Earlier this month, I was in prayer, meditating on the armor of God, when a window in Heaven opened releasing insight that blew me away. I love it when that happens! This may not be new to you, but I’m going to share this and pray that it becomes new to you, renewing your mind and igniting a new fire in your heart.
I think for the most part the armor Paul talks about in Ephesians 6:10-18 is seen as something outside ourselves. Individual pieces of spirituality that we must make a conscious effort to apply to ourselves outwardly. Pieces that, when applied correctly, can protect us from the devil. But, what was Paul really saying when he urged us to put on the whole armor of God?
Let’s take a closer look, beginning with Ephesians 6:10:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”
This is the first clue as to where we are going. I think we tend to look at the phrase “in the Lord” as a very obscure phrase open to personal interpretation. In fact the meaning of the word “in” here is very precise, referring to a primary, fixed position. Not moving in or out of, but remaining at rest. In other words, we are not independent agents acquiring the power of the risen Christ by our own works. Rather we are to be an extension of Christ himself, fully engulfed by Him and fully submitted to His will. In this offensive stance, it is not our power or might we rely on but His.
Ephesians 6:11-12: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Now Paul begins to give us an example in the physical realm of what being “in the Lord” looks like, using a model of power that was familiar to the Ephesians of that day. Roman armor. However, he also reminds us that this is not about the physical, but the spiritual. What happens in the physical realm is merely the manifestation of what is happening (or not happening) in the spirit realm. As we are citizens of Heaven, reborn by the Spirit of God, we are not to wage war with man (I’m not referring to the defense of ourselves or others, here). We have been seated with Christ in the Heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6), and that is our place of authority. We leave the flesh behind and war in the spirit.
How do we do this? Not by taking some imagined armor or conceived attribute and “applying it” to our flesh, but by manifesting these attributes through complete submission to the authority of Jesus Christ in us. The phrase “put on” in the above verse has the same meaning as the word “in” in verse 10. More precisely, to “slip into” or “enter into” and remain. In other words, it is not armor that we “put on,” but the result of living fully in Christ. Let’s take a closer look.
Ephesians 6:14: “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth,
To gird yourself means to support your core, the powerhouse that supports the rest of the body. But what is truth?
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” John 14:6.
Jesus is truth. As members of the body of Christ, every thought, word, and action must be grounded in truth if it is to have any power in the spirit realm. The Truth is our core or powerhouse from which we operate and it is found only in Christ.
Ephesians 6:14 (cont.): “having put on the breastplate of righteousness…”
The breastplate covers the heart, the circulator of our lifeblood. It is also the seat of our soul or will. The world says follow your heart. God says “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9. When we dwell in righteousness, we disarm the enemy. But what is righteousness?
“And this is the name by which she will be called: ‘THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS’” Jeremiah 33:16.
Jesus is righteousness. From the core of Truth, comes our ability to dwell in the righteousness of Christ, trading our works for His holiness.
Ephesians 6:15: “and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;”
Our feet represent our ministry as we walk out our purpose in the Kingdom of God. This verse speaks to being prepared. You cannot prepare for something unless you know what that something is. How can you know what your purpose in the Kingdom is? By knowing what peace is and dwelling in it. What is peace?
“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9:6.
Jesus is our peace. Our God-given purpose and destiny are found only in Him.
Ephesians 6:16: “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”
Again, this term, “taking” refers to a place of abiding, but also to taking hold of or ownership of something. In this case, faith. But what is faith?
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” Hebrews 11:1.
This is perhaps the most well known yet most misunderstood verse about faith. People tend to focus on the word “hope” and equate that with faith. However, the operative words here are “substance” and “evidence,” as is attested to in the following verses:
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” 2 Corinthians 5:7.
“And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed and therefore I spoke,’ we also believe and therefore speak” 2 Corinthians 4:13.
The operative words in these verses about faith are “walk” and “speak.” In other words, faith is not what you believe, but what you do because you believe. When you believe Jesus is the risen Christ, you act accordingly. And what is the source of our faith?
“looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” Hebrews 12:2.
Not only is Jesus the object of our faith, He is the source of our faith. The faith that takes us from pitiful victims to victorious warriors. Notice Paul says, “Above all, taking the shield of faith.” Why “above all”? Because without faith, none of the other “pieces of armor” will manifest. As it is written, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” Hebrews 11:6.
Ephesians 6:17: “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;”
We know a helmet covers the head and that “take” refers to taking a hold of something and abiding in it, but what is salvation? The literal translation of the Hebrew name, Jesus, or Jehoshua, is “salvation,” or “Jehovah is salvation.”
“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.
Here again, we see submission to Christ–even our very thoughts. How do you have the mind of Christ? Quite simply, the more time you spend with someone, the more alike you begin to think. This is what Paul spoke of when he said: “And do not be 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” Romans 12:2.
Even our greatest offensive weapon, the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, is Christ himself.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” John 1:14.
While Paul used a familiar symbol of power to teach this lesson, we must not get stuck on the physical aspects of it or our ability to “put it on.” We have to go deeper. Think about the ramifications of a soldier putting on the armor of the Roman Army. The soldier was making a public declaration that they were submitting to the authority of Cesar—body, soul, and spirit. They were saying, “I am the right arm of Cesar, acting on his authority.”
For we who are born of the Spirit, we are also called to submit to our Lord and Savior body, soul, and spirit. But we are not called to just “put on” an outfit. We are called to abide in Christ, as He abides in us, allowing Him to work in and through us, renewing our minds, transforming our hearts, and taking back all the enemy has stolen from us in the power of the risen Christ. We are called to conquer.
The beauty with our Lord is that He doesn’t ask us to do anything He has not done Himself.
“He saw that there was no man,
And wondered that there was no intercessor;
Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him;
And His own righteousness, it sustained Him.
For He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
And a helmet of salvation on His head;” Isaiah 59:16, 17.
My prayer is that we may all pursue not the armor of God, but the person of God in His Risen Christ. That we may covet time alone with Him above all else, seeking His face, listening for His voice. Believing that He will saturate us with His spirit, showing us great and mighty things we do not know, opening our spiritual eyes and ears, pouring out His Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation. That we may be filled with all His fullness and walk out that fullness as true warriors of God.
In fact, I can think of no greater New Year’s resolution.
God’s grace and peace be yours,