The Armor of God

How God equips us to engage in spiritual battles

by Liz Abrams on February 7, 2023

It is often important to have the right gear for a specialized task. A gardener might be equipped with gloves that protect the hands from thorns and stinging nettles. A football player wears shoes with cleats to give him traction. Welders have a special helmet to protect their face and eyes.

In the ancient world, a Roman soldier’s distinctive armor both identified him and ensured he was ready to engage in battle. Everyone could tell just by looking at him that he was a Roman soldier. When the Apostle Paul was imprisoned, he was guarded by such soldiers, and he used their armor as an image to describe how God equips Christians to live for him in a world that is hostile to Christians and our faith. Paul says,

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 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 spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 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. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. (Ephesians 6:10–18)

Equipped for Spiritual Battle

Paul teaches us that we need to put on spiritual armor to be prepared for inevitable spiritual conflict.

Today, even many Christians are practical materialists in that we think of things mainly in terms of earthly causes and events. But the Bible teaches us that the spiritual world is real and affects our daily lives. Just as we need to be appropriately outfitted to deal with the physical weather and for whatever work we are doing, Paul teaches us that we need to put on spiritual armor to be prepared for inevitable spiritual conflict.

We are further commanded to put on the “whole armor.” The individual pieces of armor are not designed to be used without the rest. If anything is left off, we are less than fully equipped. They are also not interchangeable with secular armor or with armor from other religions.

The spiritual armor is from God—we cannot provide our own. Just as God is the one who saves and sanctifies us, he is the one who provides the spiritual armor that allows us to be prepared for spiritual conflict. This should give us great confidence in our armor because the God who saved us would not give us anything less than what we need.

The Belt of Truth

A Roman soldier would wear a tunic as his undergarment—this would hang to about knee length. His belt would gather up the tunic to keep it from getting in the way of his movements. It would also help to secure the breastplate and would contain a scabbard for his sword.

The first piece of armor a Christian is commanded to wear is the belt of truth. First, this means relying on God’s truth over and against competing views of the world. The very first battle over truth in the garden of Eden was lost when Eve, instead of trusting God’s Word, started reasoning for herself from what she could perceive. Of course, Eve’s knowledge was limited and flawed, and when Adam followed her in eating the forbidden fruit, this led to the fall and the introduction of sin and death to the world.

Christians are commanded to trust in the truth of God’s Word, even when other ways of seeing things look attractive or sensible. Often, Christians are seen as foolish by the secular world for this trust in God, but ultimately we will be vindicated.

The other way we can understand the belt of truth is that because we are God’s children, and God is the source of truth, we should be truthful people. When Christians lie, we are trying to use the enemy’s tools for our benefit. Instead, we should trust God enough to be truthful, even when the truth is inconvenient or potentially damaging to us.

The Breastplate of Righteousness

The second piece of armor a Roman soldier would don was the breastplate. Sometimes it came with a piece to protect the soldier’s back, but it always included a tough metal, chain mail, or leather frontpiece that covered from the neck to the bottom of the torso. This armor would protect his vital organs from slashing and often even piercing attacks.

Isaiah 59:17 says of God, “He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.” It is notable that two of these items (breastplate of righteousness and helmet of salvation) are the same as Paul’s list of spiritual armor. Importantly, the breastplate does not consist of the believer’s own righteousness, but Christ’s righteousness. As Paul said in Philippians 3:8–9, “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”

In biblical terms, the heart is often pictured as the seat of thought, and the “bowels” as the seat of the emotions. Because our minds are affected by the fall, some of our thoughts and feelings aren’t true, even after salvation. So we can think of the breastplate of righteousness as particularly guarding how we think and feel. And because the breastplate works with the belt of truth, we can remember to always gauge our thoughts and feelings by the truth of God’s Word.

One aspect of righteousness is living a life of obedience to God, relying on the Holy Spirit to help us grow and mature in our faith. If God’s righteousness is guarding our hearts and minds, we can be better equipped to fight off spiritual attacks based on emotion or faulty reasoning.

