“Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” – Ephesians 6:13
“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:3
Whether or not we concur with the old saying that “clothes make the man,” we certainly can agree that military combat gear makes the soldier and determines his readiness and effectiveness. The apostle Paul, in the Bible verse above, urges Christians to put on the complete armor of God so that they are equipped to withstand spiritual warfare.
Most Bible scholars agree that Paul wrote Ephesians during his stay in Rome around 60 AD. It was a circular letter to churches in regions near the large pagan worship center in Ephesus. Paul helped spread the gospel in this thriving metropolis (now an archeological site on modern-day Turkey’s western coast). In Ephesians 4:1, he implored believers “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.”
Aware of intense cultural and spiritual challenges faced by Christians, Paul wanted believers to be prepared for spiritual warfare, and he used the symbolism of soldiers armed for battle. Paul was acutely aware of the garb Roman soldiers wore, because he was continually guarded by soldiers during his two-year house arrest in Rome. (Because of misrepresentations about him, Paul had been taken to Rome where he hoped Caesar would release him.)
Thus, Paul’s guidance for spiritual combat readiness for Christians took its cues from the gear of Roman soldiers. In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul’s metaphor of the full armor of God includes: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes for feet prepared with the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (the word of God). Completing the image of readiness, Paul emphasizes the necessity of “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication,” and doing so with alertness and perseverance (Ephesians 6:18).
Certainly, spiritual warfare remains a challenge for believers today, as it has been from Christianity’s early days. As of old, however, our God is faithful. And, Jesus Christ our Savior triumphantly declares, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NKJV).
Father God, we seek your power and might as we “cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light,” and as we also “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:12, 14), who is our Savior and victorious safeguard against the evil one! Amen.
Kay Henry is a columnist for The Claremore Progress. All Bible quotations are from “The Holy Bible, English Standard Version” (ESV), unless otherwise noted.