When we’re going into spiritual warfare, we need spiritual armor. As we talked about in last week’s post on the Girdle of Truth, God is the one who gives us this armor. He doesn’t invite us to do battle and then leave us defenseless.
take up the full armor of God, in order that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand. Stand therefore, girding your waist with truth, and putting on the breastplate of righteousness. (Eph. 6:13-14, LEB)
The second piece of our armor is a breastplate of righteousness. In a physical soldier’s armor, this is the part of the armor that protects the front and back of the torso. It’s keeping your spine, internal organs, and especially your heart and lungs safe.
Keeping Your Heart
For us, righteousness serves much the same protective function. In a broad sense, the word dikaiosune (G1343) means being in a “condition acceptable to God.” It also refers to “the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved by God” (Thayer’s Dictionary). Righteousness involves the condition of your heart and state of your character.
Oh that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever! (Deut. 5:29, WEB)
God has always been interested in wining His people’s hearts. That desire is at the core of Him asking us to follow Him in righteousness, which is why Jesus didn’t destroy the Law when He came. Rather, He revealed the full expression and intent behind God’s law — that we might develop His character and become like Him (Matt. 5:17-20, 48).
Armor God Wears
Speaking of becoming like God, the Breastplate of Righteousness is a piece of armor that He actually wears.
He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head. He put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a mantle. (Is. 59:17, WEB)
The breastplate we’re talking about isn’t just something God gives us to wear. It’s also something that He wears Himself. This is truly armor of God what He’s sharing with us. Read more →
The first piece in the armor of God is a girdle, or belt, of truth. We’re told, “Stand therefore, girding your waist with truth” (Eph. 6:14, LEB). Girdles hold an interesting place in scripture. There are five Hebrew words used to talk about things you can belt around your waist (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).
Some girdles were used as a purse or pockets. Others to belt your clothes on. Different types of girdles were part of a soldier’s attire (2 Sam. 20:8), worn by princes and important people (Eze. 23:15), or by priests (Ex. 28:4, 8; 29:9). Girdles often symbolize strength and readiness. But what does it mean to have a girdle made of truth?
Where We Get Our Girdle
Truth in a Christian context is defined by God. The truths that come from Him aren’t subjective and don’t fluctuate. They’re reliable. And they’re what we put on like a belt around our waists as we prepare for spiritual battle.
Jesus gives a succinct definition of truth in His prayer recorded in John 17. He prays to the Father, “Sanctify them in your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17, WEB). The words of God are precious; the only reliable source of truth.
Give diligence to present yourself approved by God, a workman who doesn’t need to be ashamed, properly handling the Word of Truth. (2 Tim. 2:15, WEB)
When we’re looking for truth, we look to God’s Word — both in the Bible and in the person of His son Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Word (John 1:1-3, 14) and He also is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). He provides the truth that forms the first piece of our armor. Read more →
We’ve been talking about the foundations of spiritual warfare for the past couple weeks as we work towards studying the armor of God. In Ephesians 6, Paul tells us to “be strong in the Lord,” which is the starting point for engaging in spiritual battles. He also tells us what we’re up against and warns us to be vigilant against our Adversary. Before he gets into how we put on the armor of God, though, there’s one more point he emphasizes.
Paul says the reason we put on the armor of God is so “that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11. WEB). And once he describes our adversaries in verse 12, he says this again.
Therefore put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. (Eph. 6:13, WEB)
What It Means To Stand
The Greek word translated “stand” is very similar to our English word. They both mean someone actually standing on their feet and also carry more metaphorical meanings as well. For example, in English we say someone “stands up for what they believe” and mean that they have a firm, courageous stance on a subject.
In Greek, histemi (G2476) carries ideas of firmness and reliability. Thayer’s dictionary says it means firmly establishing something in a certain place. It also means setting something in balance (like establishing a just system of weights for currency). Another meaning is standing immovable and reliable, as in the foundation of a building. And finally, histemi carries the idea of being safe, sound, and unharmed as well as ready or prepared. Someone standing in this way is steadfast and doesn’t hesitate or waiver. Read more →
Last week, we started a series of posts on spiritual warfare. Following the outline Paul gives us in Ephesians, we began with “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10, WEB). Knowing where we get the strength to fight a spiritual war lays the groundwork. The next point is realizing what we’re up against.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:11-12, WEB)
No wonder we need to be strong in the Lord! Those are adversaries we can’t even see, much less fight on our own. Thankfully, God doesn’t expect us to.
The Battle Is Won
When Jesus came to this earth as a human, lived a sinless life, then died for our sins, He assured Satan’s defeat. It’s such a sure thing that scripture talks of Satan (whose name means “adversary”) as having already been defeated even though he still has a little while to keep influencing people here on earth (Rev. 12:12).
having stripped the principalities and the powers, [Jesus] made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. (Col. 2:15, WEB)
Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus told His followers that the “Prince of this world” was about to be cast out (John 12:31). Other verses speak of Christ having “led captivity captive” (Eph. 4:8; Ps. 68:18) and of binding Satan to destroy his kingdom (Luke 11:17-23). Those all point to the truth that Jesus has already sealed our Adversary’s fate.
Since then the children have shared in flesh and blood, [Jesus] also himself in the same way partook of the same, that through death he might bring to nothing him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,and might deliver all of them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Heb. 2:14-15, WEB)
Jesus has brought the devil to nothing. The Adversary can seem pretty scary at times, but ultimately, he can’t win. Jesus made certain that God wins this fight. So really all we need to do if we want personal victory is to stay on the winning side.
