Monday, June 20, 2016

Get Your Shoes On (The Armor of God)

How is salvation like a helmet? I’ve heard many sermons about the armor of God. More often than not, emphasis is placed on what a helmet is rather than on the armor itself. Just as we aren’t battling flesh and blood, we aren’t actually wearing armor. There is value in knowing that a helmet protects the most valuable part of our body and we might point out that like a helmet, salvation keeps us alive, even if we have other injuries. But maybe the point of Ephesians 6:10-20 isn’t that spiritual things are like physical armor, but we are to prepare ourselves for battle.


When we stand in battle, we are to have truth. We are battling for hearts and minds. The enemy is lying to those we are trying to reach. When we speak the truth, the enemy is caught with his pants down. No lie can stand up against the truth. So, we go into battle with truth like a belt.


Of course none of us are completely righteous, but Jesus is our righteousness. Even so, one of Satan’s favor tactics is to point at Christians and say, “Look at them! They’re worse than you are.” But consider what happens when that lost soul we are battling for hears Satan say that but what the lost person sees is things that we are doing for the Lord. Our righteousness protects against the attack. Satan’s words bounce off of our chest, because the lost person, sees something better.

Readiness for the Gospel of Peace

When I was a kid, Dad had a rule that we couldn’t ride our bicycles unless we had shoes on. Even though I loved to go barefoot in the Summer, there were many times that I would wear my shoes, just so I would be prepared to ride my bicycle, without going back to the house to get my shoes. Of course, Dad’s reason for the rule was to protect my feet, and it’s not wrong to talk about soldiers needing shoes to protect one’s feet, but I think people miss the point on this. The point is that you need to keep your shoes on, so you’re ready to run into battle. But in this case, it is the “readiness of the Gospel of Peace.” Are you prepared to share the gospel with someone at a moment’s notice? Are you ready to run to a lost person to tell them about Jesus? If you aren’t, you’re like a soldier without his shoes on.


A shield is an offensive weapon, but primarily it is defensive, protecting from all kinds of attack. Faith, is believing that what God said is true. If we know that what God has said is true, then the lies that Satan throws at us extinguish very quickly. Jesus demonstrated this during his wilderness temptation. His response to Satan’s attacks was to put them out by going back to what the scripture says.


This one’s a headscratcher for me. Why does salvation come here in the list? So often, we think of salvation as being an event that takes us from being a non-Christian to a Christian, but that would imply it should be first. We might think it has something to do with the order a soldier would put on his armor, but wouldn’t he put on the helmet before he picked up his shield? But faith, salvation, and the word of God appear to be a sublist of things we are to take, while the others are things that we are to have in a state of readiness. Faith precedes salvation, so that may explain the order. But the hope of salvation gives us much the same confidence that a helmet gives us.

The Word of God

Our weapon, is the word of God. The rest of that armor serves only to protect us as we carry the word of God into battle. But I find interesting phrasing in Ephesians 6:17. It doesn’t say, “And take…the sword, which is the word of God.” Instead, it says, “And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” It isn’t our sword. We’re just the sword bearers. Our job is to carry the word of God to the world, but it is the Holy Spirit who wields it.


We don’t normally list prayer among the elements of the armor of God, since it doesn’t have an associated piece of armor, but it is in Ephesians 6:18-20 that we see what Paul is telling these armed Christians to do. He’s asking them to ask God with persistence on the behalf of all saints and for Paul in particular.

But notice what he doesn’t do. He doesn’t say, “Pray that the Lord will save people.” So often, that’s what we do. We think of a lost friend or family member and we say, “Lord, save this person.” Instead, Paul desires that they pray, “that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

That is what spiritual warfare looks like. Praying on the behalf of others, and boldly preaching the gospel in whatever situation we are in.

Get your shoes on. It’s time to go.