"What is the full armor of God?"

The phrase “full armor of God” comes from a passage in the New Testament: "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" (Ephesians 6:13-17).

Ephesians 6:12 clearly indicates that the conflict with Satan is spiritual, and therefore no tangible weapons can be effectively employed against him and his minions. We are not given a list of specific tactics he will use. However, the passage is quite clear that when we follow all the instructions faithfully, we will be able to stand, and we will have victory regardless of his offense.

The first element of our armor is truth (vs. 14). This is easy to understand, since Satan is said to be the "father of lies." (John 8:44). Deception is high on the list of things God considers to be abominations. A “lying tongue” is one of the things He describes as “detestable to Him” (Proverbs 6:16-17). He clearly states that no liar will be admitted into heaven (Revelation 22:14-15). We are therefore exhorted to put on truth for our own sanctification and deliverance and for the benefit of those to whom we are a witness.

Also in vs. 14 we are told to put on the breastplate of righteousness. A breastplate would shield a warrior from a fatal blow to the heart and other critical organs. This righteousness is not works of righteousness done by men—though these are certainly a hedge of protection when used against the reproaches and accusations we suffer at the hands of the enemy. Rather, this is the righteousness of Christ, imputed by God and received by faith, which guards our hearts against the accusations and charges of Satan, and secures our innermost being from his attacks.

Verse 15 speaks of the preparation of the feet for spiritual conflict. The modern soldier needs to pay particular attention to his feet as well as the ancient soldier. Sometimes the ancient enemy would place dangerous obstacles in the path of advancing soldiers. This is much like the land mines of today. Also disease can damage the feet of a soldier who is without proper footwear. The idea of the preparation of the gospel of peace as footwear suggests what we need to advance into Satan's territory with the message of grace so essential to winning souls to Christ. Satan has many obstacles placed in the path to halt the propagation of the gospel.

The shield of faith spoken of in vs. 16 makes ineffective Satan's assault of sowing doubts in regard to the faithfulness of God and His Word. Our faith—of which Christ is the author and perfecter (Hebrews 12:2)— is like a golden shield, precious, solid, and substantial; and like a shield of mighty warriors, by which mighty things are done, and by which the believer not only repels, but conquers the enemy.

The helmet of vs. 17 protecting the head is, again, to keep viable a most critical part of the body. We could say that our way of thinking needs preservation. The head of the soldier was among the principal parts to be defended, as on it the deadliest strokes might fall, and it is the head that commands the whole body. The head is the seat of the mind, which, when it has laid hold of the sure Gospel “hope” of eternal life, will not receive false doctrine, or give way to Satan’s temptations to despair. The unsaved person has no hope of warding off the blows of false doctrine because his mind is incapable of discerning between truth and falsehood.

Verse 17 interprets itself in regard to what is meant by the sword of the Spirit. While all the rest is defensive in nature, here is the only offensive weapon in the armor of God. It speaks of the holiness and power of the Word of God. A greater spiritual weapon is not conceivable. In Jesus' temptations in the desert, the Word of God was always His overpowering response to Satan. What a blessing that the same Word is available to us!

Praying in the Spirit (that is, with the mind of Christ, with His heart and His priorities) as in vs. 18 is the culmination of what is involved in arraying ourselves and in utilizing all the aforementioned armor of God. It is significant that this passage of Scripture is so true to the priorities of ministry highlighted throughout Paul's epistles; he holds prayer as most essential element to spiritual victory and maturity. How sincerely he requests it for himself as well (vs. 19-20).