While all the scriptures in the Bible are meaningful, some of them contain especially deep meanings between the lines for those who know where and how to look. These meanings are generally hidden to those who are unfamiliar or only slightly familiar with the Bible; however, as one becomes better-versed in the Scriptures and gains a better understanding of God and His plans, these meanings slowly start to become clear, until Holy Spirit shines down on the reader and reveals these juicy portions of spiritual food to him or her.
One passage containing such a portion of spiritual food, is the passage on The Armor of God. This passage, contained in the middle of the sixth chapter of the book of Ephesians, instructs a Christian on how to arm himself or herself for spiritual battle against the forces of Satan. With the "full armor of God," one can resist the power of Satan and stand triumphant with Christ when the Spiritual Kingdom of God transcends the line between spiritual and physical, and comes to Earth in physical form.
Let's examine this passage right now:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
12 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.
13 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.
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 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. (NIV)
As verse 12 explains, a Christian's battle is against the powers of the nations and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. A Christian might believe that he or she can fly 'low under the radar,' sneak quietly by, and pass right by Satan while he is busy attacking some other poor Christian who is uncertain in his or her faith. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. Satan is ever vigilant and watchful, and absolutely will notice each and every mortal man and woman who devotes themselves to Christ. Each and every new Christian attracts the notice of Satan, and before long, without them even realizing it, they are under spiritual attack. These attacks are subtle and misleading in nature, intended to confuse the Christian so that he or she wanders off the correct path and heads the wrong way, into Satan's realm, often not even knowing that he or she has gone astray. This is why Christians are called sheep and Christ the shepherd. Jesus, our shepherd, also becomes our general when we strap on the Armor of God and march into battle against the forces of evil.
Truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, the spirit, and prayer-- these are a Christian's tools and armaments. They are what enables a Christian to triumph over evil and stand before God as a son or daughter worthy of the adoption into God's spiritual family. Each tool plays an important part in a Christian's life.
Each tool is also very carefully and properly placed to provide its optimum function. When we read about the "helmet of salvation" in verse 17, it does not become immediately apparent why salvation is the helmet instead of, for example, the footgear or the belt. If a Christian can understand why each piece of the Armor of God is what it is, he or she may wield the full armor to its maximum effectiveness. Let us examine the Armor of God, piece by piece, right now.
The first piece of the armor is the "belt of truth." In Biblical times, a belt or girdle was what held a person's outfit all together. Robes and tunics were tied at the waist with a belt or girdle. It held the clothing against the body and all in place. So it is with truth. When a Christian lives, speaks, and breathes truth at all times, this truth that the Christian lives by, keeps the various facets of his or her life all together and functioning smoothly as a unit. Lies and falsehood make a Christian's life fall apart. Truth keeps it all together.
The second piece of the armor is the "breastplate of righteousness." In ancient times, a breastplate was strapped over the chest to protect the whole front of the torso. Later breastplates had a plate in back to protect the back as well. This important piece of armor protects one of the most important parts of the body-- the heart. Since a Christian's character is measured by what is in his or her heart, it is important to keep the intentions of the heart righteous and holy. This breastplate is akin to a spiritual conscience. If a Christian's heart is righteous, it is shielded from desires and impulses to do unrighteous things. Any time an unrighteous desire or temptation tries to enter a righteous heart, the conscience, or breastplate, keeps it out and insures that the heart stays pure.
Now we come to the "readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace" with which the feet are shod. Soldiers of these times wore greaves on their lower legs to protect them. If a man's legs become too badly injured, he can't stand. If a man can't stand, he can't fight, and becomes more or less totally helpless in the face of his enemy's onslaught. The Gospel contains God's Word. There is a little song, sung in many Churches around the world every Sunday, that goes, "Thy word... is a lamp unto my feet, and a light... unto... my path." The Gospel, when the feet are shod with it, lights up the narrow but well-marked pathway leading to the Kingdom of God, and makes it easier to walk down that path without wandering off it.
Next, we have the "shield of faith." A Christian can go far and do things he or she might not normally be able to do, with proper faith. Faith in God, faith in God's Son (Christ), and faith in ourselves and our fellow true Christian, is an essential tool in resisting unrighteous temptations and desires. Scriptures abound in the Bible describing what one can accomplish with faith; and likening faith unto a shield with which we block out, or ward off, the desire or temptation to do wrong. Shields, in ancient times, were used to block incoming spears, rocks, and arrows. The shield of faith will quench all the "burning arrows of the evil one."
The fifth piece of the armor is the "helmet of salvation." A helmet was worn to protect the head. One solid blow to the head and it could all be over. The head includes the mind, or consciousness, of a person. The helmet of salvation protects and saves the mind, the person's sense of self, from death and brings it safely into God's presence.
The sixth piece of the armor is the "sword of the spirit." The Holy Spirit, God's Word, is likened unto a double-edged sword that always cuts to the heart of the matter, throughout the Bible. One could not ask for a better tool or weapon with which to smite back the minions of Satan.
Finally, we are reminded of the importance of prayer. Prayer is our form of communication with God, to let him know how we are doing, ask for what we feel we need, and express gratitude for the gifts God provides us with.
It should be noted that there is one piece of equipment that is deliberately omitted from the passage on the Armor of God. There is no mention of a scabbard to hold the sword. This is because we must always have the sword in hand, always ready to be wielded, always prepared to use it to smite back the forces of darkness. We do not have time to sheathe the sword and rest for even a little while; nor will we have such time until the Kingdom of God arrives on Earth.
God, a master of all known things, is also a true Master-at-Arms. He knows exactly with what to outfit and arm His people so that they can conquer the wicked forces seeking to enslave them.
17 "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." (NIV)
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