In the previous article, the Part – 2 of the series on Armour of God, we considered the 3 Armour of God (Belt of Truth, Breastplate of Righteousness, Shoes of the Preparation of the Gospel) along with the Biblical examples of men who succeeded and failed to use the Armour of God in wisdom. Hope the explanation and the example has helped you to get a better understanding of the practical applications and implications of the Armour of God. We will look into the further Amour mentioned in Ephesians Ch 6: 10-18.
4) Shield of Faith:
Where there is faith, there is no place for doubt or fear. Satan sows the seeds of doubt pertaining to the faith, and the word of God. Thus it is imperative that we lift up the shield of faith, which is founded and perfected in us by Lord Jesus Christ, Hebrews 12: 2 , to withstand the attacks of doubts and fear by Satan. This is indicative also that this faith is not generated from us or ‘self-generated’ faith but it is given to us by God in Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is also conclusive that more we are rooted and abiding in Christ Jesus the stronger will be this shield of faith that we carry.
Shield of a Soldier’s Amour is always made of hard and valuable metal/material which is thick enough to prevent any darts, arrows, or sword from penetrating. The harder and bigger the shield better is the chance of protection. However, the harder and bigger it is, the heavier it is to carry. This is indeed true and affirmed by Jesus Christ when He said, if you have a faith like a mustered seed, you will say the mountain to move from its place, it will move, Matthew 17: 20. This is a solemn reminder that as humans we lack faith in God. The faith given to us by Lord Jesus Christ by His Grace is on which we need to stand and the mover of the mountain for us should be Him.
Thus faith in Lord Jesus Christ for our practical life is one of the most difficult thing to do, just like the shield is one of the heaviest Armour to carry. But a bigger and a stronger shield (greater faith) gives a soldier greater security.
a) Positive Example: One of the best example of men who carried the shield of faith throughout their life and ministry is Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Daniel 3: 1-12. Here, we see that these three men where so faithful to God and had an unwavering faith that they disobeyed the decree of King Nebuchadnezzar to worship the image and idol that was made by him. A king’s command and decree was always to be followed by the servants who were working for the King. The act of disobedience was an act of contempt for the King, worthy of condemnation. But Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego didn’t bow out of irreverence to the King but out of the faith and obedience to God. However, it was ordered by the King about those who won’t comply will be thrown into the fiery furnace.
As was decreed by the king we further see that King ordered to throw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace after confronting them. The responses from them where classic example of how their shield of faith where lifted high and strong. Their responses in, Daniel 3: 16-18, is indicative of the defense of their faith. This lead to a great miracle of they being saved in the fiery furnace and, Daniel 3: 26-27 which even lead Nebuchadnezzar to take back his decree and claim that the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be honored, Daniel 3: 28-30.
This example is a great example that we can draw encouragement from, and in what kind of circumstances do we lift this shield of faith.
We must not lift the shield of faith when God confronts us of our sin, mistake, wrong understanding of God’s word, as a reason of an excuse to live an unpleasing life.
c) Negative Example: Abraham the Father of our faith and his wife Sarah has been commended of their faith, Hebrews 11: 8-11. However,there was a point in time when both Abraham and Sarah was filled with doubt and was caught off guard in the Satan’s trap, Genesis 16: 1-6. Abraham was promised that God will bless him and make a great nation of him, In Genesis 12 and 13. But Sarah and Abraham doubted that God will fulfill this promise as many years had passed, Sarah was getting older, both were losing their faith in God for the promise he had made. Perhaps they may have thought that the promise could be to bear son with someone else like Hagar, but if that was the case God would have told Abraham to marry Hagar and have children but God didn’t give that command. Sarah and Abraham were very well aware that God had promised them both a son and a great nation. However, we see both of them didn’t guard themselves and gave occasion to their own ideas and ways and we can see the consequences of it. How when Hagar conceived she looked at her Mistress Sarah with contempt. They paid a great price for not using the shield of faith against Satan’s wises leading them to take matter in their own hands by their own wisdom which further lead them through great pain.
