Putting on the armour of God the wrong way
What does it mean to put on the full armour of God? We can look at the different pieces of armour that protect different parts of the body in two basic ways. One is viewing it as something we need to do. The other is to view it as something Christ has already done. I used to hold to the former. This meant I had to put on each piece of armour by praying each piece on. If had not prayed to put it on daily, then I would be exposed to enemy attack. What anxiety I must have had. You see I learnt this from a sermon I heard in the 1980s. Obviously this daily prayer was not maintained for long.
Later this developed into another form of viewing the armour of God as something I needed to do. I needed to inculcate more truth, more righteousness in my life, share the gospel more, and cultivate hope and memorize more of the word of God to build my faith and to use against the enemy. I soon realized there were big holes in my armour, for my faith often failed or faltered. My righteousness was always short of Jesus’ perfect righteousness. And I had not always been speaking or living out the truth consistently. All this meant my incomplete armour exposed me to the enemy! It was an insecure way to live the Christian life. There was anxiety and defeat instead of peace and victory.
Putting on the armour of God the right way
The other way to look at the armour of God is to see it as something God has already given us in Christ. I first saw this in a book titled “Into Battle” by Arthur Wallis. He saw all the pieces of armour as pointing to Christ and his finished work. The belt of truth was Jesus the way, the TRUTH and the life. The breastplate of righteousness was how God made Christ to be our righteousness. The shoes of the gospel of peace was how Jesus has become our peace by his death on the cross – making peace for us with God and with others. The helmet of salvation was Jesus our only hope of salvation for there was no other name under heaven whereby a man could be saved. The shield of faith was Jesus who protected us and shielded us from the evil one. Finally one of Jesus many titles is “the word of God” which happened to be the sword of the Spirit.
Thus Christ is the fulfilment of the full armour of God. When we have Christ and believe and stand on his finished work we have the whole armour of God on us. Like the switch is to the electric bulb, so is our faith in Christ’s finished work, the switch that puts on the armour. This attitude of faith in Christ brings rest, peace, victory and security. I believe this interpretation of the armour of God is more in keeping with the overall tenet of Christian living and ministry – “by grace through faith”.
God’s greatest weapon
When the Christian stand in faith on the finished work of Christ and prays in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayer, he is God’s greatest offensive weapon in the spiritual battleground. More powerful yet, when such Christians come together to pray for God’s people and God’s servants they are like the Roman phalanx in attack mode.
Hmmm…this is very enlightening to know. I guess we have to know that we fight FROM victory instead of fighting FOR victory. The victory is already ours through Christ’s finished work and we are clothe with it by faith in what is already done.
I am just wondering in what context do we take our stand in defence and in what context do we go on an offense?
Thanks Pilgrim for your comment.
Fighting from victory is an important stance to have. I liken the church to the fearful and paralysed armies of Israel which, only after David’s victory over Goliah (read Christ disarmed principalities and powers), became a people of faith and went on confidently to drive the Philistines out of Israel to their very own territories and gates. (1 Sam 17)
The scriptures does give us examples of situations of daily living where God lets us see beyond the visible to see the schemes and evil intents of demons. Temptations (Adam and Eve); trials and sufferings (Job); decision making (David counting his troops); delayed answers to prayer (Daniel); persecution (Judas on Jesus); deception (false apostles as angels of light); resentment in conflicts (do not let the sun go down on your anger; give no foothold to the devil). This is not exhaustive.
Big modern day battlegrounds include the internet, the corporation, oppressive and corrupt politics, the hedonistic lifestyle, world of high finance and entertaintment, war and conflict situations, ( I am of course deliberately provocative) etc. Our offence would have to do with praying for God’s people and servants as they go about being salt and light in this corrupt and dark world.
I really like how Jesus model the way of striking the devil with the sword of the spirit/ the Word of God. “It is written…”, “It is written…”, “It says…”. The Father of Deception cannot stand up to the Word. In Spiritual warfare, this is also seen as Truth encounter and some schools call it Power encounter. There are no contridiction of terms, God’s truth has the power to cast down, bring liberty and wholeness.
Hi Pilgrim, Jesus’ temptation and counter to Satan is indeed instructional and we learn from our Master His ways. In addition, the church is the body of Christ and as it preaches and teaches the Word to itself and to society at large, the sword of the Spirit takes on another dimension, beyond personal godliness and the fight of faith, to the prophetic dimension and declaration over nations and injustices.
Thanks for the insights!:)
Of course, what you have explicated is very much an ‘individual’ putting on of the armour, Kenny. In the context of Ephesians, might Paul have been referring to the church (= corporate entity) as needing to be prepared and well-armed? The implications of this (at least they are for me) are intriguing/fascinating/and a bit mind-blowing. In Paul’s mind in the context of this letter, the items of armour/protection would still have been something God has already given in Christ – but not so much for me as an individual Christian, as for the corporate entity(‘The Body of Christ’, expressed in/as a geographically located entity). Hmmm.
Yes Dr Harkness, it is fascinating, and there is probably more than what we charismatics have read of the text. In my sermon I mentioned the corporate dimension, particularly using the analogy of the Roman phalanx – where a troop working in unison wields their shields together to form a wall or roof of defence. The church in Ephesus faced opposition from the Jews as well as the tradesmen and temple establishments that lost business from the worship of Diana. You perhaps have an idea you have been ruminating on. Hazard to share.
I once heard a brother in Christ commented on the armor of God as follow:
*loins girt about with truth – Who is the truth, way & life (Jesus);
*having on the breastplate of righteousness – who is the our righteousness (Jesus);
*feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace – who is the Prince of Peace (Jesus);
*taking the shield of faith – Who is the author & finisher of our faith (Jesus)
*helmet of salvation – Who is our Saviour (Jesus)
I find your interpretation interesting as it reminds me of the above, that when we put on the armor, we are actually putting on Christ. And quote “Christ is the fulfilment of the armor”. That’s to say salvation is by our believe in Christ and not by our deeds.
Hi Andrew, I like the bit about author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2). The verse is perfectly apt. The verse I used was less direct, 1 John 5:18 “…He who was born of God protects(shields) him(the believer) and the evil one does not touch him.” Thanks.
In the context of daily living, when troubles assail us, the helmet of Salvation is for me, a constant awareness of Jesus’s finished work…to always have a good opinion of our Lord and hold fast to the knowledge that he is victorious and sitting at the right hand of God…..when doubt, lack of confidence creeps in…the “repentance” in the continuous renewal of our thoughts in Christ through the Holy Spirit. I find this immensely important, personally….as Jesus did warn us of troubles and I find so mannnnyyyy ! when I get weary, my mind goes weak first as this is where the devil usually comes at us first….. hence this is the first piece to put on daily. Then I clip on the rest….as my Pastor says, if the head is gone…the body is gone !
The armour is every Christians’s daily uniform, to put on first thing before we leave our homes for work and all activities.
For every depressed, demoralised Christian brother and sister out there, the Lord has warned us of troubles galore but he didnt leave us defenceless. Wearing the full armour every day for the last 5 years since I was taught spiritual warfare, I have found that I stand steadier when assailed.
Its always good to hear a positive testimony such as this, Wendy.