Taking Off The Armor Of God

As Christians, we've all heard about having to put on the Armor of God as listed in Ephesians 6:10-18. Recently, I've discovered that each piece listed is an individual layer which creates a foundation for the next piece listed. But one of the questions that I've often pondered about is why do we have to keep putting on the Armor of God over and over again? Once we've put it on, why doesn't it stay on? Who's taking it off? And how?

In Paul's explanation in his letter to the Ephesians, he says that it is WE who have to PUT IT ON. Therefore, if we've put on the Armor of God and later find ourselves without it, then it must somehow be WE who are TAKING IT OFF. But how?

When we are protected under all 7 layers of the Armor of God, then nothing can stop us. However, Satan constantly chips away at the armor, working toward the dismantling of all 7 layers of the force field, starting with the outer layer first. The process can happen slowly over a period of several years, but it can also happen frequently and quickly, depending upon our experience with the Armor.

The 7th layer is the outer layer: The Power of Prayer. So that's where Satan starts first. He chips away at our prayer-life. When all of the busyness of life crowds out our personal alone-time spent with the Lord in prayer, then the power-source of every other layer of God's armor becomes vulnerable to being deactivated. The busyness of life can include anything and everything from our job, our family, our hobbies and entertainment to even our work in ministry. There's an old proverb that says, "Don't become so preoccupied with God's kingdom that you no longer have time for the King." With the busyness of life and even church activities, Satan can easily remove the 7th layer: Prayer.

Once prayer has been removed, then Satan begins to chip away at the 6th layer: The Sword of the Spirit, which is our reliance upon Biblical authority to stand on the issues of whatever problems we're facing. The reason why this happens is because it is prayer that keeps God's Word sharp in our mind for every decision. Prayer is also what gives us the conviction needed to stand on God's Word whenever necessary. So without God's Word being brought to mind and without the needed conviction to stand on God's Word, we will begin to make unwise and costly decisions based upon our own limited wisdom, instead of the secure and timeless wisdom of God's Word. Then as God's Word becomes more and more absent from the forefront of our mind, the authority of the world's wisdom will become more revered than the authority of God's Word. Without even knowing it, we will voluntarily lower our sword, which removes the 6th layer: The Sword of the Spirit.

Now that Satan has managed to get us to make decisions based upon our own wisdom and the wisdom of the world, then Satan can begin to chip away at the 5th layer: The Helmet of Salvation, which is our authority in Christ. With the authority of what society thinks, what our neighbors think, what our family thinks or what I personally think taking precedence over what God thinks: we no longer have authority in Christ. As we begin to feel the pain of this loss, Satan deceives us into trying to compensate by overemphasizing the value of charity, good works and improving our moral conduct. This begins a viscous circle of futility because it adds even more activity and stress to the busyness of life which keeps us even further away from finding time to pray, disconnecting ourselves from the power-source of God's Armor, draining even more quickly what Scriptural remembrance we have in our hearts, causing us to strive even harder to compensate through more charity, more good works and more improved moral conduct, etc... Instead of wearing the granted authority bought by the blood of Jesus, we begin to usurp our own authority bought by our own striving and reputation. This removes the 5th layer: The Helmet of Salvation.

Then, as our focus begins to wander away from God and shift toward self-reliance, it's very easy for Satan to chip away at the 4th layer: The Shield of Faith, as the attention toward immediate needs and future needs become more difficult to ignore. No matter how smart we are, no matter how strong or wealthy we are, our personal needs always tend to mount up higher than what is required to meet them when we aren't praying, we aren't standing on the authority of God's Word and we no longer have our authority in Christ, because we've forgotten the following...

Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD." Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV

"It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man." Psalm 118:8 KJV

"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19 KJV

Notice Paul didn't say that God supplied their needs according to their riches and abilities, but according to God's riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Forgetting this truth eventually removes the 4th layer: The Shield of Faith because our original trust in God's faithfulness has been usurped by a trust in self-reliance.

Without trust in God's faithfulness, Satan can easily chip away at the 3rd layer: The Shoes of Peace, because as the needy demands tend to rise higher than the supply to meet them, the desire for more money, better resources, bigger housing, better opportunities, better relationships, etc, become the main focus in a never-ending pursuit striving toward peace. "If only I had this" or "If only I had that" becomes the new inner monologue of a constantly aggravated and unsatisfied Christian. So now, the 3rd layer: The Shoes of Peace have been completely removed.

Since our peace becomes defined by the acceptance of society, we begin making compromises with society in order to keep that peace. Whatever society wants, society gets. Eventually, the demand to appease society even invades the content of what little Biblical teaching we have left in our hearts. This is where Satan goes to work on the 2nd layer: The Breastplate of Righteousness. Society begins putting pressure on us to remove all offensiveness from our theology to keep people approving of our Christianity. Once we begin to head down this path, eventually all Biblical doctrine will either be ignored or watered down because every verse in the Bible could be interpreted as offensive to somebody depending upon whom you ask.

