The Armor of God
Written by: Brian Bagley, StoneWater Granbury Campus Pastor
Chapter 10: How to Put on the Armor
Scripture: Ephesians 6:10-18
Key Verse: Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
As a soldier preparing for battle, there are several items that you are issued prior to boarding the plane to take you to a combat zone. It was a brisk December afternoon in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and I was standing in line to receive my new body armor. I was pretty excited because my unit was going to try out some new military gear. Now I had trained with body armor in the past, but it was a much older version. The newer technology meant the upgraded armor we received was more complete, but also much heavier! I remember having to learn how to assemble the new gear, and it took longer than I anticipated.
God provides His children with body armor as well. And much like my experience with military body armor, there is a lot of confusion about how to put on the armor. Some people claim that you just put on the armor of God in your imagination. Others claim it is put on through prayer. While our imaginations and prayers are indeed powerful tools, the Bible provides a different set of instructions about how to wear the armor of God.
When the Bible describes the armor of God, the original Greek translation uses the ablative of source case to describe each piece. According to the Blue Letter Bible, the ablative of source case means that “the noun being modified by the noun in the ablative owes its origin in some way to the noun in the ablative.” So for an example, let us examine the term shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16). The shield is the noun being modified by the ablative of faith, therefore the shield owes its existence to faith. Each piece of armor is automatically put on by walking in its source. As you walk in faith, you bring your shield of faith into existence. It is entirely appropriate to pray for faith, but until you actually walk in faith by your actions, you have not brought the armor into reality! Ephesians 6:16 informs us that the shield of faith enables us “to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” What are all the fiery darts? They are all the various forms of attack that Satan will bring to bear against the saints of God. Without faith, we are susceptible to all kinds of attacks. Without faith, we will be overcome by our doubts. The Bible declares in 1 John 5:4, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”
Now it’s important here to give a caution against the Word of Faith movement, or the “prosperity gospel” which seems to be influential in many corners of modern Christianity. The Word of Faith movement teaches that we can simply create the reality that we desire if we exercise enough faith. In such teaching, faith is transformed from the Biblical understanding which is trusting God and His good plans despite our circumstances into a heretical or pagan understanding that faith is a way of creating the health and wealth that we want. Walking in faith does not mean that we demand miracles from God. Our Father is not a holy vending machine to get whatever you want by inserting quarters of faith. But rather He is a loving Father who gives us what we need (Philippians 4:19). He does not exist to serve us, but we exist to serve Him because He purchased our lives with His blood (1 Corinthians 6:20). The Father is also in the business of transforming our minds into the mind of Christ (Romans 12:1-2, Philippians 2:5-8), who Himself suffered and died at the hands of men and promised us that we should expect suffering (John 16:33). Death is the last enemy which our Lord Jesus will defeat at His second coming (1 Corinthians 15:25-26), therefore we should expect physical death in our future.
At the same time, the Bible instructs us that suffering brings many good things such as perseverance, endurance, patience, godly character, wisdom, and intimacy with God, just to name a few (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-6, 1 Peter 4:12-13, Psalms 34:18). None of this is to say that we should seek out suffering or that we should not pray for healing or provision, but we gratefully accept the trials we are given whether easy or difficult (Philippians 4:11-13). Christian history is rich with stories of triumphs and tragedies, but in every case, God is glorified and the faithful are rewarded by Him in the next life (Hebrews 11:1-40). Word of Faith teaches Christians to turn their backs on this magnificent inheritance and trade it for a bowl of soggy corn flakes. The Biblical faith described in Ephesians 6:16 is faith that can handle adversity regardless of how trials may change in severity or duration.
Questions for Reflection:
1. In what ways are you tempted to sin?
2. What are the circumstances in which you are more prone to experience temptation? Are there people or locations you need to avoid?
3. What are Scripture verses that have encouraged you? Have you ever tried to memorize those verses?
Chapter 11: The Helmet and the Sword
Scripture: Ephesians 6:10-18
Key Verse: Ephesians 6:17, “and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
As a kid, I grew up playing baseball. I played several positions in the infield, but my favorite position was catcher. I enjoyed putting on all the catcher’s equipment. It was like putting on armor. A foul ball could hit me square in the face, but the catcher’s mask would deflect the ball and protect my head.
As followers of Christ, we have spiritual armor as well. The armor of God is a metaphor that the Apostle Paul uses to illustrate how walking according to the commands of Scripture acts as protection for believers. Protection from what? The Scripture tells us that the armor protects us from the “schemes of the devil.” A scheme is a form of trickery, usually done in a systematic way. That means that the demonic forces are studying you and making plans according to your weaknesses. Temptation is persistent; that is why we are commanded to flee from it (2 Timothy 2:22, 1 Corinthians 10:13). Have you ever noticed that you are often tempted in the same way regardless of the circumstances or location? I have seen people who struggle with substance abuse being offered drugs while on vacation in an unfamiliar city. The temptation seems to find them! Temptation is also opportunistic. When I was struggling with pornography, I knew that the more tired I became, the harder it would be to resist. I decided to go to bed early to eliminate that opportunity to sin!
In Ephesians 6:17, one of the pieces of armor that the Scripture outlines is “the helmet of salvation.” Recall our principle that each piece of armor is put on by walking in its source. What is the link between the helmet and our salvation? What is it about our salvation that protects our mind? For the saints who are in Christ Jesus, salvation is the true reality of our present moment (1 John 5:12). That truth is not based on how we feel or the circumstances we are experiencing. Rather it is grounded in the unchanging person of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 2:1-16, the Apostle Paul instructs us regarding what it means to have the mind of Christ. The reality is that we have access to wisdom which is vastly superior to the wisdom of man. Wisdom that was once hidden is now revealed through the Holy Spirit and cannot be understood apart from the work of the Spirit. Walking in this wisdom brings the helmet of salvation into existence!
