Here at Armor of God Coffee, the concept of spiritual armor is important to us. Ephesians 6:11 is the verse that inspired our company—"Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (NIV)—but all of Ephesians 6 bears reading, particularly verses 10-18.
But what do they really mean today, when most of us don’t walk around wearing a physical suit of metal to shield us from trouble? How can we interpret these verses in the 21st century?
An initial reading led me first to think the armor of God comprises the tools He gives us to stand strong in our faith. That is true, but that armor is so much more than that. It’s tools as well as action; tools as well as ironclad belief; tools as well as undying conviction that, with God, we will all prevail.
1) The beginning part: “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” (6:10-13).
Basically, this section tells us we must put on protection, Godly defenses, both to keep us safe from the darkness and evil that exist both on earth and in the heavenly realms, as well as to do our part as the body of Christ in the war between good and evil. As Christians, we walk with one foot on earth and one foot in heaven, and so our struggles are not merely of the body but especially of the soul, and our Godly armor and protection give us a way to glorify God and stand with Him.
2) Next, we have, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…” (6:14a).
One reading of this is that God gives us the Bible as His true and holy Word, and we should read it and know it so that we can walk with it daily. Yes! But going a step further, it’s also committing ourselves to behaving in accordance in that truth, to living honorable lives of integrity, and—when we slip or fall short—to be honest with our Lord about what we need and earnestly repent and try to get back on track with His ways.
3) Next is, “…with the breastplate of righteousness in place…” (14b).
A breastplate, also called a chestplate, is a protective shield worn over the torso to protect it—especially our vulnerable heart and chest areas—from injury. When we wear the breastplate of righteousness, we are committing to live our lives righteously. Temptation will come our way; we know this. It comes to everyone. But we rely on Christ and our role model and our redeemer to protect us from going astray. We hold tight to Him and keep that steadfast protection firmly in place to guard us from temptation.
4) Next comes, “…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (15)
Ready feet are prepared, well trained, equipped feet. Our feet take us places. Even for those who cannot walk, our feet are a metaphor for action and direction, all steered by the Lord. God places unique spiritual gifts within each of us, as well as a calling. Ready feet listen for that call and do what is asked to spread the Gospel, adding souls to God’s numbers one by one.
5) Next, “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (16).
The enemy is on the move all the time, trying to chink away at our defenses and find our tender spots, where he can gain entry. This constant attack can be like “flaming arrows.” But take heart, for our firm faith in the Lord is a literal shield against these arrows. When we feel under attack, ask God to help defend us with His holy shield of protection. Have faith that He can protect us. Trust the path He shows us, and follow it.
6) Next we have, “Take the helmet of salvation…” (17a).
A helmet guards the head, and we know sin is a slippery slope that often starts in the mind. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” and the apostle John wrote in 1 John 2:16, “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” When we allow our minds to slip into worldly desires, that gives the enemy a foothold—that tender, vulnerable spot addressed in the previous verse that he is constantly tries to chip away at. But when we set our minds “on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2), this discipline becomes a helmet of protection.
7) Next is, “…and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
God’s Word is the Holy Bible. The apostle Paul tells us “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). God gave us His inspired, truthful word for us to use—not only for defense but for offense. When He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, Jesus countered every one of the devil’s attacks with God’s Holy Word. We can do the same. God’s Word is a powerful weapon. We should know it and use it to counter any attacks from the enemy.
8) Finally, “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” (18).
Prayer is our dialogue with God. It is to be constant, continual, never-ending (1 Thessalonians 5:17), both as a way to stay in communion with the Lord and to stay alert and awake against the enemy and under His protection.
So strap on your breastplate, fasten your helmet, and raise your sword, friends! Every one of us is part of God’s holy army, battling for goodness.