When we put off our guard especially the shield of faith, we tend to take our own decisions in our own wisdom and ways. Bible tells us in Proverbs 14: 12, There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Also, in Isaiah 55: 8-9 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Abraham and Sarah for the moment didn’t trust in God’s plan, wisdom and timing for their lives, thus faltered. May this be a lesson to us, when we are in the midst of doubts we may lift up the Shield of Faith of Jesus Christ to guard ourselves from taking any steps that is enticed by Satan or the world that is under his control.
5) Helmet of Salvation:
Helmet was an important Armour that prevented or protected a Soldier from the blow or attack on head or face which can cause serious damage to a Soldier, even death. Attack or blow on head, most of the time lead to fatal injury. The chances of a Soldier to be dysfunctional or handicapped or even die is high if he takes a hit on the head.
Rightly so, Apostle Paul compares the Helmet with our salvation. Helmet is that which covers the majority of our sensory organs and also the brain, the main processor of our body, emotions and thoughts. Likewise Helmet of salvation gives security to our Christian faith, life, and all the blessings that proceeds from it.
It also indicative of the fact that Salvation or Gospel is the standard on which all our thoughts be aligned to. It concerns with our understanding of the Gospel and Biblical Doctrines. When we hold the true Gospel, the source of our salvation and that which gives us hope of eternal life we will not receive false doctrines. If we are wrong on the Gospel and primary doctrines then the helmet we are wearing is a counterfeit one. Or if we have swayed away from the faith into a false teaching of Gospel then we never had the helmet of salvation put on.
The helmet of salvation also protects our minds from insecurity of our salvation and gives us the assurance of salvation.
a) Positive Example: We see the unwavering discipline and thought that Job had towards God. Even when everything was taken away from him, when he was only left with his wife and the 3 servants who came to him with the news of everything that was destroyed including his sons and daughters, Job 1: 13-19. Despite of such a great loss in his life we see a very sobering response from Job in this heartbreaking situation, Job 1: 20-22. [20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” 22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. ]
Notice that job tore his robe and shaved his head, this is indicative of the love that he had towards his children and how heart breaking it was for him. It was also indicative of the fact that he was in total surrender to God, it was symbolic to acknowledging a spiritual reality that the righteousness he held dear and everything that he had, even the smallest glory of the hair on his head, he considered or counted as dung, and nothing compared to the Sovereignty and purpose of God over his life. We can see that from his next action, as he falls on the ground and worships God stating ‘Naked he came from his mother’s womb and naked will he return, Lord gives and Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord. He did not charge God for this action that Satan brought upon him, but even in this circumstances glorified God and declared that the Name of the Lord be blessed.
He guarded his mind from swaying away, he guarded his mind from falling in the trap of Satan, Job 1: 9-12 and did not accuse God rather blessed His Name. We can see how he had put on the helmet of salvation here to prevent himself from the attack of the adversary, i.e., the Devil. This is a great example for us to look upto, and follow.
b) Negative Example: Simon the Magician is one of the best example we can see from the scriptures of whom it is mentioned that he believed and was baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ yet his salvation was in a great question, when his mind was driven by greed, when he saw the great miracles and signs, apostles performed, Acts 8: 14-23.
Simon was a magician and we read in Act 8: 13 how even Simon also believed and was baptized like all the others who heard Apostle Philip preach the Gospel in Samaria and saw him do great miracles among them. But till this time they had not received the Holy Spirit. God purposed this to show that even Samaritans needs, also receive the salvation and the Holy Spirit in the same manner as Jews received during the time of Pentecost. That the both Jews and Samaritans should only be saved by repenting and believing in Lord Jesus Christ and receive of the same Holy Spirit. Thus the Holy Spirit had not come upon them until Peter, John and Philip had laid hand upon them that they may receive the Holy Spirit. When they laid their hands upon the believers and prayed in Samaria, they received the Holy Spirit. Simon saw this, but did not realize that they received Holy Spirit this way from God to show the Jews this very truth.
