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 saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:11-20)
Next we will discuss the suit of armor, piece-by-piece, in the order listed by Paul in Ephesians.
Belt of Truth
Ephesians 6:14: Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist...
When preaching a sermon at Eden Street Chapel (in London), on August 3, 1851, Pastor J. C. Philpot said that two things are meant by the belt of truth:
“First, Christian sincerity; ‘Truth,’ as the Psalmist speaks, ‘in the inward parts” Psalm 51:6. Uprightness of heart lies at the base of all true Christian profession. If a man has no sincerity Godwards, he has nothing. Our loins, therefore, or the seat of strength and activity, need in this sense to be girt about with what the apostle calls ‘simplicity and godly sincerity’ (2 Corinthians 1:12)… And secondly, the word ‘truth’ is also used in a more particular and restricted sense to signify Christian truth, ‘the truth as it is in Jesus.’ A man may be sincerely wrong [if his faith is not placed in Jesus, the true Lord].”
Another key observation about this piece of armor is listed first in Paul’s list because it holds everything together: your movement, your weapons, and your security while fighting.
The Belt means:
- Standing on truth
- Being truthful
- Having a “tight game” and being prepared (imagine going into battle with a loose belt)
In Isaiah 11:5, the clothing of Christ, the foretold Messiah is described as: “Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.” In Biblical times, when a warrior prepared for vigorous action, he tied up his loose, flowing garments with a belt. Consider how the Lord Himself is described as a warrior in this passage from Isaiah (5:26-28):
“He lifts up a banner for the distant nations, he whistles for those at the ends of the earth. Here they come, swiftly and speedily! Not one of them grows tired or stumbles, not one slumbers or sleeps; not a belt is loosened at the waist, not a sandal thong is broken. Their arrows are sharp, all their bows are strung; their horses’ hoofs seem like flint, their chariot wheels like a whirlwind.”
Next look at what Proverbs says about the importance of truthfulness in one’s life:
- “A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies.” (Proverbs 12:17)
- “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.” (Proverbs 12:22)
- “A truthful witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies.” (Proverbs 14:5)
- “A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is deceitful.” (Proverbs 14:25)
When describing spiritual armor, the Apostle Paul uses the warrior’s belt to signify truth: “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist” (Ephesians 6:14). Think about the significance of the belt as part of a knight’s armor—if you are in the middle of a sword battle and your belt falls down, three things happen:
- You lose your backup weapons (most knights strapped daggers to their weapon belt);
- You lose focus as your clothing flies to the wind; and
- You cannot move as fast and be as agile as you could be if your belt and clothing are secure.
Just like in real life, if we stop telling the truth, we do not have a clear conscience to use all of our battle weapons, we become distracted as we get tangled in a massive web of lies, and we cannot move forth with clarity of mind and purpose.
Breastplate of Righteousness
Ephesians 6:14: With the breastplate of righteousness in place...
The Breastplate of Righteousness is a piece of armor that is used against Satan in battle by God and warrior alike. God himself is symbolically described as putting on a Breastplate of Righteousness when he goes forth to bring about justice: “He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak” (Isaiah 59:17).
The Breastplate of Righteousness gives us assurance that we take with us into battle. It’s what a warrior regards as passive, defensive armor—you strap it on and you know it’s there: A Christian knows that he’s forgiven, that God is protecting Him, and he doesn’t have to worry about it! Unlike a shield of faith, which WE need to maneuver to deflect against threats, the Breastplate of Righteousness is passive. You install it, and don’t think about it or use it. But it can save your life.
The Breastplate of Righteousness does not come from us, it is given to us when we receive Christ and trust Him as our Savior: “Not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith” (Philippians 3:9, NRS).
Another useful way to think of a breastplate is to consider it the piece of armor that holds together your emotions!
Shoes of Peace
Ephesians 6:15: And with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace...
The footwear of the Roman soldier was both protective and supportive. But even more importantly, this passage is talking about your footwork. During a battle, movement is everything. Failure to step in for an offensive strike when the opportunity presents itself can mean that a battle can continue longer than you can bear—or even allow another enemy more time to come up and take you from behind. Defensively, if you fail to move out of the way when your opponent lunges, your own death can loom near. Shifting your balance and weight effectively in battle simply cannot be done without effective footwork.
When this passage is talking about fitting your feet with the “readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace,” this means that you should steer conversations and encounters to the loving Gospel (either in word or in deed), but only when the opportunity presents itself. It can also mean not presenting “pearls to swine” when it would be inappropriate to discuss spiritual things. As Christian warriors, we need to be ready and able to present and share the Gospel.
- 2 Timothy 4:2: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.”
- Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Paying attention to our footwork also means that we need to watch where we walk, and steer clear of traps and snares laid down for us by the enemy himself! 2 Timothy 2:25-26: “Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”
Shield of Faith
Ephesians 6:16: Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one...
And just what is a “flaming arrow of the evil one”? Quite simply, it is an attack brought by the enemy—one that is typically aimed towards your head (protected by the helmet of salvation), or your chest (protected by the Breastplate of Righteousness).
Where does our shield come from? It comes from God Himself: “You give me your shield of victory; you stoop down to make me great” (2 Samuel 22:36).
The Bible says that God Himself is our shield:
- Deuteronomy 33:29: “Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will trample down their high places.”
- 2 Samuel 22:3: “My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—from violent men you save me.”
- Psalms 5:12 “For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.”
- Psalms 18:2 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
- Psalms 18:35 “You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn. I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed.”
- Psalms 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.”
- Psalms 91:4 “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day”
- Proverbs 2:7 “He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.”
- Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”
Here is another observation about the Shield of Faith: Unlike the other parts of spiritual armor, the shield moves to wherever it is needed. It is moved by the Christian, in his will, and by his will, to wherever and however it may be needed in a particular battle.
Helmet of Salvation
Ephesians 6:17: Take the helmet of salvation...
- Isaiah 59:17 “He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.”
- 1Thesslonians 5:8 “But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.”
When medieval battle fields are excavated today, historians have learned that the majority of fatalities were caused by arrow shots to the head or face. Without having trusted Christ for our salvation, we show up to the battle field of this life and the next wearing no helmet!
Another useful way to think about the helmet of salvation is that Christ protects our thinking:
- “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).
- “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
- “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
Sword of the Spirit
Ephesians 6:17: Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God...
Knights should be strong in both spirit and body. Ultimately, a knight is victorious in battle through strength of spirit, not by flesh. Victory in a sword battle is attained by the one who fights with sheer will and spirit, not by one who has only mastered the mechanical movement of sword fighting. A knight’s spirit is made strong only by God, and by spending time surrendering to God. Real practice is necessary. This means Bible memorization, meditation, and advanced learning.