Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
(Eph 6:11. NIV) *Read from Verse 10-18
Apostle Paul must have known a thing or two about soldiering or what soldiers go through as they serve out their duties. After all he was chained to one of the Roman soldiers while he was incarcerated awaiting trial by Caesar. He must have observed them very keenly. That is why he keeps referring to them often in the bible; exhorting us to be good soldiers of Christ, and to endure hardship like them. In this months’ scripture he is using another word used in the military, in urging us to put on the full armor of God. Armor is something that was used by the armies of the past as a protective metal vest, helmet and leg coverings to prevent injury while engaged in battle. Modern day armies also have armor playing a big part of warfare, though with somewhat different methods of application.
A SOLDIERS’ FULL ARMOR.
Having been a soldier for twelve years myself, I can relate very well with what the apostle is saying. Soldiers go through a great deal of transformation while in training. For a sane man to be ordered to charge into a hail of bullets and he does so, takes an awesome amount of drilling, obedience and submission to authority. Orders however stupid are taken without question. A soldier too must have a mode of dressing that defines him or her as different from civilians. There are several dress codes for soldiers;
a) Ordinary Working Uniform. Worn while engaged in normal work and may be designed to suit the prevailing climatic condition. May or may not include weapons and ammunition.
b) Ceremonial Dress Uniform. Worn during those colorful parades we see often during national days. May includes weapons for display but with no ammunition.
c) Full Combat Gear or Battle Dress. Worn in wartime or when on very high state of alert, and comes complete with an assortment of weapons and live ammunition.
I believe that the apostle Paul here was referring to the battle type of dress while speaking to the Ephesians saints. I too will limit my topic to this type of armor in this message. Why did Paul request the Ephesians believers to put on full armor? What was this armor like? What is the present day significance for us as Christian believers? And how can we apply this divine truth to our lives?
For the Roman soldier, armor included the following;
i) Helmet. Covered the head and some parts of the face. Any blow to the head would result in minimal or no injury.
ii) Breastplate. Worn more or less like the modern day bullet-proof vest and was designed to stop any blow to the chest, back or sides from causing serious injury.
iii) Belt. Worn around the waist to hold the dress together as well as hook you sword’s scabbard, bugle and other items carried by a soldier.
iv) Shoes. Worn on the feet to protect from injuries and had high angles or metal coverings; some reaching the knees.
v) Shield. Carried in one hand to ward off any arrows, spear thrusts or blows aimed by an enemy soldier.
vi) Sword: Held in one hand as a double edged weapon used for defense and as well as for offense.
In the modern soldiers’ kit, apart from slight variances, the principles are the same. Where a shield was used, you may find Radar, Armored Personnel Carriers or Bunkers. For a Breastplate, you will find the bullet-proof vest and other types of deflectors. The shoes, helmet, belt are still in use today. These are physical or what the bible calls carnal weapons.
THE CHRISTIANS’ FULL ARMOR
The weapons and dress for a Christian(soldier fo Christ) are very different from those described above. Again Paul writing to Corinthians has this to say concerning believers’ weapons;
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Cor 10:3-4 NIV).
If you have been confronted by a situation or a person, and you decide to sort it out in a physical fight, then you as a Christian is in clear violation of this teaching. You have lost the war even if you manage to rearrange the face of your opponent! Ours is a war waged against spiritual forces or powers of darkness in high places, who themselves manipulate people. So stop seeing that person as the enemy. See the spirit of Satan operating behind him or her. That is why Jesus one fine day rebukes Peter and tells him, ’Get behind me Satan!’ He was addressing the spirit behind Peter’s arguments. Get armed today with these divine weapons;
a) Belt of TRUTH: A soldier without a belt can as well stay home. The belt is not just to hold the trouser and shirt in place as in ordinary belts. These are special belts wit hooks and clasps. It is the center of gravity for a battlefront soldier. It holds the webbing; and all the gear and backpacks are strapped onto it. It also holds the bullet pouches, water, knife, bayonet, and many other essentials. It is central to a soldier’s kit. Truth is equated to a belt because a lier cannot claim to be a Christian. Lies belong to the devil and so are all liars.
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44 NIV).
A Christian who lies has lost the war before it begins. Just as the belt holds everything in place for a soldier, truth holds everything in place for the Christian believer. It is the glue that keeps the Christian together. The inevitable question that I get often is; what if it is a matter of life and death? My answer to this is: God is not a lier when He says that in every trial He will make a way of escape. Secondly, death to the believer is gain. If you lie because it is a death and life situation, then it means you can equally commit other sins when faced with difficulties! The saints who resisted sinful kings paid with their lives and many others got imprisoned. Are we to be any different? Jesus promises us all things in this earth including persecutions! This sometimes leads to death! Hard to hear, huh? It is the Truth!
b) Breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS: A breastplate as mentioned is worn the way a bullet proof vest is worn. It protects the soldier from being wounded where vital organs are and it preserves life where light weapons are in use. The bible says that;
“In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality.” (Prov 12:28 NIV).
