Those Pieces of Armor
Having put on the armor of God, Paul moves to the individual pieces of that armor. Of course, he is speaking metaphorically, but that in no way diminishes the reality of the battle that believers must endure and the power of the heavenly weapons they must wield against the forces arrayed against them. And those forces so arrayed against us are the demonic forces which Paul has already denoted as “cosmic powers,” the world which is under the dominion of those powers, and our own sinful nature. Against these, we must be constantly on guard and engage in the power of the Spirit if we shall know victory and peace.
“Stand,” Paul cries. This is the first order of business—to determine that one shall fight. One cannot gain the victory without fighting. The first piece of armor the believer must don is the “belt of truth.” The Christian does not believe in fairy tales, nor does he see the truth he believes as one among many in a cafeteria of religious choices. The believer must believe that he stands by the truth of God revealed in His word. Though the world may belittle him and think him hopelessly backward and intolerant, he cherishes the truth and prays that God would take him ever deeper into it. Next is the “breastplate of righteousness.” I think it fitting that the piece of armor that speaks of righteousness covers the believer’s heart. Ours is a faith which must speak and act righteous deeds grounded in our being made righteous through the blood of God’s dear Son. Then we have the shoes we must wear ever ready to go with the “gospel of peace.” Isaiah 52:7 tells us, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news…who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” Christians do battle by being ready to share the good news as opportunity permits.
Next, the Christian must put on the “shield of faith.” Its usefulness is to “extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” The devil is not throwing softballs at us; he aims to kill us. Only faith—the knowledge that we stand with the Holy One—can extinguish those flaming darts. The “helmet of salvation” is our hope of victory. The war is already won; these are skirmishes before our Lord comes to rule with a rod of iron. We fight as victors behind our Champion. And finally we have as a weapon the “Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Does this weapon sound weak compared to guns and tanks? Then Listen: By His word, God created the world, and by His word, He shall slay the wicked and smite the nations. Satan’s arsenal is truly pathetic in comparison.
F. F. Bruce whose work I used for help on this devotion closes his comments on this section:
When John Bunyan described the equipment which Christian received in the armory of the House Beautiful and used to good effect against Apollyon on the next stage of his journey, he drew on this passage in Ephesians, and noted that no armor was provided for the back, so that at the approach of Apollyon Christian had no option but “to venture and stand his ground” (NICNT, 410).
Nor do we have any other option.