Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth Ephesians 6:10-14a
(Part 1 in a series on Spiritual Warfare)
Believers are exhorted to both “take up” and “put on” the whole armor of God, and the Greek tense used urges immediate action. It is not enough to merely know about, or have the armor, but it must be properly worn to be useful. Three times in the chapter Paul links the necessity of wearing the full armor with the ability to “stand firm” and resist the devil and his evil schemes. For Christians the spiritual battle against Satan is to be continuous and all-out warfare until Jesus comes, since the word “finally” in verse 10 can also be translated as “from now on”.
Many have been lax in wearing the armor of God and our enemy has made full use of his opportunities to weaken and even destroy Christian witness and ministry. But judgment is coming, not only against evil, but, as it says in 1 Peter 4:17: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God”. This means we will be held accountable to God for our stewardship of the time, talents, and ministries He’s entrusted to us. Therefore, it is time to get seriously familiar with the armor of God. It needs to become an ever-present, integral part of our lives.
Without the protection the armor affords us, we will be defeated by the enemy’s attacks and will find ourselves distracted, deterred, and detoured from serving God, and we’ll be unable to “stand firm” in times of trial and adversity. The time to put on the armor is NOW — in the ‘calm before the storm’! It is in those quiet times between the storms that we need to examine, patch and strengthen any pieces of our armor that may be weakened or have holes. (When God calls us to be holy, He doesn’t mean we’re to have holes in our armor!)
The “armor of God” that we are to wear is not only God’s in the sense that He authored or created every part of it so that it belongs to Him, but even more significantly, He Himself IS every piece of the armor! In Romans 13:12,14, Paul gives this exhortation: “The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light …put on the Lord Jesus Christ”. Thus, in putting on God’s armor, we are actually covering ourselves with Jesus! We can’t be any better protected or equipped for battle than that!
But why is it called “the armor of light”? In chapters 1 and 12 of John’s gospel, the light is contrasted with the darkness, and Jesus is identified as the Light (John 8:12). When God began creating the universe, His first command was, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3) because physical life is not possible without light. There is a spiritual correlation here. Without spiritual “light” (Jesus) there is no spiritual (eternal) life, for as 1 John 5:11,12 states: “And this is the testimony, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”
Being covered with God’s armor of light, then, is essential to withstanding the attacks of darkness because we cannot fight spiritual battles by human methods, “for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty through God” (2 Corinthians 10:3,4). The pieces of our spiritual armor — truth, righteousness, the “good news” of peace, faith, salvation, God’s word, and fellowship with God (prayer) — are crucial to protecting our spiritual life.
The first action in taking up the armor is “having your loins girt about with truth”. Of course this means speaking and dealing with others with honesty and integrity, but it also implies that our life actions must be directed by a knowledge of and love for the truth. In 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12, Paul tells of the future damnation of all who believe what is false and take pleasure in unrighteousness “because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.” What is “truth”? In Psalm 119, truth is defined as: God’s law (v.142), God’s commandments (v.151), and the sum of His word (v.160). It may almost sound like a contradiction, that to literally “bind oneself about” (being “girt about”) will result in freedom, but Jesus said: “If you abide in My word…you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)
The physical picture given in Ephesians 6 to illustrate this concept is a belt. The wide belt of a Roman soldier was worn to keep his clothing and armor in their proper place, allowing him freedom of movement. His weapons were also attached to this belt, making them readily accessible for battle. Everything the soldier had as covering and weaponry was affected by the wearing of his belt. Without the stability of the belt, nothing else would remain in its proper place during the activity and intensity of battle and the soldier would be greatly distracted in trying to keep himself together and, therefore, unable to fight.
It is not coincidental that the belt is worn about the midsection, covering the visceral organs (the ‘gut’), for it portrays the importance of being centered in and committed to absolute truth in order to ‘keep it all together’ in our spiritual battles. Without knowledge and acceptance of absolute, unchangeable, unshakable truth, there is confusion, disorder, and moral disintegration. This not only describes the condition of countless individuals, but also all of the societies in our world today! 1John 5:19 tells us “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Jesus described him as being without truth “for he is a liar, and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) In stark contrast to this, Jesus declared Himself to be the truth (John 14:6), the Holy Spirit to be the Spirit of truth (John 16:13), and God’s word to be truth, in which believers are to be sanctified — that is, set apart from the world (John 17:17).
We live in a time of great deception. Our public education system, Madison Avenue advertisements, Hollywood ‘entertainment’, even what is called ‘religion’ and ‘spirituality’ are ALL built upon —and thereby, promoting — the empty philosophies and false beliefs of this fallen world. An intimate knowledge of the truth (God and His word) is essential to being able to recognize what is false. Therefore, we have the command of Romans 12:2: “And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” This verse tells us that we must not only resist the world’s efforts to shape us into its mold, but we also constantly need to evaluate our own thinking. Why? Because our most dangerous source of lies is ourselves! It is our basic human nature to be self-protective, even in our thought life. But God says: “The arrogance of your heart has deceived you” (Obadiah 3); and “if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Galatians 6:3) Since Jesus is the source of ALL that we are and do that is good (John 15:5), whenever we think otherwise, we are proud and deceived. How readily we fall for the lie with which Satan has been enticing and ensnaring mankind since the Garden of Eden, which is, “you shall be as God” (Genesis 3:5). The truth that sets us free is that JESUS is God, and we are NOT!
Girding ourselves with truth also involves portraying an accurate reflection of Jesus because we are created in His image. Colossians 3:9,10 says: “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him”. (Of course, it is only through the empowerment of the Spirit of truth that we are able to do this!) The truth we are to live is to be sincere, genuine, unmeasured and undiluted, without deception or compromise — just like Jesus.
Furthermore, to love and live in truth means to deal with spiritual reality — “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5); surrendering our own expectations, goals, and desires to the will of God; and choosing to act upon facts, rather than reacting to rumors or innuendoes out of our own fears, anxieties, etc. — “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). This also implies living in the ‘here and now’, rather than dwelling on the past or focusing on the future, because God is the eternal “I AM” (Exodus 3:14), and to have an ongoing relationship with Him we must meet with Him at the point where eternity intersects time — which is NOW.
In summary, we must be covered with the “armor of light” as protection against the darkness. We must thoroughly know the truth in order to recognize, resist, and refute all that is deceptive and false. It is in living this truth that we show Jesus to our deceived and enslaved world.
Look for more in our Spiritual Warfare series:
August: The Breastplate of Righteousness
September: The Shield of Faith
October: The Sword of the Spirit