Ephesians 6:16-17

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Three more pieces of God’s Armor

Previously we talked about the first 3 pieces of armor which were meant to be put on from a distance and never removed on the battlefield.  They prepared one for the upcoming battle.  We need to be prepared with the “truth”, we need to take up the “righteousness of God”, and put on the “shoes of God’s Gospel” that brings peace.  Now we need to have the second half of God’s armor—the actual battle pieces:

  1. Helmet
  2. Sword
  3. Shield

Each is critical in war to both defend and attack.  We need them when the battle begins.


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 6:16-17

Observations:

  1. In addition – continuing thought, connecting to previous one
  2. Take up – action word (v.16)
  3. Take – action (v.17)
  4. And – verse 17 connects helmet and sword
  5. Shield of Faith – assumes that faith is some sort of protective equipment
  6. Helmet of Salvation – assumes that the salvation protects us and that it covers a vital part of the body
  7. Sword of the Spirit – the Spirit is some sort of fighting agent that can hurt and even kill
  8. Shield of Faith – assumes that it protects us from Satan’s deadly arrows (are not arrows shot from a distance?), puts them out (flaming fire burns) when not burning not any consequences
  9. With which you can extinguish – assumed reality with faith one is able to do this

Preparation comes in a few stages.  For example I list three here:

  1. Getting Dressed
  2. Getting Battle Equipment
  3. Prayer

We are at Stage two—gearing up for battle, getting the required pieces to fight.  Here, Satan’s gearing up the archers, getting the ground fighters moving into position, chanting before their battle cry.  Bustling determination, robotic looks, angry twisted faces, sword pointing toward you, and suddenly Satan shouts, charge! 

Are you ready?  Is fear welling up inside you?  Does his force look imposing?  Does his tactics scare you?  If so, perhaps you don’t have armor strapped on and ready.  Without this you can know that rascal we call the devil will defeat you.  He will, because you failed.  Paul warned us telling what we need to be doing—living rightly before a holy God.  Not only does Paul give examples but he further tells of the spiritual battle impending anyone who lives righteously.   When you live rightly you can expect battle to come.  Satan is looking to stave off any effectiveness trying to keep anyone further from entering into the kingdom.

Here we have three more pieces to the puzzle:

  1. Shield of Faith
  2. Helmet of Salvation
  3. Sword of the Spirit

    King Statue by Bobby Mikul

 

These three help protect and fight in battle.  They can ward off the attack and even attack in return.  These become important in staying the course for living rightly.  They become the very things needed to fight back and protect us. 

 

 

 

 


 

I.     In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16)

Paul says in addition, or adding to the previous, we are told to “take up”, we are told we need to have more protection than just what is described earlier.  We need more than just the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and shoes fitted.  We need a shield of faith.

The shield was approximately four feet high and about as wide as the human body.  This provided protection from the onslaught of arrows, spears and even direct blows.  This shield was dipped in water to soak it so that when the enemy shot arrows (which were lit on fire), it would extinguish them.

Using the shield, one needs faith to believe that it would protect them or else they would turn and run.  This faith that Paul is referring is the basic truth in God that He will provide protection.  Salvation is not being considered because Paul notes that faith can extinguish Satan’s arrows.  It speaks of that daily trust in God to provide protection, which takes exercising it.

Everyone lives by some sort of faith—a sacred trust in something, a hope for something.  Christians put our faith in a Savior that came, died, rose again, and went into heaven to intercede on our behalf.  We also have hope that He will come again to rescue us.  We look forward to that day of the Lord’s return. 

Although faith in the everyday sense is great, we need something more like I just described.  Faith that food is not harmful, that our cars are reliable is one thing, but that is only as reliable as the objects themselves.  Even some put faith in frail humans that fail from sin.  But Christians have placed their faith in someone who does not fail, not something, or a failing human sinner, but The Perfect One who has “passed the test”, One who is perfect in every sense of the word.  The Object of our faith becomes powerful and effective because of the trustworthiness and absolute dependability of that Object. (MacArthur 358)

Here that object is obviously the shield of faith.  This faith, because it is based on The One who is greater than all, will do its job.  It “can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”.  Notice, not “some”, not “part” but “ALL”. 

These arrows Paul referred to were arrows wrapped in cloth and dipped in pitch.  When the archer was ready it would be lit on fire and shot to the intended target.  Upon hitting it would splatter catching not only the target but also the surrounding areas on fire.  Those that had their shields dipped in water the arrows would be stopped from creating havoc. 


Application:  Here I see something interesting in looking at the arrows, fire and water.  Is it not often times that when we allow Satan into our lives creating havoc that it often affects others?  That splatter from the arrow “catches” others on fire creating further dismantling of others and perhaps killing their testimony, their life in Christ, pushing them away from God, giving them further doubt and discouragement.

