Armour: All God’s Hand
There is little doubt that the weightiest passage in Scripture regarding spiritual warfare and spiritual armour is found in Ephesians 6:10-18
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
Put on the whole armour 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 armour 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;
Spiritual warfare has come into “fashion” over the past 15-20 years. Consequently, a great deal has been written and said about this passage in Ephesians. Like most modern-day disciples of Jesus Christ, I have had my fair share of attempts at striving in spiritual warfare, but the lack of long-term fruit has left me wondering about the whole concept of spiritual warfare; as we have understood it and practiced it in the past. I guess I still have serious doubts as to whether we have yet grasped what the Holy Spirit is seeking to communicate to the Body of Christ through these important verses of Scripture.
There is so much in these verses that it is difficult to know where to start. So, as we have been seeking to do all along, let us focus on the connection between these verses and what it is to abide in Christ.
One of the recurring themes in these verses is summed up in the word “stand”. The meaning of this word is both powerful and revealing: abide, appoint, continue, establish.
Yes! The word “stand” as used here by Paul means to abide!!!
Here, in one word, we have the whole foundation of spiritual warfare and the armour of God. The foundation is found in our maintaining a living common union with Christ and Christ maintaining a living common union with us.
Following on from this fact we might well ask the question: What is the soldier, in Paul’s illustration, suppose to stand on? The answer is found in these words: “and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace”.
Whatever you put on your feet you will end up standing on.
Whilst this is not the first piece of armour mentioned, we dare not overlook the use of the word “preparation” in reference to what the spiritual soldier will end up standing on and therefore taking his abiding from. If we trace the meaning of this word “preparation” we discover that it refers to “internal fitness”.
How are we to become “internally fit” for spiritual warfare? Through the Gospel of Peace!
Here we need to turn aside one moment and ponder afresh these words spoken by Jesus to His disciples:
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
We all know that there is a difference between the peace the world gives and the peace that Jesus gives.
Have you ever noticed that when we see “peace talks” taking place somewhere in the world, in an attempt to resolve conflict between countries or factions within a country, they are always conducted around the widest table you have ever seen! The physical distance kept between the parties is enormous and flies in the face of the meaning of the word peace. Nevertheless, this is the world’s version of peace: a lot of talk from a great distance.
The meaning of the word peace in the Scriptures is radically different to what we see played out in the world. It means to join, set at one again, quietness, rest.
The Hebrew word picture meaning for peace is: to destroy the authority that establishes chaos.
You see peace is yet another word that the Scriptures use to describe what it is to abide in Christ. Peace means unity, the sharing of a single life (the Life of Christ) and being at rest in the knowledge that the resources of Christ, the True Vine, are all sufficient.
It may seem to you like a contradiction to talk about rest in the context of spiritual warfare, but I believe the Word of God teaches this as the secret of our success!
Only God Almighty would give the following instructions to His army:
2Chronicles 20: 17 ‘You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!' Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you."
Only the life of abiding in Christ can prepare us internally for spiritual warfare.
The foundations of a building generally remain unseen, so too with our spiritual foundations or our internal preparedness. This is unseen, but it is the foundation of our success or failure in spiritual warfare.
Acts 9:13-17 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches." Also, there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?" Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.
The seven sons of Sceva are a good example of people lacking internal preparation
(ie. abiding in Christ) for spiritual warfare. These men had all the external preparations in place, they had religious standing, as the sons of a Chief Priest, and they had the right words to speak. However, all this proved to be no substitute for the internal preparation of the Holy Spirit (the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ), the Sap of the True Vine, flowing through their lives.
All of this should bring us to the realisation that the Spiritual Armour is not something we put on and take off. The Spiritual Armour Paul is referring to is the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ who is the focus of our life of abiding.
It is for this reason that I treasure Charles Wuest’s translation of Ephesians 6:13
On this account, take to yourself at once and for all, the complete armour of God in order that you may be able to resist in the day, the pernicious day,
One of the errors that has manifested itself as we have tried to understand spiritual warfare and the use of the Spiritual Armour, in isolation from the foundation of abiding, is the practice of taking off and putting on the Spiritual Armour like a set of clothes.
There is an important difference between putting on the Spiritual Armour and maintaining our relationship with the Spiritual Armour. It’s like the difference between buying a car and maintaining a car. You don’t have to buy your car every morning before you can use it. But you do have to maintain your car day by day for it to be functional and useful. Our abiding is once and for all time, but Jesus makes it clear in John 15 that we must maintain our abiding in Christ.
If we are maintaining a living communion with Christ, then we always have the Armour of God on. As I have already said the Spiritual Armour Paul talks about is the person of Jesus Christ.
Let me show you how Scripture proves this.
The first piece of Armour is the Belt of Truth.
John 1: 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
John 14: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Ephesians 4: 20 & 21 But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:
The second piece of Armour mentioned is the Breastplate of Righteousness.
Jeremiah 23:5-6 "Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
1 Corinthians 1: 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God; and righteousness and sanctification and redemption;
Phillipians 1:9-11 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
The third item of the Armour is the sandals of Peace.
Isaiah 9: 6 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
2 Thessalonians 3: 16 Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.
The fourth item of Armour is the Helmet of Salvation.
In Hebrew the name which is translated Jesus in English is Yeshua. The name Yeshua is also the word translated into our English Bibles as salvation.
Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation (Yeshua); I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation (Yeshua).
Hebrews 5: 8 & 9 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
The fifth item of Armour is the Shield of Faith.
2 Samuel 22:3 & 4 The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My Saviour, You save me from violence. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So, shall I be saved from my enemies.
Romans 1: 16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."
The sixth item of Armour is the Sword of the Spirit.
John 1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
Hebrews 4: 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Revelation 1: 16-18 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.
So, in effect we can summarise Ephesians 6:10-18 by saying, if we are in Christ and actively maintaining a common union with Him, then we are clothed with the Spiritual Armour of the Person of Jesus Christ and we are ready for spiritual warfare.