Full Armor of God, The

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Paul tells us that our fight in this life is not against other people, but against Satan and his minions. Even though we may face persecution from our human enemies, it is the spirits of wickedness that actually oppose us and incite our enemies against us. This is the source of all the strife we suffer in this world. Hence we are to put on and keep on the armor of God.

Roman Centurion
(Picture used by permission from CC-Art.com)

Ephesians 6:10-18 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (11) Put on the whole armor 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 armor 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;

Paul tells us that our fight in this life is not against other people, but against Satan and his minions. Even though we may face persecution from our human enemies, it is the spirits of wickedness that actually oppose us and incite our enemies against us. This is the source of all the strife we suffer in this world. Hence we are to put on and keep on the armor of God.

Wiles of the devil – the covert cunning, skills, methods, etc. of the great accuser of the saints (devil means accuser).

Wrestle – struggle, fight, contend, combat, grapple

Flesh and Blood – people, humans. We may certainly struggle with other people but that is not what is in view in this passage. Since we are not struggling against people, then we must be struggling with the invisible (to us) forces of evil in the world. Hence, the remaining terms must refer to evil spirits.

Principalities and Powers – The chief leaders of the demonic forces or fallen angels of Satan

The rulers of the darkness of this world – Demonic forces that preside over specific regions of the world such as the princes of Persia and Greece in Daniel 10:13 & 20.

Spiritual wickedness in high places – Wicked spirits in the air over the earth. Evidently they are not restricted to terrestrial or air travel as we humans are; apparently they can move about in the heavens above us. Since they are invisible, they must be incorporeal. Perhaps these are the so-called ghosts or departed spirits that claim to be the spirits of the dead (but are actually demonic) to those susceptible to such nonsense.

High places can also refer to those in powerful positions in the world. There are people in high, powerful positions who are evil and spread evil in their own empires and throughout the world. Whether they know it or not, they are influenced by the demonic forces of evil. Both things are in view in these verses.

Our fight is against demons and demonic forces and not with people. Without the armor of God we don’t have a chance against such an array of powerful beings. Paul uses the metaphor of the armor worn by a soldier into battle to help us to understand the tools we must use in our fight with Satan and his forces. Just as a soldier wears his armor into battle so we must use the tools at our disposal in our battle with demonic forces. The soldier of Paul’s day used a helmet, body armor (breastplate or cuirass), a shield, a sword, and combat shoes or sandals. A soldier sometimes carried a spear but Paul did not use that metaphor. Another tool a soldier uses in close combat is his voice. That was true in Paul’s day and is true today. Here is how Paul applies the metaphor.

Belt of Truth

Paul discussed the pieces of armor in a specific order. He begins with the belt of truth. The loins or waist and hips were girt about or encompassed and secured with a belt. On this belt many things could hang. But its major use was to hold necessary items, weapons and to tuck clothing into. The belt was an important part of the soldier’s combat clothing. Without it, one could not carry all his weapons, nor could he properly tuck in his clothing. To use a more modern idea, a belt is used to hold one’s pants up. The Roman soldier wore a pair of trousers called braccae that were secured with a drawstring, so the belt was not used to secure his trousers. The tool Paul considers the most important is that of truth. The truth supports all the aspects of our Christian walk. The Truth braces or girds us against falsehood; much like a belt holds up our pants and supports our tools of combat. The Truth supports us and holds us up in battle. Without the Truth, we are powerless against the falsehoods of the devil. If we know not the truth, then a lie will be acceptable to us for we would not know the difference. Satan will use lies and half-truths to deceive us. Christ is the truth (John 14:6). God’s Word is truth Ps 119:160; 2 Tim 3:16). The first thing we need in our fight is the truth that comes from God. On a lesser note, it is also important that we tell the truth. Satan can easily confound any lies we utter. Lies can bring down our Christian witness immediately. Satan and his minions know that and will be quick to use any lies against us, thus defeating us. Have the Truth of God in your heart and have the truth on your lips.

Breastplate of Righteousness

The next piece Paul discusses is the body armor, which he calls the breastplate of righteousness. To be righteous means to be without fault or sin. We humans are not righteous, nor can we be in our own power. When we are saved Christ imputes or credits His righteousness to us. Therefore when we repent and believe on Christ, we become justified in God’s sight because the blood of Jesus covers our sins. We are then deemed righteous because of the righteousness of Christ in us. Just as body armor protects the soldier from death caused by the attacks of the enemy, so the righteousness of Christ protects us from eternal damnation.

