I made a shocking discovery as I was reading through Ephesians the other day when I came to the section on the armor of God. Believe it or not, there’s actually a verse before it starts in about putting on the whole armor of God. I’ve heard several sermons on the armor of God, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard this verse addressed, and it actually changes a lot about the verses that follow.
Most of the things I remember about armor of God sermons involve vivid descriptions about what armor was like back in Biblical times, and how each individual piece would benefit us etc. However, all of the armor stuff starts in verse 11. Verse 10 goes like this “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” The entire preceding chapter has been talking about children and parents, masters and slaves, and then after Paul lays all that out he tells us to be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might.
I see this as both a red flag and an anchor. Lest we think we have the strength to do everything in verses 1-9 and 11-20, we are reminded that our strength comes from God. Yes, the following verses teach us how to use each piece of armor, but it also gives the context for how we use them properly. We also see the type of battle we’re in in verse 12 when it says 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.” i.e. not things our earthly strength can fight.
So how do we do it? Paul explains. We fight with truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, the Word, and prayer. Notice what all of these have in common: they come from God as gifts. God saves us through faith, He gave us His Word, which contains His truth. He teaches us how to pray, how to pursue righteousness, and explains the gospel to us so that we can share it with others.
These are our marching orders. God has given us the tools, and the only way we can be effective in using them is by realizing that all of them come from Him and we are to be in His strength if we are to succeed. What is our role? We need to understand all we can about our equipment and how to use them. We need to be in the Word constantly, praying without ceasing, ever looking to Him to deepen our understanding and change our life to be more conformed to Christ’s.