Living “In the Spirit” or “for Christ” is more than just believing in God and accepting Christ as your savior. You need to be faithful in reading the Bible, praying, and petitioning God. We must always be exposing ourselves to growth and renewal. Paul used an analogy of a Roman soldier’s armor set to explain putting on the Armor of God.
Ephesians 6:10-20 (NKJV) Gives us a picture of the Armor of God and how to use it.
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the [b]wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of [c]the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Belt of Truth, Ephesians 6:14
The roman soldier’s belt was a very important piece of their armor. Everything connected to it, and it held everything together.
John 14:6 (NKJV), Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Jesus used the phrase “I tell you the truth”, “Assuredly”, or “Truly” around 70 times throughout the gospels. Here are 4 random verses, one from each of the Gospels, that has this phrase.
Matthew 5:26 (NKJV), Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.
Mark 10:15 (NKJV), Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
Luke 12:37b (NKJV), Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.
John 13:21 (NKJV), When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.”
I would challenge you to read through each of the Gospels and write down each verse that has this phrase in it. After that, identify the ones that are the most impactful to your life and memorize them.
Are you focusing all of your “truths” on Jesus Christ?
Breastplate of Righteousness, Ephesians 6:14
The soldier’s breastplate protected his vital organized, including the heart. It covered from the neck to the thighs and was made of bronze, or chain (the more affluent soldiers).
Righteousness means “uprightness, right living, integrity in one’s lifestyle and character.”
Opening your heart to God’s gift of salvation is presented to us in John 3 and the story of Nicodemus talking with Jesus. We’ll focus more on salvation when we get to the Helmet, but I felt like this applied to the heart as well. When we accept Jesus Christ as our savior, we invite the Holy Spirit to come into our heart and dwell in us. We essentially soften our heart’s to his guidance. Here you see the story of a Pharisee that was willing to explore opening his heart up.
1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
When we accept Jesus as our savior, we must then protect our hearts. The Holy Spirit will convict us when we need it. I like to think of this as a good old fashion kick in the pants.
Revelation 12:10 (NKJV), Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.
Here we’re reading John describe the tribulation period. God’s final judgement on the earth’s citizens. We can see this as a lesson of conviction of our own citizenship through the work of the Holy Spirit for our time here on earth.
What is in your heart?
Shod Your Feet, Ephesians 6:15
The soldier’s boots were often reinforced with nails and they would dig into the ground so they wouldn’t be moved.
We too must dig in and stand our ground for God.
Preparation in this verse means “establishment.” You must know the gospel inside and out, and be ready to share it.
Galatians 1:6-8 (NKJV), 6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
We must know the true gospel and not let others sway us with false doctrine.
What are you doing to dig in?
Shield of Faith, Ephesians 6:16
The shield Paul is referring to here was 4 feet high, and 2 1/2 feet wide. It had hooks on either side so that the soldiers could lock them together and form a barrier. Each shield had 2 layers, iron and wood, and they were wrapped in linen and leather. Each layer had enough spacing in it to quickly put out the first from the flaming arrows. It was common for arrows to be lit on fire and hundreds of them shot at once to pelt the enemy soldiers.
Faith in this context means “absolute confidence in God.” The adversary (Satan) shoots fiery darts at us all the time. We must shield ourselves with faith to deflect them.
Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV), looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
How are you shielding yourself from darts?
Helmet of Salvation and Sword of Spirit, Ephesians 6:1
The helmet was a bronze or leather helmet. It was very important, because if you were hit in the head, you were out. Before each battle, and attendant would bring the helmet and secure it to the soldier’s head.
Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV), 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
The best way to renew your mind is by reading the Bible. Reading Christian books is also another way to fill your mind with good information. Memorizing scripture will help keep your renewed mind reinforced.
Romans 1:28 (NKJV), And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
Free will is real. If we don’t want to follow the things God has set before us, he’s going to let us go off and do what we want. Sure, he’ll convict us, but in the end, we could end up with a debased mind and into all kinds of things.
What are you doing to renew and protect your mind?
Many people envision the sword as a big, heavy sword. This is untrue. The roman sword was about 2 feet in length and very light. It had to be usable in close combat. If the soldier couldn’t defend himself in a close fight, he would not survive. He practiced diligently to gain skill with the sword. This was his trust battle companion.
This is the Word of God. The Bible. We must read it, commit scripture to memory, and use it often.
What are you doing to polish your skills with your sword?
Daniel 10 Gives us our first insight into the dark spirit world controlled by our adversary when Gabriel was dispatched to deliver a message to Daniel.
13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.
This passage not only points out to a spiritual war that is very real, but also opens our eyes to the fact that these beings are very powerful. So powerful that even Gabriel needed help from God’s most powerful Angel.
Ephesians 6:18-20 gives us instructions on how to battle spiritual warfare wearing the armor of God.
18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
What did Jesus do when Satan wanted to sift Peter like wheat?
Luke 22:31-32 (NKJV) 31 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
The focus here is prayer. Jesus could easily have taken care of things in that instance. Instead, he modeled a life that we should strive to live. He prayed. He asked the Father to protect Peter. We should be praying for protection as well.
There are three key points to prayer I want to focus on:
1. Be Consistent
Verse 18 starts out with “prayer and supplication” or “prayer and petition” in some translations. All means “all kinds” and supplication/petition means specific requests.
The ACTS model is a good model to build your prayers around. Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication (Petition).
2. Be Intense
Paul tells us to be watchful, or be on alert. This word literally means “to be without sleep.” When you open the word and go to God, this is when dark influences can happen. You must be focused and alert in your prayers.
3. Be Strategic
Paul instructs us to pray for all the saints, and pray for him. Not only just praying for him, but to pray that he may open his mouth boldly. Paul had a plan, and he wanted you to pray that he could execute that plan. Go to your prayers with a plan.
Francis Chan challenges you in his book “Crazy Love” to stop praying, take a step back, and plan out what you’re going to say better before you start praying again. I like that approach for all 3 of these reasons. You can work on your ACTS model habits, put some intensity behind what you’re going to say, and then this approach all wraps into the strategic mindset.
Are you using your armor of God to protect you from dark forces?
Have you experienced (or suspect you have experienced) spiritual warfare in your life?
What were you doing or planning when this started/happened?
There are two books on this topic that I recommend reading.
The Invisible War by Chip Ingram
Defending Your Marriage by Tim Muehlhoff