THE ARMOR OF GOD
"Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm" (Ephesians 6: 10-13).
"But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts" (Romans 13:14).
"But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption . . ." (1 Cor. 1:30).
The Problem with Our Minds
There are two problems that are always present when we read the scriptures. These problems involve the way that we think and the way that our minds have been preset to function. This is especially true of the passage in Ephesians 6 dealing with the armor of God.
These mindsets are referred to as "strongholds" by Paul in 2 Cor. 10:4. A stronghold is a fortress. These "fortresses" are lodged securely into our minds by teaching which has been greatly influenced by the world system. Even though these strongholds are difficult to breakdown, it is not impossible when the thoughts are taken to Christ.
Problem 1 - We Think Individually and Not Corporately
Our minds have been "set" or programmed to think individually only and when we read the scriptures we think on them and apply them with an individualistic mind. I don't have time to go into detail on how this happened to us, but I would suggest that you read the articles on The Image of God to understand how our minds became individualistic through the fall.
Fallen man thinks only of himself, as an individual. It doesn't take a genius to see that we are all very self-centered. We are obsessed with self image, self realization, self awareness, etc. Any thought that we have is filtered through a mind that is absorbed with our own separated, individual selves. It's very difficult for us to think in any other terms. When Paul starts speaking about the new man, the body of Christ, and the bride of Christ, it is very difficult for us to grasp these things because we see life through the glasses of the individual, not the corporate man. When we read the scriptures we see them and apply them to us as individuals and not to us as members of a body.
Yet most of the New Testament was written to the church, not to individuals as separate selves. Anything written to individuals must be taken with this context in mind. The context of the New Testament is the Church, a corporate entity or community made up of individual members who are one. Yes, it's true that the corporate is made up of individuals, but if we focus only on the individual then our application will miss the mark because we are not getting the bigger picture. Let's see if we can breakdown one of the largest strongholds in Christianity today; the individualistic mind.
Who Puts on the Armor?
When we read Ephesians 6 we just naturally think that Paul is telling us, as individuals, to put on the armor of God. You (as an individual) put on the full armor of God. But is that really what he is saying here?
Let's try to remember that there are no such things as chapters and verses in the bible. They were added much later on. When you write a letter to someone, how often do you break it down into chapters and verses? Neither did Paul! Now read the whole letter completely through without stopping and completely ignoring the chapters and verses. What is the main "theme" or context of this letter? It's very obvious, isn't it? It's Christ and the Church!
Paul wrote this letter to the church and when he says to put on the full armor of God he is speaking to the church, not to you as an individual! This is something that the body of Christ does, not you as an individual. She, the bride of Christ, puts on the full armor of God. Spiritual warfare is not a matter for the individual. This is a matter for the church. She is the one who puts on the armor. She is the one against whom the gates of hell cannot prevail!
Problem 2 - The Lack of Christ Centered Thinking
We tend to think in terms of "things" and objects" instead of Christ. This is another stronghold of the mind. This "object-oriented" thinking relates to spiritual things. For example, we tend to think of love as something that God gives us rather than the fact that He is love. Love is a Person, not a thing or virtue that God gives us like an object is given as a gift. God has given us His Son and His Son is these things. Or to put it more accurately, He is the sum of all spiritual things. He doesn't just give us these things as if they were objects that are separate from Him. We tend to dissect and separate things because we have the individualistic mind that I spoke about earlier in this article. We are not Christ centered in our thinking, so when we read the scriptures we tend to see them in terms of things and not the Person.
What is the Armor?
So this means that Christ is our righteousness. Christ is our salvation. Christ is our peace, our faith, our joy, etc. He is the Truth. He is the Life.
So when Paul describes for us the different parts of the armor, what is he describing for us? The breastplate, the shoes, the shield, the helmet, and the sword are all describing what? They are all describing Christ! He is the armor of God. The church is to put on Him. This isn't a list of things that you are supposed to do as an individual so you can fight the devil! The armor of God is Christ. If the church will put on Christ then she won't have to worry about the devil! The battle is actually in putting on Christ, not in fighting the devil.
Notice with me that Paul never mentions anything in this passage about fighting the devil. He only tells the church to do two things; put on the armor and stand. Did you get that? We are to put on Christ (as the church) and then just stand inside of Him. We are to stand firmly grounded and abiding continuously in Christ. We are to live by His life and not our own. We are to live in the conscious awareness of His continual presence in us and fellowship with Him always. This, we will do together as the church and the gates of hell will not prevail!