Pillar Journal

Putting on the Whole Armor of God

‘Put on the whole armour of God’ (Eph. 6:11), Paul tells us. Partial equipment will not suffice.

I once heard a story about a farmer who responded to watermelon thieves by putting a sign in his field that said, ‘Warning: One of these melons has been poisoned.’ For a few days, he thought his idea had worked – no more watermelons were stolen. Then, one day, he discovered that the sign had been altered to read, ‘Warning: Two of these melons have been poisoned.’ The farmer had to destroy his entire crop, as he didn’t know which other melon was poisoned.

The devil works in similar ways to thwart our Spirit-driven efforts to maintain and increase the fruits of righteousness and holiness in our lives. No matter what sign you put up, he changes it and comes up with something else. He is a master manipulator and deceiver. How will we ever fight against him successfully? How can we stand in defiance against Satan’s sinister schemes to overthrow the holiness that is being worked-in by God and worked-out in our lives?

The eighteenth-century Scottish divine Ralph Erskine said the only choice we have in responding to Satan is ‘flight or fight.’ In light of that, the Christian soldier uses three major strategies to fight against Satan. The first we might call strategic retreat, or running for shelter to Christ. As Christian soldiers, we lean on the power of Christ’s might, for we have no shelter from Satan but in Christ (Ps. 57:1).

Having learned where to find refuge in the evil day, we then use the second strategy of our military training, an unyielding defense. Much of Paul’s famous spiritual warfare passage in Ephesians 6:10-18 describes this strategy against Satan. We stand, fight, conquer, and drive out Satan in the strength of God’s armor.

The third strategy is an aggressive offense. In Ephesians 6:14-18, Paul describes the five pieces of armor that we use defensively against Satan, then three ways to fight him offensively.

‘Put on the whole armour of God’ (Eph. 6:11), Paul tells us. Partial equipment will not suffice; twice we are told to put on the ‘whole armour’ (vv. 11, 13). We put on God by putting on His armor. Christ Himself made and wore the armor, and the Holy Spirit fits it to us and makes it ours. We must fight through to the end until we hold the field against Satan. Then we must go on the offense, attacking him.

Excerpt from
A Radical Comprehensive Call to Holiness
By Joel Beeke and Michael Barrett