It’s easy for modern Christians to scoff at the Pharisees. In the Gospels, they appear mean, petty, and vindictive. Let’s be careful, though. The Pharisees were the religious leaders of their day, enjoying and abusing their power and prestige. Today’s church leaders face these same temptations. But it’s not just...
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… (Ephesians 6:14-17)
A good basketball defense takes into account the tactics and strengths of the other team’s offense. If they have good three-point shooters, your team will want to guard them more closely around the three-point line. If they have a player who excels in driving to the hoop, you will guard him extra carefully when he has the ball and can dart down the lane to score.
In a similar way, the enemy of our souls has certain tactics that he uses to knock us down in our spiritual battle.
But God knows exactly what tactics the enemy uses and gives us all of the right pieces of armor we need to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ.
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The following is a short description of five pieces in the armor of God and how each one protects and arms us against the enemy:
1. The belt of truth renews our minds in Scripture.
Satan seeks to deceive us, causing us to believe lies about God, the world, and ourselves. We put on the belt of truth by renewing our minds in God’s truth, meaning we bring the truth of Scripture to mind when confronted with lies. This was how Jesus confronted Satan while he was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). As we fasten on the belt of truth by continually filling our minds and hearts with Scripture, we tie down the loose clothing of deception to keep it from hindering us in the battle.
2. The breastplate of righteousness shields us from sin.
Satan wants us to compromise the truth by giving into unrighteous living. We are to be unshakable and uncompromising in our moral lives: “Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). When Christians live out their identity as the holy people of God, they become even more Christ-like, thus avoiding the trap of the enemy.
3. The shoes of the gospel of peace lead us to share Christ.
The enemy hates when Christians preach the gospel to others because it advances the kingdom of God and glorifies Jesus Christ. Instead of putting on the gospel of peace as shoes, he would rather have Christians be barefoot or in slippers—not venturing outside of what is comfortable to share the good news of Christ. The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). It brings peace with God to the believer (Romans 5:1) and should be heralded at all times.
4. The shield of faith protects us with God’s promises.
This protective weapon helps us “extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). The enemy constantly seeks to attack us by shooting arrows of doubt, temptation, and deception into our hearts and minds, causing us to fall and act faithlessly. By exercising our faith and remembering the promises of God, we are able to take up this all-important shield and defend ourselves against Satan.
5. The helmet of salvation gives us confidence in Christ.
The last defensive piece of the armor describes how our eternal hope in Christ empowers us in the battle. We can be tempted to doubt our salvation or worth in God’s eyes, but we must remember that we are eternally secure in the Savior’s arms and can enter the battle confident of the outcome. He has already won! Our boldness and confidence stem from the salvation Christ gained for us through his death and resurrection.