Armor of God (part 1)

What exactly is the armor of God? Do we have to dress up as a soldier? The armor of God is often talked about in bible class, sermons, and Sunday school. It is represented many times as a soldier with all this armor on, like one ready for battle. Although these are great visuals for what Paul is writing about, we may have gone astray from what Paul was really referring to. Have we lost the real and scarier meaning behind what this “armor” is supposed to be for? This time, we are going to begin a study on the armor of God to get back to the heart of what the armor is really for and what battles we are supposed to be ready for. Let’s begin.

The armor of God passage is in Ephesians 6:10-17,

10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Let’s take note of some general observations of the way Paul writes this passage and what we’re really talking about. Just before Paul writes this, he wrote about children obeying parents and slaves obeying their masters. This is all inclusive to the fact that we should be obeying our Heavenly Father, God, to ensure life. Paul now takes this thought a step further. He is now going to write about what our struggle really is against and who it is against. Paul says in verse 12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood”. Paul is saying our struggle is not against all those people he just mentioned. Our fights and battles are not against our masters or our parents or any human. They are against something much darker and much more dangerous, this is why we should have the full armor of God.

So Paul starts out by saying “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power”. This is key because our power over our enemies does not come from us, it comes from God. We know that we are weak but God is strong, and He is able to overcome anything (Philippians 4:13, Ephesians 3:20, Matthew 19:26). Then Paul tells us to put on the armor of God. But then he gives us a reason as to why we need to put on the armor of God, “so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes”. The reason why Paul gives us this metaphor of armor is so that we can take a stand against whatever the devil is trying to do to us. Notice what Paul does not say here. Paul does not say that we won’t be tempted or tested or that the devil won’t do anything to us with the “armor” on. The point of the armor is to endure the test. With the “armor”, and with God’s power, we can endure whatever satan throws our way. Notice also that Paul uses the word “stand” here. In the Greek, it’s meaning is quite similar. The word used here means “to stand” or “to place” or “put”. With this, we get this picture of something like a statue. Something that is set in place and does not move. The other idea Paul does not suggest here is the idea of fighting back. Notice that there is no violent language used here. There is no bloodshed described or words of fighting back and war from both sides. Paul paints this picture of an attack on us from the evil realm and us standing up and resisting the ideas of that realm. We do not fight back, rather, we defend ourselves with the power of God and His “armor” to stand against the powers of the dark world.  

The two verses before the actual description of the armor are this, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

We have the mention here of rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world. Then we have a separate mention of the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. It may seem that these are separated and not connected but that is not entirely true. There are spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm, but there are also demonic, evil forces on earth that demonstrate themselves through humans. The real struggle, as expressed earlier, is not against humans but against the evil forces in this world.

Because this is our struggle and it is what we are struggling against, Paul tells us to put on the full armor of God. The word “full” is crucial. As we will see, putting on some of the armor and not other parts can leave room for disaster. With the full armor on, the forces of this world have no hold on us and God’s power reigns through us. With the full armor on, we will be able to stand and endure the hardships and tests and reign victoriously over evil.

This concludes the first article in our Armor of God series. Next time, we will dive into what the armor is and start dissecting what it all means. To understand what the armor is about, we must understand its purpose and what we use it for. Only then will we understand the divine purpose of the armor of God.  

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