Every culture accepts the reality of some type of spiritual world beyond our physical senses. The Bible is the correct source to learn about this reality and as we’ve drawn back the curtain on the angelic world, we’ve learned that a battle is underway for the hearts of mankind.
So—what exactly is our role in this battle? Do we sit on the sidelines, cheering for angels and hoping for the best? No, we’ve been called to engage in this war! Fortunately, we’re not sent into battle ill-equipped; God has designed an entire suit of armor which will protect us and enable us to defend ourselves and defeat our spiritual enemy.
THE BELT OF TRUTH
“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth” (Ephesians 6:14a).
Wisdom International exists because we believe the Bible is the only source of divine truth. That’s why I teach the Bible passage by passage, and verse by verse, not skipping over uncomfortable passages or focusing on feel-good topics. True preaching isn’t simply interested in passing along information, but personal transformation. As A.W. Tozer used to say, “We are not delivering suggestions, but ultimatums.”
The belt worn by Roman soldiers was the central piece in his uniform—connecting the other pieces of armor through loops, or buckles or clamps. The belt literally held everything in place. Likewise, the truth of God’s word anchors and connects everything else in our lives.
THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
“. . .and having put on the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14b).
The breastplate of a Roman soldier covered him from the bottom of his neck to his upper thigh. The purpose of the breastplate was to protect vital organs, most importantly the heart.
The heart of the Christian is pictured here as the vital organ, protected by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, as we resist the enemy daily, our lives are marked by the pursuit of righteousness through obedience to Jesus.
We do not wage war by killing, capturing, or binding demons. We wage war by resisting temptation and saturating our minds and hearts with God’s truth.
THE SHOES OF GOOD NEWS
“…and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15).
Do you know why Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great were able to conquer the world? Because of their shoes! These thick boots were a unique invention, enabling them to accomplish long marches, at rapid speed, over difficult ground and in all kinds of weather.
Another unique invention was the cleats on the soles; the shoes of Roman soldiers were studded with sharp pieces of metal, similar to the cleats athletes wear today. These studs provided traction as the soldiers climbed, moved forward and advanced on their mission.
For the Christian soldier, the gospel provides both balance for our personal lives and traction to progress forward with the gospel. We advance with the gospel— against the resistance of spiritual enemies and wicked worldviews— proclaiming the truth and growing the ranks of the army of God with new recruits—new lives dedicated to living for God.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH
“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16).
The word for shield here is thyreos, and this was a very unique defense for the Roman army. The thyreos was four feet tall and two feet wide, giving the soldier full body protection if they crouched down behind it. It also featured a locking mechanism, so that an entire line of soldiers could lock their shields together, creating an impenetrable wall of protection for the advancing mass of troops.
Prior to battle, a soldier soaked the leather straps on his shield with water, so the water could extinguish any flaming arrows. They also polished the bronze plate attached to the center of the shield, reflecting the light of the sun into the eyes of their enemy.
Our faith dampens the flaming arrows of demons as they attack us, and our faith shines the light of the Son of God into a dark world.
THE HELMET OF SALVATION
“…And take the helmet of salvation” (Ephesians 6:17a).
Salvation in this verse does not mean being saved; in fact, if you’re in the army of the Lord, you are already saved.
Salvation is described in Scripture in three dimensions: first, we were justified before God through the death of Jesus when we received His gift of salvation. We are being sanctified, where the Lord daily saves us, in a sense, from our own sinful desires; and third, we will one day be glorified, which is our future salvation, with immortal bodies designed to live in heaven forever in the presence of God.
THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
“…And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17b).
The sword is the only offensive weapon Paul mentions in this passage, and it is the very Word of God.
Remember when Jesus journeyed alone into the wilderness and was tempted by Satan? With each temptation, the Lord responded by quoting Scripture. And then what happened? “Then the devil left him” (Matthew 4:11a). Jesus won a victory on that battlefield. Satan retreated!
It is with the Word of God that we gain ground; and don’t ever forget that the army of God is advancing. Our strategy is an offensive one: to take ground from Satan and to rescue humans from the clutches of Satan’s deception, leading them into the freedom and joy of the glorious—and ultimately victorious—Kingdom of Christ!