“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. 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.
“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Doubtful most Christians know how to operationalize this advice, to what degree, frequency, depth, but to learn what will help them get closer to their Lord they ask ‘how do I do it?’
I want to expand on each of these.
Belt of Truth
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,” (Ephesians 6:14).
The Bible will only tell you the truth. But the reason we read it over and over again is because the Holy Spirit can touch the Word in our hearts, sparking new revelations, insights, even epiphanies. In that sense God’s Word is a higher truth, a perfect truth, what I call “True Truth.”
Anything contradictory to our understanding that we derive from reading our Bible is a lie. That does not mean anything about those areas of life that the Bible does not touch on, it only refers to those matters of the heart: morality, faith, trust, sin, redemption, Redeemer, heaven, hell, suffering, life and death, and their underlying purposes from God’s standpoint.
Breastplate of Righteousness
“…with the breastplate of righteousness in place…” (Ephesians 6:14).
We are righteous in Christ, we ‘put on’ His righteousness, and that is how God will see us and judge us without punishment, since the punishment has already been taken at the Cross. As the Holy Spirit works in our hearts, we are increasingly conformed into the person of Jesus Christ, becoming more and more like Him as we surrender our will and allow the Lord to work in and through our lives.
Gospel of Peace
“…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15).
Are you anxious, worrying about things, perhaps even those things outside your control? One of the things the Lord will give you as His gift is a joy and peace that passes understanding. This is the peace that produces the courage to stand against the raging storms we will face in this life. It is the peace that allowed those under threat of death to affirm their faith in God even as they were being executed. Peace like a river. As we walk in faith and follow Him, we will have that peace, and live our lives without fretting and constantly worrying. Isn’t that a wonderful gift? You can have that today if you let Him into your life.
Shield of Faith
“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,” (Ephesians 6:16).
When Jesus said, “follow me,” He knew that to do so would mean that we first must trust Him. But to trust Him we must believe that what He says is true. When we reach that point and choose to follow Him, that is the choice that starts the clock that begins our life of faith.
That faith will be tested, and that shield will be needed against the fiery darts coming from the powers of darkness who seek our destruction. As we growth in faith, more tests and trials will come, and this process is needed to strengthen and mature the faith we have in our Lord.
So much so, that we can reach the point that no matter what our head and our senses and everything is telling us about hell all around us, we know He will keep us safe until we get to our appointment to finally go to Him. Faith is the product of trust and our hope of heaven.
Helmet of Salvation
“Take the helmet of salvation,” (Ephesians 6:17).
When we come to that place where we both see and regret the areas of our lives where we have fallen short – the Bible calls that sin – we cry out to God to save us. At that moment we are born again, we have been redeemed, ransomed, the payment was the blood Jesus shed on the Cross on our behalf. He was innocent, but He paid the requisite punishment for our sin.
This is a mystery and a miracle, but we cannot add anything to salvation, nor can we earn it. We either receive it as a gift and believe it, or we reject it, for any number of reasons we can think of to say no to our Creator who loves us and calls us to Him.
From salvation, part of the armament of the warrior of God, sanctification begins. That means we are now set apart for the Lord to work in and through our lives to change us from wandering, lost and hopeless sinners, into men and women of God who through the truth seek to want lives that conform in a manner pleasing to their Maker. That process takes us all the way to our last breath, as we grow in our spiritual maturity and become increasingly useful to God who will work through us in order to reach others so His Kingdom will be filled.
Sword of the Spirit
“…and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
The Word is sharper than a two-edged sword. When we speak to others the Word of God, it is going to have its intended effect. It may convict a person of their own sin, it may encourage and edify a believer, it may course correct an errant Christian who is walking on a dead-end path.
I try to rely upon and leverage Scripture, because my words, even if I paraphrase Bible chapter and verse, simply do not have the same power and punch as God’s unadulterated words that have survived for thousands of years, in spite of many attempts to eradicate these texts.
All of these tie together nicely. The sword came from the Word which produced a hunger that led to salvation. The Word is the truth of salvation and sanctification and right living. Faith is the natural extension of walking with the Lord and learning to lean on and trust in Him. Jesus never fails. The believer will find that he or she has miraculously acquired a deep and unending source of joy and peace within the soul. The simplicity of the Bible is that Christ died for the ungodly, that we might be saved. And when we accept this truth, His Word, His promises, we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ and God then sees us perfected in Him, without blemish, free of fault, without sin or stain. That is the garment we want to wear in order to be welcomed into heaven when our appointed time has arrived.