I love to accessorize. Even as a child, when Mama and I would make a trip to Wal-Mart, she would slip me a few dollars as grandmothers tend to do, and I never went for candy or Silly Putty. No, I made a beeline for the cosmetic aisle and painstakingly selected the perfect shade of pink for my press on nails. These days, it’s not the press on nails I have to worry about so much as my trips to DSW. Shoes are my weakness, especially when they’re on clearance or worth triple bonus points. You know what I’m talking about, ladies.
The shoes have to match the color palette of the outfit. They have to be the appropriate height. They have to coordinate with the jewelry you plan to wear. Pick up any issue of In Style, and you’ll see that building an outfit can suck you into another world of texture, lines and color.
I guess that’s why reading Ephesians 6 struck me so. Paul wraps up his letter to the church in Ephesus. In this passage, Paul describes a spiritual battle believers face and the necessity of the armor of God.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil 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 firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
So what am I supposed to wear?
Belt of truth. Breastplate of righteousness. Shoes of the Gospel of peace. Shield of faith. Helmet of salvation. Sword of the Spirit, the word of God.
Twice, in verses 11 and 13, Paul says put on or take up the whole armor of God. The New Living Translation says, put on every piece. I can’t pick and choose what part of the outfit I want to wear. Each piece of armor is so interconnected, it’s all or nothing. Your foundation, your belt, is truth. God is truth, and out of his sovereignty and grace and mercy we have the Gospel — Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection, which provides a way for salvation through faith in Him. And out of faith grows righteousness, and how do we know what is true and righteous? From the Word of God. Notice that each piece of the armor offers defense, protection — with the exception of the sword of the Spirit. That’s your offense. Hebrews 4:12-13, says the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
OK, I have these pieces of armor, but they can’t just hang in my closet. If I want to shed the pounds I have to actually get on the treadmill, right?
Be strong (in the Lord and his might, not mine). Put on. Stand. Take up. Withstand. Stand. Stand. Fasten. Put on. Put on. Take up. Extinguish. Take. Pray. Keep alert.
Who am I withstanding? Verse 11-12, Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Stand against Satan, plain and simple, and his schemes, wiles, strategies and tactics. Yes, he does have a knack for stealing, killing and destroying. As a result, life is a struggle. We wrestle. Four times in this passage I am commanded to stand because sometimes the struggle is so great I can’t go on the offensive, I just have to hold my ground. But I can hold my ground in the strength of the Lord, in his might.
This is an outfit I can’t afford to not coordinate. As I agonize over wearing the wedges or the flats, I want to pause and remember to grab my armor out of the closet, to actively put it on, so hopefully by the end of the day, I’m still standing.