The following is a selection from my newly published book, The Life Jesus Made Possible: Embracing the Kingdom within our reach. Engaging in spiritual warfare is the unavoidable consequence of living on a fallen and broken planet informed by the reality of supernatural dark powers strategically at work to harm people and deter the advance of God’s Kingdom. Every believer has a commission to be battle ready!
When the apostle Paul instructed Christians regarding spiritual warfare, he gave them an emphatic exhortation meant to be taken seriously.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm. Therefore put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:12-13).
Each of the six pieces of armor Paul mentions are strategically designed to cover areas that are vulnerable to the “devil’s schemes” (v.11). In 2 Corinthians 2:11 Paul assures believers of the advantage we have because, “We are not unaware of his [Satan’s] schemes,” which are disclosed to us through the Word of God and by the Spirit of God. Therefore, as we put on all the spiritual armor (we cannot afford to pick and choose!), the One who knows the enemy provides everything we need to be victorious in spiritual warfare.
It’s important to note that this is the armor of God. God has made his armor available to the Christian warrior, and our responsibility is simply to put on what the Lord has provided. Through the years the Lord has taught me to put on the armor of God daily and utilize my spiritual weaponry in order to be effective in advancing God’s Kingdom.
The Meaning and Purpose of the Full Armor of God
The belt of truth speaks of three things. First, it is a call to commit to knowing the Word of God. The Scripture is our God-breathed battle manual, and it is meant to thoroughly equip us for every good work. If Jesus used the Word of God to combat the devil, we must know and use the truth of God’s Word as well. Secondly, the belt is a call to truthfulness. This speaks of our heart integrity, as the enemy can easily gain the advantage when there is hypocrisy. This is not referring to perfectionism, but simple honesty before God and man. And thirdly, to tighten our belt, we must exhale anything we have believed that is not God’s truth, and inhale only what the Lord says, i.e., that we are totally known and loved by him, that he is always with us, and that as our All-Sufficient God he will provide all we need.
The breastplate of righteousness covers the life center, or heart, of the Christian. This means our “right standing” with God is a gracious gift received by faith, and, among other things, the righteousness of Christ enables redeemed mankind to minister “in Jesus’ name”. Unfortunately, the devil knows this all too well; therefore, he consistently seeks to accuse and condemn the saints. His tactic is to get the believer to look inwardly and become fixated on his or her weaknesses and failures. This inward distraction can cause us to believe we are not worthy to stand before God as a son or daughter, much less as a minister of Christ—which quickly takes us out of the battle! Putting on the breastplate of righteousness is a call to remember that we have been made worthy by God’s grace, and we must rely wholly on the fact that our “right” to minister is a gift from God, not a reward for being good.
The Christian soldier must also have his or her feet fitted for readiness with the gospel of peace. An effective soldier is one who is always ready for battle, remembering that the enemy doesn’t take vacations. We must be prepared for the attacks that come unannounced, as well as any unexpected opportunities to advance the Kingdom. This spiritual mobility is gained as we walk daily in the Gospel of peace, enjoying peace with God, with others, and with ourselves. Then we will be spiritually flexible; ready to walk securely wherever the Lord takes us.
The shield of faith is provided to protect the soldier from the enemy’s long-distance tactics during spiritual warfare. The devil would rather weaken and defeat us from a distance than face us head on. He hurls flaming missiles at us that include doubt, deception, disbelief, discouragement, accusation, fear, and temptation. These are designed to take our eyes off the Lord and what he has instructed us to do, as the victory belongs to those who “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Therefore, considering this scheme, we must continually fix our eyes on Jesus and act in response to his commands—using our shield to protect us from any distracting arrows.
Paul himself defines the helmet of salvation as the Christian’s hope. Soldiers of Christ must daily rely upon the fact that they are securely saved—they belong to Jesus forever—and that nothing, not even demonic rulers, possess the power to separate them from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (see Romans 8:38-39). Being sure about tomorrow, we are free to live courageously today, with our minds protected by the truth that we are God’s children… forever!
The sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon. The soldier of Christ is reminded that the sword that overcomes the enemy is the Word of God. A verse of Martin Luther’s famous hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, makes this point in a marvelous way:
And tho’ this world, with Devil’s filled,
Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear, for God hath willed
truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
The enemy is not threatened by our words, but only by the Word of God. While the “belt of truth” may include our commitment to gain a general knowledge of the Scripture, the “sword of the Spirit” refers to being able to apply specific Scriptural truths to a specific situation as directed by the Holy Spirit. An excellent example of this is when Jesus used the Word of God to overcome Satan in the desert by saying, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’’.
An Armor Prayer
It is significant to note that directly following the exhortation to “put on the full armor of God,” we are told to pray, because the armor of God and the ministry of prayer go hand in hand. The following is a suggested prayer that I have written for putting on the full armor of God:
“Dear Lord, I quiet myself before You… You who are my Fortress and Peace in the midst of the battle. As I go forth today in your strength, I praise and thank you that you are in me, and you go everywhere with me, making me strong by your mighty power. Please anoint me afresh with your awesome Spirit. Thank you for your armor, which you have given me for my victory. I praise you Lord that you have provided me with what I need to stand fast against the devil’s schemes. I now take up each piece and pray it on.
I take up the belt of truth and buckle it around me. I am so thankful for the Word of God I have prayerfully read today. Please renew my mind and instruct my heart with it for your glory. Today I will walk according to the Truth, for I know that on that path is real freedom. I will also walk in truthfulness. I now confess and repent of any hypocrisy. I will seek to live truthfully before you and others.
I put on the breastplate of righteousness. Once again, I rely on the fact that you have covered me with your righteousness, and I do not go forth today because I am worthy in myself. You are my righteousness, and you have made me worthy to worship and represent you by grace. I know I am your beloved, and upon me your favor graciously rests.
I now apply the Gospel of peace in order that my feet are fitted for readiness. I want to be ready for the unannounced attacks of the enemy, as well as the unannounced opportunities to minister in Jesus’ name. Show me Lord if there are ways in which I am not at peace with you, with others, or myself. I now apply the Gospel as needed (confession, forgiveness, casting cares upon the Lord, etc.).
I take up the shield of faith. Lord, as I move into this day, I fix my eyes upon you. I will “walk by faith and not by sight.” I will be led and influenced by you and not the flaming arrows of the enemy. When the enemy sends his missiles of doubt, discouragement, disbelief, accusation, fear, or temptation—I will hide myself in you.
I put on the helmet of salvation. Before I go into battle, I renew my mind in the truth that I am securely saved, that I belong to you forever, and that even demonic rulers do not possess the power “to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus my Lord.” Knowing I am eternally anchored to you, Lord, I am free to courageously obey you today.
Finally, I take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Holy Spirit, guide me today in speaking forth and applying your Truth as needed in order to advance your Kingdom and dethrone your enemy. I want to walk and minister in the light of your written and prophetic Word. Under your anointing, I will unsheathe the Sword and apply specific Scriptural truth to specific situations as you direct me by your Spirit.
I rise now and go forth in the power of your name and in the comfort of your loving presence, for your glory and fame. Amen.”
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