/Twitter rants etc…. An angry rant negates the message of peace, no matter how much truth it may contain. The gospel wins people with unconditional love and grace with truth as its anchor. You cannot separate grace and truth as I have mentioned above.
Shield of Faith
The Roman legionary’s shield was enormous. It would cover almost the whole man. The soldiers could easily take refuge behind it.
Our shield of faith is similarly all-encompassing, if we allow it to be. Many Christians lament their ‘lack of faith’. The Bible says we have all been given a “measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3 NKJV). Faith does not need to be as ginormous as we might think. Jesus said:
I promise you, if you have faith inside of you no bigger than the size of a small mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move away from here and go over there,’ and you will see it move! There is nothing you couldn’t do! (Matt. 17:20b TPT)
According to Jesus, just a ‘little’ faith can move a mountain. Our faith shields us from the “fiery darts” of the enemy. What are these fiery darts? They are lies, accusations, word curses, temptation, doubts and despair. When these things come against us, we raise our shield of faith confident in our identities in Christ.
You have enough faith. You just need to exercise it. Next time these “fiery darts” come against you, stand up and raise your hand in the air as a prophetic act. It lets the enemy know, “Not today devil. I will not receive that because I know who I am in Christ!”
Helmet of Salvation
The word for ‘take up’ the helmet of salvation in the Greek is dexasthe. It means to receive. The helmet of salvation must be received. Actually, all of the armour needs to be received from God, but I’m trying to make a specific point here.
The helmet of salvation protects our minds. So what is it we receive?
We receive the mind of Christ.
But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart. (1 Cor. 2:16b AMPC)
When the enemy wages war against us playing mind games we combat it with the mind of Christ. How do we do this? By taking captive every thought to the obedience of Christ as Paul instructs the Corinthians:
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor. 10:3-5 NKJV)
The helmet of salvation represents the spiritual discipline of renewing our minds (Rom. 12:2). Just as it must be received, as stated earlier, we need to be vigilant about protecting our mind. You put garbage into it, that is what will come out of it. You put the Word of God into your heart and mind, it will conform you into the image of Christ. This is what salvation does. It makes you like Jesus! You are now in union with His nature and have His mind. A person with a renewed mind knows who they are in Christ and is dangerous to the enemy.
Sword of the Spirit
In the Roman legionary’s armour, he typically carried two types of swords. One was your traditional sword used for open-field, battle engagements. The other was a short sword or dagger designed for close, hand-to-hand combat. The word in the Greek used here for ‘sword’ is machairan. It means a short sword or dagger. What does this imply? The Word of God is to be used in close skirmishes with the enemy. When he gets all up in your face, you need to resist him with the Word of God. Jesus demonstrated this in the wilderness when He was tempted by Satan before beginning His public ministry. He resisted the temptations of the devil using the phrase, “It is written” (Matt. 4 & Luke 4). This is why it is so essential you know your Bible. You need an “it is written” for every lie, accusation, word curse etc… the enemy hurls at you.
The short sword was also used by the soldiers to cut out any fiery dart or arrow which made it through their armour. Similarly, when a lie or accusation of the enemy hits us where it really hurts, more than ever, we need to cut it out of us with the Word of God. I repeat: You must know who you are in Christ!
The seventh piece of armour is often missed because it is not physical. Prayer is absolutely vital. Most of the pieces of armour are defensive in nature, as previously discussed, because they need to be received. We stand our ground with the armour of God. Prayer, however, is an offensive weapon. It is able to shift the atmosphere. Our words are powerful. When they align with the purposes and promises of God, as outlined in scripture, they can put the enemy into full retreat.
If the Body of Christ fully grasped how powerful their prayers were and the effect they had on the spirit realm, they would place more emphasis on prayer.
I have used this image of prayer above because I believe it represents the power prayer can have on the soul. As we pray, no matter what valley we find ourselves in, we can ascend to a mountain top through the power of prayer. It shifts our perspective. Prayer builds us up.
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. (Jude 1:20 NKJV)
If we want to be effective in our Christian lives, we need to wear our armour and engage the enemy. The armour represents gifts of God, graciously given to stand our ground when all hell is breaking loose. Most of the weapons are defensive, but we do have powerful offensive weapons in prayer, advancing the gospel of peace and wielding the sword of the Spirit.
Prayer of activation
If you want to activate your armour, freely available in Christ, then pray this prayer with me:
Father, I thank You that You have not left me defenseless. Everything I need is provided for me through the finished work of Christ. I take up and surround myself with the belt of truth. I recognise truth is found in our Lord Jesus Christ. Establish me further in Your truth. I thank You Lord that according to John 16:13 the Spirit leads me into all truth.
I take up the breastplate of righteousness. Thank You Jesus for being made sin for me that I might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). I guard my heart knowing that it is safely covered by your love and the blood that atones for my sin.
I place the shoes of the gospel of peace on my feet. I let the peace of God rule in my heart (Col. 3:15). Let all my actions be motivated by peace and be for the advancement of Your kingdom. “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 16:10 NKJV). I release the peace you have placed inside of me by the power of the Holy Spirit and as a fruit of You working in me (Gal. 5:22).
I raise my shield of faith to “quench the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Eph. 6:16 NKJV). Your Word says I can move a mountain with faith as small as a mustard seed (Matt. 17:20). I decree I have mountain-moving faith in the Name of Jesus!
I clothe my mind with the helmet of salvation. I claim the mind of Christ and declare I hold the thoughts, feelings and purposes of His heart (1 Cor. 2:16). Let the same mind be in me which was in Christ (Phil. 2:5). Let this helmet protect my mind from the onslaught of the devil. I take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). My identity is in Christ. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20b). When the lies of the enemy come, I will tear them down with the knowledge of who I am in Christ and the truth of God’s Word.
I wield the sword of the Spirit. When the enemy advances with lies and accusations, I will combat them with the Word of God. Satan, the Lord rebuke you for it is written…
Finally, I pray at all times in the Spirit and without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). I surrender my tongue to the Holy Spirit. Pray through me Lord. When I do not know what to pray, I ask You to pray for me and through me (Rom. 8:26). I will pick up the weapons You have placed in my hands, destroy the works of the devil and advance the kingdom (Acts 10:38).
Thank You Lord for Your armour. I receive it by faith and walk in all You have for me. Hallelujah!
In the Name that is above every name, Jesus the Messiah, amen!
Blessings in Christ,