Putting On Your OWN Armor
(And Knowing When To Take If Off)
Many Christians are familiar with the passage in Ephesians 6:10-18. We are told to put on the armor of God for the express purpose of going into battle with Satan and the forces of sin and darkness. Most of us realize that the majority of the armor is for the purpose of protection, while the only offensive weapon at our disposal is the word of God. When we battle people with sarcasm and sophistry and name-calling, we are not using the right weapon. In debates and discussions, we always see something other than the word of God being used. It should not be this way.
What I hope to do is to view the armor from a different perspective and see if I can stimulate some thinking in an area which Satan has a stronghold.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH
The Shield is supposed to be used for protection of the mighty blows of Satan. In the days of Paul and Christ, a shield was not much bigger than a pizza pan. It took a lot of training and skill to repel the blows of the enemies. They did have a full body shield that was used in joint attack against an enemy or while trying to overtake a fortress. The body shield was much similar in size to a surfboard, and they could be held together so as to form a wall or barrier. However, the body shield did not have much use in hand to hand combat. With air warfare and naval tactics and the ability to destroy strongholds and kill the enemy from great distances, the concept of hand to hand combat is almost unheard of today. But back then, hand to hand combat was necessary in almost any battle.
However most people who wear the name of Christ hide behind that shield today. Rather than taking on Satan in hand to hand combat, they sit back and hope that the missles and darts of Satan miss them. Also by hiding behind a large shield, they do not have overall exposure and few will notice them at all.
GIRDING YOUR LOINS
We generally view this aspect as protecting the private parts, since they are most vunerable and injury to those parts just about paralyzes a person and makes if very life threatening. But in those days in which this passage was written there was a different concept of girding the loins. Most people wore long clothing much like the garments worn today by Arabs and others in the Middle East. With extreme climatic conditions, this is the best clothing one could wear. Yet, when it was time to go into battle, the long clothing would be cumbersom and cause a hinderance to move around swiftly and run if necessary. Therefore many would reach down from the front and pull up the back of the garment to their waist and tuck it in their belt or sash. This would free up the legs for quick movement.
Most people who wear the name of Christ today use a process to gird their loins, but it is not with the truth as they are suppose to have. They put on protective accessories to keep the low blows from bothering them. Many do not like it when the preacher starts to rant and rave about something that they are doing. Many are afraid that the preacher is attacking them with low blows. Any preacher worth his salt, will use many tactics to get a person to change their ways and start serving the Lord. Sometimes the use of sarcasm or the asking of rhetorical questions will be considered a low-blow by some people. Their cup will protect them from these blows and they will immunize themselves to the pain of realizing their own faults.
THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
The reason for a breastplate is quite obvious even to those of ancient times. Since most organs of the body that pertain to life are contained within the trunk of the body, it is necessary to protect them. Though medical science and anatomy were very limited in understanding back then, most still realized that injury to the body in this area was life threating or fatal. To protect their bodies, they used a breastplate. Sometimes it was a very thick piece of leather hide and sometimes they used metals such as copper or very thin sheets of other metals. It really could not be too heavy, because it would limit them in their ability to move around. If you remember in 1 Sam 17, David had to take off Saul's armor because it was too heavy and he was not sure how they would work because they were not tested (v39).
Most people who wear the name of Christ use a protection over their heart. Because many times, the preacher or teacher is trying to touch their hearts and open their minds to understanding. It seems that a natural process of humanity is the need to defend themselves. This felt need is there even if what is being taught is needed by the individual. Many will expect the preacher to condemn others, but do not appreciate it when the preacher discusses an area of which they are guilty. Since many do not live lives that reflect Christ, the preacher is constantly trying to touch their hearts and get them to see the need to serve Christ better than they have in the past.
