The armor of God is an important truth to understand and apply. It’s not just for children’s coloring pages with a cute soldier in full armor. It’s after all, a command in the Bible, to put on the whole armor of God.
I had an opportunity to spend an entire year studying and teaching on the book of Ephesians. It was one of the most impactful things that I’ve experienced. I want to share some of the things that I learned as it sheds light on what the armor of God in Ephesians 6 really is and how you can put it on.
Ephesians 6:14-17 describes the 6 pieces of the armor of God. To put on the whole armor means to believe all that Jesus has done (Eph. 1-3) and to live it out in daily life (Eph. 4-5). It is living in the power of everything that God has done in every area of life even when there are challenges.
In other words, to understand the armor of God in Ephesians 6 correctly, you have to look at what Ephesians chapters 1-5 say. It has to be understood in its right context.
Putting on the whole armor of God is not mainly about a technique or paying attention to darkness and evil. It’s not about a secret prayer, a mystical spiritual experience, or visualization techniques.
The whole armor is the expression of your full trust in God and what He has done for you through Jesus Christ. Your victory in spiritual warfare was secured at the cross of Christ and the blood that was shed there (Rev. 12:11).
A wrong understanding of the armor of God can lead to confusion about what the Chrisitan life is about. If taken out of the context of the Bible, it can become a distraction from the main and plain teachings of Jesus.
One of the greatest revivals in the history of the early church took place in Ephesus. The Gospel went to the entire region of Asia Minor in 2 years and unusual miracles took place to confirm the message of Jesus. It toppled the worship of a Roman goddess and many people burned their magic scrolls to follow Jesus instead.
All this took place because of the message of the Gospel that Paul lays out in Ephesians. The Gospel conquered the Roman Empire one living room at a time. It transformed the culture of the region without direct political involvement, big budgets, or events. It was the raw power of the Gospel, including the right application of it through the armor of God.
In this article, let’s look at what putting on the full armor of God means in more detail so you can apply it correctly to your life. The full armor is meant to bring strength, stability and encouragement so you can receive all that God has for you.
What Does It Mean to Put on the Whole Armor of God?
The whole armor of God is mentioned in chapter 6, the last chapter, of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
When you understand Ephesians 1-5, you can understand what Paul’s final point in Ephesians 6 means. Paul starts in chapter 6 with the word finally. Ephesians 6 is Paul’s last point in the letter. It builds on what he’s been talking about in the previous 5 chapters.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.Eph. 6:10-11 (ESV – emphasis added)
- The first 3 chapters of Ephesians explains your position in Christ. It describes how you’ve been seated with Christ in heavenly places.
- Ephesians 4 through 5 describe how you’re to walk, or live as a follower of Jesus.
- Ephesians 6 is the conclusion that describes how you’re to stand even in the face of opposition.
To put on the armor of God is to first understand all the spiritual blessings that God has already blessed you with (Eph. 1:3). The first chapter describes the way God has blessed you.
The 12 Spiritual Blessings in Eph. 1 That Are Related to the Armor in Eph. 6
In Christ, You Are…
- Blessed with every spiritual blessing (v. 3)
- Chosen to be holy and without blame (v. 4)
- Predestined (v. 5)
- Adopted as sons (v. 5)
- Accepted in the Beloved (v. 6)
- Redeemed through His blood, according to the riches of His grace (v. 7)
- Forgiven of your sins (v. 7)
- Given wisdom and understanding of His will (v. 8-9)
- Given an inheritance (v. 11)
- To bring praise and glory to God (v. 12)
- Sealed with the Holy Spirit (v. 13)
- Guaranteed of inheritance until your redemption is fulfilled (v. 14)
To put on the full armor is to understand every single blessing, not missing any piece. God has given you every blessing in the heavenly places and every blessing is necessary.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.Eph. 1:3 (ESV – emphasis added)
Every piece of the armor in Ephesians 6 serves a different purpose to protect you, so you need to put on the full armor of God.
In the same way, every blessings in Ephesians 1 addresses a different point of attack that you might experience, whether it’s an attack against your faith, a sin that makes you feel guilty, or feeling confused about what to do in your life. We’ll look at this in more detail below when we look at each piece of armor and what blessing in Eph. 1 it corresponds to.
How to Put the Armor of God On? You put on the full armor of God by believing what God has done for you through Jesus Christ (Eph. 1-3) and by living out the elements of the armor in every area of your life (Eph. 4-5).