We see in Bible that there is only one instance each where apostles had laid their hands and they received the Holy Spirit, one for the Jew, one for Samaritans and one for the gentiles (House of Cornelious). We see however that Simon was caught off guard by the devil, greed had entered him. He thought that it will be a personal gain to have such power to be able to lay hand on people to give them Holy Spirit. We see that his mind was not guarded from greed, that his faith was not grounded in the Gospel of Lord Jesus Christ nor on the salvation he had received. He didn’t realize that apostle were not doing things by their own accord but the Holy Spirit was moving and working through them. We further see how Peter confronted Simon and called out his greed and commanded him to cry out to God with repentance and seek forgiveness as his heart is not right with God, that Peter saw him in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity, basically saying that he is still found guilty of sin and his salvation was in question.
May this be a warning to us. Let our lives be founded in Jesus Christ and the salvation that he has given to us. Let the ‘Helmet of Salvation’ be always put on so that we may not go wrong with God and our minds be renewed every moment of our lives.
6) Sword of the Spirit:
This is the only weapon in the Armour of God, whose purpose is to both attack and defend. However, primary purpose or objective of this Armour is to attack, Hebrews 4:12. This shows the holy and powerful nature of the word of God. The truth of the Word of God can penetrate deep into one’s Soul and expose its intent in the light of the holiness of God and it is also powerful enough to break and shatter ones own guard and transform the Soul. This probably was inspired by Jesus Christ’s own word in John 6: 63 where He tells that, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” The word Jesus Christ spoke is the word of God and it is Spirit and life, thus Holy and powerful. We see Jesus Christ Himself uses scriptures to counter Satan when he came to tempt Jesus in the wilderness for forty 40 days. This is indicative of how important was the scriptures for Jesus Christ, for it was His own oracles.
One thing that I personally have noticed in the many years of my Christian life is that, this Armour is one of the most miss-used, abused and miss managed. Not that the word of God is weak enough to be tarnished this way. But I am talking in context of when believer uses this Armour in this fasion to their own destruction. I have seen them being used on other believers to tear them down, have seen them being presented very mildly (without having its full potential) i.e., a diluted version and softened or adulterated version of Gospel to the world. We also often times end up despising it rather than cherishing or delighting in it, in our personal lives. This is enough for us to bring dishonor to God who have given us this Armour of God as a gift. Let us be vigilant in this regard.
a) Positive Example: We see the example of Stephen in Acts 7, though he was not one of the Apostle, though he was appointed as one of the deacons, Acts 6: 1-15. The role of the deacon was totally different, they were appointed by the church for a different purpose. Though it is testified of Stephen that he was a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, Acts 6: 5, indicative of the fact that a deacon who is appointed by the Church must be filled with the Holy Spirit and should have a good testimony.
Coming back to the main point while Stephan was fulfilling his duty as a deacon we see in that he, with full of Grace and power, was doing great signs and wonders, also preaching the Gospel so much so that some Jews ceased him and brought him to the high priest bearing false witness of blaspheming against Moses. But the fact we see from the scriptures was that he was preaching boldly about Lord Jesus Christ and expounding the OT in the light of Lord Jesus Christ so much so that those who gazed upon him saw that his face was like a face of an angel. What a testimony can we see about Stephen! He used the sword of the Spirit well and only for the glory of God and with all might. We further see in Acts 7 how he expounds the OT in dept to the high priest and the people to him he was brought. What a man of God!
Notice that right after this he was taken and stoned to death, Bible records that Stephen was the first Martyr of the Church. With the less time he had in hand he preached the word of God boldly, like a skilled swordsman using the sword to its full potential. May Stephen be an example infront of our eyes as we carry this Sword. That this two edged sword may not remain in its sheath but brought forth often to be used mightily for the Kingdom of God.
b) Negative Example: One of the best example of utter failure of using the sword of the Spirit is the Pharisees, the teacher and keeper of the law. But they utterly failed to understand the word of God, this great sword they were given in their hands to use. Apostle Paul testifies about them in Romans 10: 2, For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. Jesus often called out to their hypocrisy and called them the children of their father, the devil. They used the word of God as a yoke and a bondage on the people of Israel rather than redeeming Israel by using this powerful and life giving word of God.
