13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; (Ephesians 6:13–14)
I. THE NEED FOR THE ARMOR OF GOD
In verse 12, the need for the believer to be wearing spiritual armor was clearly described—our foes are not flesh and blood, but they are otherworldly demons directed by the cruel hate of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)
In verse 13, Paul picks up on this and says…
Ephesians 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
“Wherefore” means “therefore” or “for that reason.” Because you realize the grim power and abilities of your spiritual enemies, for that reason, you should put on the “whole armour of God.”
How can we, fallen, sinful human beings fight against the greatest sinner of them all, Satan? By putting on the armor of God.
This is God’s armor, as Isaiah describes—
17 For [the LORD, verse 15] put on righteousness as a breastplate, And an helmet of salvation upon his head; And he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, And was clad with zeal as a cloke. (Isaiah 59:17)
What a blessing! The Lord shares his armor with the believer! You, Christian, are called to “take unto you” (ἀναλαμβάνω) the Lord’s armor. We will shortly see, piece by piece, how to do so.
But, first, the reason you’re to take this armor and put it on is so that you…“may be able to withstand”—When you are wearing God’s spiritual armor, you will be able to withstand the attacks of Satan.
You will be able to stand firm “in the evil day.” When is that day? Any day until Jesus returns has the potential to be an evil day. Satan may strike you at any moment.
Again, for emphasis, the verse says, “having done all to stand.” When all is said and done, the most important thing for the Christian to have done in this life-long battle is “to stand.”
That’s huge when you think about it—we are Christian soldiers who are engaged in a life-long spiritual battle. We must stand firm. How are we supposed to do that? How do we last for our entire life? By putting on God’s armor.
Let us look at this armor that God gives us to see what it is and how it can be put on. First, there is…
II. THE BELT OF TRUTH
A. The Belt…
Ephesians 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
“having your loins girt about” (ὀσφῦς…περιζώννυμι) refers to a belt or a girdle being tied about your waist. In Bible days, a person used a belt to hold his garments together. A soldier would use a wide belt to hang his sword and other pieces of armor on. This would have looked like what we call a weight-lifting belt today.
The same phrase is used by Jesus in Luke 12—
35 Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; 36 And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. (Luke 12:35–36)
A belt makes a person ready. You can’t be ready if your garments (which were long robes in the Ancient Near East) are tripping you! If I don’t have a belt, I don’t feel ready—my pants feel loose and I become self-conscious, worried that my pants will betray me. A belt gives me confidence, just as the belt of truth gives a Christian confidence.
B. …Of Truth
The belt that we are to wear is “truth.” What is this truth? There are two ways that the word, “truth,” is being used here. The first is God’s truth as found in the Bible.
1. God’s Truth
The Bible is the objective, unchanging truth that we can firmly set our lives on. Just as the soldier’s belt held everything together, so God’s truth is the belt that holds our lives together.
One of Satan’s favorite tactics is to attack God’s truth. What did he say to Eve in the garden?
1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (Genesis 3:1)
Did God say that? No, but it was the way Satan used to introduce confusion into Eve’s mind. Her response was was to say that they could eat of every tree but the one or they would die (which was God’s truth), but she added that they couldn’t even touch that tree (which wasn’t what God said).
At that point, the precision of God’s word was marred in Eve’s mind and Satan was able to continue his temptation of Eve until she gave in.
Today the same sort of thing happens with God’s word all the time—Christians are imprecise with it.
Either they add to it, as Eve did, and make for themselves a type of legalism that leads to unloving attitudes. Or they water it down, in the name of being more loving or friendly, leading to living in sin.
Either kind of Bible imprecision is fine with Satan, because either way Christians aren’t really ready for his attacks because they don’t have a handle on God’s truth. It’s not properly belted around their waists.
As Christians, we need to be precise with the Word of God.
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
The second way that “truth” is being used here has to do with…
2. Personal Truthfulness
We could also call this integrity or sincerity. Personal truthfulness or integrity is simply the outgrowth of knowing God’s truth in the Bible. Knowing God’s truth in the Bible leads to a life that is progressively more consistent with God’s character.
When we compromise our personal integrity by being untruthful, Satan is given a foothold to cause confusion and damage in our lives. King David discovered this when he sinned with Bathsheba.
When she announced that she was pregnant, David turned to lying to cover his tracks. When his ploy to get her husband to have relations with Bathsheba failed (so as to make the husband think the baby was his own),
David finished destroying his personal integrity by concocting a devious plan to have the husband killed in battle.
Satan had a field day with this! David was unable to avoid the consequences that came afterwards.
When you read through the book of Second Samuel, you find that before Bathsheba, it’s about David’s triumphs. After Bathsheba, it’s about David’s troubles.
