And Finally, Prayer

Although prayer is not usually included in our lists of the full armor of God, I find it interesting that Paul has this to say immediately after describing the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17):  With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18).

It seems clear that the soldier of the cross is not fully prepared to enter the fray of the good fight of faith unless prayer is also part of his arsenal.  The Christian fights the good fight of faith constantly.  Our enemy never sleeps and neither should we.

Notice that Paul said we are to “pray at all times,” and “be on the alert with all perseverance,” meaning this is a constant part of the Christian life.  It is very similar to his command to the Thessalonian church to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

The fight is on, my friends!  It is a fight for spiritual survival, but it is a fight the faithful Christian can and will win!!  Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

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The Sword of the Spirit

A soldier’s gear is not complete without an offensive weapon.  The weapon the apostle Paul includes in the full armor of God is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), which is the word of God.

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He used the sword of the Spirit to withstand the attacks of the enemy.  Those attacks were not physical, but spiritual, although they manifested themselves in a physical way.  For example, Satan attacked Jesus by tempting Him to use His miraculous power to feed Himself after fasting forty days (Matthew 4:3).  Jesus parried that thrust by reminding Satan that there are more important things than food, or even physical life, and then quoted Deuteronomy 8:3.  This is another example of Jesus showing us how we are to live and fight the good fight.

Paul commanded that we become familiar with this sword (2 Timothy 2:15).  In fact, he said to be diligent to do so.  Our spiritual survival depends on it.  In 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 he tells us that the inspired word of God will make us everything God wants us to be.

Take up the sword!  Get into the word!  Learn what it is that God wants and expects and then step into the fray!  Remember, He loves you and so do I!

Donnie Bates

The Ultimate Helmet

The last piece of defensive armor that the apostle Paul lists in the full armor of God is the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17).  Clearly, the helmet is that piece that protects the  most vital part of the body – the head.  To leave the head unprotected in battle is to take the ultimate risk.

We must remember that the armor Paul is describing is that which helps the Christian fight against the spiritual forces arrayed against him.  The truth of the Gospel, his righteousness and faith are essential parts of that which keeps him spiritually safe from the enemy.  His salvation protects him from any blow the devil might be able to land.

It’s important to acknowledge the spiritual nature of both the armor and the battle.  While it may be that the devil succeeds in taking a Christian’s physical life through persecution, even in physical death he is protected by his salvation.  That,  my friends, is a word of encouragement!

God has equipped us to survive the worst the devil can throw at us.  It’s up to you and me to put on that armor.  Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

And Don’t Forget the Shield!

I admit that the vast majority of my knowledge of the functionality of armor in battle comes from the movies I’ve watched over the years.  However, while I am sure there are nuances to the tactical use of armor that I may not understand, understanding the overall concept does not seem like rocket science.

When it comes to using the shield, the first thing we notice is that it is more mobile than the other defensive pieces.  It can be quickly shifted to meet threats from different directions.  The specific function of the shield of faith is to extinguish the flaming arrows of the enemy.

There will be times when those flaming arrows of doubt and come and we’re not quick enough with the sword of the Spirit to meet the threat immediately.  That is where our faith comes in.  I may not be able to give a Scriptural answer on the spur of the moment when challenged by a mocker (2 Peter 3:3, 4), but I’m not going to lose my faith over it.  I’ll find the answers, but in the meantime my shield of faith protects me.

God is good!  Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

The Right Footgear

…and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace… (Ephesians 6:15).  A soldier’s footgear is a very important piece of his equipment, even today.  Soldiers march and fight on their feet.  And in battle, there is no time to worry about where you are stepping and on what!

The Gospel of peace is that piece of the armor of God that protects, well, where we stand.  We must stand on the Gospel, the word of Christ, if we would be free (John 8:31, 32).  If we stand on anything else, we will lose the fight.

A key element to this verse is the word “preparation.”  What the apostle is telling us that we stand on our readiness to preach the Gospel.  What if you were a soldier on the frontline.  It’s night, you’ve gone off your watch and are trying to get some sleep.  Suddenly, the enemy attacks.  Do you suppose they will kindly wait until you put your boots back on?  Survival depends on being ready, even in times of rest.

God has given us the equipment (armor) we need.  It’s up to us to use it!  It works if we will.  Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Protecting the Heart

When we consider the purpose of armor, it becomes easier to understand some of the terminology in Paul’s description of the “full armor of God.”  The second piece of that armor is the breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14).

The breastplate was that part of the armor which protected the soldier’s vital organs, primarily the heart.  Of course, the armor of God is spiritual armor, so Paul is describing armor that protects us spiritually.  Righteousness is that which protects us from our real, spiritual enemy.

To put on the breastplate of righteousness is to do our very best to live as God wants us to live, faithfully obeying His will.  When we “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7), God protects us by continually cleansing our sins.  The enemy may harm our physical bodies, but our spiritual selves are protected by an impenetrable piece of armor, but we must continue to wear it.  When we allow sin into our lives, we leave ourselves vulnerable.

So, our word of encouragement is that we do not enter into the battle for our souls unprotected.  And with God’s protection, we are truly safe.  Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

The Belt of Truth

Paul begins describing each part of the “full armor of God” we must put on in order to fight against the real enemy of our souls, with “having girded your loins with truth” (Ephesians 6:14).  As I understand it, Roman soldiers wore a large leather belt which held some of their weapons in place and also kept their outer garments secure during battle.  In other words, “girding his loins” would allow one freedom of movement in battle.

The soldier of the cross (the Christian) girds his loins, or wears the belt, of truth.  Truth is what sets us free if, and only if, we abide in the word of Christ (John 8:31, 32).  Having been set free by truth, the Christian is able to maneuver and engage the enemy in the battle that really matters.  Without that truth, we become entangled in the affairs of this life and will fall in this most important battle.

So, take up residence (abide) in the word of Christ.  Know His word inside and out.  Take up that full armor of God and step into the battle.  You cannot lose if you fight alongside Him.  Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates