One of my favorite Bible passages of all time is Ephesians 6:10-20. Yes, probably because it sounds so superheroic - and I’m all about heroes.
Everyone who grew up in church is at least somewhat familiar with the passage. It’s one of the Apostle Paul’s famous metaphors, and describes the essential elements of the Christian faith as pieces of armor that, when assembled and maintained properly, will allow us to “stand against the tactics of the devil” . . . But we can always use a refresher course.
What do the pieces of armor mean, and how do we use them in our lives?
The Belt of Truth: The belt, while not necessarily the first thing one may think of when describing armor, is an essential element in battle because it holds everything together. Having truth belted around your waist means being spiritually rooted in God’s truth. It also means keeping vigilant about the truth of God’s presence in the world, in each other, and in ourselves. Without a strong foundation of truth, we might as well be heading into battle with our pants around our ankles.
The Breastplate of Righteousness: Now we’re talking armor. The breastplate wards off attacks to the core, where all of our vital organs lie - and also, the easiest target to attack. Paul’s breastplate of righteousness describes living a sanctified life, redeemed by Jesus and removed from sin. If we let sin seep into our life unchecked, we remove that protection from ourselves and are left exposed to the enemy’s primary attacks.
Shoes of Preparation for the Gospel of Peace: Shoes and preparation actually go hand in hand. Have you ever gone someplace wearing the wrong kind of shoes? The Roman army knew very well that proper footwear was important in battle - in fact, their sandals had cleats to give them a key advantage. As Christians, we must be prepared for the long haul, and for whatever situation may come up. God presents us with opportunities to share the Gospel all the time. In order to be spiritually prepared, we should keep ourselves refreshed by taking care of ourselves and maintaining our personal walk with Christ.
The Shield of Faith: We protect ourselves from the enemy in the simplest and yet most difficult to maintain defense: our faith in God. However, we don’t hold this line by ourselves - and neither did the ancient Romans. They would lock their shields together to form a formidable barricade that was nearly impossible to penetrate. Similarly, we hold each other up and support each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. Even more, it isn’t just our job to maintain our faith. God will do that for us - if we only ask Him and let Him.
The Helmet of Salvation: We aren’t armed unless we have a “brain bucket.” Similarly, it is perhaps most important that we always remember our salvation. It is our hope for the future, our sustenance for each day, and the deliverance for all humankind. This is the core and capstone of our faith, and without regular reminders of God’s great love for us, we are doomed.
The Sword of the Spirit: The Sword, also known as the Word of God, is our only offensive weapon in Paul’s analogy - and an implement of great power. It says in Hebrews 4:12 that the Sword “penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow.” If we don’t stay in the Word, and sharpen our skills in using that Sword daily, we leave ourselves completely defenseless when the enemy comes in to attack. Even worse, we may wield the Sword incorrectly, and inadvertently wound our own comrades.
In the end, as Paul describes in this passage, we must remain constantly vigilant, for our fight is against the powers of darkness that rule this world, and we are on the front line. Still, even when the battle seems lost, we know how this war will end - and that we’re on the winning side!
II Corinthians 4:16-17 says, “Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.”
Have you remembered to put on your armor today?
Worship & Media Director
Riviera Baptist Church