Authored by Steve Hearts
In Ephesians 6:10–18, Paul teaches us a detailed lesson about the “armor of God” and how we are to put it on. As a child, I committed these scriptures to memory. The Holy Spirit, ever faithful to “guide [us] into all truth,”1 has recently shown me about how I can apply these scriptures to the practical day-to-day. This has strengthened me spiritually.
Verses 10–12 introduce us to the topic of spiritual armor and tell us what we are fighting against. The more practical instruction, which is the main focus of this article, begins in verse 13: “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.”2
These last seven words, “after you have done everything, to stand,” remind me to be patient when waiting on God to work. After I’ve done all I can in any given situation, I try to remind myself that my current task is to patiently “stand.”
Paul goes on to say, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.”3 These words have come to mean the most to me during times when the line between truth and untruth is difficult to draw. For example, I’ll make a mistake—sometimes repeatedly—and feel awful about it. I’ll often get bombarded by negative thoughts that seem to ring true during such moments: “I always blow it. I never learn the first time around. I’m no good.”
But when I ask the Lord, “Help me put on the belt of truth,” and remind myself of His unconditional love for us in spite of our mistakes, before I know it, I’m on my feet again. I also ask the Lord to help me put on the belt of truth when reality is painful and difficult to accept, and I’d rather resist it.
Paul continues, letting us know we need to put “the breastplate of righteousness in place.”4 Who hasn’t experienced self-righteous attitudes toward others at some time or other? It’s so easy to pay such close attention to the “mote” that’s in the eye of another, and totally overlook the “beam” in our own.5
Once, when I found myself quickly succumbing to self-righteousness, I begged the Lord to tell me what to do about it. He answered, “This is where the breastplate of righteousness comes in. In putting it on, you will be putting on my righteousness instead of your own.” Now, whenever tempted to think or speak condescendingly about another, I tell the Lord, “Help me put on the breastplate of righteousness.” He does, and it works wonders.
Next, Paul says, “and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”6
This “readiness” has given me faith and confidence when faced with situations in which I feel unsure, or even downright nervous.
The Lord gave me a chance to put this into practice during a time when I accompanied someone to meet with a director of a local hospital to discuss an important matter. As we sat waiting, I was nervous since I don’t often find myself in this type of situation. I wondered if I would be able to say the right things. So I prayed, “Lord, please give me the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”
I immediately felt calm. The “butterflies” vanished from my stomach. The person with me was also feeling nervous and asked me to pray for her. I did—and the meeting with the hospital director was both successful and enjoyable.
Back to Paul: “In addition to all this, take the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”7
Our spiritual nemesis is constantly attempting to put out God’s fire within us through his arrows of doubt, discouragement, fear, and much more. In my case, I’ll often get hit with doubt regarding my calling and usefulness to the Lord. “Why don’t you just forsake your spiritual calling and pursue other things,” the voice will say.
I’ll then pray, “Jesus, I take the shield of faith to help me extinguish those arrows of doubt.”
Sometimes, as with all the other components of the spiritual armor, the attack will be so strong that I have to repeat the prayer more than once. Each time, the opposing power weakens as my determination grows and my strength increases.
“Take the helmet of salvation,” says Paul, “and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.”8
Our “helmet of salvation” is a gift that can never be lost or taken away once we have it.9
As for “the word of God,” this very weapon was what gave Jesus the victory during His period of temptation in the wilderness.10 Despite the Devil’s best efforts to twist the Word in order to bolster his case, Jesus stuck to His guns and accurately wielded that powerful sword by speaking the words, “It is written…”
I have found that this works for me whenever I choose to wield the powerful sword of God’s Word.
In conclusion to his description of the spiritual armor, Paul tells us, “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.”11 We often underestimate the importance of prayer, both for ourselves and others.
Once, when I was a young teen, I remember my dad was out taking care of some business one day in a rather unsafe part of Los Angeles. I was at home with my mother. She suddenly felt a strong urge to pray for him and asked me to join her. I was unwilling to stop what I was doing. I figured she was just being overly concerned. So I paid her no mind.
Only minutes later, Dad called with the news that the car had been stolen. It was found and returned only days later, but this story reminds me oow important it is to use prayer.
I have found that for me it takes determination to make this perspective a way of life—especially in moments when life is particularly intense and things seem bleak. At such times, it takes strong willpower to deliberately choose to arm ourselves spiritually. But in so doing, we know we can overcome whatever difficulty life brings our way. You might want to try it!
1 John 16:13
2 New International Version
3 Ephesians 6:14 NIV
5 Matthew 7:3 KJV
6 Ephesians 6:15 NIV
7 Ephesians 6:16 NIV
8 Ephesians 6:17 NIV
9 See John 3:16 and John 10:28
10 See Matthew 4:1–10 and Luke 4:1–12.
11 Ephesians 6:18 NIV
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2015 by The Family International