Yesterday I tried to ground us in what the scriptures teach about spiritual warfare by unpacking Ephesians 6:10-18. You oughta read that post before you pick through this one. Okay?
Okay. Paul now spends considerable detail on the armor itself. This means the details matter. If he’d just said, “Put the armor on, brothers and sisters, amen,” we’d rightly conclude that to read too much into the metaphor would be stretching the meaning of the passage. But he spends time on the specifics, so we will too. Let’s briefly unpack each one:
“Stand firm, then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.” Waist? The original means “loins,” which was equivalent to how we speak of the heart in today’s world. The loins were the centre of emotion, passion, all that good stuff. The loins are also sitting at the body’s natural centre of gravity. So Paul is saying that to avoid emotional imbalance, the truth needs to become our centre of gravity. Cool, huh?
“With the breastplate of righteousness in place.” The breastplate protects your heart, the pumping core of your natural (and by extension spiritual) life. Righteousness is a loaded concept that I could blog about for days, but let it suffice to say that it refers to things like living out the virtues, reaching your God-given potential, and becoming like Jesus.
“And with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” Have you ever thought of that? The gospel, properly understood and received, begets readiness in us. That’s because the gospel is about surrendering our life and destiny to the King who saves us. Receiving Christ is saying “Yes, Lord, I’m ready to do your will.”
“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” This is huge. Our faith in God’s provision and protection can actually prevent all the nasty little thoughts, accusations, and ugliness the enemy shoots at us from penetrating who we are. From stealing, killing, and destroying (John 10:10). But get this: They extinguish the arrows, not the demons shooting them. Cause usually, the arrows keep coming.
“Take the helmet of salvation…” Re-orient yourself in the spectacular grace rescue that has swept you into the epic story of God.”
“and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers.” This one is so cool: The sword is for handling stuff within our reach—the things God gives us authority to deal with here and now by speaking his truth and marching it out. Prayer is looking to God to do the things that are beyond our reach, the things only he can change and control.
If all this seems too complicated, let me point out the real point of this list: Putting on the armor is putting on Jesus Christ. He is the Truth that keeps us grounded. He is the righteousness of God, given to us. He is our readiness when we can’t see what’s coming. He is the eternal object of our faith, the author of our salvation, the living Word of God, the answer to our most desperate prayers.
The armor, folks, isn’t us standing up to Satan at all. The armor is our way of saying to Satan, “Talk to the hand. To get to me, you’re going to have to deal with Jesus. Which ain’t gonna go so well for you.”
Now remember, this isn’t automatic. Paul says we have to put this on. Paul lists the things we must believe for a reason. So remind yourself of these truths. Thank God for their reality. Accept what they mean for you. And then, when the arrows fly, smile—and remember that Jesus himself is covering you with everything he is. With his fulness, which means he is the head over every power and authority.
Don’t fight Satan. Ever. Jesus did that, and won (Colossians 2:14,15). Listen closely: Fighting Satan is denying the victory of Christ over him which puts you in the unsavory position of facing the Devil without armor, standing on your own strength and merit against a foe that you cannot defeat. Treat him like a defeated enemy and he has no choice but to comply. Remember? When Satan roars, hisses, attacks, charges… what do we do? Stand. Just stand up to him. “Resist him,” James says, almost bored, “And he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
If you don’t believe that, you’re already in trouble.