The Armor of God Ephesians 6:14-20
Ian and I flew to New York last week. When we were sitting in our seats waiting for the plane to take off when the stewardess gave all of us some instructions to consider in case the plane experienced some kind of emergency.
Afterwards she came up to the man sitting in front of us and began to talk to him. When she talked with him her demeanor became more serious and intense. She told him that he was sitting in the row where the emergency exit was located. She stressed to him how important it would be for him to open the door if there were an emergency and that he would be the one who would direct people through the door. She also said that he would stand at the door and be the last person off of the plane. After she explained all of this she said,
“Do you understand what I have just told you?”
“Can you follow the instructions that I just gave to you? Because if you cannot do so then I do not want you to remain in this row.”
The man assured her that he would accept responsibility and that he was capable of remaining and fulfilling every duty that she had just given. After he said this the stewardess looked at him and smiled for the very first time and said, “Thank you”.
I have sat in the emergency row on an airplane before and have been given those instructions and asked those questions. Like that man, I said that I could do everything that was being asked of me. But I will admit that there was a part of me that wondered,
“Would I really be willing to be the last man standing in that plane?”
“Would I be willing to fulfill that responsibility under any and every circumstance that may occur?”
As we come to the end of this letter Paul has and reminded us that we are to remain standing in the evil day and we are not shrink back from the responsibility that has been entrusted to us.
Paul has told us how we are to act in the evil day and he also tells us that we can only fulfill these expectations by putting on the armor of God. Our text this morning is found in Ephesians 6:14-20 which says,
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
In this passage we find the armor of God listed out for us. Some have said that we have six pieces of armor given here by the apostle Paul.
There is the belt of truth (14)
the breastplate of righteousness (14)
having our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace (15)
having the shield of faith to extinguish all the fiery darts of the devil (16)
we are to wear the helmet of salvation (17)
we are to wield the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God (17)
Others see seven pieces of armor in this text. They would say that Paul’s admonishment to pray is also part of the armor. I have determined that prayer is a very vital part of this warfare and so I would also include it with all of the other armor listed. If you want to defeat your enemy easily then concentrate your attack upon their ability to communicate. Paul believed that prayer was so important that he reminds the Ephesians to be praying for him so that he could stand boldly when he is given the opportunity to declare the truth.
Of these pieces of armor only two, the sword of the Spirit and prayer, are used on offense. The majority of this armor is for defensive purposes. This can be an indication that we are not to go out and look for a fight but we are to be ready to fight when the day of battle comes. We are to do all that we can do to stand in the evil day by putting on this armor and by being a people who pray in humble dependence upon the Lord.
The first piece of armor that Paul speaks of is the belt of truth. Ephesians 6:14 says, “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth…”
The belt had several important roles for the Roman soldier.
First, it holds the clothing tight to the soldier so that the soldier would have free range of movement. If he become entangled in his clothing and were unable to move quickly the soldier would find himself in a great deal of trouble. Proverbs:4:10, “Hear my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble. Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.”
Secondly, this belt protects the soldiers midsection. The belt was made up of leather and it would help to protect the soldier from any blows to the stomach that he might receive.
Thirdly, this belt was also used to fasten the breastplate on and to secure the sword to a soldiers waste.