Spiritual Warfare and the Armor of God
The reason for the whole armor of God is because you need it in order to withstand the spiritual pressures that you’re going to face.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.Eph. 6:11 (ESV)
The full armor of God is what protects you when you have doubts, fears, and guilt. The way you stand against the accusations of the Enemy is to believe what God’s Word says about you instead.
Spiritual warfare is the term that some people use to describe this spiritual battle that Eph. 6 talks about. The battle is real and can’t be ignored, but so are the armor and weapons that God has already give you so you can stand against anything that comes your way.
Spiritual warfare in the Bible is focused on God and what Jesus has done for you. Jesus and the Apostles in the New Testament were not focused on the devil.
Ephesians 6 does not talk about engaging with spiritual forces in the heavenly realms directly. Are there spiritual forces in heavenly places? Absolutely. Eph. 6:12 even explains the spiritual hierarchy of the realm of darkness.
The spiritual realm is real, but the way you engage and respond to spiritual attack is by focusing on God and on what Jesus has done for you.
A wrong emphasis on spiritual warfare can lead to distraction, powerlessness, and confusion. If spiritual warfare is misunderstood, or focused on demons or trying to get other people to change, it’s possible to use spiritual warfare as an excuse and not deal with the real underlying issues.
For example, if there’s a problem in your relationship with someone, you might want to just pray and do “spiritual warfare” to make it better or to force the person to change. This is not what the Bible teaches.
If it’s a relational issue, you need to talk to the person in humility and with wisdom, not just pray and “do spiritual warfare.” In other words, you can’t do Ephesians 6 armor of God without doing Ephesians 5, living out the Christian life that Jesus has made available to you. This is how you engage in the spiritual warfare around you according to the Bible.
You’ve been blessed with every spiritual blessing, you are a child of God, you’ve been forgiven of all your sins. Now, you can go and stand in the face of this relationship challenge no matter what the outcome will be and no matter how the other person responds.
God is a Deliverer and Jesus sets the captives free. God delivers you from the bondage of sin and the power of it over your life. Call out to Jesus to set you free and He will deliver you.
Many people pray something like “God take away my anger.” Then they feel bad that they got angry again in a few days. If it just stops at a prayer, then they’re not receiving fully all that Jesus has made available to them.
Jesus has so much more for you. He wants to restore you and transform you into His image.
Jesus died on the cross for the penalty of sin and the power of sin to control your life. The way you gain victory is by believing what He said and turning from your old ways. You put off the old, be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new (Eph. 4).
Spiritual warfare is not asking God to take away your sin. Jesus did that on the cross. It’s applying the Word of God because of what Jesus has done. Receiving His power and standing in the face of struggle – confident in Christ and being transformed daily more into Christ’s image.
I wrote an article about the Biblical way how you can apply Ephesians 4-5 in your life and how to experience the new life that Jesus makes available to you. If it’s something you want to look into more I think it’ll be very helpful: How to Be a Better Person According to the Bible.
Spiritual warfare is not a secret method of prayer to change a person, a city a church or a nation. It’s the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the right response to it in repentance and faith that brings real transformation.
The power in spiritual warfare is the cross of Christ and the blood that was shed there. How you apply it to your daily life is what it means to put on the full armor of God.
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.Col. 2:13-15 (ESV – emphasis added)
Where in the Bible Does It Talk About the Armor of God?
The Bible mentions the armor of God in several places.
- Ephesians 6:10-18
- 1 Thes. 5:8
- Romans 13:12
- Isaiah 59:17
Ephesians 6 gives the most detailed explanation and mention of the whole armor of God in the Bible. It describes the 6 pieces of the armor that we’ll look at in more detail in the next section.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 also mentions 2 of the pieces of the armor: the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of the hope of salvation. Romans 13:12 says to put on the armor of light. In that passage, to put on the armor of light is to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 13:14) and to live as He calls you to live.
What we can take away from this is that the importance of the armor of God is not so much in the analogy of the armor, but in what each part does. In other words, the main point is not that the breastplate is righteousness as in Ephesians or it’s faith and love in 1 Thessalonians. The point is that righteousness is important as well as faith and love.
Isaiah 59:17 describes the Lord putting on 2 of the pieces of the armor we see in Eph. 6: Righteousness as a breastplate and a helmet of salvation on His head.
He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,
and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.Isa. 59:17 (ESV)
So why is the armor of God called that in the Bible? It’s not just because it comes from God, but it is God’s. He gives you His armor to wear. It’s actually what He wears.
It’s not an armor that man can make up. It’s God’s armor. You’re not trying to resist temptation in your own strength or will-power. It’s all in God’s strength.
