When we become believers and give our lives over to God, a fierce spiritual battle ensues. All believers are targeted by Satan and his minions as if they have a great big target on the middle of their backs. We are of particular interest as the subject of the attacks because we are no longer of this world. We’ve changed teams, and are no longer on the Devil’s side. Satan likes to win, Satan wants to hurt God. The best way to hurt God is to hurt one of God’s children, and render their witness ineffective.
In Ephesians 6 we get what I think is one of the greatest analogies in the Bible. Paul describes to us just how us Christians should prepare for this battle using a visual of a Roman soldier. For their time, the Romans were fierce warriors, they were vicious and feared. Everything that the soldier put on his body when engaging in battle served a specific purpose. People who lived during that timeframe were well acquainted with Roman warriors. So the visual picture that Paul paints would be easy for people to understand, which was especially important during the time when many people could not read.
We can categorize the Roman soldier’s armor into two categories. That which the soldier had on their body at all times, and that which they used whilst in the midst of a battle. The first three pieces of armor (belt, breastplate, and shoes) were worn at all times, it was their standard uniform. The last three pieces of armor (shield, helmet, and sword) were used in the midst of an enemy attack. Let’s keep this in mind as we look at each piece of our armor, its use, and the application.
Belt – Truth – Roman soldiers wore belts to cinch up their tunics so that nothing was loose during battle. We know that Satan attacks us with lies, and pretty convincing ones at that. They can actually sound like the truth, and usually there’s a grain of truth in the most convincing lies that we hear. That can lead us to doubt and accept the lies as truth. But as with the Roman’s belt, God’s truth cinches up all the loose ends that Satan throws at us. We can find the truth in His Holy Spirit, and His Word. God’s truth beats Satan’s lies.
Breastplate – Righteousness – The breast plate’s most important function was to protect vital organs, especially the heart. And the heart is what Satan goes for with gusto. We say that we feel from the heart, so that’s where we can say that our emotions stem from. Satan attacks the heart via our emotions, self-worth, and raising distrust. God himself is righteousness, God’s love and the sacrifice of Jesus assures us righteousness, and that righteousness protects our heart.
Shoes – Readiness given by the gospel of peace – The Roman’s shoes are of specific interest here, they were not just any ordinary shoes or sandals, they were made for battle. Roman soldiers wore boots equipped with nails that dug into the ground and allowed them to stand firm. When we are equipped with the Good News we too can stand firm against the lies that Satan’s propagates. The enemy whispers to us that others will challenge us about our faith, and demand answers that we cannot provide to defend our faith, so what do we do? We don’t share the Gospel. But, God’s on our side, and we can plant our feet and dig in deep. If you are worried about defending God to others, ask God to give you the right words and actions. God will provide.
Shield – Faith – The Roman soldier’s shield was not what we may envision a shield to be. I picture a shield like we would see used by a knight in mid-evil times. The Roman shield was much larger, it pretty much covered their body. And, their shield was covered with oil-treated leather to extinguish fiery darts thrown at them. We can act in faith with continuing trust in God’s Word to deflect and extinguish temptations and attacks from Satan.
Helmet – Salvation – As the head is an important target, wearing a helmet is vital for protection. Satan will try to convince you that you are not saved, or that you must perform works to keep your salvation, or that you have/can lose your salvation. But God’s Word tells us different, and we can trust God’s Word.
Sword – Spirit – In our examination of the final piece of the Roman soldier’s uniform, we note that this piece of equipment is the only offensive weapon for the soldier to use. All the rest of our “equipment” is for defense. As a soldier strikes an enemy with his sword to wound and destroy them, we too can wield our “Sword of the Spirit” to defeat Satan. God’s Word is our sword, and it is more powerful than anything that Satan can throw at us.
After discussing all the pieces of armor to put on, Paul follows up with and important key for us to remember – prayer. You need to remain connected to God, and the best way to do that is through prayer, reading and meditating on God’s Word, surrounding yourself with godly friends and/or mentors.
Now, don’t you feel better prepared for battle? Yes? If you remember to put on the full armor each and every day, you’ll continue to be ready to withstand the attacks from the enemy.