Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Full Armor of God

Eph 6:10-20

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 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. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 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, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints — 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

I was recently sharing my thoughts with someone on the issue of spiritual warfare and I thought I'd post some of those thoughts here. Several years ago, when I was beginning to more fully understand the grace in which I live, the above passage was opened up to me in a fresh way. Up till that time, Spiritual Warfare and The Whole Armor of God had been kind of a spooky subject for me. I would hear people talk and preach about it in a very mystical kind of way, even in such a way that made you think you had to be some sort of spiritual superhero in order to apply the armor of spiritual warfare. I do think that by using the imagery of a soldier wearing and applying all of this mighty battle gear, Paul was showing how mighty and magnificent God's armor truly is. But again, I couldn't get rid of the hopeless and helpless notion that all of this heavy gear was for me to use on some all-too-distant day, way off in the future, when I would finally become a mighty soldier for God!

Fortunately, like I said, this passage became fresh and new to me one day and I was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief and begin resting at the thought of spiritual warfare, rather than trying to work up some huge amount of unction within me in order to begin fighting demons and principalities, etc.

Here's what I did. Not to take away at all from Paul's excellent, God-inspired imagery of a soldier going into battle with all the gear, but what I did one day was to remove all of that imagery and simply look at the actual substance of each individual piece of "armor." What it really comes down to is that the "full armor of God" is simply this:

• Truth
• Righteousness
• The Gospel of Peace
• Faith
• Salvation
• The Word of God

At first it was kind of a "DUH!" moment (a 'smack yourself upside the head' moment) for me when I realized that this whole passage really boils down to six simple truths! I had been so focused on all the imagery (again, not to take away from the God-inspired purposes of the imagery) that I hadn't really seen the substance. And what made this into more of a joyful, positive "Eureka!" moment is that as I looked at each word or phrase, something became even more clear. Here's the gist of what I exclaimed to myself as all of this came into focus: "Each one of these things is God's gift to us! This is all stuff that He gives us freely and that He Himself works in and through us! This is all stuff that we can't conjure up on our own! It's all HIM!"

Oh, there are plenty of battles to be fought, and as the passage reminds us, the battle is not against people (flesh and blood) but against principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness, spiritual hosts of wickedness, etc. But there is something that is equally as important (or even more important) that, ironically, I think people of faith (those who say they trust the Lord, not themselves) tend to give lip service to: The battle is the Lord's, not ours.

These battles ("spiritual warfare") aren't fought and won by the mighty super-spiritual grind work of people of faith. The battles are won as people of faith rest in Christ! In the next post I want to briefly look at each of the six words and phrases in the passage and see how they are God's gifts to us and how they are all about His working in us, and perhaps discuss some practical, non-spooky and non-super-spiritual applications of the full armor of God. In the meantime, I'd welcome any comments and discussions on your views of all of this.


  1. Joel
    Helpful post - It' so cool how God has made a way for us to live that is alot easier than we would make it to be....looking forward to your next post!!!

    (Been enjoying reading the Gracewalk Forum!)

  2. As a person who is coming from a pentecostal background, I can very well relate to what you are saying here. I have heard pastors saying after reading this passage - "we have a battle to fight, people". (Imagine loud "hallelujah's", "amen's" from the crowd! Some people even raise up!) I was never comfortable with that though, thinking , don't we have a God who is greater than any principalities or powers.
    I am glad that you are addressing this.

    These battles ("spiritual warfare") aren't fought and won by the mighty super-spiritual grind work of people of faith. The battles are won as people of faith rest in Christ!

    Awesome! You know sometimes we don't get such "hallelujah's", "amen's" for Truth. But that's okay :)

  3. Lydia,

    "...easier than we would make it to be..." Amen! Hey, I'm glad you've been enjoying the Grace Walk Forum! I found it three years ago, shortly after it had been created, and it's been a great source of encouragement for me, as well as fellowship with other grace walkers. :)


    It seems I've had a similar pentecostal background as yours. I think there were (and still are) some great things to be found in the pentecostal church - great things that you unfortunately won't find elsewhere. But my background in the pentecostal church also had a very negative, legalistic side. It's where I began my climb to try to be a "better Christian," fighting spiritual giants that I just couldn't really fight until I was "ready for battle." They would say, "the battle belongs to the Lord," but yet it was up to US to fight the battles. It didn't make sense! And now I know why. :)

  4. I've always understood the battle imagery, and tried to explain it to people who hate hymns like "Onward Christian Soldiers" or this beautiful verse from Ephesians. However, some people take this so literally. Have you see the children's costumes for the full armor of God ( Thank you for helping people see the beauty and love in the Scripture.

  5. Hi Brett,

    Yeah, I think imagery is a great thing, and in fact the Bible is filled with it, from parables to descriptions of God to all kinds of other things. The problem with it is that, as you say, sometimes people can take it too literally and they miss the substance, by replacing it with the imagery. Anyway, not to get too deep here. :) Thanks for your comment.