Put on the full armor of God…Therefore, put on the full armor of God…
Twice the apostle commands us to put on the armor of God, emphasizing its importance. We have a determined adversary who is more than our match and in order to be well protected we need this full armor of God. Just as soldiers on the battle field look for the opponent’s weaknesses, so does our enemy. We can be sure if we lack any of the armor of God this weak spot will be exploited.
But how do we put on this armor? He has already told us how – through knowledge of the truth, surrender to the Spirit, the casting away of impurities out of our lives, and the putting on through faith of the new self God has made us to be.
The word “full” is significant. The word is used often in Ephesians. We read of the fullness of God in 3:19, the fullness of Christ in 4.13, and about being filled with the Spirit in 5:18. The apostle speaks in absolutes, of getting rid of all the bad and taking in all of the good. His point is to call us to as full a commitment of ourselves as we can make, and as full a reception of God as we are able to receive. This is putting on the full armor of God: to know Christ in His fullness, to walk in the fullness of His truth, to commit our lives to Him as completely as we are able, and to enjoy the fullness of the support of the entire church family.
This last matter is often neglected, but it is clearly presented in the epistle. We read of unity in the faith and about the whole body building itself up in love. The church of Christ is not designed to be a spiritual group of separated commandos seeking to take on the world and the enemy independent of one another. We are to fight in mutual dependence on one another, committed to one another, upholding one another in prayer as well as through teaching, encouragement, and a sharing of responsibilities. Because we are a community of grace, and because grace is an essential element to the doctrine of salvation, we must uphold this constantly as a value in the church. We have not dressed ourselves in the full armor of God until grace is written on every part and everyone of our hearts.
If I am to put on the full armor of God – that includes the truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, the word of God, and prayer – I will need someone to help me. I cannot teach myself. The battle is mostly about truth and falsehood and we need teaching, but teachers also need training, and encouragement, hope, faith, prayer, and all of God’s grace gifts to the family of faith. Yet the truth is lived out and grown into within the realm of Christian fellowship. I would not have known what the truth of God lived out in human society looked like had I not been able to see it in Christian friends.
In the “fog of war” often important details are forgotten, and if we will fight the good fight of faith we must hold onto the truth of Christ and the fellowship of the church. Who is holding you up in prayer and encouragement as you take your stand for Christ? Who is your teacher, your helper, your fellow soldier? Who will rush to your side and lift you up if you momentarily fall under the attack of the enemy?
Who are you holding up, helping, encouraging, protecting, and redeeming in this battle?
Lord, we need You and Your truth. We also need the body of Christ, just as the body of Christ needs us. Let us be faithful to you and encourage the fullness of grace within the fellowship of believers. Amen.