The Whole Armor

The Whole Armor

Paul says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God…”

The Whole Armor of God

  • How many of you know what God has Armor?
    • In Isaiah 59, it says “He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head;”
    • Apparently, though, God’s armor, is something the we can actually put on.
    • It’s like Paul is saying, “dress yourselves like God does”
  • What’s the purpose of armor?
    • To protect the body from the enemy
  • Paul says put on the whole armor of God.
    • Don’t just put on a little bit of it. God’s got a full set for you for a reason.
    • And, you know, don’t you, that a football player doesn’t walk on the field with his shoulder pads, but no helmet. Unless he’s crazy of course.


  • Ok, but why are we suiting up?
    • “Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
  • What in the world is a wile?
    • Some of you are like, “this sermon is taking a wile”…
    • Apparently that word “wile” means “a trick, artifice, or stratagem meant to fool, trap, or entice”
    • That’s a pretty perfect word to describe Satan’s tactics– so I can imagine why the bible translators used it!
  • The point of this whole section of scripture from Ephesians chapter 6 about putting on the whole armor of God is “so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil”
  • Now, you might be someone who says, when I see suffering, I just see sickness, and injustice, and abuse of power. I don’t see any of the devil’s wiles.
    • Well, it seems that the devil’s tricks are not something that we will see with our 5 human senses, but only with your spiritual senses. These are things that must be spiritual discerned.
    • “For our struggle,” he says, “is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

A Spiritual Realm

What is he talking about?

  • Remember part of what we do at baptism is to renounce the “spiritual forces of wickedness.” That’s straight out of this passage.
  • Paul says there are “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places,” or “cosmic powers of this present darkness.”
  • Well, if you’re someone who wants to take the bible seriously, it’s very hard to read this passage and not come away with the understanding that there is indeed a spiritual side to reality, and that evil spirits, or evil spiritual forces, if that’s different, are very active in that realm.

The Reality of a Spiritual Conflict

  • Look at what C.S Lewis said:
    • Before you get too weirded out and think I’m off the deep end, now is a good time to return to that wonderful quote at the beginning of the C. S. Lewis’ book “The Screwtape Letters”– a book that you should all read ASAP if you haven’t already–
      • “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.”
  • In the worldview of the New Testament, there is a struggle between the kingdom of Satan and the kingdom of God for the hearts and lives of humanity.
    • But just because there is a struggle, or a war, doesn’t mean that the forces on either side are more of less equally matched.
      • This war is one where God’s victory is assured.
      • On the cross, in taking your sin and mine on himself, Jesus won the victory.
      • Colossians 2:14 says that Jesus “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in [the cross].”
      • So the devil and his minions defeated, in a sense, but they are not yet destroyed. They want to cause a ruckus on their way down. But when Christ returns, he will fully implement the victory that he has already won.

People in between the times

  • We’re like the people in World War II living between D Day and VE day. When the beaches of normandy were stormed, that was the beginning of the end of the war. But the victory didn’t make it’s way to all of the theaters of the war until nearly 11 months later, on Victory in Europe day, or VE day.
  • The world is waiting for its VE day. Until that time, humans are still participating in the devil’s schemes– doing evil, in other words. And the struggle continues.

The reality that our primary struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh is amazing. Many of the struggles that we face, especially as it concerns the advance of the good news of Christ, are just symptoms that stem from a deeper spiritual struggle that is going on.

The Evil One doesn’t want you to know that his demise is sure and your victory is secure in Jesus. He doesn’t want to you to live out of your victory in Christ. He wants to trick you. He wants to draw you into using his tactics rather than God’s tactics.

So what is our role in this struggle? So what do you have to do?

  • Paul says we’ve got to get armored up!
    • Paul’s not writing this letter to a select few, but to all the Christians in the city of Ephesus.

You’re not fighting a flesh-and-blood battle. Your physical weapons defenses and weapons do no good here. Paul says, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” You need the whole armor because wherever it is that you’re not armored– that’s where you’re going to get attacked. The devil is not a nice guy. He’ll hit you where it hurts.

This works at the personal level and at the level of the whole church.

  • On a personal level, you don’t want to lose the spiritual ground that you’ve gained. If you’ve been growing up in Christ, it’s a safe bet that the devil is going to want to cut you down by any means necessary– temptation, sickness, gossip… and so on.
  • As a church, if God is using our ministries to advance the kingdom of God, then the kingdom of darkness is going to want to push back.
    • We’re starting our Fall Alpha course one month from today. We’ve got to get armored up for that.
  • Paul says that by putting on the whole armor of God, we will be able to stand firm. We won’t give up any of the territory that we’ve gained.

