I’m in the Lord’s Army (Ephesians 6:10-20)
Children love to sing, “I may never march in the infantry, Ride in the cavalry, Shoot the artillery, I may never soar o’er the enemy, But I’m in the Lord’s army.”
As that song implies that Christianity is like being in battle; indeed, Christianity is often compared to warfare. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (1 Cor. 10:4). Paul wrote to Timothy about the prophecies made about him that he might “wage the good warfare” (1 Tim. 1:18). “Fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12).
Christianity is a fight. Satan bombards the Christian with temptation. The Christian is to stand firm against these temptations. The way we overcome Satan is to be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. We are to be strong in the Lord. The way we become strong in Lord is to put on the armor of God.
The Purpose of the Armor, vv 11-12
We are to put on God’s armor so we can stand against the wiles of the devil. A “wile” refers to scheming, craftiness. Satan has many schemes he uses against the Christian. He deceived Eve in the Garden–He can deceive us as to the consequences of sin. He caused Peter to deny the Lord because of fear-He can cause us to be fearful as well. He used lust to conquer David–He can cause us to be lustful as well.
Our struggle is not against flesh and blood. The struggle we face is from demonic sources. Principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness, spiritual hosts of wickedness probably refers to a hierarchy of demons.
We need to understand that this struggle is real–we are involved in a real, cosmic battle.
The Placement of the Armor, vv 13-17
We should not at all be surprised that Pau uses the imagery of a soldier’s armor. Paul wrote this epistle from prison. Daily Paul had to stare at a soldiers armor.
We must take up the whole armor of God. Paul twice encourages us to take up all of God’s armor. This emphasizes that we can leave no part of our armor undone. If we leave off part of the armor, Satan will have a much easier attack. This is the armor of God. God provides this armor to his people. Wearing this armor will allow us to stand on the evil day. The evil day is any day that Satan comes and attacks us.
We are to stand–this would be the position ready to fight.
We to gird our waists with truth. The belt was used to hold the soldiers clothing next to his body; this kept his clothing from flapping about as he ran. The belt we are to use is truth. God’s Word is truth (Jn. 17:17). The truth we are to place around our waist is God’s Word. God’s Word helps keep win over temptation. “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You” (Ps. 119:11). Jesus fought off Satan’s temptations by answering, “It is written” (Matt. 4:1-11). If we are to win over Satan’s attacks, we must know the Scriptures. We must study God’s word so we know what it teaches. We must meditate on God’s Word so we can apply it to our lives. Have you applied the belt of truth?
We are to put on the breastplate of righteousness. A soldier’s breastplate covered his body from the neck to the thighs; it was primarily used to protect the heart. Our breastplate is righteousness. “Righteousness” refers to right living. We are to “awake to righteousness and do not sin” (1 Cor. 15:34). Timothy was told to pursue “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (1 Tim. 6:11). If we are to please God, we must do what is right.
On our feet, we are to wear “the preparation of the gospel of peace.” In the Roman army, sandals were a sign of readiness. A soldier’s wearing sandals meant he was ready to march and do battle. Roman sandals were made with nails that gripped the ground so the soldier could have sure footing. We must be prepared to teach the Gospel. Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he told his disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). “Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15). Are you ready to share your faith?
We are to take the shield of faith. This refers to the great oblong shield carried by the soldier to protect him from flaming darts. This shield is to be the shield of faith. We are to be individuals of faith–we are to be individuals who trust God. If we are to please God, we must have faith. The work of God is to believe in the One God sent (Jn. 6:29). We to draw near to God with a “true heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:22). We cannot please God if we lack faith (Heb. 11:6).
With this shield, we will be able to “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” In ancient combat, arrows would be dipped in pitch or some other combustible material and set on fire. Satan sends many flaming darts toward us. He sends temptations all day long. We must use our faith to overcome these temptations.
We are to wear the helmet of salvation. In ancient combat, the helmet was made from thick leather or brass and was used to protect the soldier from fatal blows to his head. In combat, the head is very important, for the head was what allowed the soldier to wage war-it was where he developed his strategy. Our heads are important, too. Our helmet is to be our salvation. “Salvation” here is our knowledge and hope of salvation. Knowing we are saved keeps our thoughts on Christ instead of the things of this world. Do you wear the helmet of salvation?
We are to take the sword of the Spirit. This sword is the Word the Spirit has given us. He has given us the Word of God. Just as the belt of truth referred to using the Bible to combat Satan’s attacks, the sword we have is the Bible. Paul isn’t being redundant here. Rather, he is emphasizing just how important Scripture is in defeating Satan. Do you use this sword in battle?
Praying in the Armor, vv 18-20
Once we have on our armor, we need to pray.
We to pray always with prayer and supplication. The Lord expects his people to have an attitude of prayer. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2). Are you a praying person?
We are to be watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. We are to pray for our brethren around the world. They face the same enemy we face–Satan.
We are to pray for those who preach. Paul asks the Ephesian Christians to pray for him that he might preach God’s word boldly. The Word of God often offends individuals. It is tempting for the preacher to stay away from controversy, yet we must proclaim God’s word faithfully.
Because Paul spoke boldly, he was in prison. Paul wished to continue speaking boldly for God. Boldly is the only way one should preach.
Put on the Christian armor and use it in your fight against Satan. Are you wearing the Christians armor?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Owingsville church of Christ in Owingsville, Kentucky.