“Put On the Complete Suit of Armor From God”
CHRISTIANS wearing armor? Why should they take up such warlike equipment? Are they not lovers of peace? (2 Timothy 2:24) Yes, they are. Nevertheless, all true Christians are engaged in a fight—one in which they strive, not to kill, but to conquer.
Had Satan not rebelled, such a fight would never have been necessary. But he did rebel, and he misled Adam and Eve into joining his rebellion. Since then the world system that has developed lies in the power of “the wicked one,” Satan the Devil. (1 John 5:19) Those who submit to the rightful Sovereign, Jehovah, must resist the influence of the world and its ruler. They must fight for their spiritual lives. To this end, Christians are exhorted: “Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil.”—Ephesians 6:11.
The Suit of Armor
Notice that we need “the complete suit of armor from God” if we are to be properly protected. Let us, then, look at each part of this armor as described by the apostle Paul and make an honest appraisal of ourselves to determine whether we are fully equipped for spiritual warfare.—Ephesians 6:14-17.
“Stand firm, therefore, with your loins girded about with truth.” (Ephesians 6:14a) In Bible times soldiers wore a leather belt up to six inches [15 cm] wide. This girdle helped to protect the loins. When a soldier tightened his girdle, this signified his readiness for battle.
How fitting, then, that divine truth is likened to a soldier’s girdle! This well illustrates that we should keep God’s Word of truth very close to us, as if girded by it. We should reflect deeply on the thought content of God’s Word. This will protect us from being misled by lies and deceptions. Moreover, the sayings of Jehovah’s mouth will support and strengthen us spiritually and bolster our integrity.
“Having on the breastplate of righteousness.” (Ephesians 6:14b) A soldier’s breastplate protected a vital physical organ—the heart. In our God-given spiritual armor, then, righteousness protects our heart. Scripturally, the heart is a fitting symbol of what we are inside—our feelings, thoughts, and desires. Since the Bible also says that the heart is inclined to badness, it is vital to cultivate a determination to hold on to Jehovah’s standard of righteousness. (Jeremiah 17:9) Obedience to God must not be a hypocritical outward show; it must come from within. This requires that we develop a strong love of righteousness and an equally strong hatred of lawlessness. (Psalm 45:7) Thus our heart will be protected.
“With your feet shod with the equipment of the good news of peace.” (Ephesians 6:15) Are your feet shod in this way? Do they regularly take you into the field ministry to declare the good news? Are you striving to improve the quality of your preaching and teaching activities? True, certain territories are relatively unresponsive. Individuals may be indifferent, apathetic, or antagonistic. Our preaching may even bring persecution upon us. But by persevering, Christians develop endurance, a quality that provides protection against Satan’s attacks. Though persecuted, Paul was a zealous preacher, and we are encouraged to ‘become imitators of him, even as he was of Christ.’—1 Corinthians 11:1.
Keeping busy in Kingdom-preaching activity strengthens our confidence in the good news. Further, it allows Jehovah’s spirit to work through us in the accomplishment of his will. In fact, such activity makes us fellow workers with the angels—even with Jehovah God himself. (1 Corinthians 3:9; Revelation 14:6) And having ‘plenty to do in the Lord’s work’ makes us “steadfast, unmovable.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) What wonderful protection this provides!
“Take up the large shield of faith.” (Ephesians 6:16) With a large shield, a soldier of ancient times protected himself from spears and arrows. If he failed to use a shield, he could be seriously wounded or even killed. Christians face even more deadly weapons—“the wicked one’s burning missiles.” These include all the resources Satan brings to bear in order to weaken our faith and kill us spiritually. They include persecution, lies, deceptive worldly philosophies, materialistic attractions, and the temptation to engage in immorality. To protect us against all of these, we need a large shield. No part of us can safely be left vulnerable.
Abraham and his wife, Sarah, had strong faith. When beyond the age of childbearing, they put faith in God’s promise that a seed would be born to them. Later, Abraham showed remarkable faith when he obeyed the call to sacrifice Isaac, his only son by beloved Sarah. Jehovah stayed Abraham’s hand and provided a substitute sacrifice. But Abraham was ready to obey. Why? Because he had absolute faith that Jehovah could resurrect his son and fulfill the promises made about him.—Romans 4:16-21; Hebrews 11:11, 12, 17-19.
