Ready for Battle!
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6: 11
The Roman Empire was one of the greatest and most influential civilizations in the world and lasted for over 1000 years. One of the significant reasons that it lasted that long and conquered almost all of Europe was because of her legions. Rome established a professional army made up of well-equipped and trained men. While other warriors, especially in Gaul, Germania, and Brittania, wore little armor and were not trained as a cohesive fighting unit.
The legions would line up for battle in cohorts. The legion would have 10 Cohorts. Each Cohort would have 420 men except the first Cohort, which would consist of 800 men and would be at the center of the front line. These legionnaires would line up shoulder to shoulder, shield to shield, and depend on the soldier on their right to protect them. Their superior armor, helmets, shields, and weapons gave them a significant advantage.
As children of God, we, too, have an advantage over the enemy of God. In the letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for all believers to put on the full armor of God. Our struggle is not with flesh and blood (Eph.6:12) but with the enemy of God, Satan. He has given us six items we need to stand firm.
First, we are told to “Gird Our Waist With Truth.” Satan is the Father of lies, and we must speak the truth. We must know God’s truth. Earlier in chapter 4:14, Paul tells us why we need to know the truth, “so that we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming,”
Second, we are to put on the “Breastplate of Righteousness.” The legionnaire’s breastplate was to protect the heart, lungs, intestines, and other vital organs. In Paul’s day, the heart represented the mind and the will, and the intestines were considered the seat of emotions and feelings. Our minds and emotions are the two areas where Satan attacks believers. The protection against those attacks of Satan is the “Breastplate of Righteousness.” This is not self-righteousness or imputed righteousness (the perfect righteousness God applies to the account of every Christian the moment he believes in Christ). This refers to practical righteousness. We are called to live a life in obedience to God’s Word. To put on the breastplate of righteousness is to live in daily, obedience to God.
Third, “Shod Your Feet With the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace.” The legionnaire’s sandals would have metal studs to hold their ground and move forward on the battlefield without slipping. The idea of the “Preparation of the Gospel of Peace” as footwear suggests what we need to advance into Satan’s territory, aware that there will be traps when we share the truth of the Gospel.
Fourth, take up the “Shield of Faith.” The faith Paul is referring to is our belief in God. If we have faith in Christ, this will influence how we live. Our faith can guard us during trials like a shield would during battle.
Fifth, “Put on the Helmet of Salvation.” A legionnaire would wear a helmet to protect his head from a blow that would knock him unconscious or fatally wound him. The way we think needs to be protected. The head is the seat of the mind, which, when it has laid hold of the sure gospel hope of eternal life, will not receive false doctrine or give way to Satan’s temptations
The unsaved person has no hope of warding off the blows of false doctrine because he is without the helmet of salvation, and his mind is incapable of discerning between spiritual truth and spiritual deception.
Sixth is the “Sword of the Spirit.” The five previous parts of the armor of God are all defensive. God now gives us an offensive weapon. This is the most powerful weapon a Christian has. It speaks of the holiness and power of the Word of God. In Jesus’ temptations in the desert, the Word of God was always His overpowering response to Satan. Christian, you have access to the Word of God like no other previous generation. Make sure you use it as you stand firm in the whole armor of God.