Without the healing of Biblical doctrine, we become too comfortable in our sin. This removes the 2nd layer: The Breastplate of Righteousness which leaves us feeling an inner guilt that we attempt to hide through works and acts of self-righteousness either by a legalistic/judgmental method or an open-minded/judge-free method. Both methods are self attempts at righteousness which God called "filthy rags" in Isaiah 64:6.

The legalistic/judgmental method is an attempt at righteousness which results in attitudes that are arrogant, cold, cruel, judgmental and condescending. Without putting on the Breastplate of Righteousness, which God provides, our inner guilt and shame only screams louder and must be covered up by sackcloth and ashes and constant religious fear. Outwardly, these Christians may appear to be confident in their own imputed righteousness but inside, they are never free from the feeling of religious guilt. Inwardly, they feel that God's disapproval and judgment is constantly upon them and must be avoided by the strictest, most righteous godly behavior at all times. The legalistic/judgmental type Christian has short-circuited God's Armor from being able to activate the next piece that would give them the ability to stand in peace. Without God's peace, they cannot respond to life's circumstances or Satan's attacks with the Shield of Faith.

The open-minded/judge-free method is an attempt at righteousness which results in attitudes that are just as blind and deceiving as those using the legalistic/judgmental method. Instead of covering up their guilt with religious hellfire and brimstone like their counterparts, these Christians completely ignore the feeling of guilt altogether. They adopted a philosophy which believes, "If society says it's OK, then it's OK. And even if society is wrong, who are we to judge? God is a God of love so everything is permissible, so long as you admit you're not perfect and Jesus died for your sins. As long as you admit that, everything is OK because nobody is perfect; don't worry about what's right and wrong, do what's right in your own eyes and if you're mistaken, oh well, God will forgive you." These Christians have shed their judgmental ways and are now open to all forms of sin without condemnation. Christians who have taken off the Breastplate of Righteousness in the name of being a "judge-free-Christian" have also unfortunately short-circuited God's Armor from being able to activate the next piece that would give them the ability to stand in peace. Without God's peace, we cannot respond to life's circumstances or Satan's attacks with the Shield of Faith.

Truth is the number one enemy of unrighteousness; therefore it is easy for Satan to chip away at the 1st and final layer of armor once the Breastplate of Righteousness has been removed. In time, hardly any Biblical doctrine can make it's way into the heart anymore because every part of the Bible is either offensive, inapplicable or too archaic. The legalistic/judgmental Christian ignores Biblical doctrine of freedom and grace, constantly screaming about context or English Bible translations while the open-minded/judge-free Christian ignores all Biblical doctrine of conviction of sin, constantly quoting Matthew 7:1 as if it were the whole Bible. Since there is no healthy prayer-life, no Biblical authority, no authority in Christ, no faith in God's faithfulness, no peace standing upon the whole counsel of God, no God-given righteousness, then the usurpation of societal authority, church authority, faith in yourself, faith in other people, faith in money, faith in your own definition of what's right has overthrown and overruled God's Word, which is the 1st and final layer: The Belt of Truth. You are now completely naked, defenseless, a serious danger to yourself and other Christians.

The Power of Prayer is the 7th and outer layer of your armor when all pieces are in place. But when you're completely naked, you start with prayer first to bind the forces of darkness. 2nd Corinthians 4:4 says that Satan is the one keeping your mind from seeing the truth. So you need Spiritual forces to get that deception out of the way.

Then, begin force-feeding yourself the Word of God on a daily basis because it's vital to putting on the Belt of Truth. Jesus said in John 8:31-32 that if you abide in God's Word, then you will know the truth and the truth will make you free. I say "force-feed" because reading the Bible is an acquired taste that consumes you once you get into the habit. But if you've fallen out of the habit, it requires a commitment to get it going again. But you've got to do it. You can't put on the rest of the armor without it.

As you read the Bible, your understanding of it and how it applies to your daily life will be given to you as you daily talk to God while reading the Bible. God promises us in James 1:5 that if any of us is lacking in wisdom, just ask for it and we'll get it. God wants us praying and asking questions while we read His Word. That's how it gets absorbed.

