Put on The Whole Armor

Dr. John Hoole



Last week we discussed Ephesians 6:10, in a lesson titles “The Christian’s Battle Cry.”  We discussed the immensity of the strength and power that has been given us to be able to stand against the Devil and his devices.  God has not been stingy in what He gives us.  Lets read verses 10-13 od Ephesians, chapter 6.


Ephesians 6:10-12 NKJV


10    Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

11    Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12    For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness 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.


Paul turns from the battle cry in Ephesians 6:10 to the battle plan in Ephesians 6:11, 13.  We must not only prepare ourselves for battle by becoming strong, we must also protect ourselves in battle by having a plan.


The battle plan has three parts.


1)  We must put on the armor of God,


2)  We must stand our ground, and


3)  We must watch out for traps laid by the devil.


We are going to consider each part of the plan.


        “Put on the whole armor of God.”


The first part of the battle plan is to put on the whole armor of God.  Paul states this instruction twice in Ephesians 6:11, 13. 


•  “Put on the whole armor of God” [ vs. 11 - NKJV],  and


•  “Take up the whole armor of God.” [vs. 13 - NKJV]


When Paul wrote these words, he was in prison in Rome and was likely chained to a Roman soldier twenty-four hours a day.  Historical records would indicate that the prison Paul was in was called the Mamartine Prison in Rome.  When I was in Rome, a couple of us looked for this ancient prison, and found it on Capitoline Hill, overlooking the ruins of the Roman Forum.  It was the only prison at the time of the apostle Paul.  It is also possible the apostle Peter was imprisoned there.


Being chained to an armed guard was one of the ways the Roman military put protection and extra security around important prisoners like Paul.  He had a first-hand opportunity to study and understand the importance of armor.  Maybe he even talked to the soldiers about their armor.


This will be important to remember when Paul goes on to describe each piece of armor in Ephesians 6:14-17.  He uses powerful word-pictures of the Roman soldier’s armor.  For now, Paul just instructs us to put on the whole armor of God.


Note that Paul doesn’t tell us that we are already wearing the armor.  No, he tells us to “take up” and “put on” the armor.  Though God has given His armor to us, we still need to take it up and put it on.  These are commands.  Christians are commanded to put on the armor.  Obviously, armor sitting on the floor or stuffed the closet never did any soldier any good.


God has given His strength and armor to each of us, by which we can protect ourselves from the enemy.  But the armor does no good sitting in the closet.  We must pick it up. We must put it on.  We must wear it night and day until we feel naked and unprotected without it.


God has given us this wonderful gift to protect us from the enemy in this battle.  Let us makes sure we use it.  Take it the full armor of God and put it on.


One of my wife’s interests is the American Civil War.  She has read dozens of books detailing many of the battles.  We have, on many occasions, made trips to visit a number of the battlefield’s located in Virginia, W. Virginia, Pennsylvania.


We have stood on some battlefields and watched as the battle there was reenacted on site.  And one thing was certain, the army that is left standing in possession of the battlefield at the end of the day is the victor.  That is true even though many on the victorious side were wounded and maybe casualties.  The armor of God is designed to help us to stand.


As we discuss the various pieces of armor in future studies, we will discuss how to take it up and put it on.  Let us move on to the second part of the battle plan, which details our primary goal in this battle.


Stand Your Ground (Ephesians 6:11b, 13b, 14a)


Whenever we imagine a battlefield in ancient times, we think of two opposing armies facing off against each other on the field of battle.  Then, as the trumpets sound and the battle cry is shouted, the two armies charge across the field toward each other, where they meet in the middle with a clash of blood and steel.


So, in light of this, it would seem that, after we are endowed with God’s strength and power, Paul would tell us to “Charge!” into battle.  But he doesn’t. Instead, he tell us simply to “Stand.”  In fact, Paul is so intent on making sure we know that all we are supposed to do is “Stand,” he repeats the instruction four times.


In the middle of Ephesians 6:11, he says,

“… that you may be able stand …” 

Then, twice in Ephesians 6:13, he writes “… that you maybe be able to withstand … and having done all, to stand.” 

Finally, at the beginning of Ephesians 6:14, he says, “Stand therefore …”


I remember a time when I greeted a person (I don’t remember who) and asked how he was doing.  He replied, “I’m still vertical.”  That’s the idea.  This is victory: to hold our ground, to stand our ground, not to give in.  It is to remain standing at the end of the spiritual conflict.


This is surprising, isn’t it?  Most of us assume that the Christian life is all about doing things, like going places - Ministering. Serving. Teaching. Studying. Giving.


Most Christians measure spiritual maturity by looking at spiritual activity.  It even goes against what we sing.  We like to sing the song, “Onward Christian Soldiers,” but here Paul doesn’t say, “Onward!”  He says, “Just stand there!”


This indicates that while Christian activity might be helpful in other arenas, when it comes to spiritual warfare, the most we should do and the best we can do, is to do nothing but stand there, and withstand the enemy.  So these are the battle orders. We are to stand our ground.  Don’t give up. Don’t retreat. But also don’t try to advance. Just stand our ground.


Why does Paul do this?


Why does he tell us to do nothing but stand when it comes to spiritual warfare?  Why can we walk or march in other areas of the Christian life, but only stand in spiritual battle?


