Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 24, 1967
NUMBER 16, PAGE 7b-8a

Put On The Whole Armour Of God

Harry E. Ozment

In several of his epistles, the apostle Paul stresses the point that there is a spiritual war that is to be waged by every disciple of Christ. For example he said in I Tim. 6:12, "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and has professed a good profession before many witnesses." Of course, Paul does not speak here of carnal warfare, but rather of a war against the devices of Satan: "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against the rules of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Eph. 6:11-12) In this article, we want to study the outfit, as described by Paul in Eph. 6:13-17, that a Christian must wear in spiritual battle before he can expect to be the victor.

The first piece of armour Paul lists is the "girdle." All Roman soldiers during Paul's day wore a girdle when going to battle. It was the very foundation of the soldier's outfit because it kept all the other parts of his armour in the proper place. Paul likens the truth to the girdle of the Roman soldier - and for very good reason. The truth keeps all the other parts of the Christian's armour in place. Without the girdle of truth, the Christian can have no righteousness; for how can he know what righteousness is if he has no truth? Without truth, how can the Christian have faith? "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10:17) Without truth, how can the Christian have assurance of a home in heaven? Truth is certainly important - it regulates the Christian. Recently I talked with a member of the church who has been going with her husband to the Presbyterian Church. When questioned about her actions, she replied, "But I'm worshipping God." This is the attitude of so many people. Yes, she was worshipping, but it was a vain worship. Why? Her worship was not accompanied with the truth. Jesus said, "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Matt. 15:9) Worship to God, members working in the Lord's vineyard, etc. - all of this is important but it is vain unless Christians wear the girdle of truth. Let it not be said of us as it was said of Israel: "For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge." (Rom. 10:2)

The breastplate was also an important piece of the soldier's armour. It protected the trunk of the body from the sword-swipes, spear-heads, and piercing arrows of the enemy. The Christian's breastplate is righteousness, or purity of life. Perhaps nothing can give rise to a more vicious attitude of the community toward the church than the unrighteous lives that are led by some of the congregation's members. It only takes a few to live in such a way that will destroy all chances of a congregation's growth. This is the reason the apostle Paul wrote to the young man Timothy, "If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow after righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart." (II Tim. 2:2-12) Such worldly sins as drinking (no matter how little or seldom), immodest apparel, gambling (no matter how small the wager); and dancing do not manifest a breastplate of righteousness. The church needs members wearing this piece of armour like it has never before. In this age, when every community is being besieged by innovations of the "new morality" (which is nothing more than "old immorality"), we need Christians who will be willing to be "a peculiar people" and live the upright godly lives that the Almighty demands of them.

Sandals, of course, enabled the Roman soldier to travel - to go forth into battle. By parallel, the gospel is the only thing that enables Christians to go forth and preach the truth of God. Every disciple of the Lord has the duty to go forth and preach, and a Christian, in order to be acceptable to God, has no choice but to preach the gospel. In the familiar words of Mark 16:16, Jesus said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." The only way that a Christian's feet can be shod with the gospel of peace is by a study of God's word. This points up the importance of study. This is why Paul instructed Timothy, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (II Tim. 2:15) The wise man said, "The heart of the righteous studieth to answer." (Prov. 15:28a)

Another very important piece of defensive equipment was the shield. If used correctly, it protected the entire body from attacks made by the enemy. The shield of faith protects the Christian from numerous things. Jesus spoke on the potency of faith in Matt. 21:21: "Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the s ea; it shall be done. "To illustrate, faith can guard the Christian from drifting. Paul said in Col. 1:23, "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven." Our faith is so powerful that it can raise us from spiritual death: "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." (John 11:25)

Paul next speaks of the "helmet." This, of course, was used to defend the head of the soldier. Salvation and the hope of a home in heaven defends the Christian's mind from discouragement, which is certainly one of the most successful wiles of the devil. It matters not what sacrifice we might be required to make, it matters not what men may say or do, it matters not what loved ones we must bury as we walk this uneven journey, it matters not in what ill health we might find ourselves - as long as we have hope we can "lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and run with patience the race that is set before us." (Heb. 12:1) Hope is comprised of two different elements - desire and expectation. Without either or both of them, we can have no hope. Some people might desire to go to heaven, but they perhaps do not expect ti. On the other hand, other people may expect to go to eternal punishment in hell, but they certainly do not desire to go. Neither of these two groups of people have hope. If a person does have hope of a home in heaven, he has a valuable possession indeed. Hope keeps us looking ahead with anticipation instead of looking back and feeling sorry for ourselves. Paul could have looked back on his life and could have felt sorry for himself. But did he? Listen to his words: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day." (II Tim. 4:7-8) Our hope will cause us to hold on, to be steadfast, not to lose our faith and give up. Paul said in I Cor. 15:58, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." And perhaps most important, our hope will cause us to lead a life of righteousness and purity. If we really expect to go to heaven, and if we really desire to spend our eternity there, we will wear our "breastplate of righteousness" every day - yea, every hour - that we live. John said, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God and it doth not appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (I John 3:2-3)

The last item of a soldier's outfit as mentioned by Paul is very significant. All of the other parts of armour studied have been defensive in their nature. However, the sword is offensive in its nature - it is not used to protect, but rather to wound and kill the enemy. The word of God is the Christian's sword. It is to be used by the Christian to kill the power of Satan. I hear a lot about so-called "Christians" who sit idly by while the gospel of Christ or Christ's church is being attacked by false teachers. These hypocrites have access to their sword, but they're too afraid to use it. I've even heard some actually boast about it, such as one young man said concerning the present day issues, "Well, nobody knows what I believe." Such mealy-mouthed cowardice! Nobody knows, indeed! He, and others like him, should hang their heads in shame instead of lifting their noses in pride! We should be proud that we're Christians and not be ashamed to admit it. We should be proud of the gospel and of our faithfulness to it and not wilt when some modernist attacks the truth of the word of God. Oh, yes, the word of God can do its job: "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Heb. 4:12) In fact, this sword is the only item the Christian possesses which can put down evil - neither intelligence, nor logical reasoning, nor propaganda, nor name-calling can put to silence the enemies of Christ as can the gospel. God has given us the sword - what is needed now is the courage to use it. Paul said, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also the Greek."