This month (October 2015), The Heart of Teens will be discussing the armor of God, mentioned in Ephesians 6:10-20. In this article, I’m going to lay the framework for our month by looking at verses 10-13.
“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.” – Ephesians 6:10-13
Let’s break this down into a few different parts:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord…”
Paul is wrapping up his letter to the Ephesians with this challenge. Many times, authors will leave the most important point until the end, because that is often the part of the text that sticks with you the most. The phrase “be strong in the Lord” is essential to what Paul will follow-up with, because he is pointing out that we can’t do this by ourselves. The armor of God will help us if we trust in Christ alone to give us strength.
“Put on the whole armor of God…”
If you come back throughout the month, you will see us dive into all of these in depth, but the armor of God is: the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, gospel “shoes” of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. Now, the key word in this section is “whole”; we cannot simply put on some of the armor and be successful. You cannot say, “Well, I’ll read my Bible today and tell the truth tomorrow.” It doesn’t work like that. Paul says to “put on the WHOLE armor of God” (emphasis mine).
“…That you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”
Now Paul states the purpose of this “armor of God” spiel. This armor is to protect us against Satan and the lies that he tries to feed us. Paul then goes on to essentially say that we are not fighting a physical battle, but a spiritual one. We fight against the “spiritual forces of evil”. Wow. That’s scary, if you ask me.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God…”
Wait, didn’t we already talk about this? Yes, but Paul utilizes a very smart writing technique here. He gives a challenge, which probably seems like a strange one to the church in Ephesus, and then gives reasoning for why we should “put on the armor of God”. Then, he repeats himself once more. Paul says this phrase again, but we now view it in a different light, because he has given us the reasoning for it. Imagine this scenario:
“Hide in the basement,” the man said to his daughter in a calm manner. She thought this was odd, but then saw the urgency on her father’s face. “We are about to be shot at. Go hide in the basement.” Then, in terror, she obeys his command.
Do you see how giving the reasoning for something can cause us to view it in an entirely different light? That’s what Paul is trying to do here.
“That you may be able to withstand…”
Paul’s repetitious pep-talk is actually quite effective. We must put on the WHOLE armor of God so that we may be able to withstand Satan, his lies, and the spiritual forces of evil.
These four verses speak of spiritual warfare, which is the hardest thing that a Christian will ever have to endure. However, Paul’s message is not one of solely doom and gloom; he gives hope. This entire passage ties back into what Paul said at the start of this challenge to the church in Ephesus: “Be strong in the Lord”. Paul gives all of these very helpful tips on how to fight the spiritual battle, but in the end it must come from God’s strength and not our own.
So that’s my challenge to you: be strong in the Lord.