The Seven-fold Armor of God—Part One
© C. O. Bishop 7/8/14 (THCF 7/20/14)
Ephesians 6: 10-18 (read it.)
In recent days we studied Ephesians 6:10-13. We saw that we were to find our strength in the Person of Christ, his indwelling Holy Spirit, and the simple fact that we have been assigned by Him to live in this World as lights in a dark place. We are to stand before the enemies of our souls, not dismayed by the evil in the world. And we are to announce the judgment and salvation of God, as His Ambassadors.
As we move on, and learn the Armor of God, we see immediately that seven pieces of armor are listed. We have also seen in the scripture that the number seven is frequently associated with “completeness” or completion. The Judgments in the Revelation come in three waves of seven, for instance, nested within one another. When we talk about the “Last Trumpet” that ends the reign of Man on Earth, it is the seventh trumpet of Judgment on the Earth, during the great Tribulation. There are many examples of such things, Old and New Testament, and I don’t want to make too big a point about it, because, as they say, “sometimes seven just means one more than six.”
However, in this particular case we are being given something from God, and it is a perfect gift, as mentioned in James 1:17 “Every Good gift and every perfect Gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” So, while I do not overemphasize the number seven, in this case, it seems to bear out what Paul says about the armor—it is the “whole” armor of God…complete in every way.
Five Defensive Weapons:
First things first: “Having your loins girt about with truth”
Even a small child, learning to dress himself, learns very quickly that there is an order in which we put on our various garments: you can’t put your shoes on before your socks, for example. Well, the first thing God says, is that we are to “stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth…” Consider the Truth of God’s Word as a belt: If you have ever watched a framing crew, or a carpenter’s crew gearing up for work, one of the final things they put on is their tool belt. It holds all their hand tools, and frequently several pounds of nails, screws, or other fasteners. But it goes on last.
The Truth of God’s Word is similar, in that it upholds everything else…without God’s Word being true, nothing else in the Christian Life is valid or helpful. Because of that, unlike the tool-belt, this belt—the “girding up of the loins” with the truth of God’s written Word, is foundational to all the rest of the armor, and is the first to be applied.
All of our existence as believers depends on this one thing: God’s Word is true! It either is, or it isn’t. We are not looking at a smorgasbord, from which we are to choose what to believe. There are certainly many parts we understand poorly, and probably some we don’t understand at all. (Daniel complained about this, in Daniel chapter 12, and was told that that portion was not for him, but that it would be understood by the people of the end times.) But it is all “God-breathed”— inspired by God. Bear in mind that the door to the truth is the will, not the intellect. Very seldom is one “argued” into believing. Ultimately, we recognize that there is a choice to be made, and we make a choice to either receive the voice of God, or reject it.
Once I chose to believe God’s Word, I was depending on Him to give me more information to confirm that choice. What I discovered was that, once a person begins looking for the “fingerprints of God” in one’s life, believing that His hand is at work, that believer begins to see His hand everywhere. God has big hands and He leaves big fingerprints. But if you decide to deny him, there will always be a plausible doubt—a reason not to believe. It is just that, ultimately, it requires more faith to disbelieve God’s Word than to believe it. I have to then believe in my own wisdom, for which I have nearly 60 years’ evidence that it is not worthy of faith. Or, I have to believe other humans: “wise men” who continually give me reason (via news stories, and governmental decisions, and scientific community shenanigans) to know that their wisdom is no better than mine…maybe worse. So, the choice is clear: I either believe the Word of one whose track-record is perfect, though sometimes mysterious, or that of people who are continually making bad decisions.
If God’s Word is where my confidence is, then the rest of the Armor is at my disposal. If not, then I have nothing. In similar fashion, much of the Ancient Roman armor was attached to, and suspended from the belt. That’s why the belt was secured first. If the belt failed, the breastplate fell away, and the sword sheath was gone. Choose to put your daily, living Faith in the truth of God’s Word. He is worthy of your faith.
How to Protect the Heart: The Breastplate of Righteousness
The Breastplate, of course, is just what it sounds like—a plate, or shell, to cover the chest and abdomen from a frontal attack. The Roman soldier was primarily a foot-soldier, and facing other such soldiers, his vital organs needed protection from swords, spears, etc. …and primarily from the front. He wasn’t supposed to retreat. God says that the Breastplate in the Christian’s armor is Righteousness…but not the righteousness of the believer, primarily—the believer is too fallible for that to hold up for long. Where can we get a righteousness that will hold up under the attack of Satan? And how will it protect the heart of the believer?
Turn in your Bible to 2 Corinthians 5:21 –“For He hath made Him (Christ) to be sin for us, who (Christ) knew no sin, that we might be made the Righteousness of God in Him.” That is the only righteousness on which we can depend…the Righteousness of God, imputed to us through the Blood of Jesus. Genesis 15:6 states that “Abraham believed God and He (God) counted it to him (Abraham) as righteousness.” That has always been our only source of Righteousness.
When our conscience accuses us, and Satan chimes in, condemning us for the sins of the flesh and of the mind, we can rest on the righteousness of Christ. Yes I am a sinner! That is why Jesus went to the Cross! His blood paid the price—the full price—for my sin. I have become the Righteousness of God in Him. Do I consciously “feel” that way? Nope. My “feelings” are bound up in my experience, and what my experience tells me daily is that I am a sinner. The fact, however, is that I am in Christ, not in the flesh, and His righteousness has become mine. God no longer sees me in my old sin nature. This is a vitally important thing to grasp, because without it you will constantly be under attack from the enemies of your soul telling you that you are not good enough to be a child of God, much less His ambassador.
