In Ephesians 6, the Apostle Paul tells us that our struggles in this world are not against things that we see, “flesh and blood.” Rather, we struggle against things that we cannot see—“spiritual forces of evil.”
What a reminder! One of the first steps to fighting a battle is recognizing who and what we are fighting against. Paramount for all Christians, whether new or old, is realizing that the enemy is not visible to our eyes.
Paul goes a step farther and paints a mental picture using an up-close and personal analogy. A stroke of brilliance! As human beings we are visual creatures. We tend to focus on what we can see and have difficulty understanding what we can’t.
When Paul wrote the book of Ephesians, he was under house arrest. In other words, he was chained to a Roman soldier 24/7. He wrote about what he saw every day—the weapons and armor of a Roman soldier.
Though familiar to the original audience, it’s harder for us today to picture a Roman soldier’s armor. As we teach and disciple believers, how do we make these truths applicable? Since Scripture is living and breathing (Heb. 4:12), how do we make it come alive?
Here are a few ideas:
Recognize the source—These are not human pieces of armor; they come only from God. Knowing that we do not rely on our strength takes the pressure off and enables us to turn to the One who does provide the power.
Prayer—Verse 18 admonishes us to persevere in prayer. Consider starting a 7-day prayer challenge with a friend or new believer. On day one read through Ephesians 6:10–19 together, praying over each verse. On days two through seven, choose a different piece of armor each day and focus on it in prayer (belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with the preparation of the gospel, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the spirit). Pray specifically for the other person in reference to that day’s chosen piece of armor.
Cross references—Take one or two other people and search for cross references in a Bible concordance. For example, try looking up the word “truth” to get a deeper understanding of the “belt of truth.” [Example verses: John 17:17; John 8:32; John 14:6; 2 Cor. 6:7].
Spiritual Discussion—talk about ways in which you have seen spiritual forces at work within your own life (good or bad). This will help remind yourself and others that we primarily fight against invisible powers.
Commentaries—Find a good commentary and read about the descriptions of the pieces of armor. Discuss what you have learned with other believers. [For a more in-depth look, the following authors have written extensive commentaries on Ephesians: Harold Hoehner, Clinton Arnold, Andrew Lincoln, & Peter O’Brien].