Has anyone ever told you that as a Christian, you should “Put on the whole Armor of God”?
Maybe you’ve heard a pastor or Bible study teacher tell you what all the parts of the armor are, but no one has ever explained how exactly you’re supposed to “put it on,” and what you’re supposed to do with it after that.
What is the whole Armor of God, how do we put it on, and what is it for?
Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:10-11, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (ESV).
Ok, so far, so good. The Armor of God helps us be strong, so we can stand against the enemy. But how? And why?
It’s important to understand, as Paul continues in verse 12, that putting on the whole Armor of God is necessary not to protect us from enemies who are “flesh and blood,” but against the devil and his “rulers of darkness” in unseen places. In other words, the Armor of God is spiritual armor, intended to equip us for spiritual battle.
Let’s look a little more closely at the way Paul describes this spiritual armor. It’s not “Suzanne’s armor,” or “Jeanette’s armor,” or even “Paul’s armor” - it’s God’s armor – the armor belongs to God, himself. God’s spiritual armor is not like anything we try and take up and put on for protection that comes from the world. God’s armor comes to us directly from his throne in heaven.
The Old Testament contains a foreshadowing of what Paul wrote about the difference between worldly armor and spiritual armor in the story of David and Goliath, in 1 Samuel 17.
David was the youngest son of Jesse, a well-to-do sheep farmer. While David’s older brothers went out to war against the Philistines, David’s job was to stay home and tend the sheep. One day his father sent David to carry supplies to his brothers on the front lines, where a giant named Goliath was threatening the army of Israel.
Goliath was so terrifying that all Israel’s mighty men were afraid to engage him in battle. But of course when teen-aged David, fresh from the sheepfold where he’d defended his father’s sheep from lions and bears, heard the taunts of the giant and saw that even his big brothers were afraid to fight him (and hearing from the crowd that whoever killed Goliath would marry King Saul’s beautiful daughter), said to the king:
“…’Your servant will go and fight…The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.’ And Saul said to David, ‘Go, and the Lord be with you!’” (17:32b, 37 ESV).
Then King Saul, who stood head and shoulders above other men, realizing that he’d just sealed the fate of a boy who was braver than his whole army put together, offered his armor to David:
“Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them” (17:38-39a).
Can you imagine the shepherd boy clonking around in Saul’s armor, going against an angry giant? Me neither. And neither could David:
“’Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.’ So David put them off” (17:39b).
Picking up five smooth stones and with his sling in his hand, David faced Goliath:
“And the Philistine said to David, ’Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.’ Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand’” (17:44-47 ESV).
See what David did there? He set aside Saul’s worldly armor and instead ran straight for the giant, armed with only a sling and a stone, in the name of Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of hosts. He was certain that God would deliver victory into his hands because David understood that although he was up against a huge physical enemy, the battle was a spiritual one that only God could fight. David’s protection came from God alone.
Today we aren’t usually called to go up against a nine-foot Goliath waving a sword and a spear, but we do find ourselves facing giants that look like unconquerable physical enemies – health crises, financial difficulties, family issues, relationship problems, storms, terror, loss - that can only be conquered in faith.
Paul wrote, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13 ESV).
In this series, we will explore the elements of the Armor of God, how God provides them for a covering, and how they are designed by God to strengthen us so that we are able to stand firm in the spiritual battle that the Lord is fighting with us, through us and for us.
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57 ESV).