Expectantly, Emily looked over the shoulder of her precious grandchild doing a connect-the-dots picture in a coloring book. The seemingly random dots held such mystery. What was hidden from her on this page? Amazingly though, as her grandchild drew, a figure began to take form. Now Emily could clearly see a mama bird high in a tree feeding her new babies a worm. Studying the significance of Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:13-17 about the armor of God is a lot like experiencing a spiritual connect-the-dots picture. Appropriating each piece of the armor in prayer is an exercise which will help you to internalize who you now are in Christ.
The way you believe matters.
Correct assumptions about Satan are critical because the way you believe affects the way you live. When you emotionally understand that your true enemy is not flesh and blood, it will revolutionize your life and protect you from engaging in needless conflicts.
Consider what Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 16:21-23.
21) From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22) Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23) But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” ESV
Why did Jesus say, “Get behind me Satan!” to Peter? Didn’t Peter love Jesus? Wasn’t he one of the twelve disciples? Yes. But, Peter set his mind on the things of man and this alliance set him up to temporarily serve the wrong master. Jesus was never confused about who his true foe was in this incident. Sadly, Peter had unknowingly become a puppet in one of the Devil’s schemes.
How do you fight a spiritual adversary?
In 2 Cor. 10:3-5, Paul explains that we can’t use worldly weapons against a spiritual enemy. This means your guns, knives or nuclear weapons will do nothing in a real spiritual conflict. Wit, sarcasm, and comebacks are just as fruitless when deployed in a war of words
Your greatest offense is the defense of your new identity.
You fight by standing in your new position “in Christ”. You are a new creature, created for God’s glory and this is the ground you need to protect. The evil one wants you to forget who and whose you are. Look in depth at the spiritual weapons of war given in Ephesians 6:13-17.
13) 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. 14) Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15) and, as shoes for your feet having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16) In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17) and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, ESV
Taking up this armor will remind you that you are hidden in Christ.
1) Jesus is the truth (John 14:6).
When you metaphorically place this belt of truth around your waist, you put on Jesus, because the truth is a person. Acknowledging Jesus is the truth will begin your liberation from the deceptive work of the evil one (John 8:31-32).
2) Jesus is your righteousness (Philippians 3:9).
Accept the breastplate of righteousness that is imparted to you in Christ. Don’t seek a righteousness of your own. Satan loves to sing to you that classic Linda Ronstadt song, “You’re no good, you’re no good, you’re no good, baby you’re no good.” Don’t try to defend yourself. It is an ancient spiritual trap. Amazingly, because of Jesus you are already declared righteous no matter what you have done or will do (Romans 3:21-24, 5:19, Hebrews 9:24-28).
3) Jesus is your peace (Ephesians 2:14).
Your thinking used to be at war with God, but Jesus won your positional peace. The emphasis with this defensive weapon is the readiness that comes with the gospel of peace. You are now at peace with God. You may not emotionally feel you are equipped for conflict, but the gospel of peace supplies a timely readiness for all of God’s assignments. During the fog of war cling to this truth, Jesus is your peace.
4) Jesus is the object of your faith (Galatians 2:16).
Faith is not positive thinking. Your faith is only as good as whom you put your trust in, so trust in Jesus. The shield of faith has the ability to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the enemy. Over time this shield grows larger as you increase your courageous trust. Your faith shield can also be joined with other believers to defend a larger area. For example, a group of moms who gather to pray for their children’s school are linking their shields of faith together and providing a larger sphere of prayer cover than they could alone.
5) Jesus is the source of salvation (Acts 4:11-12).
There is no other name in heaven or on earth given whereby men and women, boys and girls can be saved. Without Christ’s helmet of salvation your thinking can continue to be manipulated by the enemy. Jesus is the perfect sacrifice, so now you can desire that God will be glorified in your thinking (Hebrews 10:1-14).
6) Jesus is the Word (John 1:1).
With this final piece you can treasure the link between this armor and the truth about who and whose you are. Two different Greek words are translated “word” in our English Bibles, Logos and Rhema. Jesus is the Word from before “deep time”, the Logos (John 1:1). The sword of the Spirit, the Rhema, is the spoken word (Ephesians 6:17). God’s spoken word can be used for a defensive or an offensive purpose. A sword is a very heavy weapon to lift, so learning to use this weapon with skill will be a lifelong pursuit. Ask God to make you an “Excalibur Swordsman” who rightly uses the word of truth. These are the spiritual weapons you will need to stand in your new identity. It is time to recognize your true spiritual enemy is working hard to deceive and keep you from living out Christ’s forgiveness.
Praying the armor of God is not a chore to add to an exhausting spiritual to-do list. Instead, see it as something vital you can know in your core every time you face a spiritual conflict. If you belong to Christ the weapons listed in Ephesians 6:13-17 are yours. But, until you can emotionally internalize these truths this prayer may help you connect the dots and seek God.
I desire to stand strong in you. I bring before you those people I have mistakenly believed were my enemies. And, Father, like Jesus prayed from the cross I ask that you would forgive them for they know not what they’ve been doing (Luke 23:34). They don’t know they hurt people. Bring them to truth with mercy. Strengthen me to live as one who is healed and as one who understands Satan is my true foe.
I put on the belt of truth. I thank you that the truth is a person, the Lord Jesus Christ. I love you Jesus, and I want you to set me free. I put on the breastplate of righteousness. I declare that I have no righteousness apart from Christ. I embrace my new position in Christ. Deliver me from seeking any form of self-righteousness.
Once my thinking was at war with you, Father, but now because of Jesus’ victory we are at peace. Assure me as I put on these sandals that we are ready for conflict because Jesus won my peace. I lift up the shield of faith and trust only in Jesus’ sacrifice. Enlarge my faith. Thank you that courageous trust in Jesus can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.
I put on the helmet of salvation and I cherish the price Jesus paid for my salvation. Protect my thinking, so I can honor you with my thoughts. Thank you Jesus that as the Word, you existed before time began. I lift up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. May your words strengthen, protect, and heal me from all spiritual harm. Teach me how to use your words to love, honor, and protect those you have given into my care. Make me an “Excalibur Swordsman” that rightly handles your truth. I ask these things in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.