“Stand therefore,” he says, “and fasten the belt of truth around your waist,”

The first item in our defenses is the belt of truth.

  • The evil one works by ways of lies and deception. Those are the weapons of his kingdom. People operating out of the kingdom of God only speak the truth.
  • If we operate out of lies and deception, then it’s practically an invitation for the enemy to come trample on us.
  • Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth and the life.” Putting on the belt of truth is like putting on Christ.

Next is the breastplate of righteousness.

  • We’ve got to be people who are using all the grace God will give us to pursue holiness.
  • As long as we continue to choose to sin willfully, our defenses are down for the devils attacks.
    • 1 John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness
    • So in the words of Hebrews 4:16, Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Then Paul says, “As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.”

  • “The gospel of peace”…The amazing subversiveness and irony of Paul’s image is that why the enemy wages war, the kingdom of God wages peace.
    • The gospel of peace announces that peace with God is available through Jesus Christ
    • The gospel of peace proclaims that reconciled human relationships are possible when those relationships come under the lordship of Christ
    • And most ironically, the gospel of peace is proclaimed to the enemies of God.
      • Romans 5:10 says that while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his son.  
    • We don’t advance God’s kingdom by human force, but by our feet carrying the good news behind enemy lines, so to speak.
      • We announce the good news to “those people”– people who have been cast out, left out, or just bottomed out. Or as Paul Simon said, “Blessed are the sat upon, Spat upon, Ratted on,”
  • Generally speaking, this evil spiritual forces work through people. And every time God snatches someone from Satan’s grip, the kingdom of God gains a footsoldier for the gospel of peace.

Paul goes on: “With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

  • The enemy is going to lob things at you that could cause you to doubt the basic truths of our faith. You might find questions popping into your mind like, “Is God really good all the time?” or you might say to yourself, “What I’ve done is much too great for God to forgive. Why would God want me?”
    • Spoiler alert: God really is good all the time, and the power of Jesus is greater than any sin.
  • Faith is a shield that quenches all these arrows and helps us to cling to the truth that God has proclaimed over us.

Then Paul says, “Take the helmet of salvation”

  • If you don’t have the hope of salvation– if you haven’t experienced the present component of salvation here and now– then you can be suited up however you like, but your most important part is unprotected.
  • But the assurance of salvation is like a helmet. Whatever the enemy throws at you, it can’t overcome the fact that your salvation is in Jesus.

And he says, “take up… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

  • There is only one overtly offensive weapon in our armor, and it’s the word of God, which Paul calls the sword of the Spirit.
  • The enemy has defenses too, and the advance of the kingdom of God requires the breaking of the enemy’s defenses.
    • Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10, “3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
  • The sword of the Spirit is the proclamation of the good news
  • We already have our shoes on, so we’re ready to go and proclaim the gospel, but we actually need to have a way to articulate the good news
    • In a few verses, Paul asks the Ephesians to pray for him so that when he speaks, “a message may be given” to him “to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.”
    • It’s not that Paul didn’t know the message, but what he needed was the Holy Spirit’s empowerment to proclaim the good news to particular people in particular situations.
    • I’ll hop right on what Paul says and ask for your prayers that I would boldly proclaim the good news.

This leads us to a close with the very related concept of prayer in general.

Paul says, “18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.”

I think Paul doesn’t continue the armor analogy with prayer because there just isn’t anything that works. I wonder if Paul were writing today, if he might say something like this:

Pray in the Spirit at all times. In so doing, you’ll be gaining intelligence on the enemies tactics. You’ll be deploying the air force– and the space force. You’ll be covering the church and its members in God’s forcefield of protection!

What does it mean to pray in the Spirit? Well, it’s a pretty common phrase in the NT actually. But Paul seems to be saying, “Pray the prayers that the Spirit inspires.”

We all know we should pray. But do you ever ask for the Spirit to breath life into your prayers, to help you know what to ask and how to ask it? I believe that the Spirit always answers prayers to help with prayer.

So my brothers and sisters, may you “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes,” may you see yourself as a soldier in the Kingdom of God, demolishing strongholds of the enemy, and may you pray in the Spirit at all times, that God’s church might again know the power of the Holy Spirit to transform hearts and lives for God’s glory. Amen.


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *