Summary: God’s armour is complete; his servant is fully protected and equipped to fulfil the mission to stand firm against the enemy.
“Take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”
Marine recruits were each issued a service bag filled with clothing, in addition to a rifle, a cartridge belt, a bayonet, and a heavy steel helmet. Since those just arriving on base did not know how to care for themselves, recruits were also issued basic supplies for their hygiene needs—the so-called “bucket issue,” though the Corps had another name. Among the items of clothing were what were to become known as BDU—battle dress utilities. Until somewhat recently, BDU was an acronym referring to the combat clothing worn by American soldiers into battle. A marine would have various uniforms to be worn for different occasions. BDUs were issued to give the marine some advantage during combat. In the ancient world, battle dress included armour which gave a measure of protection from injury during combat.
We saw in a previous message that God has assigned His people to stand firm in the face of relentless assault by a vicious and ruthless enemy. The Lord did not throw His people into the fray without the means to defend themselves; God has provided His people all that is needed for protection against the foe. It will be beneficial for us to review God’s provision, learning to employ the equipment we were issued. The text before us provides both a review of the armour provided, and a statement of the purpose of each piece.
THE PURPOSE OF OUR ARMOUR — “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
The divine armour we have been issued is primarily defensive armour, though we are provided with a superior weapon that allows for vigorous defence when we are attacked. This is in keeping with previous studies that demonstrated that we are not commanded to attack the enemy; rather, we are to stand, defending the ground won by the Master.
Underscore in your mind that we Christians are commanded to stand, not to attack. The idea of the fighting fundamentalist, the concept of charging the devil’s stronghold, the thought that we are attacking evil is erroneous—we are charged to stand. I do not mean that we are to be tolerant of evil, but rather than mounting a noisy march to show our displeasure with social ills or attempting to generate a vigorous voters’ drive, we are to stand firm. Standing firm is nothing more than being holy and fulfilling the command that we have received.
The churches of this day are often seen as irrelevant, puerile in their efforts among the inhabitants of this dying world—they make little practical impact in transforming society. Feeling that they should “do something,” Christians attempt to evangelise through paying someone to conduct one campaign or another that demands little of the individual. The thought seems to be that we can pay an “evangelist” to do what we are unwilling to do on an ongoing basis. Or perhaps we imagine that we can organise a march or a demonstration, showing our displeasure and generating sympathy for our position. However, our silence during the remainder of our lives destroys any good we might otherwise have accomplished.
The armour God has provided equips us to stand firm on holy ground taken by the Master. In short, this means that we are to be engaged in holiness as a lifestyle, in godliness as a means of guiding our steps, in righteousness as essential to defining who we are. It means that church is not where we go for a couple of hours on Sunday, but it is who we are. It means that prayer is not an exercise we engage in when we need something from God, but it is a guiding principle for daily life. It means that reading the Word of God is not an occasional activity to salve a guilty conscience, but it is our guidance for our ongoing walk in the world.