What Are the 6 Pieces of the Armor of God?
In Ephesians 6, the 6 pieces of the armor of God are:
- Belt of truth
- Breastplate of righteousness
- Shoes – readiness of the Gospel of peace
- Shield of faith
- Helmet of salvation
- Sword of the Spirit
Some people say that there is a 7th piece, which is praying at all times in the Spirit. That is an important thing to do in order to stand against spiritual attack but it’s not connected to a piece of armor like the others are in Ephesians 6.
It’s more accurate to say that praying in the spirit is an activity that flows out of putting on the full armor of God. It’s not technically one of the pieces of the armor.
Now, let’s look at each piece of the armor of God in more detail.
What Is the Belt in the Armor of God?
The belt of truth is the first piece of the armor of God that’s mentioned in Ephesians 6.
Some Bible scholars explain that the belt keeps all the pieces of the armor together. Other say that the belt in the Roman armor provides support to the solider like a weight-lifter might wear a belt to reduce stress on his back.
The main point of the belt is not the part of the armor that it’s associated with. That’s the analogy. The point is that we need to live in truth.
To put on the belt of truth means to put your full trust in God’s truth and in what He says. It means that you value God’s truth more than the lies that the Accuser might whisper or shout in your ear. Will you believe what God says about you or will you believe the Devil, the deceiver?
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,Eph. 1:3 (ESV)
You put on the belt of truth when you say: “I’m not trusting in the lies of the enemy. I believe all that the Bibles says about what Jesus did for me.” Eph. 1:3 says that God has given you every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. It says that you’ve been raised with Christ and seated with Him. It says that you’ve been chosen, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, and sealed with the Holy Spirit.
Are you wondering if God still loves you? Instead of looking to yourself or listening to the lies of the Accuser, choose to look at the cross, where Jesus died for you. It’s where God’s love was fully displayed for you. It’s the constant, where Jesus, the Truth (John 14:6) died for you.
Are you feeling the weight of guilt and shame because you fell into the same sin again? Will you choose to believe that God accepts you and likes you because of what Jesus has already done for you? Will you trust in God’s love for you because Jesus has already paid the price of the penalty of your sin? Will you believe God’s truth?
If this is a battleground for you and you want to to be confident in God’s love, here’s an article you might be interested in: Does God Love Me – How You Can Know for Sure (link opens in a new window). In it, I explore 3 biblical ways that you can overcome doubt, shame, and guilt.
If you believe God’s truth, then you’ll be able to stand against the wiles of the enemy. It’ll be like a belt that supports you so that you can stand.
What Does the Breastplate of Righteousness Mean?
The breastplate of righteousness is what protects the core of your being from every spiritual attack. The breastplate covers what’s closest to your heart.
It affects whether you walk in confidence as someone who is sure that God loves them. It affects how you feel about yourself at the heart-level. Are you trying to earn God’s favor in your life?
You put on the breastplate of righteousness by trusting in what God has done for you in Jesus. Righteousness, the fact that you are good enough to be received by God, is a gift that’s given to you, not something that you could ever earn on your own.
For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.Rom. 5:17 (ESV – emphasis added)
You put on the breastplate of righteousness when you can say: “I don’t have to trust my own goodness. I trust Jesus to be righteous for me.” God accepts you and enjoys you because of what Jesus did.
To put on the breastplate of righteousness means to belive what Ephesians 1:4-6 says about you. You have been chosen by God to be holy and without blame before Him in love, you’ve been predestined to be adopted by God, you are fully accepted by God through His Beloved, Jesus.
What Does Feet Shod With the Gospel of Peace Mean?
In Ephesians 6, the armor of God includes covers for the feet. A modern equivalent would be shoes or sandals.
It’s described as the preparation or readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. As part of the armor of God that helps you stand against any spiritual attack, it’s an important piece.
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect1 Pet. 3:15 (ESV – emphasis added)
This means that you can always be prepared to take the message of God’s peace to the people around you. God has gone to the utmost to reconcile us to Himself through Christ (2 Cor. 5:18). You are now His ambassador. You are the salt and light of the world.
The shoes are of peace because God’s peace is made available to people through what Jesus, the Prince of Peace did on the cross in dying for sin. The Gospel, or Good News, is that the sin that separated people from God has been paid for by Jesus. Through faith in Christ and receiving this gracious gift of God, there can be peace and reconciliation with God.
Why is this part of the armor of God? It’s there as an encouragement so that even when times get tough, you can always share the message of God’s love with people. Even through times of discouragement or even persecution, you can stand and do God’s will. You can tell people about the Good News of Jesus, the Gospel of Peace.