This word alone is used 239 times in the NIV bible. God is righteous and we as believers are His righteousness. A nation is exalted because of the righteous, not because of the wicked. A Christian who chooses to be wicked is not on God’s side and is headed for destruction, for that is the way for all those who are unrighteous.
“For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psa 1:6 NIV)
c) Feet fitted with the GOSPEL of PEACE: Just imagine a barefoot soldier trying to dash a cross a hot rocky or thorny desert; impossible! But with the right type of shoes, he is well able to traverse any terrain. For the Christian, the shoe is the gospel of peace. Unfortunately the some early evangelizers of the gospel took up the sword and went out crusading against the unbelieving world. They subjected masses to convert upon pain of death. Compare them with the modern missionaries who apart from the gospel, they provide basic necessities like medicines, schools, water etc to the un-reached. You can see the difference and meaning of this scripture. You are called to be at peace with all people.
“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy;…” (Heb 12:14a NIV).
A garrulous Christian worker will only take strive and pain wherever he or she evangelizes. You and I as believers of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, ought to manifest peace everywhere we go or work.
d) Shield of FAITH: A shield is used to deflect or stop missiles aimed at a soldier. It forms a cover from bullets or bombs. In the old days it was used to stop arrows, spears, swords and other hurled weapons from reaching the body of the soldier. Faith is equated to a shield because when doubts, fear and indecisiveness fly at you, defeat is sure unless one stands in faith. A person full of faith is well able to surmount every opposition and attacks from Satan and his demons, which are referred to as flaming or fiery arrows. You may be under attack even as you read this journal. My word for you is; stand firm holding on to that shield of Faith for dear life. Submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee! It takes faith to achieve victory.
e) Helmet of SALVATION: Anyone outside Christ is just like a soldier in a battle field without a helmet. An un-covered head risks being hit! An injured head cannot think well. Salvation through Christ is the only answer to being protected. Unfortunately many Christians hide their salvation (helmets) because, they fear human beings. This is very sad indeed. A new employee or student finding themselves in new territory fails to affirm their faith just because they are afraid of what colleagues would say. Before long they are swept away in the currents of peer pressure and they start doing things that they would normally consider as sinful or un-Christian. Just as an helmet is seen and is vital to the survival of a soldier in war, your salvation in Christ ought to be visible at all times. It protects you from attacks and often than not, acts as a deterrent to any attack. I sure would never wish to butt heads with a helmeted soldier. Some demons flee just by seeing your helmet of salvation. This is a good reason to keep it on always. Satan is after your head, remember the it holds the brain as well as all the five senses. Please get salvation if you haven’t gotten it yet. Good morals etc; is no substitute for this divine gift. It has to be accepted freely and personally. Just like soldiers in war cannot share an helmet; my salvation cannot be yours. So it is never a question of having parents who are leaders in church! Get smart and get your own salvation.
f) Sword of the Spirit which is the WORD of God: A soldier can dress in full combat gear, put on war paint and look as fearsome as he could. But without a weapon he is just as good as a toothless barking dog. He cannot be effective in battle. The Word of God is like a loaded assault rifle to the modern soldier or sword, battle axe, bow and arrows to the Roman soldiers of Paul’s era. The Bible is the sword of the Spirit. Get to read the Word of God often and apply it to your situations. Another tragic thing is that Christians wait for someone else to read the bible for them and preach to them! This too is like a person who is dressed to look like a soldier complete with a weapon that they know not how to use! An effective soldier knows his weapons well. Most importantly he knows which ones to use in each and every situation. He trains often on all weapons just to be ready. He uses the weapon for both offensive and defensive warfare. A good and well trained Christian should know what word to use and when to use it. As it is the case with newly recruited soldiers, new converts or a believer who embarks to read the bible seriously soon discovers that it is hard to continue, but as they consistently discipline themselves they soon begin to enjoy the routine and become quite good at it over a period of time. Good soldiers are disciplined and so should soldiers of Christ.
A soldier stands his ground in a battle, until and unless the commander gives the order to withdraw or stand down, a soldier cannot afford to relax or make a mistake while at the war zone because it can lead to injury or death. An alert soldier on the prowl or sentry will take on any enemy that approaches their position quickly. They will also alert colleagues of approaching danger and keep the commander briefed always. Verse 18 talks of this quite well. As Christians; our commander Jesus Christ has given the order to reach the hurting world. Our match will only stop upon His second coming. So put on that Armor – daily; and stand your ground against the onslaught directed at you from hell.
PRAYER: Father, Thank you for this month’s topic. Lord, help us to put on the full armor that you have provided for us. Grant us the grace to stand our ground against all the plans of Satan and his demons. Above all teach us how to use our weapons effectively so that we can overcome the enemy of our souls. Help us remember to put on the full armor daily. In Jesus name we pray.