How many of us have ever been in a war zone? If we were all in a room together, maybe a couple of hands would go up, or maybe none. I think it’s safe to say that as a modern-day American, if you haven’t served in the military, you’ve never been in the thick of a battle, or at least you’ve never seen bullets flying through the air or bombs going off. But guess what? We all walk into a war zone every time we leave our Christian homes, or part from our Christian family in the church. It’s not a physical war zone… it’s a spiritual one.
I want to look at a passage that’s probably pretty familiar to you: Ephesians 6:10-17, which talks about the armor of God. Let’s look at verse 10— “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” What’s that? Be strong in yourself and the strength of your own might? Of course not. Our power comes from the Lord. If we’re going to be successful soldiers, we have to give the credit to our Commander.
Verses 11-13: “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”
We’d already established that this battle we’re fighting is a spiritual one, but look at the language the apostle Paul uses to describe our enemy. “The world forces of this darkness” and “spiritual forces of wickedness” sounds pretty intimidating, doesn’t it? Not only this, but verse 11 mentions the “schemes of the devil.” Satan doesn’t usually make a straightforward attack… he deceives us with his tricks. We can’t take on this enemy on our own; THEREFORE we must put on the armor of God to be strong against it. Another point: does it say “some of the armor of God” or “most of the armor of God”? No, it says “the FULL armor of God.” Keep that in mind as we go on.
The next verse begins, “Stand firm, therefore, having girded your loins with truth.” Wait… what on earth does that mean? In the culture of the time “gird up your loins” basically meant “get ready” (see 2 Kings 4:29, Job 38:3, Jeremiah 1:17). Men in Biblical times wore long tunics that limited their movement. Girding up their loins meant pulling the tunic between their legs and tucking it into their belt to prepare for a journey or, particularly in this context, a battle. So what does it mean to gird up our spiritual loins with truth? Well, in order to be ready to fight in this spiritual battle, we must know the truth and be able to utilize it. If we’re misunderstanding the Bible or just not applying it in our lives, we’re not ready to fight.
The next part says, “Having put on the breastplate of righteousness.” Just like a Roman soldier’s breastplate protected his heart, righteousness protects ours from the schemes of the devil. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart; for it is the wellspring of life.” Whatever we let into our hearts is what’s going to come through in our lives, but if we guard ourselves with righteousness, our hearts will stay pure and ready for a spiritual fight.
The next verse says, “and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Let’s think—what good is a shoe that doesn’t go anyplace? None at all, of course. So we have to take the gospel places! We have to spread it! Otherwise it will do us no good in this battle.
Next: “In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” What are some of these arrows? A few I thought of were doubt, worry, and uncertainty. However, if we have faith, all of these arrows Satan uses are powerless. God will take care of us, so we needn’t worry about life or doubt His power and care.
“And take the helmet of salvation.” The brain, like the heart, is one of the most vital organs in the human body; excessive damage to it is almost always fatal. We can understand the truth, have righteousness and faith, and understand the gospel, but if we’re not wearing the helmet of salvation, we’re going to die in this battle. No question. Just being a good person isn’t enough—we must hear, believe, repent, confess, and be baptized in order to wear the helmet of salvation. However, if we’re ONLY wearing a helmet, without any other armor, we’re definitely going to die there too. Go back to verse 11: the FULL armor of God. We need it all if we’re going to succeed.
“And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The Bible is our only offensive weapon, but it’s the best weapon we could possibly have. With it we can deflect the blows of Satan (as Jesus did in Matthew 4) and bring others into our camp. (See Hebrews 4:12).
Well, that’s it: God’s instructions for a Christian soldier’s attire. Paul gives us one more tip in 2 Timothy 2:4—“No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” Our lives need to revolve around God, such that our Christian walk IS our life, and everything else is just extra. If we do all these things, together we can be an effective army for the Lord.
By Melissa Hite
Melissa (age 15) attends Bear Valley church of Christ with her parents, Michael and Lynn, and her little brother, Matthew. Her goals include continually growing closer to God and eventually becoming a writer and a mom. On her blog, Christ Crossed My Heart, you can find other poignant, well-written posts.