The main reason is because this spiritual battle has already been won.  We don’t have to march out to meet the enemy, because the enemy is already defeated.  The enemy has already been vanquished. We are the conquerors.


In fact, we are more than conquerors (Rom 8:37).  Jesus Christ defeated the enemy for us.  He is the victor (1 Cor 15:57; 2 Cor 2:14) and so we don’t have to advance.  We just have to stand on the ground that Jesus has already won.


Part of this is because we humans, on our own, could never defeat Satan.  He is much stronger and powerful than any one of us.  So thankfully, God has not called on us to march out and meet the enemy that is far superior in strength to us.  He has not called us to run out onto the battlefield.  He has called us to do nothing but stand on the ground that Jesus has won for us.


Jesus Christ defeated Satan for us.  He is the victor on this battlefield.  And all we have to do is stand on the ground He has won (Col 2:15; 1 Cor 10:12).


Indeed, standing your ground was the single greatest key to the power and might of the Roman military.  While the Roman Empire did conquer the world by sending its armies into other countries to do battle, the great strength of the Roman military was that once the armored Roman soldiers were on the field of battle, their primary goal was to do nothing but stand their ground.


They had various ways of doing this.  For example, the Roman military historian Vegetius writes that the smallest Roman security force was a guard unit made up of 16 men.  These 16 men were spaced evenly over 36 square yards, which means there was about one every six feet or so.  The soldiers were trained to focus on one thing and one thing only:  They must not let a single enemy soldier enter into their six-foot square section of the battlefield.  Each individual soldier was given a single command: Stand your ground.  Do not let the enemy into your six-foot square area.


Now this is not very much ground to cover.  If you were a soldier and you were told that all you had to do in any war was cover one little six-foot by six-foot section, that doesn’t seem too hard.  And it wasn’t too hard.  This was the part of the genius of the Roman military power.


Vegetius tells us that when arranged in this way, and when each soldier understood that all he had to do was stand his ground, his little six-by-six foot section of ground,  those 16 men could stand up against 500 attacking enemies!


It is helpful to think about spiritual warfare in a similar way.  When we look at all that is wrong with the world, it can be overwhelming.  There are so many problems. So many battles to be fought.  There is so much sin, rebellion, and evil.  How can one person do anything against all of that?


But you are not called to do anything against all of that!  You are commanded to simply stand your ground.  You are to keep standing when an enemy enters into your small area of the field.  You don’t need to worry about what is happening on the other end of the battlefield.


All you need to focus on is what is happening in your little six-foot square area.  God does not expect you to fight the swarming hoards all by yourself.  It is not you against the spiritual realm of darkness.  You have been given a parcel of ground, figuratively speaking.  Stand in it and defend it. That’s it.  Do not let a single enemy enter into your space.  That is the area God has entrusted to you, and He wants you to stand your ground.


What is your six-foot square area of land?  It is your own life and the people who are in it with you.  Protecting your bit of ground requires you to watch what you see, what you say, and what you think.


We can make sure that the words that proceed out of our mouths are edifying and encouraging toward others.  We can speak with honesty and truthfulness.  We can avoid gossip that tears other people down.  We can be careful about what enters into our minds through the doorway of the eyes.


We can be careful what we watch and view.  We can take our thoughts captive so that we think on what is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Php 4:8).  When we live in such ways, we are standing our ground that Jesus has won for us.


But standing our ground is not as easy as it sounds.


Standing our ground requires great vigilance.  We must be alert and ready.  For as the defeated enemies rush off with their tails between their legs, in shame and defeat, shrieking in humiliation, they still seek to wound and damage any of us that they can.


We must be on our guard, because as they go to their destruction, they would love to take a few of us out as they pass by.  That is why we need to be careful.  If we try to advance, rather than stand our ground, it is almost certain we will walk into a trap of the devil.  Standing our ground is the safest way to avoid the snares of Satan.


This is the third and final part of the battle plan is to watch out for the traps of the devil.


Watch Out For Traps (Ephesians 6:11b, 13b)


The third element of our battle plan is to watch out for the traps of the devil.  Paul calls these the wiles of the devil.  The Greek word for wiles is methodeia, which is where we get our English word “methods.”  So the wiles of the devil are the methods he uses to injure, wound, and ensnare soldiers of Jesus Christ.


In fact, Satan is so good at what he does, that sometimes, according to 1 Corinthians 11:3, 14, he appears as an angel of light.  This means that sometimes, when people think they are following light and truth, they are actually following darkness and deception.


Therefore, it is critically important to become aware of the wiles of the devil, so that we can easily see his schemes and avoid his traps.


We must understand when these attacks come, what types of attacks the devil will throw at us, where he seeks to target us most often, and the tactics he uses with these attacks.  We will cover them more thoroughly in our next lesson,




Our struggles in this life are real, powerful, and inevitable.  God knows this and wants us to prepare us for the onslaught of schemes and devices the enemy will throw at us to knock us off our feet.


Whether your battle is internal or external, temporary or permanent, life-altering or mildly annoying, God’s command does not change.  God’s Word tells us we are not to be passive participants but to proactively prepare for battle by arming ourselves.


The hard days are sure to come.  There will be battles.  And when they do, we have to choose to stand our ground.


While our hard-wired response when we face danger may be the “fight or flight” response, we can choose God’s option instead: Stand firm.