This is a continuation of our last blog article about our Armor. (See Isa 59:17 & Eph 6:14-18)
How do we employ our armor?
- The belt (sash) in a Roman soldier’s uniform was intended to enable him to tightly wind his garment about him prior to battle so that it wouldn’t be a hindrance to him. The Belt of Truth enables us to carry our weapons; gird up our loins [1 Pet 1:13-14] or “pull in all of the loose ends of our lives;” and to demonstrate that we are seriously committed to the battle. We have a heart for the battle; we’ve counted the cost. We love the Truth and we go to war on behalf of it. We also go to battle (truly) for our own spiritual protection!
- A soldier needs a breastplate to protect the vital organs, and would not go into battle without one. Our breastplate of righteousness is constructed of the truth that we are living in obedience to God; we are walking in holiness before Him. We have put on the Lord Jesus Christ because He is our Lord and Savior. (see Rom 13:14; Gal 3:27) Jesus lived a sinless life, and as our Savior, He shares His righteousness (holiness) with us—not only His righteousness but His very IDENTITY as well! We are covered in Christ! Hallelujah!
- Roman helmets, like helmets today, protected the head from the attacks of the enemy. Salvation basically means to be saved or delivered from something. In the New Testament, it is generally used to refer to deliverance from the eternal death penalty of sin and deliverance into God’s Kingdom.
Every one of us has thought and acted in ways that are displeasing to God. Our sins break God’s laws which He designed for our good. Sin requires the death penalty; God’s justice requires that penalty. But God’s loving mercy provided the only acceptable substitute. Jesus Christ, our Creator, was willing to die in our place!
This truth gives us beautiful hope and comforts us by focusing on Jesus’ perfect sacrifice. We need to also consider the Kingdom of God and the life that is the goal of our salvation. This hope works like a helmet to protect our minds from the discouragement, depression, and despair in this world—it is the Helmet of Salvation.
- Shoes (of the preparation of the gospel of peace) permit us to step freely and without fear while we turn our full attention to the battle at hand.
The gospel of the Kingdom of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of the grace of God, the gospel of peace—these are some of descriptions attached to the word gospel throughout the New Testament. Do all of these different qualifiers mean that there are multiple gospels set forth in the Bible?
The Greek word translated gospel—euaggelion—simply means “good news.” This raises a question: The good news of what? The first description used in the Gospels also summarizes all the others: The gospel of the Kingdom. The good news of the Kingdom of God includes the good news about Jesus Christ the King; His grace (unmerited pardon); and His plan of salvation for all mankind. This plan gives us peace now, and will bring peace to the whole world! This is the message that we, as God’s people, should be eager to share with others. Our loving Father is preparing each and every one of us for a future beyond imagination and description.
God’s Church is sent to announce the good news of God’s Kingdom, which will spread His way of peace around the whole world. (Rom 10:14-15) Having our shoes on, we are ready to move, to spread these glad tidings to others.
In the Apostle Paul’s day, he walked countless miles in delivering the good news. Today, transportation and communication have changed, but we must also be constantly ready to do our part to spread the good news. Just as shoes
allow us to walk on otherwise painful terrain without fear, so the preparation of the gospel of peace allows us to navigate the otherwise painful trials and tribulations of life without fear, knowing that what awaits us is far greater than anything we could possibly suffer in this world (Rom 8:18).
- The Roman shield was a central part of the soldier’s defense. It was rectangular in shape and rounded on the ends. It was typically made from two sheets of wood that were glued together, then covered with canvas and leather. The canvas and leather could be doused with water to protect against flaming arrows.
The shield weighed about 22 pounds and was roughly 37 to 42 inches high and 27 to 33 inches across. A metal piece ran across the center of the shield, so it could also be used as a weapon to punch or push forward.
Paul, in his analogy of the Christian armament, says that “above all” the shield of faith should be raised!
To see why faith is so important, we must first understand what faith is. The author of Hebrews describes it as the realization of something we can’t see:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. (Heb 11:1-2). The word faith in the New Testament is translated from the Greek word pistis, defined by Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary as “firm belief.” Faith is an unshakable belief in the promises of God.
So the Shield of Faith is vital in our battle against the enemy of our souls. We are justified by faith; faith empowers us to prevail over the adversary; our faith pleases God; and finally, our faith permits us to shield others.
The Shield of Faith is only effective when it is raised. We must be watchfully prepared and ready for battle.
The sword used by Roman soldiers was known as a gladius; and in the hands of a skilled man, it was a fearsome weapon. In fact, it became known as “the sword that conquered the world.” It was sharpened on both sides, making it lethal against an unarmored foe. The point was also sharpened, enabling it to penetrate armor.
An infantryman in the Roman legions would also go into battle with a dagger, a few spears and possibly a few darts. But the gladius (sword) was the only offensive weapon listed by Paul, and it was the main weapon in the soldier’s arsenal.
Paul defines the sword of the Spirit as the “word of God” (Eph 6:17). This isn’t the only place where God’s Word (the Bible) is described as a sword. The author of Hebrews also makes reference to it:
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account . . . (Heb 4:12-13).
The Word of God is even sharper than the gladius! It is capable of slicing to the deepest levels of one’s heart, attitudes, and motives. It is a tool of discernment in the hands of a skilled user, as well.