Gospel Readiness for Shoes

There are specialized shoes for biking, hiking, running, playing football, dancing, and many other professions. The right shoes both support our feet and prevent them from being injured. Roman soldiers needed to be able to march long distances and navigate whatever terrain they might encounter in battle, and their shoes equipped them to do this. Deuteronomy 29:5 tells us that God kept the shoes of the Israelites from wearing out during their wilderness wanderings so that their feet were adequately protected at all times.

Evangelism is possibly the most obvious way God has allowed us to participate in the war against the enemy.

Christians are to be characterized by “the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” Before we believed, we were at war with God, but Christ’s death and resurrection made it possible for us to have peace with God through faith in him. Because of this, we should be eager to share the good news of this peace at every opportunity.

When we share the gospel, we are helping to wage an attack on Satan’s kingdom, because everyone who responds in faith goes from being an enemy of God to being a reconciled child of God. Evangelism is possibly the most obvious way God has allowed us to participate in the war against the enemy.

Shield of Faith

One attack Roman soldiers had to fend off was from archers shooting arrows that had been dipped in pitch then lit on fire. An unprepared soldier would have no way to defend himself from this attack. So each soldier would be equipped with a large shield that could repel these arrows (and even just regular ones).

A soldier could use the shield on his own, but when soldiers were in a group, these shields could be held side by side like a wall to allow a group to advance on the enemy even when under attack. In the same way, Christians aren’t meant to have faith in isolation, but to be part of a body of believers.

When a Christian feels like his or her faith is weak, one of the best things he or she can do is to be present as part of the church body—to fellowship with Christians who are more mature and to be encouraged by the faith of others.

Helmet of Salvation

No soldier would ever go into battle without his helmet. The command to take the helmet may suggest the idea of a soldier who sees the enemy coming from afar and puts on his helmet to be ready for the oncoming attack.

Christians are already saved, so how are Christians to take up something they already possess? Paul probably means a conscious possession of it, having assurance in our salvation and trusting in God based on it. When we are in the midst of temptation or discouragement, it is easy to doubt our standing with God because of our own weakness. But we can stand firm in the knowledge that our salvation depends on God, not us.

The Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God

The only offensive piece of armor is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. The Word of God contains all we need to be saved and live a life that is pleasing to God, as well as wisdom to help us navigate the complexities of life.

When Jesus faced Satan in the wilderness, Satan attempted to entice the Son of God to sin. This was obviously impossible; Jesus could not sin because he is God incarnate, and God cannot sin. But Jesus resisted Satan in a way we can imitate. When Satan tempted him, Jesus responded to those temptations, not with his own reasoning as Eve did, but with direct quotations of Scripture.

We can use Scripture to help us navigate life and fight spiritual battles, but to do this we must know it. We can learn God’s Word through personal and group study and by sitting under faithful preaching.

Be Ready for Battle!

Examining the armor of God shows us that spiritual warfare is conducted mainly through trusting in God, faithfully living a Christian life, studying the Bible, sharing the gospel, and obeying God’s commands in the Bible.

People often think of spiritual warfare in terms of overt confrontation with spiritual forces, but most Christians will not experience anything that extreme. Examining the armor of God shows us that spiritual warfare is conducted mainly through trusting in God, faithfully living a Christian life, studying the Bible, sharing the gospel, and obeying God’s commands in the Bible. And we are assured of the outcome of the spiritual war we are engaged in: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

Teach Your Children to Be Keepers of the Kingdom!

This year, Answers VBS Keepers of the Kingdom will teach children that we’re in a war between two kingdoms, how they can become part of God’s kingdom through salvation in his Son, and how God equips the members of his kingdom with armor to fight spiritual battles. Children and youth will learn through five days of biblical teaching, fun games, science and crafts, music, and even themed snacks. Learn more at


Get the latest answers emailed to you.

I agree to the current Privacy Policy.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA, and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

Learn more

  • Customer Service 800.778.3390