Then, the way we actually strap on the Belt of Truth is found in 2nd Corinthians 10:5 where Paul tells you not to believe everything you think but instead, "lead every thought captive into the obedience of Christ." Christians these days spend way too much time trying to force the Word of God to conform to the wisdom of the world when we should be doing just the opposite. God would have us force the wisdom of the world to conform to the Word of God. Things actually make so much more sense when you do it that way. For example, it's so much easier to believe that Genesis Chapter 1 is scientifically accurate while Darwinian Evolution is scientifically flawed instead of trying to force Genesis Chapter 1 to somehow symbolically represent Darwinian Evolution. The same principle applies to "all arguments and theories that sets itself against the knowledge of God".

Our search and discovery of truth is the foundation. Without truth, we're in bondage to deception, Satan wins, game over. With the truth, we can then move on to the next piece of armor.

This is about how we respond to the truth we've been given. If we reject the truth, we cannot put on righteousness, we're in bondage to guilt, Satan wins, game over. If we accept and apply the truth we've been given, then it leads first to imputed righteousness via the cross, and then realized righteousness through voluntary obedience and/or confession when necessary.

If we're believing the Word of God over the wisdom of society, we're going to notice a conflict between what we've accepted into our lives and what God would find acceptable. Putting on the Breastplate of Righteousness begins at the Cross. All our sins are forgiven at the cross. 1st John 1:7-10 is known as the Christian's Bar of Soap. It promises Jesus' gift of cleansing and forgiveness and a restoration of personal fellowship when we acknowledge our shortcomings before Him. "If we say we have not sinned, we contradict His Word and make Him out to be a liar, and His Word (The Belt of Truth) is not in us. But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Instead of hiding our sins with self-imputed self-righteousness, we should just admit who we are when spending time in God's presence because Hebrews 4:13-16 says "all things are open and exposed, naked and defenseless to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do." And even more than that, "He's able to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses, infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, because He was tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning."

Putting on the Breastplate of Righteousness is agreeing with God's Word about your sin, and asking for His forgiveness and cleansing. This leads us to...

Now that you have the truth (1st layer) and you are presently in right-standing with God (2nd layer) you can stand and move forward in God's peace according to Philippians 4:6-7 where Paul tells you not to worry about anything but with prayer and thanksgiving, continue to relay everything to God (not to keep God informed, but to keep you and God connected) so that "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, shall guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

We can now begin walking in this life with new goals, new attitudes, new directions, no longer responding to fears, doubts or anxieties. As long as we continue to walk in harmony with God's Will, wearing the Breastplate of Righteousness, we can continue walking in peace. But Satan will attack our footsteps with thoughts of fears, anxieties, all questions that begin with the words "but, what if..." so that you will take off your shoes of peace and begin walking a walk shod with fears and doubts. If that happens, Satan wins, Game Over. But if you continue to walk in shoes shod with the Gospel of Peace, then you can take up the next layer...

If we know we have the truth, if we have no guilt, if we're at peace with God and in harmony with His Will, then NOTHING CAN STOP US. Any thoughts of doom or fears sent by Satanic forces can easily be deflected by our faith in God's faithfulness. Nothing can separate us from His love, not even our own stubborn will or the will of demonic forces according to Romans 8:31-39. We're even given the confidence of knowing that He Who lives in us is greater and mightier than the agents of the antichrist, i.e. fallen angels and demonic forces according to 1st John 4:4.

Faith is the confident assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen according to Hebrews 11:1. In other words, our protective shield is a shield of confident assurance in God's faithfulness toward us in things He's done, things He's doing, and things He's yet to do.

Any thoughts of doom or fears sent by Satanic forces can easily be deflected by our faith in God's faithfulness. Without faith in God's faithfulness, then those attacks will begin to wear away at our Shoes of Peace, Satan wins, Game Over. But if we continue to walk forward or stand firm in our faith in God's faithfulness, then we can attack the enemy who's sending those thoughts of doom by putting on the next layer...

We wear the authority that comes from our adoption as sons and daughters of the living God (Helmet of Salvation). With this adoption, we're given the mind of Christ according to 1st Corinthians 2:14-16. Our mind is now capable of grasping Spiritual truths and realities that normal human beings are incapable of comprehending. With our authority in Christ, we are now capable of utilizing the power of Scripture in a way that before was unthinkable, which is the next layer of armor...

The Sword of the Spirit which is The Word Of God is to be used to defend the Christian against lies, and oppose demons. Whenever Satan attacked Jesus, even the Lord Himself responded by quoting a passage of Scripture that contradicted Satan's deceptive lies and reaffirmed God's Truth. Hebrews 4:12 says that the Word of God is quick, powerful, and sharper than any two-edged physical sword because this Spiritual Sword can actually cut between the soul and the spirit and discern the thoughts and purposes of the heart. God Himself holds His Word even higher than His own Name according to Psalm 138:2.

NOW!!! NOW!!! We can pray effectively without interference, and with perfect clarity, interceding on behalf of whoever needs it.