How to put on the full armor of God

By by Anthony Hopp  ·  Sep 20, 2023

First of two parts.

Jesus disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame—when he triumphed over them by the cross, Paul tells us in Colossians 2:15. But even though satan has been decisively defeated, for now he still prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. And he’s a deceiver and a murderer who attacks God’s beloved—us—with lies and fiery darts.

In short, we’re at war. But as you know, the war we wage is not with physical artillery (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). The weapons we fight with are not of the flesh. They are not weapons of this world. Rather, our weapons have the divine power to destroy strongholds.

Paul instructed the Ephesian church—and by extension, us—about this very thing. This month’s article will look at the armor of God that Paul talks about in Ephesians 6, armor that God gives us to stand firm in the victory that Jesus has already accomplished. Then, in part two, we’ll look at how to actually put on each specific piece of armor through prayer.

Not on our own strength

In Ephesians 6:10-17, Paul exhorts us to not go into battle in our own strength, but to be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. He reminds us that the war is not with other people—with flesh and blood—but against rulers, authorities, powers, and spiritual forces of evil. Finally, he encourages us to put on the whole armor of God, so that we can stand firm against all the devil’s schemes.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (NIV).

Here are some thoughts on verses 10-13.

1. Verse 10 says, “Finally, be strong in the LORD and in His mighty power.”

At this point, we’re at the end of Paul’s letter, and the word “finally” means we should read this part in light of everything else that Paul has said throughout the letter, in light of all that God has done for us:

  • Blessing us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (1:3).
  • Choosing us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight (1:4).
  • Adopting us (1:5).
  • Redeeming us (1:7).
  • Forgiving us (1:7).
  • Revealing His truth to us (1:13).
  • Marking and sealing us with the Holy Spirit (1:13-14).

And those are just the first 14 verses of the book! The rest of Ephesians continues with the message that in light of being made alive with Christ, grafted into His family, and knowing His great plan for maturity and growth for each of us … in light of all this, there is a battle to fight. And we can only be strong through the strength and power we have through Christ. Our own strength falters and falls way short. But when we rely on the Lord’s strength and His might, only then are we able to stand against the schemes of the enemy.

2. Verse 11 says, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

God equips us with His powerful armor, but action is required on our part—we have to put it on! This imperative contains a sense of urgency—don’t delay!—and agency—it’s your choice whether you put on the armor.

As Bible commentator David Guzik said, “This armor is of God both in the sense that it is from Him, and in the sense that it is His actual armor. No wonder we are more than conquerors!”

The purpose of putting on armor is so that we can stand against the evil one’s schemes, which are very specific and tailor-made for each of us. And those schemes, according to writer E.K. Simpson, consist of a twofold infernal policy:

“The tactics of intimidation and insinuation alternate in satan’s plan of campaign," he wrote. "He plays both the bully and the beguiler. Force and fraud form his chief offensive against the camp of the saints.”

3. Verse 12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Our spiritual battles are not battles with other people. We need to remind ourselves of this truth repeatedly. This is why Paul says earlier in Ephesians 4:3 to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Even though we experience conflict with one another, or we get frustrated with each other, other people are not the enemy. When we have human conflict, we know there’s something going on in the spiritual realm and that deception from the evil one is at the root of the conflict.

4. And verse 13 says, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

So, in light of this fierce, unrelenting spiritual battle, we’re again told to put on the armor of God and to not delay! And notice, we’re putting on the FULL armor. It’s a complete set of protective clothing and tools. There’s no lack here. We want to be fully outfitted in God’s armor so that any time the evil one attacks with temptation, deception, or opposition, we are able to stand, to actively oppose the lies, to faithfully remain firm on the truth, to courageously persevere with staying power. And, because Jesus has already defeated sin and death, we are standing and fighting not so much for victory, but from victory!

Anthony Hopp is Chief Purpose Officer for Samaritan Ministries.