One note before I start though - don't only individualize the armor. As a church body we need to do this together and cover one another when needed. Paul wrote this to the church, not just the individuals in the church. We are Christ's body.
There are six pieces of armor mentioned in these verses:
- Two Offensive weapons: shoes and sword
- Three Defensive weapons: breastplate, shield and helmet
- One neutral weapon: belt
The first thing put on by a soldier was his belt. It held all the solidier's necessities (swords, arrows, rations, etc). It was held/tied on in many places to keep it on straight no matter what the soldier did (run, climb, fall, etc). If this was not put on correctly the soldier would not be efficient in battle and could loose his life. In Roman times a tight belt menat the soldier was ready for battle.
The Truth of God's Word is what "holds" us all together while we fight. It must be the first thing we put on every day. We have no foundation on which to stand in our warfare with the enemy without God's Truth.
I'm currently going to the Truth Project and the question came up the first session - What is Truth? The answer: God's perception of reality. This is because our perception is always tainted. God is Truth!
This piece as attached to the soldier's belt, anchored to the belt by leather passed through rings on the bottom. It was located above the belt and anchored by the belt. This protected the soldier's heart which is the organ responsible for sending blood through the soldier to keep him alive.
If our hearts are not right with God, our spiritual lives will begin to die. If we walk in the righteousness of God we have a defensive weapon to use against the slanderous accusations and outrageous strategies of the enemy. Righteousness is right thinking and doing right. We are able to do this only through God's strength, by His Truth (the belt).
A soldier's shoes had spikes on the soles which provided them a strong stance and balance when fighting, especially on uneven ground. (In martial arts the stance is one of the most important things and is what is practiced first.) Many historians believe these shoes are one of the greatest reasons why the Roman army was so victorious.
The Peace of God will enable us to stand firm with our feet planted firmly on the Word of God. We will be unmoved by the devil's threats, even when we are in the rough places of life.
Roman soldiers had long, rectangular shields that reached from their knees to their chins. It protected them from arrows and spears and could be knelt behind when the enemy shot arrows. Groups of soldiers could get close together to make a huge circle to protect the group from fiery arrows.
The shield represents the faith in the believer in the promises of God. The value of faith is not in the believer, but in the person whom the faith is in (God). This faith comes from hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). God is the one who fights for us and protects us. The more we know Him and His Word the greater our faith and therefore the larger our shield (protection)!
Romand had the best helmet in the ancient world. Other nations used cloth, animal hides, bones or hooves. The Romans had a chin strap, a visor and covered the back and sides of the neck. They had a leather lining to be comfortable and so they would fit well. The soldier's helmets were made of bronze cast and the officers had helmets made of iron alloy. A well designed helmet will protect you from various angles of attack.
The greatest battefield with the enemy is in our minds. One key area is our assurance of our salvation. The enemy wants us to doubt this.
Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
We need to guard or minds, the thoughts we dwell on, because this is where we can start to walk away from God. We must have a clear mind to be discerning in all situations. We can only do this by immersing ourselves in God's Word and in prayer.
Sword (Spirit/God's Word)
This was a two-edged sword which could inflict more damage than any other sword. It only had to penetrate 2 to 3 inches to be fatal. Because of the two edges it was considered to be a very deadly and powerful weapon.
The Word of God is like a deadly sword blow to the enemy. When we speak God's Word according to His Will, there is no power in the universe that can withstand it. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness he quoted His Father's Words with authority.
In the book The Final Quest by Rick Joyner, he speaks of climbing the mountain of God while fighting the enemy. He no longer needs the sword because the enemy is too far away and he is fighting with arrows now. But he knows he does not want to get rid of it. He knows this would not be wise. So he drives the sword into the ground and tied himself to it to anchor himself to the mountainside. God's Word should also be used to anchor ourselves to God.