What Does the Shield of Faith Mean?
The shield of faith is the part of the full armor of God (Eph. 6) that protects you from the flaming darts of the enemy.
Faith is an important part of your relationship with God. It’s impossible to please God without faith (Heb. 11:6).
Faith is how you start in your walk with God, by believing in Jesus. Faith is how you progress in spiritual growth. Faith is what will help you keep standing until the end, when you stand before Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2).
To take up the shield of faith means to but your personal trust in God in every circumstance.
It means putting your faith in God’s power, His will, and His desire to bring it about in the world and in your life.
God alone is able to forgive you, save you, and finish the work that He began in you.
When the enemy attacks, it’ll be to try to shake your faith and trust in God. He will come to shake your trust in God’s Word, in His Love for You, and in His plans for your life. He comes to shake your confidence in God.
Your feelings and your mind can change but when you choose to take up the shield of faith, you grasp firmly to the unchanging God, Who is the source of all that is good (James 1:17).
What Is the Helmet of Salvation in the Bible?
The helmet of salvation is part of the spiritual armor (Eph. 6) that points to the truth that God is the One who saves and delivers.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 also describes this piece of the whole armor of God as the helmet of hope of salvation.
In Isaiah 59:17, the Lord puts on the helmet of salvation. This means that He is the one who saves and delivers. The world is in a state of brokenness. Darkness will continue to increase until Jesus returns. But, you can have a hope in God’s salvation that will help you stand through any trouble in this life.
This is the same helmet that you’re invited to put on. It’s God’s armor.
God is the One who brings salvation to the world. Jesus’ very name means “the Lord Saves.”
The helmet of salvation brings protection to your mind and brings hope no matter what happens in this life. The Good News of Jesus brings real hope. The Gospel is not only that Jesus died and was buried. He also rose again. And Jesus will return again at the end of this age to bring God’s Kingdom fully on the earth (Revelation 21-22).
Salvation is not only about going to heaven when you die. It’s about God making all things new when Jesus returns (Rev. 21:5).
What Is the Sword of the Spirit in the Armor of God?
Ephesians 6 concludes the list of spiritual armor with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Hebrews 4:12 also describes the word of God as a two-edged sword.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
The word of God brings truth and freedom to the very core of your being. It’s a weapon that can be used to destroy the crafty works of darkness.
Jesus used the word as a sword three times in Matthew 4:1-11. Jesus countered every temptation from the Devil with the Word. Jesus answered each temptation by saying: “It is written” and quoted from the Scriptures.
But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”Matt. 4:4 (ESV)
As you commit to read and obey God’s Word, you are using the sword of the Spirit. Let God bring freedom and deliverance to your mind and to the core of your being.
What Does It Mean to Pray in the Spirit on All Occasions?
To pray in the Spirit on all occasions is to engage your heart with God at the deepest level of your heart.
It’s not prayer just on the surface, of simply asking God for stuff. Rather, praying in the Spirit is an ongoing communion with God. It’s a longing to know His heart and mind. This is Paul’s prayer in Eph. 1:17-23, that God would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation that you might know Him more.
To pray in the Spirit is prayer empowered by God’s Spirit. As He touches your spirit, you’re able to abide in Christ (John 15:4).
Praying in the Spirit is not mentioned as one of the 6 pieces of the full armor of God, but it flows out of putting on the armor of God. After you’ve put on the full armor of God, it naturally follows that you’ll be praying in the Spirit. Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and pray in the Spirit.
What does stand firm mean in the Bible? Ephesians 6 gives the exhortation to “stand” 3 times, in verses 11, 13 and 14. To stand firm means to resist and overcome the schemes of the devil (Eph. 6:11).
You can stand firm because you’ve already been seated with Him (Eph. 1-2) and are walking according to His word (Eph. 4-6).
Putting on the whole armor of God is not asking God to make the battle stop. It’s standing in the victory of Jesus on the Cross and applying it to your daily life.
The Bible says that there will be tensions, tribulations, and even persecution in the days ahead before Jesus returns (Matt. 24:9-24). Keep standing firm by keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus and His glorious leadership. He has overcome the world!
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”John 16:33 (ESV)
Knowing God is one of the keys to experiencing His goodness, power, and wisdom. This book is a real gem that has helped many people press into the knowledge of God. It’s definitely a classic: The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life (link to Amazon – opens in a new window).
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
“The man who comes to a right belief about God is relieved of 10,000 temporal problems…”(A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy)
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