In Ephesians 6:14–18, Paul describes “the full armor of God”: “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
Although drawn from the weapons of a first-century Roman soldier, the armor Paul describes has modern counterparts. We might speak of the web belt of truth, the body armor of righteousness, the combat boots of peace, the Kevlar helmet of salvation, and the M-16 of the Spirit, for example. However “the full armor of God” is described, notice three things about it:
First, it is intellectual, moral, and spiritual in nature. Notice the key words: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, word of God. If the devil’s battle strategy consists of deception and distortion, our defense must be based on discernment. We must know the truth and be capable of acting upon it, in other words. Our knowledge of the truth comes from the word of God, that is, the Bible. According to Hebrews 4:12: “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” But not just anyone can use the Bible rightly. It takes a certain kind of character, just as it takes a certain kind of training to fight with a sword or properly shoot an M-16. The beginning point of that character is faith, which leads to salvation and results in “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).
Second, the armor of God is primarily defensive in nature. It protects us from “the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Only the sword—the Bible—is an offensive weapon. When used properly, the Bible is “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus,” and it is “useful for…training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17).
Third, God’s armor is best used in the context of a prayerful life. “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions,” Paul writes, “with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Soldiers can only win battles when they are in constant contact with the general’s staff, which lays out the battle plan, coordinates forces, allocates reserves, and leads the army to victory. The same is true of Christians in their relationship to God.
We cannot even begin to win the spiritual war we are fighting without him.