Our defense against this sort of attack, whether from our flesh-influenced conscience, or the world, or Satan himself is to freely confess that on our own we have NO righteousness, but that in Christ we are completely Holy and righteous, just as He is. Is that Hard to imagine? It is for me! Fortunately, I do not have to imagine it: turn to Ephesians 4:24. “…and that ye put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true Holiness.” Notice that it says that this New Man is “created”. That means that it is not the Holy Spirit, but the new nature of the believer in focus, here. The Holy Spirit is God…He is not a created being. But the person who has been born again is a new Creation in Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:17). And that new Man, the new nature of the Born-again believer, is created in Righteousness (whose? Christ’s!) and true Holiness. Wow! What a powerful statement about our position in Christ. That is why we can say with confidence that we are secure in Him forever! And that is why we can use the Breastplate of Righteousness—Christ’s Righteousness, to protect our fragile hearts from the attack of the Evil One.
What about Shoes?
Any soldier can only fight so long as he has firm footing. Our feet are to be shod with the “preparation of the Gospel of peace” The Roman soldier, we are told, was issued hobnail sandals that he strapped on before battle, or whenever on duty as a guard, or anything else. They were sturdy, and solid, not necessarily made for maximum comfort, but rather maximum durability, strength and secure footing. Soldiers today are issued similar footgear: durable, with good all-terrain traction, and (in jungle climates) breathable fabric, to avoid excess moisture and possible fungus infections.
We are to be constantly preparing for service by reading and reviewing the scriptures, and specifically the Gospel of Peace. How does that differ from the Gospel of Grace? Effectively they are one and the same. Nearly every Epistle in the New Testament begins with the phrase, “Grace be unto you, and Peace…” or something very similar, within the first verse or two. And it always comes in that order: Grace, resulting in Peace.
When we believed the Gospel of Grace, we were made new creatures in Christ, and, whether we were aware of it or not, were permanently at Peace with God…He is no longer at odds with us, as He no longer sees us in our sins.
Having the peace of God is another matter. We have the peace of God when we are walking in the Spirit, and casting our cares upon Him because He cares for us. Philippians 4:6, 7 says that we are to be anxious for nothing but by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, we are to make our requests known to Him, so that the Peace of God can be our daily experience. Romans 5:1 states that if we have been justified (declared righteous) by faith we have peace with God. We don’t have to seek it. We confess our sins and cast our cares on Him to have the peace of God. Peace with God is eternally ours.
The firm footing from which we offer eternal life to the lost, and upon which we stand against the enemy is the fact that we are permanently at peace with God. We are no longer his enemies, and never will be so again.
And the Shield?
We are told that, above all, we are to take the Shield of Faith, with which we shall be able to quench all the flaming darts of the wicked. Every single one of us who are Born Again have experienced saving faith. We are saved by Grace, through Faith. There is no other way offered, though many try to propose alternate routes. But the living faith, mentioned here is that daily dependence on God for wisdom, protection, guidance, and strength. This concept has been taught from earliest times, in both the Old and the New Testament. Gideon was told, “Go, in this thy strength: have I not sent thee?” Solomon taught, (Proverbs 3:5, 6) “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not on thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path.”
Doubts can be thrown at us from any of our enemies. The World constantly heaps doubt on the Christian, either flatly denying the truth of God’s Word, or calling into question the character of God and His followers.. Our own flesh, the most devious of our enemies, does the same thing, saying, “well, that doesn’t feel right…I’m not comfortable with that…” As we stated earlier, our feelings are not a reliable indicator of truth. God’s Word is! Our comfort or discomfort is also not reliable as an indicator of truth. Our old sin nature will never be comfortable with God’s Word—it cannot be, according to Romans 8:7. So why should I even consider its claims? Satan will use any means to cast doubt on God’s people. Remember how he used the serpent against Eve: “Yea, hath God surely said…?” and “Ye shall not surely die…” Satan begins by casting doubt on the Word, and then calls God’s character into question. He first suggests that perhaps the Word is not reliable, and then flatly calls God a liar.
All of these sources of doubt stem from the Evil One. Our defense against all of them is Faith. It does not matter how I feel about something—what matters is what God says. It does not matter what the World says about God—they have already rejected Christ and his Word, therefore they are an incredibly unreliable measure of truth. And, ultimately, if the truth of God’s Word is our confidence, then we need not fear Satan’s “flaming Darts of doubt”, however he delivers them, because we will meet them with the Shield of Faith.
The Helmet—Protecting the Mind
Are you beginning to see how all the pieces of armor are tied together by a common theme? The truth of God’s Word, and the secure position of the believer in Christ are the reason they all work. So what can we do to protect our minds? The heaviest Doubt, especially for a young believer, is the fear that somehow we can lose our salvation…that somehow we have not done enough, and that God will abandon us.
Little children, toddlers especially, frequently fear separation from their mothers. Even older children sometimes fear abandonment, especially if they come from a broken home, or have gone through foster homes and adoption at a later age. The Christian is under attack from Satan in that same vein. “Oooops! Well, that was too much for God! You have sinned your way outta Grace, now, sister!” We are even taught this idea in some churches, sadly enough. How can I possibly put on the Helmet of Salvation if I am not sure I am saved, and/or I am not sure that I cannot lose that salvation? How can my mind be free to serve Christ, if I am constantly working to keep something I cannot lose?
Two things to bear in mind here:
- God says you can have eternal life today, and not wait ‘til you die to find out if you have it. (John 5:24)
- God wants you to know that you have it. (1st John 5:11-13)
If you can rest in the promise of God, regarding your salvation, then you will no longer be subject to Satan’s attacks on your mind.
Next time we will talk about the offensive weapons in the Christian’s armor.
In the meantime, meditate on the five defenses God has given you against your enemies, and be at peace. If you want to read ahead, consider how the Word of God and Prayer can be used as offensive weapons.
May the Lord bless you as you walk with Him and stand firmly against your enemies.