Only when we shift our attention to the invisible realm and start addressing our issues from the root first (where the real battle rages) will we walk in a more potent, powerful, and permanent victory. Jesus has already accomplished this victory for us. Paul admonishes us to “stand firm” in the truths God has given us in order to actualize this victory in our own lives.
There will be times when the enemy is on the offensive. He will barge into your territory and shake you so firmly that you will do well to refuse to back up. Several times in Ephesians 6 Paul wrote that we often win when we “stand firm.” Don’t forget that victory is sometimes simply not losing ground. You will defeat him by “standing firm.”
Paul tells us how we need to fight our spiritual battles: in the Lord’s might! “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Eph. 6:10-13) In this passage we are told that our primary battles are of a spiritual nature and that we need spiritual armor to be able to stand firm in the midst of these battles. The armor includes the following pieces:
Belt of truth: The belt of truth is the first item in our arsenal. “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist” (Eph 6:14a) A belt holds the other pieces of clothing and armor together. It secures the outfit and allows a soldier to move freely. The Roman’s soldier’s belt not only held additional pieces of armor and provided soldiers with increased mobility, it also produced stability by holding things in place. Truth both secures us and gives us freedom (John 8:32). One of Satan’s greatest offensive tactics is to deceive us; he is the “father of lies” (John 8:44). With the belt of truth around our waists, we are prepared to defend against this. This truth also applies to the way we live our lives. When we live with honesty and integrity, the other pieces of our armor – what could be considered our spiritual selves – stay intact. A life of integrity is not easily torn asunder.
Breastplate of righteousness: The Belt of Truth comes before the Breastplate of Righteousness, because it is the standard. Righteousness reveals how to work that standard out. The breastplate of righteousness covers our hearts and other vital organs. In a sense, the breastplate covers the most vulnerable areas of a warrior. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Prov. 4:23) God not only removed the stain of your sin when you trusted in Jesus Christ but also replaced that stain with the righteous standard of Christ. The righteousness that guards a believer’s heart is the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Satan knows he can’t take away your standing before God, so he looks for a way to break your fellowship with God by causing a breach between your position of righteousness and your practice of righteousness.
Shoes of Peace/Footwear of the readiness of the gospel: Our feet are to be “fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). Paul says that not only do you need to wear the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness, but you also need to put on the right shoes. The Roman’s soldier’s sandals were fitted with hobnails, similar to football cleats, which provide traction to keep the soldier’s feet from slipping and sliding. When Satan comes, he can’t knock you off your feet. In fact, you are able to “stand firm” because the nails coming out of your “peace shoes” have dug deep into the solid ground beneath you. It’s similar to the instruction given us in 1 Peter 3:15: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (NIV). Putting on your peace shoes involves making yourself ready to deal with whatever comes your way. Because we know the good news of Christ and by that knowledge experience peace in Him (John 14:27), our feet are willing to walk into whatever He has called us to (Isaiah 30:21).
Shield of faith: The next piece of armor is one that we take up when needed, while the first three pieces we are to wear continuously. “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (Eph 6:16) When positioned correctly underneath the protection of a shield, the soldiers were completely covered. And at time the soldiers would link their shields together so that the entire army could hide behind whatever was thrown at them. It’s one of the reasons it is important to be part of a body of believers: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2) It is on this day—what Scripture calls “the evil day”—that you especially need to be covered. When everything is going wrong in your life and the distractions of this world are taking your focus, you need a shield. You need protection because on this day you are most vulnerable to the targeted attacks of the evil one. Faith is critical to achieving victory in spiritual warfare. “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:4) When Satan attacks us, our faith in Christ lessens the blow. We are able to withstand the attack because we know whom we have believed (2 Timothy 1:12).
Helmet of salvation: The next piece of armor is also one that needs to picked up as needed: “Take the helmet of salvation” (Eph 6:17a) A helmet protects our minds because “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Prov 23:7a) The mind must be protected with a helmet that’s able to absorb the shocks of being hit by the enemy and even knocked to the ground in the spiritual realm. When our mind no longer functions as it was designed to, it impedes our will and emotions from doing what they should. This, then, influences the body as it responds to the will and emotions. So it’s no surprise that one of Satan’s primary strategies is to attack our mind. In fact, this is such a critical area that each of the different pieces of spiritual armor relates to our mind. It is because of salvation that our minds can be sound. We are assured of our eternities, and made righteous recipients of peace, practitioners of faith, and knowers of truth. Our minds are protected because of Jesus’ work on the cross; we have been given the mind of Christ, and we must be able to hear God’s voice (1 Corinthians 2:12-16).
Sword of the Spirit: We come to our final piece of armor that we are to take up as needed: “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Eph 6:17b) The sword is the one offensive weapon in the list. Everything else is designed to hold us steady from what the enemy is seeking to bring against us “in the evil day.” When Paul instructs us to take up the sword of the Spirit, he’s letting us know that in this battle, we will have times when the enemy is so close that it seems like he’s right in our face. Oftentimes, that means your battle is being waged within you—in your mind, will, emotions, and body. Paul didn’t say “take up your sword;” he said, “take…the sword of the Spirit” and do battle with it. “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath” (Rom. 12:19a) “Leaving room” means letting go of your approach and of your need to respond in your emotions. God doesn’t sanction our approach, and our emotions are unreliable. Rather, we are to take God’s approach by aligning our emotions underneath His overarching rule and putting on His full armor—the last of which is the sword of the Spirit. We are told, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) When God spoke creation came into existence. He breathed life into man. There is power in the Word of God; this is why it is our best offense.