“Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand
against the wiles of the devil” – Ephesians 6:11
Paul’s writings to the Ephesians made so much sense in the first century. Every person in Ephesus would have seen a centurion and other members of the Roman Legion. They would easily picture each part of the uniform when Paul mentioned it.
These early Christians would have understood the necessity of each piece of the armor, as well. The Romans had dominated all of them through military might. Legionnaires inspired fear or awe – or both – in anyone who saw them.
In the 21st Century, our soldiers wear body armor. It’s hidden beneath their uniform or is an additional flak jacket worn only in dangerous situations.
Considering who our enemy is, every moment of our life is a dangerous situation. We need to put on every speck of armor and never take it off.
Girdle of Truth
I used the word girdle instead of belt for a good reason. When we think of a belt, we think of a thin little strip of leather that will hold our pants up. That is not what Ephesians 6:14 is talking about.
It says “having your loins girt about with truth.” The garment from a Roman soldier’s uniform that performs this task was a pteruges. This skirt of leather strips protected the thighs from enemy attack.
Think about it. If the enemy cuts your thigh, you will fall to the ground. If he gets the femoral artery, you’ll bleed out in less than a minute.
In short, without truth, we don’t have a leg to stand on.
Jesus says his word is truth (John 17:17). The exhortation from Paul is to “stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11). We can only stand if we have truth – from God’s Word – on our side.
Breastplate of Righteousness
In researching this topic, I found reference to several different sorts of armor for the torso. In any case, it was made of a mesh of iron rings or plates of overlapping iron.
The purpose of this garment is to turn away arrows, spears and even swords. If they cut your middle, it will be a painful death. If they stab your heart: the end.
Being right with God is the armor a believer has to protect their heart. This means living right on a daily basis after accepting atonement from Jesus Christ.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). Just like our physical body needs the heart to stay alive, our spiritual man needs a pure heart.
Don’t give the devil a clear shot at your heart. When you mess up, seek forgiveness from the Lord. He promises to grant it and restore our righteous breastplate (1 John 1:9).
Roman boots, called caliga, had iron hobnails hammered into the soles. This would make them look something like cleats. It also made them strong enough for any sort of terrain.
They were prepared to march wherever the commander said.
Our preparation comes through the Gospel. The Gospel is simply the good news. Jesus Christ died to pay our penalty, was buried and rose again the third day (1 Cor. 15:1-5). His victory is our victory.
Paul makes sure to add that this is “the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15). We aren’t out looking for a fight. However, with our Gospel Cleats on, when the devil brings it, we’re ready to stand.
Shield of Faith
Whether we look at the scutum or the parma, these Roman shields were enormous. They were designed to cover the soldier from head to toe.
In fact, a soldier could just hide behind this thing and be protected from any weapon the enemy tossed at him.
Our shield is faith. Faith that God is who he says and can do all that he promised will shield us from the darts of doubt Satan throws our way.
Paul says: “above all, taking the shield of faith” (Eph. 6:16). We need the truth, righteousness and the gospel, but if we leave our faith at home, Satan’s going to set us on fire.
Fire is a scary adversary. Nothing the Roman soldier carried would protect him from catching on fire.
God made sure the same cannot be said about His soldiers. Faith in God “shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Eph. 6:16). No need to fear anything in our enemy’s arsenal. Our mighty shield of faith stops them all.
Helmet of Salvation
Ever heard the saying: “Don’t lose your head, your brain’s in it”?
That’s why we need the helmet. We have to protect our head.
In our spiritual battle, the helmet is salvation. Jesus purchased our salvation. He freely offers it to us.
Once you know Christ as savior, the devil knows he can’t get your head. You belong to Christ.
Some of us wander around with nothing but a helmet on our head. All the other bits of armor seem too heavy or take too long to put on. Salvation? We asked once and it was settled. That helmet isn’t ever coming off.
Would you seriously walk into battle with only a helmet? Your enemy would take aim at center mass and that would be the end.
Our enemy is cunning. He can defeat us with very little effort. On the other hand, God gives us everything we need to thwart that “roaring lion” (1 Pet 5:8).
“Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
It’s a battle out there. Better put on all the armor God has provided.
Next week: Our Spiritual Weapons