They failed to understand the word of God so much that they couldn’t recognize that the law and the prophets spoke about Jesus Christ. But we see how common people of Israel, some of them who followed Jesus Christ understood the scriptures well about Jesus Christ, but Pharisees were far from it.
There are some now as well in Christiandome, who are Pharisaical in their approach and understanding the word of God, so much so that they try to put yoke upon the Church which is freed from the yoke and bondage of laws that leads to no Spiritual edification. Let this sign be a flag to us and stay away or confront such people with love and gentleness, call out their sin. Let us learn how to use this Sword of the Spirit (Word of God), as skillful swordsmen, using this Sword of the Spirit for the glory of God.
7) Prayerful Soldier (Pray without ceasing):
Lastly, though this is not a part of the Armour but this is very much important for a Soldier in Christ Jesus. A true Christian Soldier is the one who is often on the knees (Praying), gaining strength from God. A Christian Soldier cannot neglect Prayer, as the founder and the perfecter of thier faith, Lord Jesus Christ never neglected praying to His Father. Mind, Heart, and Priorities of Lord Jesus Christ was always to be in communion with His Father, and often Jesus in His ministry on the earth escaped from the sight of people and spend hours praying and communing with His Father. Praying helps to draw Spiritual strength and wisdom from God. However, it is not the power of prayer that we rely on but the power of the one whom we pray to, praying is a time communing and spending time in the presence of the Lord, which strengthens a Soldier and we also find God’s intervention in our Spiritual battle in the time of our need.
a) Positive Example: We see a prominent examples in the Bible, Daniel who is called as man of prayer or a praying prophet, Daniel 6: 10. By this he got great strength from the Lord and wisdom to fulfill his duty towards God’s calling as he lived in Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar and through Daniel God fulfilled His purpose for the people. We see that right from Daniel rejecting to eat from the Kings table to not obeying Kings paganistic decrees, he didn’t waver from praying to God and God blessed him and used him greatly.
b) Negative Example: Prominent example of failure in this regards can be see in King David’s life, though he is called man after God’s own heart, though he wrote a lot of Psalms though he expressed in many of His Psalms, how he delights to dwell in the house of the Lord, we see in one of the instance that he failed as a Soldier of God to pray. While Israel’s amry was on the battlefield we see David, instead of praying for the Soldier’s safety and victory in the battle by staying in his house, he was on his house roof top from where he saw Bathsheba, wife of Uriah the Hittite who was one of the main Soldier in David’s army, bathing and calls for her by force and commits adultery with her, 2 Samuel 11. Which further leads him to more grave sins for planning the killing of Uriah one of his strong men. To hide his first sin, he used greater sin or deception and murder.
As a King of Israel, God’s chosen nation he was expected to pray as his troops were on the battlefield. David did such shameful act that God had to send Prophet Nathan to confront him. This sin that David committed brought a great shame to him and not only that the Name of the Lord was dishonored among the nation, this is something that God hated. His name being dishonored by His own people.
Lack of prayer often makes way for sin and loosing out on God’s strength. As we saw in the first part of the series that a Soldier without being strong in the Lord and power of His might, cannot put on the Armor of God, nor does he posses the wisdom or skill to use the Armour of God. Prayer is the medium by which a Christian Soldier can draw their strength from the Lord. Lack of which may create a weak and deformed Soldier.
By this we end the series on the Armour of God, which I pray and hope to God that it reaches to the masses and it will be a helpful resource for all the readers to align our lives back to God, and always put of the Armour of God, be a Strong Soldier in the Lord and in the power of His might, and a Soldier who never ceases to pray.
I hope to bring to you a separate article that will be regarding current scenarios of the church where we see bad examples of the Armour of God being used. What are the signs to know that we are not justifying the Armour of God in our lives and Signs of failures as a Soldier of Lord Jesus Christ, which will further enable us to know the potential of the Armor of God and use it to it’s full potential.