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Ephesians XXII: The Whole Armor of God - Ephesians 6:10-17

Although Ephesians 5 got us excited for the wedding between Christ and His Bride, Ephesians 6 comes and reminds us that warfare comes before the wedding. Because this is true, the Church needs something in addition to the beauty of holiness and the splendor of submission. We need the power to be strong, and verse 11 tells us how and why. We stand strong by putting on the armor of God, so that we can stand against the schemes of the Devil. We stand in the strength of God’s might by fortifying ourselves through God’s gifts, pictured here in one of the most famous passages in all of Ephesians as pieces of armor, with the point being that we need such armor to survive Satanic attack.

But before jumping in to describe that armor, Paul first cautions you not to misunderstand the fight. You aren’t battling against flesh and blood; this fight is spiritual warfare. And so Paul directs our gaze upward, to the real enemy, reminding us that the Church is opposed by powerful supernatural forces, both personal spiritual beings – angels and demons are real; there really is a devil – as well as the ideologies, isms, and systems that they use to deceive and destroy, as in 1 Tim. 4:1 and James 3:15.

Whether you come up against a demonic entity or simply demonic influence, you are fighting a spiritual battle, and so you need spiritual armor, which Paul lays out in vv. 14-17. He lists six armaments-as-virtues in order to describe a Church in complete armor, consisting of the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of gospel peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit.

Rather than going through each one as if we were walking through the armory, look instead the battle scene in Matthew 4 where Jesus uses this armor to fight off the devil’s temptations: The tempter comes with lies about worshiping the Devil as the path to glory, but Jesus is wearing the belt of truth. The Devil seeks to get Jesus to commit wickedness, but Jesus is protected by the breastplate of righteousness, and so He won’t put God to the test. Even though Jesus has been fasting for forty days and is tired and hungry, He is ready for Satan’s attack, and when Satan mentions a potential threat to Jesus’ feet, Jesus isn’t afraid, because He’s wearing gospel boots. Each temptation comes as a fiery dart of unbelief, yet Jesus extinguishes each one with the shield of faith. “Don’t you need to save yourself by making these stones into bread?” the Devil asks, but Jesus, wearing the helmet of salvation, looks to God instead, and defends Himself with the sword of the Spirit by quoting Scripture after Scripture until the Devil is vanquished.

That’s spiritual warfare in action, and that’s how this armor works in everyday life. When sin and temptation come for you, you have everything you need to resist and stand firm. Without Jesus, you are unprotected and cannot stand. But since Jesus is yours and you are His, His armor is also yours, so you can withstand your enemy in the evil day, the time of temptation.

One last thing: don’t attempt to take on the cosmic powers by yourself! Throughout this passage, Paul is speaking to the Church as the one body of Christ; every “you” in our English translations ought to be the plural “y’all”. God doesn’t give individual suits of armor to each isolated Christian; there is one suit of armor for the one body of Christ.

You will face temptation as an individual, but you need to fight back as a member of the body. The body that puts on this armor isn’t you; it’s the body of Christ! We are here for each other, and we need to turn to each other for help in our spiritual warfare! Let the faith of others shield you; be instructed in righteousness by experienced saints; let others wearing gospel boots bring peace into your conflicts, and so on. Don’t take on the Devil one-on-one; other Christians should know your struggles so that they can fight alongside you.

God commands us to be strong, and God has supplied the armor we need through Jesus, and now we need to stand together and fight. The good news is that this is a fight that we will win, because Jesus has promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church. So people of God, put on the armor of God, and stand strong in the Lord.

Posted on Thursday, November 21, 2019 by CJ Bowen