God’s shield He has provided to us is ready; faith is ready to put out whatever the evil one throws at us.  Remember those nine areas Satan attacks us from (Ephesians 6:14-15)?  Satan is throwing those arrows of doubt, undermining God’s character to get us to “throw down our shield” and turn tail, trusting in our own resources, and possibly making us hypocritical, worldly, and immoral. 

All this makes us ineffective and causes disunity within the body of Christ.  Ultimately it does make it hard to live the Christian life.  My call is “Don’t release that shield, for it will do the job God designed it to do!”

 

II.     Take the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17a)

Swordsman who rode into battle sought to completely stop the enemy by attacking the head, splitting the skull, or taking it off.  Either way this dealt a death blow to the person on the ground.  Without some type of protection—helmet—one can be out of the fight very quickly. 

Without the head we are bodies lying lifeless on the ground of no use to anyone.  The head controls the body, the very life.  Salvation here is related to the very life of the Christian.  Without our Head—Christ—who is our Salvation, we would be “dead” bodies lying around the battlefield. 

Our very lives in Christ depend upon our faith in our Salvation—the belief that God does not lie.  Take away that faith/trust and we die.  How many have doubted God’s truth?  How many have fallen because they felt they lost the greatest thing ever?  How can Christ who came, lived, died, rose again ever depend upon man to keep what he/she never earned in the first place?  What is a gift if it is taken away?

We, then, have a responsibility to trust, put on that helmet and live like we believe in a God who does not lie.

But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.   For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. –1Thessalonians 5:8-11

This passage gives us the impression that having a helmet of salvation gives us hope of a better future, a better life to come.  This hope should motivate us to be different and live different.  It is the enemy who will stop at nothing and never quit looking for someone to devour (1Peter 5-8-9).

Psalm 27:1 speaks that we should have nothing to fear:

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

 

We can rest assured that when we have the helmet of salvation (hope) firmly secured we have a better kingdom to depart.  Remembering who took care of our past, present and future gives confidence to live obediently to One who paid it all.

  • Past – For he chose us before creation of the world… (Ephesians 1:4)
  • Present – In him we have redemption… (Ephesians 1:7)
  • Future – In him we were also chosen [which means to receive a share, assign]…(Ephesians 1:11)(see also Ephesians 1:11-14)

This is why Paul spends three chapters telling us all God has done for us which gives us a hope of a better future.  He then stands and says we are “his workmanship created…for good works” (Ephesians 2:10).  Paul then follows that with we are to “walk…worthy of the calling” (Ephesians 4:1), followed up with the following:

  • Walk no longer as the Gentiles (Ephesians 4:17)
  • Be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1-2)
  • Be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)
  • Submit to one another out of love (Ephesians 5:21)
  • Wives, and husbands are to be submissive and loving (Ephesians 5:22-33)
  • Children and slaves – be obedient (Ephesians 6:1-8)
  • Masters are exhorted to treat slaves in same way (Ephesians 6:9)

From all of this we are commanded to “be strong”, “put on the armor of God”, to “stand firm”, “take up the armor of God”, “resist the day of evil”, “buckle that belt”, “put on the breastplate”, “put on the shoes”, “take up the shield” “take the helmet”, and most importantly to “pray” (Ephesians 6:10-20).

Paul took so much time to let us know that our faith (worth more than gold) is to be lived out creating hope which helps keep that helmet securely fastened.  Removing it means putting no hope in our future, doubting God’s promises of a future inheritance.  “If we lose hope in the future promise of salvation, there can be no security in the present.  This, no doubt, is why Paul calls this same piece of armor ‘the hope of salvation’ [in 1Thes 5:8].” (MacArthur 366)


Application:   The helmet of salvation is what we put on because we have the hope of final salvation.  It is Christ who saved us but Paul’s intention here is that we must actively remember to never forget God’s promises of a future final salvation. 

Satan’s ploy of doubt and discouragement will not be forever for one day we will see Christ if we don’t give up hope (see also Colossians 1:21-23).  Hope gets us through the day; hope gets us through the tough times in life.  When you have something to look forward to, and believe in all your heart, mind and strength, that pushes you to never give up and continue living rightly. 

Hope is the “anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19). 

“Let us not become weary in doing good…we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

“To him who is able to keep you from falling…” (Jude 24) has the idea of “securing us in the midst of an attack.” (MacArthur 367)  No matter what Satan seeks to do, God has kept us secure by His power, so as we put on that helmet—that hope of salvation—we can rest assured of God’s firm hold.

 

III.     …and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17b)

Here is the second half of the puzzle we started.  First we need to be assured of our salvation by putting on that helmet, but not knowing the Word of God, we cannot know for sure of God’s promise to us.  Here we see that the sword is knowing God’s word.  We see that this sword that the Spirit uses to help protect us in times of trouble is the Word.

The sword that was used here was shorter—about two feet in length.  It was used both as a defensive and offensive tool in battle.  It could be used to parry the initial attack to follow up with a strike.  If one was well trained in this type of sword they could be very deadly.

