“…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”Ephesians 4:22-24 (ESV)
“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. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”Ephesians 6:10-18a (ESV)
Step One: Putting on the New Self
The Roman soldiers of Paul’s day didn’t only wear armor – they needed additional clothing to be properly equipped. One of the most common articles of clothing used was a tunic, usually made of wool. Worn under the armor, these tunics helped the soldiers in the process of wearing their equipment. Every day, the soldiers would put on the tunic first before their armor.
Putting on the full armor of God involves a similar process. The Apostle Paul encourages us to, “put off the old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22). In a sense, he’s talking about our “old tunic” that has been stained with sin. We should remove this old, corrupted piece of clothing and put on something new.
But what do we have to wear?
If we have accepted and believe in Jesus, we have the answer to that question. Through Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, he gave us a new self, a “new tunic” to wear. This new self is powerful, “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). As Christians, we must first put on the new tunic that God has given us through his son – then we are ready to equip his armor.
Step Two: Equipping the Armor of God
Now that we are wearing the tunic of the new self, we can begin equipping the whole armor of God. Paul makes sure to tell us that our set of armor should be complete – each piece is extremely important! Could you imagine a imagine a soldier going into battle wearing only half his armor? Aside from looking pretty silly, he’d be more vulnerable to attacks from the enemy.
That’s why it’s so important to put on every piece of God’s armor. Fortunately, Paul also tells us exactly what those pieces of armor are:
Belt of Truth
The first piece of armor is the belt of truth. Though it may not be the first thing you think of, a belt is a crucial piece of equipment – it holds everything together. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” Jesus identifies himself as the truth, and knowing this truth is what holds the armor of God together when we put it on.
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (John 8:32)
Breastplate of Righteousness
The next piece of armor is the breastplate of righteousness. As you can imagine, a breastplate is an important part of a full armor set, as it protects some of the most vulnerable parts of the body. More than that, breastplates could help identify allegiances – think of the designs or emblems found on breastplates to communicate who or what the soldier is fighting for.
“If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him” (1 John 2:29). We are called to live righteously, and that righteousness lets others know we are followers of Christ.
Shoes of the Gospel of Peace
We are instructed to equip shoes next – and not just any shoes, but shoes “having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” The importance of shoes is self-explanatory. We may not wear armor all that often (or at all), but we wear shoes every day. They help us get around. And Paul tells us it is Jesus’ message, the gospel of peace, that makes us ready to charge into spiritual battle.
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news” (Isaiah 52:7). The good news we bring is the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Shield of Faith
Next up is the shield of faith. For soldiers, swords and spears weren’t the only thing to worry about – arrows could be just as deadly. But with a shield, a soldier could better protect himself from that danger. Paul cautions us against the “flaming darts,” or arrows, of the evil one. These include the sins we struggle with and the doubts we may face. But with our faith in God serving as our shield, we can overcome all of Satan’s schemes.
“For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). God assures us that with him, we can overcome the challenges we may face. If we put our faith in him, we will not be disappointed!
Helmet of Salvation
No armor is truly complete without a helmet. It protects the head from danger and keeps the mind intact. The helmet of the armor of God is the knowledge of our salvation. When we know that Jesus is our salvation, it helps conform our mind to God’s will. This allows us to be much more effective when sharing the good news of Christ.
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Only Jesus gives salvation, and we are called to proclaim that salvation to those around us.
Sword of the Spirit
Paul is clear – the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. Whenever you have your Bible with you or carry God’s words in your heart, you are equipped with the sword of the Spirit. It is the only offensive tool listed in the armor of God, and it’s the only one we need. It cuts through the lies and darkness of the enemy and points people to the truth.
“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). Remember, God’s Word is powerful!
And don’t forget prayer!
There is one more crucial point that Paul tells us we should do to accompany the armor of God: “…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18a). Don’t forget to pray and ask God to help you live out your faith with the whole armor of God!
Here’s your challenge…
Each morning this month, intentionally choose to put on the new self and the armor of God. Remind yourself that you are putting on the new self that God has given you. Commit Ephesians 4:24 to memory and reciting it to yourself each morning: “Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Next, imagine putting on each piece of the armor of God and saying out loud a verse that corresponds to it. Here are some suggestions…
Belt of Truth: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” — John 8:32
Breastplate of Righteousness: “Everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.” — 1 John 2:29b
Shoes of the Gospel of Peace: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news.” — Isaiah 52:7a
Shield of Faith: “For nothing will be impossible with God.” — Luke 1:37
Helmet of Salvation: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” — Acts 4:12
Sword of the Spirit: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit.” — Hebrews 4:12a