Fashion is a big issue in our world. Turn on the TV and you’ll see everyone from actors to newscasters dressed fashionably. Internet pages are full of fashionable models selling their wares. Most of us are well aware of fashions even if we don’t follow the trends in our own clothing.
Sometimes clothes are worn to designate a specific profession (like police, fire fighters and doctor) rather than to be fashionable. This helps others tell at a glance what he or she does for a living. It’s sometimes possible to tell what group people associate with by their clothing (sports fans, school teams, etc.) Clothing can also tell others what our plans for the day might be – for example, whether we will be working in the garden or going to a wedding.
The Bible speaks a lot about clothing, too. Colossians 3:12 instructs us, “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, [to] clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (NIV) 1 Peter 5:5 adds, “clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.” (NIV)
Romans 13:14 pretty much sums up how Christians are to be dressed by stating, “clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (NIV)
In the New Testament book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul elaborates on this, giving us specific “clothing” to wear as believers in, and followers of, Jesus Christ. Paul uses the illustration of armor to describe the clothing God has given us as our “covering” in this world.
This armor is the means by which God protects His people from the problems and temptations of life. Ephesians 6:12 introduces this protective clothing by telling us that believers are not dealing with those regular issues of life alone. Paul identifies an additional enemy: spiritual beings who have been warring with God since the beginning of time.
As God’s representatives on earth we should look like His children; but we also need to be protected from His enemies, who will fight against us as well. To handle this spiritual warfare, we need supernatural weapons. Therefore, we have special clothing, made to be worn continually until our fight is over.
The clothing the Bible designates for us is described like the covering heavily-armed Roman soldiers would have worn. It would be used by the warriors who had to sustain the fiercest assaults of the enemy, and to stand against them. In the same way, Christians are urged to stand, and to stand victorious, until the enemy is beaten back.
1) The belt of truth (Ephesians 3:14)
This garment, larger than our belts, was buckled around the waist like a girdle, and kept the soldier’s armor in place. It also supported his sword. In the same way, truth holds the Christian’s armor together and keeps it strong. It is mentioned first because of this.
2) The breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 3:14)
In the New Century version of the Bible, it is called “the protection of right living.” The breast-plate was placed over the lungs and heart to protect these vital organs. Also called the thorax, it consisted of two parts: one covered the whole chest area while the other protected the back.
3) The iron shoes (Ephesians 3:15)
The shoes of Roman soldiers were often made of metal to protect their feet during fighting. If your feet go during the battle, your body follows! This piece of clothing was essential to fighting well.
The Bible calls Christian shoes “the preparation,” or “readiness, that comes from the gospel of peace,” depending on the translation. “Preparation” is also a word signifying a base or foundation. Since we now have peace with God, based on the sacrifice of Jesus (which is the gospel message), our conscience is clear and we are free to stand strong before the enemy’s assaults.
Several times in this passage Paul tells Christians to “stand.” This may relate to another instruction regarding our enemy, the devil: “Resist him, and he will flee from you.” Shoes help us to stand for as long as it takes to finish the fight.
4) The helmet of salvation (Ephesians 3:16)
Obviously, the helmet was essential for a soldier as it served to protect his head (and brain) from injury. The salvation Christians have in Jesus is the perfect protection for the head, the mind, keeping it away from false doctrines and the lies of the enemy.
1) The sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 3:17)
With all the pieces of armor we’re given, Christians are prepared for the fight… but one thing is missing: weapons. The Bible speaks of only one weapon, though it is enough. God gives us the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, or the Bible.
This effective weapon has two edges, the law and Gospel. One edge convicts of sin, cutting to the heart to find it. The other cuts all righteousness of man away, exposing the only true righteousness, which comes from Christ. With this weapon our success is guaranteed.
2) The shield of faith (Ephesians 3:16)
While a shield is not technically a weapon, it had a place in Roman assaults. A Roman soldier carried a big shield on his left arm. The shield could be thrown in front of his body during an attack, or he could combine his shield with others around him to form a larger covering, like the shell of a turtle. As a group, these soldiers could advance toward the enemy without fear of arrows and “fiery darts.”
Faith, based on the Bible and the grace of Christ, effectively stops the assaults of temptation and frustration. Biblical faith is full, entire trust in God, despite your circumstances. It is constantly reminding yourself of His grace and favor toward you.
Perhaps the best summary I can provide comes from Ephesians 3:11: So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. (The Message)
The Bible, NIV, NCV and Message versions