Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 4, 1963

The Armor Of God

J. D. Tant

The apostle Paul had much contact with the Roman soldiers during his years as an evangelist, and particularly so during his later years — years of imprisonment. In the midst of these experiences the Holy Spirit lead Paul to make some interesting and profitable comparisons between Christians and soldiers in his writings.

In 2 Timothy 2:1-4, he exhorts Timothy concerning the work of an evangelist urging the young preacher to "suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus." One who is familiar with the life of a soldier can more fully appreciate Paul's words. We certainly do not think of the soldier's life as a life of ease as he is often required to give up family and home; expose himself to the elements; endure physical hardships, exhaustion, hunger and even death. (If a soldier is willing to endure this for country, surely we can do it for Christ!) Paul equates serving with hardship, especially as applied to evangelists, but in a measure it is applied to all who claim to be Christians.

In Romans 13:12, the apostle urges us to put on the "armor of light," and in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, describes the nature of our armament "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds)...." Thus we understand that our armament is spiritual, enabling us to war against the spiritual powers of evil. This idea is carried out extensively in Ephesians 6:10-20, which is the focal point of our study.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Wherefore take up the whole armor of. God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; withal taking up the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God: with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints, and on my behalf ...."

Paul suggests two reasons for our taking up the whole armor of God. (1) That we might be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Since we are flesh and blood, we need all the help we can obtain in order to successfully combat the spiritual host of wickedness. We get this thought somewhat from Ephesians 4:13-14, where the "fullness" or "maturity" we are to attain is "that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error...." As we become fully equipped, or full-grown we are not subject to deception and the wiles of men as children might be. (2) That we may be able to withstand in the evil day. Various interpretations have been placed upon this phrase, but the simplest and most plausible explanation is that this "evil day" refers to our temptations or "day of temptation" as we might put it. And so having done all this, we can stand firm and victorious.

The Parts Of Our Armament

"Having girded your loins with truth." The Roman girdle encircled the body around the midsection, securing all the armor, and also having the sword attached to it. Certainly truth should be the support of all our undertakings, as it causes us to have confidence and firmness. Those who have not truth to uphold are certainly in an unenviable position, as they not only are upholding a lie, but must speak lies in order to do so.

"Having put on the breastplate of righteousness." As a soldier puts on his breastplate to shield himself from a disabling wound, so we can use righteousness to deflect fatal thrusts of our spiritual assailants. This righteousness is referring to our moral character — sinlessness. So long as we maintain this protection, we need have no fear of the devil, for we have no part with him, and he cannot touch us. "To this end was the son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his seed abideth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is begotten of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God...." (1 John 3:8-10) Peter further suggests the protection afforded by righteousness, or doing good, as he says, "And who is he that will harm you, if ye be zealous of that which is good,?" (1 Pet. 3:13) This same figure is used in Isaiah 59:17: "And he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon his head...."

"Having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace." The word "preparation" here refers to readiness, as a football player has spikes on his shoes to give him readiness. He has a firm footing, and is prepared to go in any direction from the line of scrimmage. As Christians have this readiness or preparedness, we are less likely to slip or be overwhelmed. This idea of "preparedness" is contained in 1 Peter 3:15: "But santify in your heart Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you...."

"Taking up the shield of faith." The shield was not fixed, but was movable and could be used to protect any part of the body needing extra protection. In like manner should our faith be used, for if we have not faith, we are hopelessly lost — completely without defense. "For we walk by faith, not by sight," and "without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him" both will testify as to the importance of faith. Without a deep and abiding faith, we are at the mercy of the devil. Our "seeking first the kingdom" (Matthew 6:33) is largely a matter of faith — the lesser the amount of faith, the less time we devote to "first things."

The "fiery darts" mentioned were a most feared weapon of that age. They were missiles, such as arrows, whose shafts were filled with combustible materials and set ablaze before shooting. If they entered the body, the fire created a greater peril than the wound itself, and might cause the soldier to throw down his armor and thus openly expose himself to the foe. From this we should be able to appreciate the utter necessity of having a great faith, which faith comes from study of the word of God. (Romans 10:17)

"Take the helmet of salvation." In 1 Thessalonians 5:8 Paul speaks of "putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation." This "hope of salvation" is assuredly that which sustains as well as protects us. It is without question that we would not fight well if we had no hope of a final victory — salvation. The battle may be long and hard, and we may grow weary along the way, yet the hope of our reward — salvation — spurs us on. Paul admonishes us to "be not weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (Galatians 6:9) Hebrews 6:13ff, speaking of the sureness of God's promises, uses that fact as the basis of a "strong encouragement" for those "who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us: which we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast...."

"The sword of the Spirit." The sword serves both as a weapon of attack and also to parry the thrusts of the enemy. Christ used the word, the sword of the spirit, to turn aside the onslaughts of Satan by saying, "It is written...." David also recognized the worth of the word: "Thy word have I laid up in my heart, that I might not sin against thee." (119 Psalm, 11) It is a poor soldier that does not know how to use his sword, as the meaning of "soldier," is "one who draws the sword." Barnes suggests from this point four things: (1) That we should study the Bible, so that we may understand it properly; (2) That we should have texts of scripture at our command, as Christ did in turning aside Satan; (3) That we should not depend upon our own reasoning nor rely upon our own wisdom; and (4) That we should thus see the importance of training up the young in the accurate study of the Bible.

"With all prayer and supplication." Although this is not thought of as a weapon or armor, it has a definite place in our spiritual warfare Likewise, nearly all soldiers, religious or not, pray in some way that they may be victorious, or that they may be prepared to meet death. This prayer is a much neglected part of many Christians' armor. We must learn we cannot depend upon our own strength, but that we must call upon God for aid and guidance in all matters pertaining to our warfare. Paul says "pray always"; "pray without ceasing." This is just as much a part of our armor as the shield or sword.

"Watching." As the matter of watchfulness is vital to soldiers in battle, so must it be with us in our spiritual battle. This watching is necessary that we may not be caught unawares by the enemy as were those spoken of in Jude 4: "For there are certain men crept in privily, even they who were of old written of beforehand unto this condemnation, ungodly men...." We must also be watchful that we might be ready at the coming of the Lord, our chief captain. "Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour." (Matthew 25:13)

In an article of this length we could not consider fully many of the points that could also be included, but perhaps this study will help us to appreciate the need to be fully armed, lest we spiritually fall as Ahab physically fell. The record reveals in 1 King 22:34. "And a certain man drew his Bow at a venture and smote the king of Israel between the joints of armor: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, turn thy hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am sore wounded." Ahab was mortally wounded in a weak spot — a place where his armor was not complete. So it will be with us if we are not diligent. But if we will fully arm ourselves, we can then march in the victory procession, giving thanks "unto God, who always leadeth in triumph in Christ...." (2 Corinthians 2:14)

If you, dear reader, are not a soldier of the cross through your obedience to the gospel and continued faithfulness, rest assured that you are on the losing side. Christ has promised to return victorious, to receive all his faithful soldiers and give them their reward — the crown of righteousness.

— 2622 Snapfinger Road, Decatur, Georgia