But The Threat Is Out There
All this isn’t to say we shouldn’t have a healthy level of caution. Just because Satan’s defeat is assured doesn’t mean he can’t still affect us. He’s a very real threat and underestimating him can leave us in a vulnerable position. The Adversary is a roaring lion, not a declawed house cat. Read more →
Ephesians 6 is the most famous passage talking about spiritual warfare. And because I’ve been rolling the idea of doing a study series on the armor of God/spiritual warfare around in my mind for some time now, it makes sense to start there. So let’s jump right in.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (Eph 6:10, KJV)
Before we can start getting ready to fight a spiritual battle, we must recognize where the strength to do such a thing comes from. On our own, we couldn’t fight spiritual adversaries. We need to “be strong in the Lord” to do that. But what does being strong in Him really mean?
The word translated “be strong” is endunamoo (G1743). It comes from a combination of the word en (G1722), which is a preposition meaning in, by, or with, and dunamoo, which is a form of dunamis (1411). Dunamis means “inherent power,” such as Jesus used to perform miracles (Luke 8:46). So this word in Ephesians means to be filled with inherent, active, achieving power. And because we’re strong “in the Lord,” it’s the same kind of power He has.
I can do all things through Christ, Who empowers me. (Phil. 4:13, HBOO)
We, who have no hope of standing up against a spiritual onslaught on our own, can do “all things,” including spiritual warfare, when Jesus empowers us. That means the One who can cast out devils with a word and who saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven (Luke 10:17) isn’t just fighting on our behalf. He’s sharing His power with us so we can fight alongside Him. Read more →
I recently read Wild At Heart by John Eldredge. In chapter 2, titled “The Wild One Whose Image We bear,” he talks about God as a warrior. We often like to think of God as safe, loving, and gentle — and He is all those things. But He is also more than that, which is one of the most interesting points I took away from reading this book.
Christ draws the enemy out, exposes him for what he is, and shames him in front of everyone. The Lord is a gentleman??? Not if you’re in the service of His enemy. God has a battle to fight, and the battle is for our freedom. As Temper Longman says, ‘Virtually every book of the Bible — Old and New Testaments — and almost every page tells us about God’s warring activity.’ I wonder if the Egyptians who kept Israel under the whip would describe Yahweh as a Really Nice Guy?” – John Eldgredge
God isn’t distant, uninterested, or emotionless in His dealings with people. Often, His interest in us means going to battle on our behalf. He is fiercely committed to fighting for us against the enemy, and fighting to win our hearts.
Fighting For Us
We often teach that God saving Israel from slavery and leading them out of Egypt is a picture of our redemption from sin. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what Israel was told as they stood on the banks of the Red Sea, apparently trapped with the Egyptian armies closing in.
And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace. (Ex. 14:13-14)
When you feel trapped and threatened, do you believe the Lord will actually fight for you? It’s so tempting to try to take things into our own hands instead of “holding our peace,” especially if we can’t picture God actually going into battle for us. The image of a long-haired Jesus cradling a lamb in His arms has saturated our culture. That gentleness is an aspect of God’s nature, but if that’s all we think of then we have a very narrow view of Him. He is also “the Lord of hosts,” the God of angel armies.
Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, this One who is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength? “I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes. For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come. (Is. 63:1-4)
This isn’t how most of us picture God. It’s not how I usually picture God. But this image is just as valid as “the Lord is my Shepherd” (Ps. 23:1). In both cases, He is acting for our good. He gently leads and guides us, and He will fight as hard as necessary to redeem us.
Fighting With Us
We find verses that promise God’s protection, strength and aid comforting, but perhaps we don’t often realize those promises involve Him actively fighting on our behalf. There is a very real battle going on for us. In this battle, or God not only fights for us — He also equips us to defend ourselves with His strength.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Eph. 6:10-13)
Reading this description of our enemy, I have no delusions that I could fight them alone. Rulers of darkness? Wicked spirits in high places? I’m running the other direction! Even with the armor of God — described in detail in verses 14-17 — I don’t want to face this by myself. In Deuteronomy, the nation of Israel was given how-to instructions for waging war. Since the church today is spiritual Israel, I think it’s safe to say these directions are applicable for us on a spiritual level.
When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. So it shall be, when you are on the verge of battle, that the priest shall approach and speak to the people. And he shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel: Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies. Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’ (Deut. 20:1-4)
We are called to do battle against overwhelming odds in a fight we have no hope of winning on our own. But because we are not alone, we have no reason to be timid. God Himself is giving us His armor, fighting at our side, and carrying us through with His strength.
Fighting To Win Us
God is love. Now, that word agape can refer to an active benevolence that doesn’t necessarily involve emotion, but not when talking about God. God’s love is passionate, consuming, relentless.
For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns. The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will name. You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. (Is. 62:1-5)
This is the end God is working toward. We are affianced to Jesus now (2 Cor. 11:2) and will become “the Lamb’s wife” in the future (Rev. 19:7-9). This doesn’t just happen, though. First there is a battle. One of the reasons Jesus came as a human being to live and die was so “that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). Jesus’s sacrifice was part of a battle plan, and since He accomplished that, victory is assured.
“O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:55-57)
The outcome of the this fight is already decided — God wins. What the Father and Son are fighting for now is to save as many of Their people as possible. The Captain of our salvation wants to bring many children into glory (Heb. 2:10). When He is victorious, our Leader wants His family to be there with Him. He will fight to accomplish His goals, including the goal of winning your heart.