Whenever you prepare for something, you suit up -- you put on the appropriate gear. It could be football pads, chain mail, a hard hat, a flight suit, an Easter bonnet, or an evening gown, but you dress for the occasion. As Christians, we need to do the same thing, and so Paul tells us to "Put on the whole armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes" (Eph. 6:11). The armor, modeled after that of a Roman centurion, has many parts, and each part is significant. Ephesians 6 gives us the breakdown.
Belt of Truth (v.14) The belt holds everything in place and was used to attach the scabbard of the sword to the rest of the armor. Truth functions in the same way: it binds the word of God to the Christian and ensures the other elements are held in place. You can’t have righteousness, peace, faith, or salvation without truth. Lies and deceit are from Satan (John 8:44) and would tarnish your armor – or make it fall off completely.
Breastplate of Righteousness (v.14) The breastplate was the largest piece of armor. Most likely it covered the wearer’s entire torso, front and back (not just the chest like the name implies). The breastplate (also called a cuirass) protected all the vital organs aside from the brain: heart, lungs, liver, stomach, pancreas, etc. Righteousness is the state of being holy and without guilt before God. If we wear the breastplate of righteousness, it means our heart is holy and right before God, along with the rest of us: desires, attitude, etc. It also means we cover ourselves in righteousness, something that happens when we get saved: the righteousness of Christ becomes our own, and God sees Jesus’ righteousness instead of our sin when He looks on us.
Shoes of the Gospel of Peace (v. 15) Shoes cover feet (obviously). The simple message is that wherever we go, we go in peace. We don’t seek out arguments or deliberately stir up trouble when we go somewhere or meet someone; we take the peace of Christ to them. Notice though the full thing is “the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” Well, the gospel is the gospel of Jesus, and preparation is readiness. We should always be ready to share our faith with everyone wherever we go -- and be willing to go wherever God takes us.
Shield of Faith (v. 16) The shield of faith is to “extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Roman shields were usually covered in leather and soaked in water before battle. That way if someone shot a flaming arrow at you, the water on the shield would keep it (and you) from getting burned. Faith acts in the same way: when a challenge arises, our faith is equal to the task. It protects us and keeps us safe from all the false accusations and false doctrines of the world (the modern day flaming arrow). Flaming arrows can also be temptations, and our faith gives us the way to escape.
Helmet of Salvation (v. 17) This goes along with the breastplate of righteousness. Our salvation covers us from the head down; every part of us belongs to God. The original word for conversion is literally “changing your mind,” so it makes sense our salvation starts in the brain here. (It was a different way of thinking back then.) Our salvation also guards our thoughts against other sorts of flaming arrows (like “science is the answer to everything,” evolution, etc.). That comes from Romans 12:1-3 and Philippians 4:7.
Sword of the Spirit (v. 17) The sword of the Spirit is the word of God, as the verse says. The Bible “is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Beyond that, we can use swords in judgment, in self-defense, to protect other people, or to bring an end to things – all things the Bible can also do.
When you get ready to face a new day, put on the armor of God. Prepare yourself to face whatever the world, the flesh, and the devil can throw at you. Suit up.