Author: Caroline Tiller
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 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.” Ephesians 6:10-20
The Whole Armor of God. A passage most of us have read at least once, and some of us many, many more times. It is empowering, emboldening, fortifying, and revelatory–Paul doesn’t merely encourage us to hang in there when things get tough, but he tells us how. He doesn’t just talk about how we should live our little, individual lives, but he keys us into our place on Earth in the supernatural order, resting between Heaven and Hell. He identifies us as warriors because the truth is that we are the children of the Lord of the Battle as much as we are the children of the Abba Father. The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament—he has never changed his character—and if we are made in his image, then we are made in his whole image. There is a ferocity in the way that we love, and a tenacity innate in humanity that is just as Godly as righteous anger and the intense desire of justice, and all of these things were weaved into our DNA because we are a people at war. Not a physical war. Not between rival countries or against people who have a different skin color than us, because they’re in this war with us as brothers and sisters. Rather, this is a war against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
I’m not trying to get too deep into spiritual warfare (right now), I promise, but to understand the importance of what I’m trying to say, you have to understand what’s at stake. As a warrior for the Kingdom of Heaven, every word you speak is a battle cry—whether it promotes human flourishing or poisons those who hear it is up to you. Every action you take is an inch gained or lost on the battlefield. The stakes of this war are not physical life and death, but spiritual life and death (which is much more permanent).
Our side has two massive, major, incredible advantages though:
1) The fight we’re in has already been won, and while that does not exempt you from fighting that good fight anyway (see 1 Timothy 6:12), the Lord of past, present, and future has overthrown the enemy and prepared a place for you in the victorious eternal city of Zion.
2) He hasn’t called you to fight in this war blind, scared, and unequipped. He has given you the Armor of God.
You can read through Ephesians 6 on your own to see what that armor of God actually is, but I want to focus on the phrase “whole armor of God.” Including the section heading present in most translations, that phrase—more specifically the word “whole”—is written three times in ten verses, conveying the importance of clothing yourself with every bit of armor He’s given you, not just what you feel like donning that day. Just as a soldier would not head to the front lines only half-dressed, barefoot, and unarmed, neither should you. Forgoing the belt of truth because placating white lies are easier than confrontation, or leaving the sword of the Spirit at home because your metaphorical arm is tired, won’t cut it in battle. Leaving the breastplate of righteousness at home because standing against the cultural current can be lonely leaves room for the enemy to mark a massive target on your chest. It is foolish to leave yourself vulnerable to attacks that you know are coming. In order to “stand firm,” you have to be fully covered and equipped, which means waking up every day and committing to walk in the way of the Lord, even when—especially when—it’s hard.
I encourage you all to read over Ephesians 6 every morning for just one week, at least. Screenshot the passage, or bookmark the reference, or print it out and stick it on the mirror, but start getting in the habit of going through Ephesians 6, piece by piece, and getting dressed in the armor of God every morning. Because eventually, after sloughing around in it all for long enough, your body will start to grow stronger, and you will carry that armor like a second skin. And when the enemy seeks to tear you down and destroy you, you will be ready, and his attacks will glance off of you. When you step in to extend a hand to a wounded brother or sister, you will not be struck down alongside them, but be able to defend them in the name of your Father. You will be unshakeable by the evil that threatens our world and you will be a force to be reckoned with for the Kingdom of God.
I’ll leave you with a song recommendation: Arise x Hillsong United, off of Zion (Deluxe Edition). This album is almost five years old, but is still one of their best albums to date, and “Arise” speaks to the reality of a war that is still raging, but also already won.