The Whole Armor

To resist the devil, to succeed in spiritual warfare, we need spiritual equipment, so God has provided His very own armor for us: the armor of God, and He tells us to put it on — all of it. (Ep 6:11)

This is necessary because our enemies are mightier than we are, more insidious and clever, more committed and experienced than we are; we’re fighting against principalities and powers, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (12) So we’re to take up all of God’s armor, not neglecting a single piece of it, so we can survive the battle and be standing when the dust clears. (13)

There are seven pieces in this suit of armor: a belt of truth and a breastplate of righteousness (14), the shin-plates and shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace (15), the shield of faith (16), the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, the word of God (17) and prayer (18) – that constant communion with God which empowers the armor and helps it all work together.

Taking this armor, wearing and using it, is more than imagining that we’re putting on physical equipment and calling each piece by name, or fantasizing ourselves in virtual reality overcoming the dragon — much more than this.

The first piece, the belt of truth, is the foundation anchoring the breastplate and sword. We gird ourselves with truth, enveloping the core of our being, never tolerating any lying way within. We buy the truth and sell it not (Pr 23:23), not for any price, not ever. Without the love of truth we have no armor at all (2Th 2:10); walking in the lie we’re prisoners of war. (2Ti 2:25-26)

The breastplate of righteousness is our primary defensive armor, covering the vital organs; it’s the life pattern of obedience to Torah and springs from walking in light, obeying the truth. It comprises not merely positional righteousness; it’s faith in action, practical righteousness, loving in deed as well as in word. (1Jn 3:18) This is life-saving protection when the enemy strikes past our sword and shield; the good conscience of living in truth helps us abound in hope, glorying in trial (Ro 5:3), counting it all joy (Ja 1:2), not withering in shame. (1Jn 2:28)

The preparation of the gospel of peace is a second defensive covering; being rooted and grounded in the basics of the gospel, equipped to continually remind ourselves as well as share with others, this orients us properly in the world. This protects our feet and legs, for this is how we stand, how we journey. There is no standing outside of Christ, so we carefully defend our dependence on Christ: He is our peace (Ep 2:14), made to be sin on our behalf (1Co 5:21), reconciling us to God. (2Co 5:18) We glory only in Jesus Christ. (1Co 1:31)

The shield of faith, supernatural confidence in God, is the mobile defensive piece –  the rest of the armor is fixed in place. We maneuver and position this shield to intercept the lies projected into us, which tempt us to fear, bitterness, strife and envy. We hold faith strategically, anticipating the lies, applying the promises of God in context to address each one.

The helmet of salvation is assurance of eternal salvation and security in Christ. (2Co 13:5) Failing to keep and maintain assurance of salvation destabilizes and incapacitates our souls, leaving us vulnerable to attack. (2Pe 1:10) We cannot joyfully serve Christ while we’re unsure if we even belong to Him. (9)

The word of God is the sword of the Spirit, our only offensive weapon. Without this we aren’t really in the fight at all, just a target waiting to be taken down. Taking up this sword requires hiding it in our hearts and meditating on it regularly, training ourselves so the Spirit can wield it as we quote when presented with any lie or temptation. This is the example of Christ (Mt 4:4, 7, 10); we follow His steps. (1Pe 2:21) There’s no other way to win.

The final piece is prayer, a weapon empowering all the other components to work together in the might of God. (2Co 10:4) In asking anything according to His will, He hears us (1Jn 5:14), engaging omnipotence in overcoming evil. (Ep 1:19)

We’re to take the whole armor of God, every single piece, because none of the individual pieces work properly without all the others working together. We might think of God’s armor as a single piece with many interconnected parts which all stand or fall together, a single living organism, energized by the life of God and infusing us with divine power. Take away one piece, and you’ve nothing worth having.

This spiritual armor is the very life of Christ in us, overcoming the evil one, each piece a way of portraying Christ Himself, the Word of Life (1Jn 1:1), the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn 14:6), our righteousness (1Co 1:30), our peace (Ep 2:14), our life (Col 3:4), standing with us and in us to overcome the world. (Jn 16:33)

Taking up the whole armor of God is, in a very real sense, bringing God Himself into the battle to fight within us, through us, and for us. (De 20:4) For without Him, we can do nothing. (Jn 15:5)

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6 thoughts on “The Whole Armor”

  1. To be clear, using this metaphor of spiritual armor to remind ourselves of the various components and envisioning ourselves putting on the armor as we act out the metaphor isn’t inappropriate; the metaphor is evidently designed to assist us in just this way. However, it is indeed a misapplication of the metaphor, an abuse of it, to think we are taking up the armor merely by acting this out in our imagination.

    We must actually live in truth, be unwilling to deliberately live according to any kind of lie, for any reason or benefit at any time, in order to be girding our loins with truth.

    To don the armor of the preparation of the gospel of peace upon our spiritual feet we must ground our minds and souls in the principles of the gospel and live in accordance with these basics throughout the day.

    And so on.

  2. I have seen in my own life that truth on it’s own is cumbersome. It’s weight is overwhelming if not balanced with the other requirements put into practice. There is a lot to unpack in this study!

    1. Thanks Eric. Very interesting comment.

      Cumbersome suggests difficult to manage, intractable, bulky, burdensome. I can partly see how we might view truth this way, even in isolation from other things. In particular, truth spoken in malice is often harmful, and demands made by truth, especially when embodied in commands of Torah, may seem too much to bear.

      However, when I think of un-truth — that is, any alternative to truth — this is, in my view, more cumbersome, more difficult to manage, more intractable, etc., than truth. So, even when truth appears cumbersome, perhaps even then it isn’t the truth itself which is the problem, but the lies which are inevitably packaged with it. In my experience, the most powerful lies are those which are imperceptibly interwoven with truth.

      Can you elaborate a bit on what you are thinking here?

      1. I can’t disagree with your perspective. My emphasis is the capacity of humans to accept truth and act responsibly with it. The burden of knowing a thing and keeping it hidden creates sorrow. To share that same truth results in sorrow. One example is the sharing of the gospel. A person presented with the gospel may in all likelihood refuse to turn from sin and reject the good news. I will thus be sorrowful of this rejection of Messiah. Also this poor soul is now responsible for the truth placed upon them thus eliminating there ignorance card. I know perhaps the seed sown may yet take root but. … . Another, you and I know there is much suffering in the world. This truth is sorrow.
        There are children and other innocent people being used in unspeakable depravity. Sorrow and more sorrow. All these things should in fact be confronted and dealt with swiftly yet even good men fall into a sort of cognitive dissidence syndrome unable to process the sheer volume of depravity that hides in darkness. Of course all this depravity leads the sheep who know their shepherd to an even closer relationship as they flee their sin and ask for the forgiveness of a merciful Creator. We cry how long Father until the innocent blood is avenged! I have found truth to be very large and am only able to manage it with Truth himself, Yeshua. His roll of suffering servant, a man of sorrows now complete. He will return with a rod executing swiftly our long awaited return of the King. Truth is knowledge is it not?

        1. Well said!! Thank you!! I get your point now much better. Much food for thought and growth here.

          “For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” (Ec 1:18)

          To whom much is given, much is required — “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” (Lk 12:48b)

          Once we have truth we have an obligation to apply it, obey it and honor it; failing to do so puts us in a worse position than if we had not known — “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” (2Pe 2:21)

          Having a knowledge of God but not a love for Him reveals the wicked heart — “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Ro 1:21)

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