“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11, ESV)
Remember the old children’s song “I’m in the Lord’s Army”? We’d march in place, arms swinging, as we loudly sang, “I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery. I may never zoom o’re the enemy, but I’m in the Lord’s army!” We may not have realized all that meant as a child, but we really are soldiers of the Lord. The battles you and I face, however, are spiritual rather than physical. Our weapons are also spiritual.
Have you ever considered how important each piece of a soldier’s equipment is to his success and wellbeing? Equipment has changed through the ages, as war itself has changed. A seventh century B.C. Assyrian soldier would be outfitted in iron scale armor, helmet, iron shinned boots, shield, sword, and spear. The present-day soldier is issued none of these items. Rifles and grenade launchers have replaced swords and spears while special protective headgear has replaced the ancient iron helmet. Whether ancient warrior or modern soldier, the proper equipment is vital when facing battle.
How do we prepare ourselves to fight our enemy? Ephesians 6:13-17 lists six essential pieces of armor for the child of God:
- belt of truth
- breastplate of righteousness
- feet shod with the gospel of peace
- shield of faith
- helmet of salvation
- sword of the Spirit (Word of God)
While reading Ephesians 6, one word in verse 11 seemed to stand out: whole. We are instructed to put on the whole armor—the complete set, not just one or two pieces. If we head into battle with missing or defective gear, we make ourselves vulnerable. Without the helmet, our head (mind) is unprotected. If the breastplate missing, our heart and other internal organs are at risk. If we wear the wrong footwear, how can we navigate rough terrain as the battle rages? Each piece of our armor serves a specific purpose and is most effective when used with the other pieces. Just as a member of today’s military would not willingly head into battle without the right equipment, neither should we face our enemy without our complete armor in place.
Who is our enemy? As we read Ephesians 6:12, we again realize our battle is fought in the spiritual realm. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (NLT).
Our weapons are different as well. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (II Corinthians 10:4, ESV).
The enemy is real, but God has given us the equipment we need for victory. Gear up! We are in the Lord’s army.
(Additional scriptures to study: II Corinthians 2:11; I Thessalonians 5:8; II Timothy 2:3-4; Hebrews 4:12; James 4:7.)