Moses also had the kind of faith we need. He rejected the wealth of Egypt, choosing rather to suffer oppression with God’s people. Why? Because he had faith that Jehovah exists and would bring salvation to the Israelites. So strong was Moses’ faith that “he continued steadfast as seeing the One who is invisible.”—Hebrews 11:6, 24-27.
Do we have comparable faith in Jehovah? Is our relationship with Jehovah so close that it is almost as if we can see him? Are we willing to make any sacrifice or endure any hardship to maintain our relationship with God? Do we have full faith in Jehovah? (Hebrews 11:1) If so, Satan’s burning missiles will not force their way through our shield of faith.
“Accept the helmet of salvation.” (Ephesians 6:17a) A soldier’s helmet protected his head and thus the brain—the organ of neural coordination and of thought. The Christian hope of salvation is likened to a helmet because it protects the mind. A Christian’s mind has been made new through accurate knowledge, but it still belongs to a weak and imperfect individual. (Romans 7:18; 12:2) If we allow the mind to feed on faith-destroying unclean thinking produced by the spirit of this world, our confidence in salvation will fade and may finally die. On the other hand, if we constantly feed our mind on the strengthening words of God, our hope will remain bright and clear. Do you keep your helmet of salvation tightly fitted?
“The sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word.” (Ephesians 6:17b) The saying that the best defense is a good offense is true in Christian warfare. As our feet, shod with the good news of peace, carry us among the unbelievers, we are not left weaponless. God’s Word, the Bible, acts as a powerful sword to slash away at spiritual lies and misconceptions and to help righthearted individuals to find spiritual freedom.—John 8:31, 32.
Jesus showed the power of this weapon when, in effect, he engaged Satan the Devil in combat. When tempted in the wilderness, Jesus defended himself against three satanic assaults by effectively using God’s Word and saying: “It is written.” (Matthew 4:1-11) If we learn to use this sword skillfully, we can help meek ones to come out from under Satan’s power. Then, too, congregation elders use God’s Word to protect the flock from individuals who try to subvert the faith of weaker ones.—Acts 20:28-30.
A soldier’s skill with the sword does not come easily. Training and long, dedicated practice are required to use it deftly. Similarly, in spiritual warfare it takes much study and regular practice in the ministry to become a skillful user of God’s Word. By all means, let us put forth the effort needed to be skilled spiritual swordsmen, capable of “handling the word of the truth aright.”—2 Timothy 2:15.
Carry On Prayer, Stand Firm
All the pieces of our spiritual armor are vital for maintaining integrity to God. But how can we keep this armor on? Regularly studying the Bible, preparing in advance for Christian meetings, and then listening carefully and actively participating in them will help us to keep on our armor. (2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 10:24, 25) Regular and zealous field ministry together with fine Christian association will also help to keep our offensive and defensive spiritual armor in good condition.—Proverbs 13:20; Romans 15:15, 16; 1 Corinthians 15:33.
Developing a right mental attitude is also important. We must refuse to allow the attractions of this world to distract us. Rather, let us cultivate a ‘simple eye.’ (Matthew 6:19-24) In imitation of Jesus Christ, we must also learn to love righteousness and hate lawlessness. (Hebrews 1:9) All these things help us to keep on our God-given spiritual armor.
After discussing each piece of spiritual armor, Paul concludes by saying: “With every form of prayer and supplication . . . carry on prayer on every occasion in spirit. And to that end keep awake with all constancy and with supplication in behalf of all the holy ones.” (Ephesians 6:18) Loyal soldiers keep in touch with army headquarters and obey orders. As Christian soldiers, we need to keep in constant touch with our Sovereign, Jehovah God, through his great “commander to the national groups,” Jesus Christ. (Isaiah 55:4) This can be done, not by means of superficial prayer, but through heartfelt supplication that reflects a closeness and deep devotion to Jehovah. By regularly communicating with Jehovah, we receive strength each day to sustain us in the fight.
Jesus said: “I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33) Jehovah also wants us to be victorious. As the apostle Paul’s death drew near, he could say: “I have fought the fine fight, I have run the course to the finish, I have observed the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7) May we be able to make a similar expression about our part in the conflict. If we really desire this, let us “stand firm against the machinations of the Devil” by keeping on the complete suit of armor from God.—Ephesians 6:11.