The Armor of God for Your Marriage
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:10-13) The opposite of standing is falling. What makes the difference in whether or not you stand in the day of battle? The difference is, “Am I wearing the whole armor of God?”
Let’s clarify here that not all conflict in your marriage is due to spiritual forces of evil. “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4:1) Yes, often times the issue is just me, or her, or most often a combination of both. Then again, there have been many occasions when discord seems to have arisen from out of the blue, or should I say, from “out of the black.” Some dark thought or emotion, resembling an annoying pop-up on your computer screen, just seems to appear in your midst. This is the fork in the road when a couple needs to discern the situation and take action.
Allow me to make an important distinction. Unlike the firemen who don their boots, coats, and helmets when the alarm sounds, the armor of God is something that we are to wear, all the time. I would liken it, in a spiritual sense, to a second skin. Let’s look at each piece of armor.
The belt of truth refers to the condition of your private life.
In the context of this passage, it isn’t merely referring to a correct creed or doctrine, as important as those are. Wearing the belt of truth represents an inner life that is properly relating to God. It’s about integrity, having a pure heart before God, and being honest with yourself. To avoid having to face internal accountability, we use a mechanism called “denial.” It’s an unwillingness to face something, perhaps painful or threatening in some way, or maybe something that we just don’t want to change. So consider trying to stand firm in your marriage, without wearing the belt of truth. Doesn’t sound promising, does it?
The breastplate of righteousness.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor.5:21) Righteousness is “imputed” to us. Christ in you, is your righteousness. It’s who you are; a legal transfer from Jesus, into you. Understanding righteousness is one way that you guard your heart. Growing in this revelation, seeing yourself as one of the Father’s children, having your heart saturated with a sense of God’s acceptance – this becomes armor for our hearts. There are, however, two sides to this coin. There is righteousness imputed and righteousness practiced. To say another way, right standing, and right living. Wearing the breastplate of righteousness embodies knowing who I am in Christ and being intentional to live in like fashion.
Having our feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace.” (Isaiah 52:7) Let’s look at both aspects of this piece of armor, the part of “readiness” and the part of “peace.” Readiness and preparation convey to us our calling to be proclaimers of peace. This involves action and movement. Peace of course, is expressed by the unity we enjoy in our relationships. “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph.4:3) “Let us, therefore, make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (Ro.14:19) “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Heb.12:15)
Combining readiness and peace makes it clear that peace must be pursued. We must take the initiative in our relationships, to make it happen. “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Peacemakers are those who make an effort to bring tranquility to the body of Christ. One more note on this piece of armor: “feet” in the Bible conveys the idea of spiritual authority. A king in the ancient world would literally put his foot on the neck of his defeated foe. Right now, Jesus is waiting until his enemies be made a footstool for his feet. (Heb.10:13) We the church, have been given authority to walk over serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy. (Luke 10:19) When discord strikes your marriage, as it does with all of us, it’s an opportunity to walk in the authority that we’ve been given in Christ.
The shield of faith has a unique distinction from the previous pieces of armor.
We are actually told what the results will be: extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Perhaps you’ve seen an action movie where the attacking army was launching flaming arrows, to destroy their enemy’s camp. The shield of faith is not meant to only deflect the arrows, but to quench the flames and keep them from spreading. Let’s define “faith.” It is believing and trusting in God, no doubt, but there are different shades of meaning to the word. We haven’t time here to explore in depth, but I will say that “saving faith” is where we all begin – trusting Christ for salvation. We are saved by faith. But what this shield refers to, is what is called “enduring faith.” It’s the kind of faith that doesn’t quit; it’s warfare faith. It’s a literal wrestle with the spiritual forces of evil wanting to destroy your marriage. The shield of faith will give your marriage endurance.
The helmet of salvation can be succinctly defined as having the mind of Christ.
It is a deliberate action on our part to choose right thinking, while also resisting the negative thoughts pressing for access to our minds. “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor.10:4-5) We are watchmen on the wall, so to speak, gatekeepers for what goes in and out of our minds. Helmets are worn for protection against injury. It’s common now to even wear them while riding a bicycle. Thoughts have the power to control my emotions and my actions. It is vital that I acquire the skill to discern what thoughts might be harmful and to take authority over them.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Phil. 4:8) This will obviously rule out many would be intruders into my thought life. Thankfully, we have the Holy Spirit as our tutor, to teach us the mind of Christ. “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” (1 Cor. 2:13) Did you ever have a “sense” about a person or a situation, perhaps a “check” in your spirit about how to handle a certain situation? This is God, helping us to discern. The Bible calls it “the ability to discriminate in spiritual matters.” (1 Cor.12:10) Wearing the helmet of salvation also entails our learning the skill of discernment. “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” (Heb.5:14) Given these truths, I cannot fathom doing married life without my helmet on!!
While all the pieces of armor require action and discipline on our part, the sword of the Spirit is the only truly, offensive weapon.
The sword is the word of God, an extremely powerful weapon, that is a “must-have” for our arsenal. We are to hide God’s word in our hearts. (Psalm 119:11) I discovered this principle years ago; I call it “Storage/Retrieval” or “Storage/Activation.” What I’ve stored up in my heart is ready for use when needed; having the sword in my sheath, close at hand. One of my first memory verses as a new Christian, was Hebrews 4:12. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” The word of God is not only for use against the enemy, but it is also designed for self-application. I would venture to say that my success in receiving the penetration of this sword into my own heart, correlates with my level of success in using it against the enemy.
You may be familiar with the “Logos/Rhema” distinction, in reference to the Greek words that are translated “word” in our English bibles. In Hebrews 4:12, it is the logos of God. In Ephesians 6:17 it is the rhema of God. All scripture is logos, the inspired word of God. Rhema, is a specific scripture, a specific word of God, for a specific situation. This is the sword of the Spirit.
The clearest example of spiritual warfare, using the word of God, is in Matthew, chapter four, the temptation of Christ in the wilderness. The first temptation was for Jesus to meet a felt need by using his power. “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” The second temptation was for Jesus to put God to a test. “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” And thirdly, the devil offered Jesus a fast track to power. “The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you, if you will bow down and worship me.’”
Jesus wielded the sword of the Spirit and rebuked the devil. Three times Jesus said, “It is written”, followed by a specific truth from God’s word, applicable to the particular temptation. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Deut. 8:3) “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Deut. 6:16) “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” (Deut. 6:13) What a beautiful example of the principle I alluded to earlier. Jesus had the word stored in his heart, ready for retrieval when needed. I would like to cite one more example of the importance of the rhema of God.
“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words (rhema) I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” (John 6:63) The context of this verse illustrates the fact that it takes time for us to digest God’s word. In this chapter, Jesus had fed the five thousand and also walked on water. Now he was teaching on their need to receive him as the bread of life. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever. On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’ From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him…’You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words (rhema) of eternal life.’” This was a pretty radical teaching to those hearing it for the first time; so much so, that some decided to no longer follow Christ. New revelation takes time to ingest. The key is to continually absorb the word of God, whether or not I have full understanding at the outset. Husbands and wives who commit to this process will emerge victorious together in the day of battle.