“Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and his powerful strength. Put on God’s armour so that you can make a stand against the tricks of the devil. We aren’t fighting against human enemies but against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in the heavens.” (Ephesians 6:10-12 CEB)
Armour was used in many ages in the past as protection in battle. We may think of a suit of armour standing in some castle and great houses now on display. We no longer use the type of armour that knights used for centuries although soldiers today still have protective armour. The Romans also wore armour which is what Paul goes on to describe here.
We need to be wearing armour because we are in the midst of a conflict, a struggle. But it isn’t Roman armour or medieval armour that we need to put on because we aren’t fighting people. Instead we are in a fight against “spiritual forces of evil” which means that the armour we wear has to be appropriate for a spiritual battle.
“Therefore, pick up the full armour of God so that you can stand your ground on the evil day and after you have done everything possible to still stand. So stand with the belt of truth around your waist, justice as your breastplate, and put shoes on your feet so that you are ready to spread the good news of peace. Above all, carry the shield of faith so that you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word.” (Ephesians 6:13-17)
Although described in terms of what a Roman soldier would wear, we discover that our armour consists of what our lives should be producing as Christians. Truth, justice, being ready to spread the good news, our faith and salvation, and God’s word. This is what prepares us to stand against the attacks that come from the devil.
Notice the importance of our faith. Our faith is to be our shield against anything the devil may throw at us. The Roman soldiers’ shield, although wooden and therefore flammable, would be covered with leather to stop fire spreading when a flaming arrow would lodge in it. This is what our faith does for us. When we believe God and trust in Jesus there is nothing that the devil can throw at us that will penetrate our faith.
The Roman shield was also designed so that it could be joined with the shields of other soldiers. This gave added protection. Isn’t this true for us as Christians, as well? When we join together with other Christians we can even better withstand any attacks that are thrown at us.
Paul wrote that we have to have the “full armour of God”. It isn’t that one part is going to protect us against the attacks of the devil. The Roman solider wanted his entire armour, otherwise there were weaknesses that the enemy could exploit. The same goes for us. We need every part of God’s spiritual armour if we are going to survive spiritual warfare.
Telling others the good news of Jesus is part of our armour in withstanding the devil. By telling others about Jesus it strengthens our faith as well as leads more people to join the ranks of those fighting for Jesus. To tell others about Jesus, we must use the one offensive weapon that is listed: God’s word. It is when we are actively telling others about the peace that Jesus brings that the devil is weakened.
And don’t forget to pray! It isn’t a coincidence that in the midst of talking about our spiritual armour Paul also wrote about the necessity of prayer.
“Offer prayers and petitions in the Spirit all the time. Stay alert by hanging in there and praying for all believers.” (Ephesians 6:18)
It is through prayer that we are able to stay alert and at our post for Jesus.
Photo by Jon Galloway, display in the Citadel, Jerusalem.
Readings for next week: Ephesians 6, Philippians 1-4, Colossians 1-4