"Finally, brothers and sisters, draw your strength and might from God. Put on the full armor of God to protect yourselves from the devil and his evil schemes. We’re not waging war against enemies of flesh and blood. No, this fight is against tyrants, against authorities, against supernatural powers and demon princes that slither in the darkness of this world, and against wicked spiritual armies that lurk about in heavenly places. And this is why you need to be head-to-toe in the full armor of God: so you can resist during these evil days and be fully prepared to hold your ground."
Here we see individual responsibility in the midst of corporate unity. This is not like spiritual gifts or the “Five Fold Office” mentioned earlier in Ephesians where God gave “some” to be apostles, evangelists, etc. This is a clear call to all of us.
"Yes, stand—truth banded around your waist, righteousness as your chest plate, and feet protected so you are steadied by and ready to proclaim the good news of peace with God. Don’t forget to raise the shield of faith above all else, so you will be able to extinguish flaming spears hurled at you from the wicked one. Take also the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray always. Pray in the Spirit. Pray about everything in every way you know how! And keeping all this in mind, pray on behalf of God’s people. Keep on praying feverishly, and be on the lookout until evil has been stayed. And please pray for me. Pray that truth will be with me before I even open my mouth. Ask the Spirit to guide me while I boldly defend the mystery that is the good news— for which I am an ambassador in chains—so pray that I can bravely pronounce the truth, as I should do."
In Romans 13: 12-14, Paul writes, "Put on the armor of light… clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ." He was expanding on the words of Isaiah:
- “Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash round his waist.” Isaiah 11:5
- “For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head” (Isaiah 59:17).
Paul talked other places about the nature of our fight. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds. We destroy arguments…and take every thought captive.” (2 Corinthians 10:3- 5).
Let’s be clear: God makes the armor. We ask for it, and He gives it, not because we are awesome, but because He is. Then we have to put it on. Paul says, “It’s time to move. Put on that which God offers you for your good and His glory.”
- Put on: The Belt of Truth (aletheia, reality as opposed to illusion).
- Stand For: The truth that God is real; Jesus was God in the Flesh; his life, death and resurrection bring us salvation, forgiveness and hope. If this is not true, “we are of all people most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19)
- Stand Against: The error that Christianity is wishful thinking (“I want it to be true!”), merely human thoughts (“The Bible just shows us how people thought about God”), or only one way of many equally effective ways.
- Put on: The Breastplate of Righteousness (dikaiosune, right standing with God)
- Stand For: The truth that it is only through Jesus Christ that we are absolved from the penalty of sin, freed from the power of sin, and guarded while in the presence of sin.
- Stand Against: The error that we are born good (“I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way”), or that we can become righteous through our works .
- Put on: The Shoes of Peace (eirene, peace with God; tranquility in salvation)
- Stand For: The truth there is spiritual peace with God through our commitment to and ongoing life with Jesus Christ. This is not the same as saying that if you are a Christian, there will be peaceful coexistence of others on earth, or that you will always feel interior peace. This is a claim about a truth that is greater than our circumstances or our feelings. Romans 5:1-2: “Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory.”
- Stand Against: The error of false saviors (spiritual or material) and fleeting peace, which is usually some form of indulgence or avoidance. If something calms the chaos in our life no matter how little and how temporary, we tend to overindulge. Money? Sex? Being noticed and admired? Food? Vacations? Or if something brings anything unsettling, we avoid. People who annoy us…situations that aren’t just to our liking…a controlled environment (diet, exercise, social groups)
- Put on: The Shield of Faith (pistis; “Trusting, holding to, and acting on what one has good reason to believe is true in the face of difficulties.” – Tim McGrew)
- Stand For: The truth that there is wisdom in an ongoing trust in and response to God. A belief that the Bible matches the world. We often think of faith as just trust in God. I think we have to include trust in God’s revelation. The Bible tells us that we are to be faithful in little things if we expect to be trusted in big things (Luke 16:10). But if the Bible is wrong, then God has not been faithful in little things. If you don’t understand the little things in the Bible, press in to them. Read. Study. Pray. Ask qualified, godly people for advice. Trusting that the biggest things are true in Christianity will trickle down; trusting that the smallest things in Christianity are true will build up.
- Stand Against: The error that we should trust in Idols (self, hidden knowledge, politicians, the economy, health, pop psychology, etc).
- Put on: The Helmet of salvation (soterios; saving)
- Stand For: The truth of God's promises of eternal salvation and ongoing sanctification in Jesus Christ. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind… “ (Romans 12:2) “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5) “…be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
- Stand Against: The error of gaining salvation from anything other than Christ, or evolving spiritually by thinking positively
- Put on: The Sword of the Spirit (The Bible)
- Stand for: The truth of the power, trustworthiness and sufficiency of God's Word to tell us what we need to know about Christ and His plan for the world.
- Stand Against: The error of giving anything else equal weight in your spiritual formation; trusting outside sources or inner revelation over clear Biblical truth.
Note: In Bible times, there was no stainless steel. A sword unused became rusty, dull, and pitted. Swords were kept clean by frequent use or by honing them against a stone (the Rock of Ages) or another soldier’s sword. “Iron sharpeneth iron” (Proverbs 27:17)
- Put on: Prayer (proseuchomai; literally, to interact with the Lord by switching human wishes (ideas) for His wishes. “They Kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) “Whatsoever you ask in my name…” (John 14:13) Accordingly, praying is closely inter-connected with pístis ("faith") in the NT. – (biblehub.com). In fact ,James 5 talks about the prayer of faith (“
- Stand For: The truth that prayer is powerful and necessary. We are told to constantly pray (1 Thessalonians 5:16) “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12) “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)
- Stand Against: the error that prayer manipulates God or that prayer is unnecessary. God is not a machine. He’s not programmed in such a way that we can manipulate Him. God will answer prayer how he chooses to answer prayer. The prayers of the righteous are powerful, but not coercive. On the other hand, prayer is clearly not irrelevant. Part of being faithful is praying faithfully, and in the end praying what Jesus prayed: “Not my will, but yours be done.”
A final thought involving shields: We often read this individually: “You, Anthony! Stand!” But this letter was written to the churches in Ephesus. It’s a group command. Everyone then who saw the Roman army knew how this principle worked (see the cover of your bulletin). Now, in order for the group to stand, individuals need to stand to. It doesn’t absolve us. But it reminds us again of the importance of unifying around Christ, then standing against everything that comes against us – together.