March 16, 2019

The Whole Armor of God

I preached last week on the need for Christians to armor up against the challenges of life and to protect their hearts. Last week's main scripture was from the Proverbs. There are plenty of scriptures that speak to the importance of protecting ourselves, but this one particularly stood out to me this time.

23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Proverbs 4:23

One of the natural references when addressing our need for self-protection is The Whole Armor of God. I didn't have enough time to go deep into it during that sermon, so this week it gets its own time in the spotlight.

When reviewing the passage in entirety, I was struck by how logically it was organized. Now, this is the writing of the Apostle Paul we're talking about, so a certain minimum level of awesomeness should be assumed, but here the organization was so on point that it leaped out at me. As a computer programmer by training, I succeed or fail by how I logically arrange the internal structure of my computer programs, so I recognize good organization and dependency management when I see it.

The nine verses in the passage are divided into five logical segments. Each addresses the next step in the explanation that Paul is delivering to us.

  • Principle
  • Instruction
  • Rationale
  • What to do
  • How to do it

Everything starts with a principle. Life is composed of principles. Proverbs 29:18 admonishes us that without a vision (which I like to look at as very large life principles) the people will perish. Principles give us direction and boundaries in our lives. Next we get an instruction, so that we know at the larger level what we are to do or achieve. Ideally the instruction will constructively fulfill the primary principle that we were given. All instructions should come with an explanation of their rationale, so we know why we are being asked to do something. With these important explanations covered, we now receive direction on what, exactly, to do. This is directly followed by the final point, the explanation of how to do what we have been asked.

I'll look at each of these logical groupings to show how they build upon each other.

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Ephesians 6:10

The Lord calls on us to be strong and in his power. That's the principle we are to operate under here, because all strength and power comes from the Lord. The good news (not that Good News, but still very good) is that the Lord is willing to supply it to us.

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

Ephesians 6:11

Our instruction is that we wear the whole armor of God. The Lord desires to give us protection in our warfare. The armor is a full set, as none of us know where the next attack from the enemy will come. The armor is able to protect us from all of the wiles and attacks of the enemy. If we wear all of it, it will protect us. We are responsible for any gaps in our armor.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 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 6:12-13

Why do we have to wear this armor? What is the Lord's rationale for our instruction to armor up? Because we are in a war and the Lord desires that we live through it. There is nothing any side in a war appreciates more than their enemy arriving unprepared and undefended. We have a formidable enemy, so we must not underestimate them. Bring your A-game everyday and assume that your enemy is studying you and improving every day also. Remember, our enemy is evil but not stupid. While the army of the Lord is going to win, each of us in that army must do everything we can to make it through all of the battles, so that we can stand victorious with Christ at the end.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Ephesians 6:14-17

What must we do? We must fight and resist the devil, because he fights and resists us. The first thing we must do is stand (no cowering) and wrap ourselves with truth and righteousness. Cover that core: loins (pelvis) and chest (torso). Care for your feet, as they give you balance and an injury there will prevent your forward progress. The preparation of the gospel is the study that you have done to understand the Word of God. Never send new recruits into battle, as they generally don't last long. A shield helps against both front and flank attacks. Sometimes the enemy will attack you from directly in front, but usually not. The darts referred to here are either spears or arrows. These are distance weapons. Our enemy does not want to have to get close to us to fight. The shield allows us to withstand these attacks. The helmet of salvation protects our head, the most vulnerable part of our anatomy. Our mind is an important part of our salvation. The final piece of the whole armor of God is the sword of the Spirit. A sword is both an attacking and a defensive item. With it, we can ward off blows, while also being able to deliver them. It's not impossible to fight without a sword, but it is so much more difficult, that for most of us it might as well be.

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Ephesians 6:18

So, how do we do all of these things that we have been asked to do? How do we fight in the Spirit? By prayer! We pray in the Spirit and we are careful and diligent. This should not surprise us. Our fights are spiritual. They are in the Spirit, against spiritual opponents, our armor is spiritual, our weapon is spiritual and so every aspect of our combat is spiritual.

Tags: Church Writings