“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11

Many of the things we’ve looked at in our series on counting the cost of discipleship have been practical, tangible things. And that was the intention – to see what practical things we need to consider and give attention to so that we can be set up for success.

However, the most important aspect of counting the cost when it relates to becoming a disciple of Jesus is, I believe, considering the dangers of what we are embarking upon and how to equip ourselves to face those dangers. No one goes into war expecting daisies and roses. They carry weapons and wear protective clothing. They travel in armoured vehicles prepared to withstand explosions and gunfire. Every day they prepare their bodies and their minds for the potential of battle, including injury, or death.

In our spiritual life, we probably won’t see physical conflicts living in the west. Many other nations do. Many other countries in the world are very dangerous places for Christians to live and serve Jesus Christ, but North America isn’t among those. We are generally left alone and allowed to worship God according to the dictates of our consciences. Not always, but mostly.

This can make it very easy to forget that we are in spiritual warfare, and that makes it very easy to forget to clothe ourselves in the necessary armour of God.

When you sit down for your sacred time (hopefully every day), you are engaging in battle. You are submitting yourself to the Captain of heaven’s armies, God Almighty, and declaring to the Adversary that you are against him. When you open those pages of the holy Word of God, you’re not just reading a book. It should be a time of allowing God to dress you in the armour you need to fight against enemies you can’t even see.

This is why this time so so crucial. We go into battle every single day. Something is better than nothing, but our highest aim should never be just the bare minimum. A soldier going into an active war zone wouldn’t just wing it. He or she would dress for the dangers they face every time they face them – not once or twice a week, not for a few minutes here and there, but always.

Bible Example

Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

Paul wasn’t talking about a physical fight, though he did face many physical conflicts. He was stoned, beaten, scourged, and shipwrecked. He had physical affliction in abundance, probably more than anyone reading these words. But his focus, even so, was still primarily upon the spiritual conflict. This is why in Ephesians 6, Paul lays out the armour that every Christian should be putting on daily, and these are the tools we’re going to be considering next.

Spiritual Tools

“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…” (Ephesians 6:14-18).

#1. Belt of Truth

The KJV Bible has some terms in it that are not used very commonly anymore, so let me explain this one a bit in the technical first. In the day that the Bible was written, men and women wore garments that would have gone down to their feet. Obviously, this would make physical activity a challenge. So, men would have a belt around their waist (loins) into which they could tuck the hem of their garments to keep their feet free and mobile.

Paul here is comparing God’s Truth to this belt. God’s Truth secures all the rest of our armour and enables us to obey what we read in our sacred time with Him.

#2. Breastplate of Righteousness

A breastplate is a piece of protective armour that was used to keep the vital organs of the soldier safe. You could easily compare this to the bullet proof vest that a police officer or soldier wears today. It goes on overtop of everything else and keeps us secure.

However, we do not have righteousness of our own. We are righteous in Christ and it’s His righteousness that protects us from evil.

#3. Shoes of the Gospel of Peace

Now, I’m a gal who loves shoes and I used to have quite the collection! But the emphasis here is not the style or colour or season, but what the shoes do for the wearer. They’re there to protect the feet of the person marching under the banner of the Lord of hosts. Imagine marching into battle and you step on a sharp rock or some other thing that injures you. It would be difficult to charge the enemy if you can’t walk!

As we “march” out to share the gospel of peace, we need to make sure that our feet are protected against those little injuring things that the Adversary lays in our path.

#4. Shield of Faith

This shield is so crucial to the daily battles we face. “Faith, as receiving Christ and the benefits of redemption, so deriving grace from him, is like a shield, a sort of universal defence.” {Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible} Your breastplate is limited to one specific area of your body, but your shield can be turned to face wherever the attack is coming from. Without that shield of faith, we’re vulnerable to those doubtful thoughts the Adversary whispers into our minds that come out in faithless living. The Bible tells us that we can’t please God apart from faith (Hebrews 11:6) and John Yates said it well when he wrote the lyrics for the hymn, Faith is the Victory (emphasis added) –

By faith, they like a whirlwind’s breath, swept on o’er every field;
The faith by which they conquered death is still our shining shield.

#5. Helmet of Salvation

Where do you wear a helmet? That’s not a trick question – on your head, of course.

But why would you need to have a helmet of salvation, specifically? Matthew Henry puts it well in his commentary when he says, “A good hope of salvation, well founded and well built, will both purify the soul and keep it from being defiled by Satan, and it will comfort the soul and keep it from being troubled and tormented by Satan.” A helmet protects our heads physically, but this helmet is specifically geared to protect our minds. To keep us from despair because we know that our hope is in the promises of God.

#6. Sword of the Spirit (see also Hebrews 4:12)

The Word of God is also called the “sword of the Spirit”, and Hebrews 4 tells us that it is sharper than any two-edged sword. It pierces deeply every time, bringing conviction that shows us not just whether our actions are good or bad, but down to our thoughts and intentions. It divides down to the heart level and reveals truths that we are otherwise blind to.

This sword isn’t just to go on the offensive with, but to turn on ourselves. It shows us our own failings and sinfulness so that we can repent, be forgiven, and move forward with the confidence that we are right with God. It empowers us to act in obedience because we know that we are on His side.

#7. Prayer

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer…” (Romans 12:12).

All of our other tools are wonderful and needful, of course. But prayer is the power behind them. Unless we submit ourselves to God and prayerfully enter the battlefield with the full understanding that we are powerless without Him, even having all the other tools prepared won’t help us.

Why do I need this armour?

Well, Paul, by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, tells us why!

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rules of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-13).

It’s not a physical fight we’re engaging in. We can’t see our enemies or their weapons, but they can certainly see us. And our Adversary has had thousands of years of practice, learning all about humans and how to defeat us. If we rely only on what makes sense to us, we will be defeated every time.

Read and take to heart these words of a classic old hymn, written by C. Barny Robertson, George Duffield, & George J. Webb.

Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus!

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
Ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high his royal banner,
It must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory
His army shall he lead,
Till every foe is vanquished,
And Christ is Lord indeed.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
Stand in his strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you,
Ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the gospel armor,
Each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger,
Be never wanting there.

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