Jesus was led out into the desert and found Himself being tempted by Satan.  He uses his typical ways to get Jesus to fall, but in each response Jesus used the word to either ward off the attack or to return a blow Himself.  Jesus was indeed well trained in the art of using the Word for after those three attempts recorded Satan left him (see Luke 4, Matthew 4, and Mark 1). 

David Guzik writes saying that “we can’t regard the Bible as a book of magic charms or tie one around the neck the way that garlic is said to drive away vampires.” (Guzik)  So this then takes some knowledge in both how and when to use God’s Word in a wise manner.  Jesus knew what Scripture to use for the appropriate moment of temptation.  Without knowing, one can’t battle Satan in time of war.

Training then is paramount.  Bible study, memorizing Scripture are two ways to get to know the Word.  We must also be aware of how Satan attacks.  In Ephesians 6:14-15 we listed nine areas that Satan uses.

Knowledge and practical use are two different themes all together.  Again that goes back to moving your knowledge from the head to the heart.  This then moves us to live out what we “know”.  It gives us an experiential knowledge.  For example, taking martial arts one practices certain moves until they seem like second nature.  Once the person spars these moves should be so well known that when the attack comes they know how to respond.  They study both offensive and counterattack moves. 

If one just studies offensively, how can one see or even know how to counter a move that is coming towards them?  This is why it is necessary for us to study and be wise in the ways of the devil and wise in the ways of the Lord.

Paul connected these two terms together helping us understand how these pieces of armor are linked and can’t be separated.  The helmet is not just getting saved, but the intimate knowledge that God’s truth is true and we are secure to receive that inheritance.  The sword requires us to know God’s Word in an intimate way to fight properly and not in the world’s ways.  Both are important when fighting Satan.  We can battle that war when times are tough because we know that God will rescue us and that one day He will come again to take us where He is, using God’s promises against the attack to counter that doubt Satan seeks to set in and fear of discouragement.

Satan wants us to drop our sword, take off our helmet (give up hope) so that he can set us up for that deadly blow!  Don’t allow that to happen, focus on God’s Word and His promises!  Stay the Course, fight the good fight, and strive for that prize! 


 

Application:  God’s armor protecting us against Satan’s tactics is paramount to staying the course and continuing in the faith.  In the story of Ruth we have a simple story, but we miss some important points.  First going to Moab was a sin.  Genesis 19 tells the story of an incestuous relationship that fathered a child named Moab.  In Numbers 25, the Israelites fell into whoredom with the Moabites, which shows in this instance what kind of people they were.  They had their idolatries and led others into the same.

In Ruth there is something interesting.  Naomi and her husband Elimelech leave the country to go to Moab because famine.  This was during the Judges when “everyone did as he saw fit” (Judges 21:25).  There were multiple problems with going to Moab.  One was the possibility with getting involved with idol worship.  Second this family sought to evade issues regarding the famine.  You can see God dealing with Israel because the famine did not reach Moab which is only 50 miles away.   

Let me bring this home spiritually.  First Naomi and family leave “full” and by this I mean she had a husband, and children, and by the time she decides to return home, she is “empty” with no husband and no children.  God was dealing with Israel in their own land but even when they decided to leave further misfortune happened.  Doesn’t this happen in our own lives?  We see God dealing with us right where we are and we “run away” to a distant “land” to avoid problems and we find ourselves draped in more.  A decision made cost them dearly.   Although Naomi blamed God (Ruth 1:21), we know it was a fatal decision that cost everything.  Remember this, God was dealing with them in their homeland, by bringing a famine, but during the 10 years they were gone, she lost everything, while back home, there began a harvest. 

That fatal decision brought even further heartache than just a loss of food, but a loss of an entire family.  Don’t say:  well I left but it is only for a while.  Take a close look at the progression of words in the beginning of chapter 1.  In the ESV we see the word “sojourn” (Ruth 1:1), and then in verse 2 we see “remained” (Ruth 1:2).  They began their journey by just taking a trip to get away and ended up staying and that for 10 years!  When we decide to walk away to try and get what we want, we may find ourselves planting our feet in sin.  We may find ourselves losing everything we could have had and when we finally look toward God, we see a harvest happening.  By then we may have lost our entire family. 

Take and consider that one decision could affect your entire walk with Christ!  Don’t think because we see trials and hardships we need to run or perhaps we are not getting what we want, we need to run. God may be dealing with us moving us to a deeper relationship.  There may be spiritual warfare going on that we can’t see.  Don’t take off that armor God has provided, but keep up the fight and don’t give up!

 



Works Cited

Guzik, David. “Ephesians 6 – Walking in the Light and Fighting the Darkness” Enduring Word Media. 2006. 25 Nov. 2012 <http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/4906.htm>.

MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1986.

 



About Ernest Grogg

First and foremost I am married to Olesya and looking forward to the rest of our lives together. Marriage is a journey and it is interesting and fun. Saved at the age of 25 and while salvation has been a challenge, God has always been faithful.

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