As he wraps up his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul calls on the believers there to be aware of the spiritual forces at work in their midst so that they will be able to confront them head on. He likens confronting the spiritual with entering into battle. This spiritual battle requires spiritual armor, known by many today as "the armor of God".
Verse 10 — “Finally…”
We must read what came before this "finally" in order to understand what Paul is getting at here. Ephesians is an excellent look into things that every believer should foster in our faith walk. Paul tells them that they have come to faith in the Messiah and so can breathe easier as they rest in the assurance of their salvation that hinges, not on works, but on God's grace. Everything we do from this point must be with an awareness of this truth. Being saved, you are now to walk in faith as children of the light. Not only are we to walk according to the calling that God has placed on our life, we must also be discerning of the spiritual forces at work and be ready to press into the Lord for help in all things.
We need both strength and protection that only God can give in order to wrestle with spiritual forces at work in our life. As believers, we are given spiritual armor from God to stand strong in the face of spiritual attacks. We cannot rely on our physical strength or on our own understanding when we are in the midst of a spiritual battle.
By putting on the full armor of God, we can overcome every trial tribulation that comes our way and grow stronger in our faith despite those things that may, for a time, weaken our flesh. Here is the armor of God:
- The belt of truth: The truth empowers us to overcome and also helps us to avoid doing things that we would regret later.
- The breastplate of righteousness: A breastplate is meant to protect the very things that keep us alive within us, especially our heart. If our heart is exposed to the attacks of the enemy, Satan is able to get in and take from us the very thing that gives us life. Living righteously helps to guard against the attacks of the enemy so that we can focus more on the calling of our God on our life and less on trying to "take care of ourselves". By guiding us in righteousness, God helps us to be taken care of without even having to focus on it.
- The shoes of the Good News: Good shoes for battle help a soldier to hold his or her ground and to advance in the battle even when advancing requires pushing through barriers or going up ramparts or whatever obstacles there might be. Each of us have a testimony about our Messiah that is unique to us and our journey and this testimony is like the shoes of a soldier in a battle, helping us to hold our ground and not lose faith even when the battle is raging.
- The shield of faith: Righteousness is insufficient on its own to protect us from the attacks of the enemy. The enemy is no dummy and he's firing arrows at us that could sink right through any righteousness that is not shielded also by faith. By faith, we overcome the stressors, the doubts, and the lack of peace that attacks us all. By faith we are untouched by these attacks, though we may be aware of them. By faith we take joy in the promise of glory that lay ahead, regardless of the dangers that face us in our life.
- The helmet of salvation: Helmets protect our head, our brain, the center of our logic and the command center that regulates the rest of our body. If the brain is injured, the whole body pays the price. When we wear the helmet of salvation, our thoughts are guided by God and so we are saved from sins that would otherwise cause our whole body to fail in the spiritual battle in which we now find ourselves.
- The sword of the Spirit: Our only weapon of attack is this sword of the Spirit. Notice that every powerful advance of the Kingdom as recorded in the book of Acts happens by the move of the Holy Spirit. Without the move of the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom of God is on the defensive and has no weapon for advancing against the enemy. As swords are lethal force, we must be careful where and how we use the sword of the Spirit so as to only attack the enemy and not to serve our own agenda or to recklessly hurt others around us.
Paul concludes this discussion of the armor of God with an emphasis on prayer — “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit” (verse 18). Prayer is our means of connection with God, a connection that opens up our access to the full armor of God and breakthrough in our life. We must seek continual connection with God every day throughout the day through prayer and seeking Him out in Scripture and in the ways He is at work in the world around us. Prayer opens up our hearts to receive guidance from God and to live according to His will.
In the remainder of verse 18, Paul calls on the Ephesians to pray for all who are fighting alongside them in this spiritual battle to advance the Good News about the Kingdom of God. We are not in this battle alone. All soldiers require support from other soldiers who are trained and ready for battle and able to stand alongside them and to call for reinforcements as necessary.
As we conclude this letter to the Ephesians, we challenge you to go back and read the letter again. We pray that God will use this letter to awaken your heart and soul to opportunities for you to grow spiritually and to enter this spiritual battle ready to stand strong alongside your brothers and sisters in the faith. May you find in this letter wisdom that will help you to live according to the will of God and to resist all of the attacks of the enemy and even to advance the Kingdom of God powerfully by the grace of God at work in you!