HAVING YOUR FEET SHOD
Feet are necessary for mobility and stature as well as strength. A very vunerable target in hand to hand combat is the feet. Injury to the feet would ground the opponent and victory over that opponent was very swift when they could not move around and they were down. Here they would wrap their feet in thick leather shoes, unlike the sandals that everyone wore in those days. Sometimes they would put thin sheets of metal over the foot to enhance the protection of it. If you have ever been wearing sandals and someone stepped on your foot, you can remember how painful it was, yet if you had been wearing shoes, the pain would have been dramatically decreased.
Most people who wear the name of Christ are familiar with the phrase "stepping on toes". As a preacher I have heard that statement many times. I preached in a meeting one time where I said that "I did not believe in stepping on toes, I believe in stomping!" Often times, someone will come up after a sermon and say that you really stepped on my toes today. Though I may be stepping (stomping) on toes, I am really aiming for the heart. People need good strong preaching from time to time. They do not necessarily need it all the time, but the preacing does need to be balanced. Hopefully a preacher will work with a congregation that does not need toe stomping. Sadly many preachers have openly stated that they will not preaching anything that could be considered as offensive, even if the hearers need to hear a stearn warning and "hell-fire and brimstone" type of sermon.
THE HELMET OF
SALVATION. A helmet is vital because it protects the most vital organ of all. The brain. Once again, the most common type of helmet was either a heavy molded piece of leather or a thin sheet of metal formed to fit over the head. This should have been enough protection even to stop a sword from cutting the flesh.
Most people who wear the name of Christ will put on their helmet when they see the preacher getting ready to speak to THEM. Whether it is a football helmet or a welders helmet or a hardhat. Most people do not want the preaching getting in their heads, because it might make them feel bad about not doing what they should be doing. James 4:17 tells us that knowing the right thing and not doing it is a sin. As long as the preacher does not get into the mind to convice it that there are things necessary to do, the person does not make any changes in their lifestyle or attitude.
The sword of the Spirit is the Gospel. It is the only weapon we are to use in our spiritual warfare. The gospel is the power of God (Rom 1:16) and the only effective tool to convert souls to be saved. In the world, there are religious groups that try many sorts of methods and they do have large followings, but the followers are not true Christians. Swords were made of steel. Swords were honed to have a sharp edge that could pierce skin and even joints. Remember in Hebrews 4:12 that the "the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart".
Most of the people who wear the name of Christ keep their sword handy at all times. It is safe and secure in their sheath by their side. And it never leaves the sheath. It is clean and shiny and has a nice handle because it is never used.
All the armor in the world will not help unless you have the connection with God above. King Saul tried to put his own armor on the young shepherd David, and it was too much for David. Yet David had an armor stronger than any metal cast and forged by man. David had prayer and with that connection, David became victorious over the giant.
So we too can put on the armor, but unless we have the faith and the connection with God, that armor just becomes a burden that really does no good at all. Notice that prayer and petitions are to be used all the time v18. Also we are to be on the alert and we should be praying for all of the saints of God who are engaged in the warfare against satan and his army.
Many people have learned to put on this armor when they walk into the church building. They are proud to display their sheild to others. And they need the protection from good sound preaching which is designed to accomplish much change. Sadly, many of these people remove their armor as they enter the world once again.
Christians are to wear their armor daily and hourly. The armour only needs to come off when they assemble with other Christians, as that is the only safe stronghold that Satan usually avoids. We should have no fear from our brethren and they should also be able to trust us. We rely upon our watchmen to sound the proper and necessary warnings and we expect them to be ever vigilant in their duty. May we all learn to use our armor in the right way. I once heard a sermon about David and one of the points of empasis was that one needs to wear their own armor. True, one cannot rely upon the armor of the preacher or the elders or even their parents or spouses. We each need to take up the full armor of God. That most certainly implies that if we leave any of it off, we make ourselves vunerable to Satan and his schemes. Keep these thoughts in mind as you progess onward in your daily walk with Christ. May God bless you in all things spiritually.
By Carey Scott 10/10/2000 revised 5/21/2007
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