You may be wondering why I chose to adorn this post with an image of a kneeling medievalesque warrior knight clad in armor.
The answer is simple, and can be found in the words of one of my favorite incredibly powerful Bible passages – Ephesians 6:10–18:
“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.
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.”
If you’re handy at math, then you counted seven distinct pieces of spiritual armor listed in the passage above that can equip you to be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. When I’m spiritually struggling, know that I’m entering into a situation in which I will encounter significant temptations, or am about to embark on travel away from my family and Christian support network, I often imagine adorning myself with each of these seven pieces of armor, specifically:
1. The Belt of Truth
A soldier must be girded with a belt, which in the time the passage above was written was made of metal and thick heavy leather and served as the carrying place for a Roman soldier’s sword. The belt also had an armored section in the front to protect the vitals and helped to hold all other pieces of the armor together. Truth is a belt that holds your spiritual armor together as well. As you learn in this article, absolute truth can be found in the Bible, and you must immerse yourself daily in this truth to be able to protect your spiritual self. So know your Bible, think of it as your belt, and gird yourself up with it.
2. Breastplate of Righteousness
A breastplate protects the vital organs during the heat of the battle, especially when a soldier may not be quick enough to hold up their shield. It was designed for fast and unanticipated advances of the enemy. Living a righteous life, not by our own works, but through the righteousness granted to us by Christ is a powerful way to protect our hearts and keep our enemy from successfully striking when we don’t expect it. Righteousness means being made right, and includes daily confessions of our sins and laying our burdens at the foot of the cross so that we can enter our spiritual battles with purity of heart.
3. Feet fitted with the Gospel of Peace
In Roman times, a soldier was fitted with sandals that had extremely thick soles to protect their feet from blistering during long marches into battle, and spikes to help the soldier stand firm during battle. Our own protection and firm foundation through the journey of life is the Gospel: Jesus’ deity, death, burial, and resurrection. As we walk into battle, we possess the hope and deep internal peace that because of His sacrifice and our belief in Him, we shall not perish but have eternal life. Studying and sharing the Gospel and being prepared to defend the hope that is within us will help to build this peace, protection, and firm foundation.
4. Shield of Faith
A shield serves as a soldier’s primary defensive weapon. A Roman soldier’s shield was made of dense, solid wood, leather, canvas, and metal, and was often doused in water to create a heavy, wet hide that could extinguish the fiery arrows of the enemy. Our own impenetrable shield is faith: a deep trust in God’s power and protection, and a confident knowing that God will hold true to His promises even when the battle is raging as fiercely as ever. In addition, shields used on the field of battle are even stronger when linked with one another, and so, in addition to equipping ourselves with faith and trust in God, we must also band together with fellow believers in churches, small groups, and other forms of fellowship to buttress ourselves even more securely against the attacks of the enemy.
5. Helmet of Salvation
A good helmet would cover the most vulnerable areas of a soldier’s body: the entire head, face and even between the eyes. Without a helmet, one blow to a soldier’s head would almost certainly prove debilitating or fatal, making the rest of the armor completely useless without that helmet. Our helmet of salvation and anointing with the Holy Spirit is therefore critical to our own battle armor. When we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are going on to heaven and eternal bliss because of what Christ accomplished on the cross, not even death can defeat us. Without the helmet of salvation, our armor is for naught and there is no victory, but when we don our helmet and stand upon the conviction of our deliverance by Jesus, then we know that, as Romans 8 says, “Neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
6. Sword of the Spirit
You may have noticed that the first five pieces of the soldier’s arsenal that you have been reading about are all defensive weapons, but this is the first part of the passage in Ephesians in which an offensive weapon is described: the sword. In the hands of a skilled warrior, a sword was considered a deadly weapon that could pierce through even the strongest armor. The sword of the spirit is described as the word of God, which we know from the Bible is sharper than any double-edged physical sword. As I have already mentioned, to wield this weapon effectively, you must immerse yourself daily in Scripture, not only reading it, hearing it, singing it, and meditating upon it, but also memorizing it so that in times of battle you have specific verses from the Bible that you can draw upon to resist temptation and fight evil. Jesus relied upon Scripture to defeat Satan when He was tempted in the desert, and we must do the same if we are to yield the greatest offensive weapon against evil that God has ever blessed us with.
You may have noticed that in the image above, the warrior is kneeling. That is intentional. Although often forgotten or not mentioned as a crucial part of this section of Ephesians, prayer is essential, because without God‘s union and presence, we are powerless in battle. So we must “fight from our knees,” thus blanketing ourselves with His presence that we have prayed upon our bodies, our soul, and our entire spiritual armor. We must be in a daily constancy of prayer, continually connected to God from the time that we wake to the time that we go to sleep. It is such a wonderful blessing that we can speak to the Almighty Creator at any time during the day, and we must make a habit of doing so if we are to be able to resist the daily battles that we will inevitably face. Wake and pray, walk and pray, eat and pray, breathe and pray, pray whenever God has granted you a silent moment during the day, and pray “on all occasions.” Make prayer a natural and continual part of your life, so that you are never venturing into battle without the powerful presence of God.
My friends, the war has been won. Jesus accomplished that on the cross. But the daily battle must still be fought. Armed with the defenses and weapons above, you will have all the tools that you need—by the blood of Jesus, the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and the grace of God—to enter into that battle with your spirit fully protected.
Finally, should you want a powerful prayer to be able to “pray this armor” on yourself or a loved one before you go to battle, then I highly recommend you visit this website, which has a free printable spiritual armor chart, along with a wonderful and simple prayer. Enjoy, and leave your comments, questions, and thoughts below about your own methods for putting on the armor of God or praying on the armor of God. I'd love to hear your own tips, methods, and experiences.