Think of the Armor of God as more than a list of helpful tips. Consider it as a recipe for an impenetrable Defense against the schemes of Satan (liar, thief). Think of it as how we block Satan’s access and withstand his attacks.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:10-17)
Paul gives this visual reminder to help us know what is essential to surviving and winning the battle with Satan. So, consider that if you feel like you’re losing, you might not be wearing your armor.
After describing the Armor of God and imploring Christians to put it on, Paul adds an emphasis on prayer.
“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 Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” (Ephesians 6:18-20)
Why would he emphasize prayer like this?
Because no matter how complete the armor, no matter how skilled the warrior, and no matter how much courage or bravery, battles are lost when communication with the commander is lost. In other words, in every battle, spiritual or physical, communication with the commander is essential!
This visual of the Amor of God helps me in the middle of the night when my thoughts keep me awake by helping me focus on God instead of the darkness. It also helps me during my daily prayer time to reaffirm my focus by helping me make a statement of faith. Finally, it helps me throughout the day too when I need to boldly proclaim the reality of God in my life.
Are you using the armor God gave you?
Large and slightly curved with a knob in the middle, the Roman shield allowed its bearer to deflect attacks and even knock an opponent backward. Soldiers would also soak their shields in water, so they could extinguish any flaming arrows shot at them by the enemy.
Spiritually, as most Christians know, the shield represents faith.
“Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” (Ephesian 6:16)
We likely all feel like we know exactly what faith is. Yet, it’s such a spiritualized concept that it’s easy to lose touch with exactly what it is and does for a Christian. This is especially true when looking at it as a piece of armor.
What is faith?
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
The word “substance” here means confidence and indicates something solid and real. What is “hoped for” and have “evidence of,” even though we cannot see it, is the truth and fulfillment of what God says in his word.
How does faith protect like a shield?
Faith guards and protects our beliefs and values, which we get from God’s word. Our faith deflects Satan’s attacks (e.g., lies, deceit, distraction, etc.). In other words, it blocks Satan’s access to all that we are in Christ. While he can’t ever take those things away, he can make us believe that we can lose them.
There is one more aspect to note about the Romans and their shields relevant to how our shield of faith protects us. Romans used what is called the “turtle formation” to fight.
The Romans were very tough to beat because of this formation, and hopefully the correlation for Christians is clear. Maybe you’re struck anew as I was by the shield of faith when you saw this.
Imagine Christians with their shields up together like this. Imagine them defending against Satan’s attacks together. We’d be unstoppable too!
Weight training makes you stronger, but too much weight can injure you. Even carrying a weight you’re strong enough to lift can injure you if you carry it for too long.
Also, it’s not always what you carry that is too much weight. It’s often how you carry it that causes problems. Anyone who exercises much knows how important form is for preventing injury.
When we think of our spiritual lives, we understand that carrying weight we shouldn’t involves carrying negative things like unforgiveness and worry. We can’t forget, though, that a weight can also be any distraction that keeps us from obedience and hearing from God.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
This verse speaks to perseverance, both our own and the examples of the many who have gone before us. It also speaks to getting rid of that which weighs us down and hinders our ability to persevere.
Throwing off a weight can mean putting it down and moving forward without it. But that’s not always what it means. It can also mean increasing our fitness, so a weight is no longer a hindrance.
“It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.” (C.S. Lewis)
“You will find that it is necessary to let things go simply because they are heavy.” (C. JoyBell C.)
Sometimes, yes, you need to completely put down anything that keeps you from running the race God has marked out for you. Put it down and never pick it up again.
At the same time, realize that sometimes you need to get stronger, so you can carry the weight. As you do, it will eventually not be an entanglement. How? Check out these verses about spiritual growth to go deeper on this topic.