For example, Absalom, David’s son, makes a run to replace David as king by winning the hearts of the people to himself. Many people were willing to follow Absalom, no doubt, because they saw him as a better king than that lying, cheating David.
We need to both cling to God’s truth found in the Bible and be truthful ourselves. It’s the belt we’re to wear to stay ready and prepared against Satan’s attacks. Remember, Satan is seeking a foothold in your life. Peter says,
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1 Peter 5:8)
One way that we can be sober and vigilant is to put on the belt of truth by knowing God’s word and being people of truthfulness.
The second piece of God’s armor that we are to put on is…
III. THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
A. The Breastplate…
“having on the breastplate”—the breastplate of the Roman soldier covered his chest area, protecting several vital organs.
Most Roman soldiers would have worn a breastplate made of tough leather. Sewn on to this leather could be pieces of metal, or slices of animal hooves.
While the breastplate protected the Roman soldier’s physical heart, the breastplate of God’s armor protects our spiritual hearts. Biblically, the heart represents the will, the mind, and the emotions.
That’s precisely the area of attack where Satan and his cohorts do battle. They want to affect how we make our decisions, which are made by our will, mind, and emotions—in other words, our heart.
God’s breastplate that we are to put on is a breastplate…
B. …Of Righteousness
“of righteousness”—As with the belt of truth, we face the problem of what righteousness is being referred to here. Is it God’s righteousness that he gives us, or our own personal righteousness? I believe there is good reason to suppose that it is referring to both.
First, let’s look at God’s righteousness that he gives to us, what is called:
1. Imputed Righteousness
“Imputed” means “transferred” and is a picture of money being transferred from one bank account to another bank account.
What is imputed righteousness and why is it important to us?
It goes back to the fact that we, as sinful humans, are not righteous—not perfectly righteous. None of us can match the standard of perfection that God demands. The Bible says, “There is none righteous, no, not one:” (Romans 3:10).
But Jesus Christ never sinned; he is totally righteous. When we trust Jesus, his righteousness is imputed, or transferred, to our account.
So, when we trust Christ, God can accept us, not because of our good works, but because of Jesus’ righteousness given to us. The apostle Paul wrote he wanted to…
9 And be found in [Christ], not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (Philippians 3:9)
How do you think that you are going to get into Heaven? Are you seriously going to claim that your righteousness will be good enough for God? Or, are you trusting in Christ and his righteousness imputed to you?
How is imputed righteousness important to us in fighting Satan? Because one tactic of Satan is to accuse us. He says to us that God will never accept us because we are such terrible sinners.
Our defense is to remember that it’s not our righteousness that God looks at, it’s the righteousness of his Son Jesus that has been imputed, transferred, to us by faith in Christ.
Imputed righteousness is the most important righteousness for us to have, because it’s the only righteousness that matters before God. But we mustn’t discount…
2. Practical Righteousness
Practical righteousness is living our lives in obedience to God’s word. It is not self-righteousness, which is the righteousness of the Pharisees. Self-righteousness is living by your rules, not God’s rules.
In Philippians 3:9, Paul said that he wanted to be found in Christ’s perfect righteousness. But he understood that, in practice, he wasn’t perfect. Just a few verses later, he says…
12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12–14)
Paul understood that his salvation was possible because of imputed righteousness. But he also understood that imputed righteousness was to be working itself out, by God’s grace, in practical righteousness.
Salvation by grace isn’t a license to sin, it’s the beginning of the end of sin in a person’s life!
Why is practical righteousness important to fighting Satan? Because it is through our unrighteousness that Satan gains a foothold to wreck our lives and even the lives of others through our unrighteous behavior.
When David behaved unrighteously, who suffered? Bathsheba, for one. Her husband ended up dead, as did the baby. David’s son, Amnon, followed his father’s unrighteous lusting and raped his half-sister Tamar.
How many of our relational and emotional and even physical problems stem from us not living a righteous life?
For instance, has Satan managed to drive a wedge between you and a family member or a friend or a church member because you are too prideful to admit a mistake? That would be a case where a lack of practical righteousness is allowing Satan to penetrate and wound you.
Satan loves to use the sin of Christians against us. He can use our sin—our unrighteousness—to damage our testimony, to diminish our joy in Christ, and to lead, by our poor example, others astray.
We need to put on the breastplate of righteousness, both imputed and practical, day to day, righteousness.
The armor that God gives us is something we need to put on. He gives us the strength to do it. Yet we need to consciously depend on him.
To put on the belt of truth, read and absorb the Bible, God’s truth, and he will change you into a more truthful person.
To put on the breastplate of righteousness, you need to trust Christ and consciously depend on his righteousness, and he will gradually transform you into a righteous person in day to day living.
Truthfulness and righteousness are gifts—but they must be consciously cultivated and received by us.