Feet Shod With the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace

Soldiers could wear an open toed sandal, or a shoe that completely covered their feet depending upon their mission. The shoes a soldier wore gave him the mobility to go to many places, sometimes completely across the empire. Therefore we must have our feet shod with of the preparation of the Gospel of peace. The Gospel is that Christ died for us and that if we believe in Him we will have eternal life. That Gospel brings peace to whoever it reaches. I am saved and even in the midst of the world’s troubles, I have the peace to know that I will one day live eternally with my Lord. As a soldier is prepared to travel, we must be ever ready to go and share the Gospel with others.

Shield of Faith

Paul puts the shield of faith above all other pieces. The shield was used by the soldier to ward off the darts of the enemy. Darts could mean arrows, projectiles, missiles, spears, knives, or any weapon used against another in combat. It was with the shield that the soldier could ward off most of the attacks of the enemy from any direction directed to any part of his body. The shield could cover all parts of the body unlike the helmet, breastplate, shoes, and greaves, which only protected parts of the body. Just like a soldier could wield his shield in any direction to ward off the attacks of the enemy, so we can rely on our faith in God to protect us against the attacks of the devil. Our faith makes us strong in the Lord and hence the Lord is strong in us when we are faithful. We must remain faithful to God when the enemy attacks. Our faith is above all the other tools in our possession to fight the enemy. We must first have faith before any of the other tools are available to us.

Helmet of Salvation

At the top of the armor is the helmet of salvation. We must be saved or we have absolutely no hope in any battle with Satan or his minions. Without Christ, we already belong to Satan so why should he fight with us? The helmet covers the head, where the mind resides. We believe in our heart, which is a metaphor for the emotional area of our brain. Our belief unto salvation is with our mind, so the helmet readily applies to our salvation.

Sword of the Spirit, Which is the Word of God

With the sword a soldier could attack and defeat his enemy. With the word of God we can attack and defeat Satan and his minions. That is why it is important to study and meditate on the Scripture so that we can be well-versed in it. When we are well-versed in the Scriptures, we can easily defeat the attacks of the Devil simply by remembering or quoting Scripture. In order to know Scripture we must read it regularly and study it in depth. Some say this is our only offensive weapon in the armor of God. I disagree. There is another.

Praying Always

Prayer is also an offensive weapon. With Prayer we can enlist God’s help in withstanding an attack of the enemy and with defeating Him. Prayer is an important part of the armor of God. We must always be praying in the Spirit, which is not out loud, but silently with our thoughts. Then the Holy Spirit will know our thoughts and thus hear our prayers. A prayer should always be in our heart and ready to go. We should pray in every situation we come against in life. Since prayer in the Spirit is silent prayer, no one can hear it and no one can stop us from praying. Satan cannot hear or stop us either. This is not to say we should never pray out loud. We should do that often. However, silent prayer is also effective. When contemplating the Full Armor of God, never forget prayer. Paul makes it one of the pieces of our armor. Just as a solder can signal his fellow soldiers with his mouth and try to rattle the enemy with his words, so we can pray to help us to stand against the devil when he or his minions attack us.

With Prayer and Supplication in the Spirit

Of course, prayer is simply talking with Almighty God. Supplication is simply laying out our requests in prayer before God. Praying in the Spirit in this context means to allow the Spirit to guide us in our prayers so that we pray for the things that will glorify God. This is definitely not praying in tongues; it is praying with the Holy Spirit’s leading.

I am a preacher and a retired pastor. There have been times, when I was standing before the congregation preaching from a prepared sermon, when I moved away from the sermon I had prepared and spoke on something that had come to my mind. I do not mean chasing rabbits. At these times the words I spoke were not prepared beforehand nor were they something I planned. After speaking those words, I often needed to hear those words myself. There I was speaking words that I had never thought of and I was speaking them to me. The congregation heard them as well and assumed they were part of my sermon because the words did not detract from the sermon, but they were a revelation to me. That was the leading of the Holy Spirit when I was preaching; that was the Holy Spirit speaking to and through me.

Praying in the Spirit is similar to that. It is letting the Holy Spirit lead us to pray things we never thought of and things we realize we needed to pray but had not planned to pray. Sometimes we pray for something that seems off-the-wall, but almost instantly realize we needed to pray that. We don’t always know what we should pray for so the Spirit leads us to pray for the right things. There are times when the Spirit prays for us when we cannot express our prayer in words.

Take the Full Armor of God with you as you walk daily in Christ. Do so “because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet 5:8).


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