One way that a believer can grow in the wisdom of the Spirit is to study the Proverbs. The purpose of Proverbs is to enable God’s people to learn wisdom, discipline and understanding. God’s Word promises guidance to His children who explore and meditate on them (Proverbs 1:1-7).
Another piece of armor described in verse 17 is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” We often think of the “word of God” as the Bible in its written form. The Greek term which we translate for the written word is logos. But the word used in this verse is rhema, which refers to the spoken word of God. In other words, Paul is telling the believers in Ephesus to quote the word of God in response to temptation from the devil. We are to speak Scripture to directly confront lies with the truth of God’s Word. Jesus used this method in Matthew 4 when He was tempted by Satan. In Matthew 4:3, the devil tempted Jesus to turn stones to bread and break His fast prematurely. However, Jesus defeated the attack by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Jesus leveraged the power of the Holy Spirit through His ability to recall the logos (written word) in order to speak the rhema (spoken word).
I remember suffering terrible anxiety attacks after I made the decision to change careers and separate from the military. These anxiety attacks always came on at night when I had time to reflect on the coming changes for our family. One of the ways I would confront this demonic scheme was to quote Psalm 55:22, which says, “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.” I would pray this verse many times throughout the night and day until the anxiety would relent. If you are not already in the habit of doing so, I encourage you to start memorizing God’s word so that you will have access to the sword of the Spirit when the attacks come!
Questions for Reflection:
1. How have you benefited recently from the wisdom of God?
2. In what areas of your walk with King Jesus do you need to grow in wisdom?
3. What is one new insight that you gained from this chapter?
Chapter 12: The Belt, the Breastplate, and the Shoes
Scripture: Ephesians 6:10-18
Key Verse: Ephesians 6:14-15, “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.” (NIV)
I was recently watching a reality TV show about an endurance race that covered hundreds of miles. Each of the athletes in the race had their own reasons for participating—some wanted to win, others wanted the challenge of participating and just hoped to cross the finish line. Several of the competitors insisted that they were on this journey as a way to discover their “truth.” They communicated that truth in their life continued to escape them. It was sobering and sad to hear. However, the search for truth has been going on for thousands of years. Before Jesus was sentenced to crucifixion, Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?”
In a Roman coat of armor, the belt was responsible for holding the armor together and ensuring everything remained in its proper place. If the belt was compromised, the soldier could not fight effectively. Paul describes the first piece of armor to be the “belt of truth.” It is no accident that Paul starts with truth when discussing how to defend against the schemes of the devil. We live in a post-modern society. One of the realities of postmodernism is the belief that everyone can determine what is true for them and there is no absolute truth that applies to all people for all time. However, Jesus declares that He is the way, the truth and the life. He is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). Peter asserts that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Jesus goes on to say that Peter’s confession is the rock on which Christendom will stand (Matthew 16:13-18). Jesus and His Word is the truth by which we understand reality (John 1:1-18). When we walk in truth, we bring the belt into existence.
The second piece of armor described in this passage is the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate protects the heart of the Christian. When we walk in righteousness, our heart is protected. Proverbs 4:3 instructs us to guard our hearts because it determine the course of our lives. Proverbs 13:6 goes further by saying that righteousness guards the way of the blameless. Righteousness has many aspects including who you choose as friends, how you control your appetites, how you honor your parents, and how you approach adversity (Proverbs 12:3, 13:1, 13:6, 13:20). On the other hand, when we walk in unrighteousness, our hearts are open to all kinds of destruction (Proverbs 12:15-16). By walking in righteousness, we bring the breastplate into existence in our lives.
The shoes from the gospel of peace are the final item of armor listed in this passage. What is the connection between shoes and the gospel of peace? Paul is clearly referencing Isaiah 52:7 which says that whenever the gospel is taken to new places, peace is proclaimed and the lies are exposed. Satan seeks to bring about death and destruction but the good news of the gospel is that Christ brings life (John 10:10). Proclaiming the gospel to ourselves and our lost friends is a powerful way to defend against the lies of the enemy. But this gospel gives us boldness, protects us as we go into dangerous places and gives us a peace that passes understanding (Proverbs 28:1, Philippians 4:7). As we walk in the gospel of peace we bring the shoes into existence.
Questions for Reflection:
1. Read Psalm 119:9, 11. What is a truth from God’s Word from which you draw strength?
2. Read Romans 3:22. From where does the righteousness of God come? What are the areas of unrighteousness that you have struggled with in the past (anxiety, rage, envy, etc.)? How will you trust God with these battles?
3. Read Philippians 4:6-7. What is the relationship between prayer and the peace of God?
Group Questions (GQs)
1. Start off by playing “2 Truths and a Lie”. Extra points if everyone laughs.
2. What has been your favorite part of meeting as a group so far?
3. Share with the group what you’ve been taught in the past regarding the Armor of God. How has the devotional content strengthened what you already knew? What has challenged your understanding?
4. In order to use the sword of the Spirit, it helps to memorize Scripture. Research and download a Scripture memorization app as a group and agree to memorize one verse each week. Another option is to memorize Bible verses using the Topical Memory System (TMS). You can learn more about the TMS at https://www.navigators.org/resource/topical-memory-system/
5. Read Isaiah 26:3. What is the relationship between experiencing personal peace (the shoes) and trusting in God?
6. With which piece of armor are you most confident (salvation, righteousness, faith, peace, God’s Word, or truth)? Least confident? How can you grow in certainty regarding your use of each piece of armor?
7. End your time in prayer.