// THE BELT OF TRUTH
Just as a well-trained soldier wouldn’t go into battle without armor, so God doesn’t expect you to face your enemy at a disadvantage. He’s provided you with everything you need, not only to survive, but also to be victorious in battle. God has given you a spiritual suit of armor to protect you in your fight against the enemy.
“Below the belt” is a term used in boxing to describe the loins area where punches aren’t allowed to be thrown. A person’s loins represent a place of vulnerability. When people say, “That’s hitting below the belt,” they’re describing a comment or action that could be considered unfair. As a soldier of God, the first thing you must do to defend yourself against the devil is to gird up your loins with truth. In the Bible, shaking loins were a manifestation of terror (Daniel 5:6; Psalm 69:23). Several times throughout the Bible, the phrase “gird up your loins” is metaphorically used to say, “take courage” or “stop being afraid.” God told Job twice, “Gird up your loins like a man” (Job 38:3; 40:7, NASB).
Your loins also represent a place of reproduction. When the seed of God’s Word is planted in your heart, faith is conceived. If you protect and water the seed, it grows until God’s promise is birthed into your life (Mark 4:2–20). On the other hand, fear springs from a lie of the devil that you believe. If you don’t uproot the lie, it eventually manifests its promise in your life (Job 3:25). Notice how many times Jesus told people to first resist their fear so that He could free them from the work of the enemy (Luke 8:50; 12:32; Matthew 14:27; Mark 5:36; Acts 18:9–11). When you accept the devil’s word over God’s, you allow fear to be produced. A liar doesn’t have any power until someone believes his lie. Like a cheap street magician, the devil wants you to believe he has power. His only trick is deception, and his only power comes from the authority you give him when you don’t resist him.
When you receive a revelation about who you are, you become armed for spiritual warfare. You can dismiss the devil’s threats when you understand the powerful rank God has already given you. The devil’s lie says you are a victim, but God’s truth declares you are victorious! The Word of God assures you: “The Father has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13, AMP). Not only that, but “God disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it [the cross]” (Colossians 2:15, AMP). All the power of the enemy is under the feet of Jesus; therefore, it is also under your feet, because you are in Him (Ephesians 1:18–23).
According to Ephesians 6:12 (KJV), you are involved in a battle against “spiritual wickedness.” The root of the word wicked means “twisted.” It is the same root word used for the wick of a candle, which is made by twisting cords together. Satan twists the truth. He twisted God’s Word to try to deceive Jesus, but Jesus knew His Father’s love and His Word too well to fall for the deception (Matthew 4:1–11). When fear attacks, you need to gird up your loins with the truth of 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV): “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” When you recognize that fear comes from the enemy, you can expose Satan’s lie with God’s truth, like Jesus did. Then, as you believe and receive God’s perfect love, the spirit of fear will be cast out (1 John 4:16–18), and you will be courageous and ready for battle.
// THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
From the metal breastplates of ancient Rome to modern-day bulletproof vests, warriors have always needed armor to protect their hearts. In the realm of spiritual warfare, God has provided His breastplate of righteousness to protect your heart from Satan’s favorite weapon—condemnation. The wounds of condemnation are self-inflicted, because condemnation springs from a guilty conscience. Satan will accuse you day and night until you finally agree with his accusations and swallow the poison of condemnation (Revelation 12:10). After your mind receives the poison, it makes its way to your heart and paralyzes you. You go from thinking that your behavior is bad to believing that you are bad. When you give in to condemnation, it’s easy to feel unrighteous and disqualified from God’s love and blessing even though God has declared you righteous. Once your own heart condemns you, it blocks the vital supply line of God’s grace, because you no longer have confidence to receive what you ask from Him (1 John 3:18–24). By taking off His breastplate of righteousness, you leave yourself exposed to enemy fire.
The word condemn means “to pronounce as hopeless; to give up as incurable.” A condemned criminal has already had a trial and been sentenced to death. There is no hope for rehabilitation or change. But there’s a tremendous difference between condemnation and conviction. Condemnation involves a general feeling of unworthiness with no way out, whereas conviction is clear and specific. Condemnation drives you away from God; conviction leads you back to Him. When the Holy Spirit convicts you, He opens your eyes to a specific sin and offers you the opportunity to repent and receive God’s cleansing power. However, when you continually refuse to repent, conviction becomes condemnation, which is never God’s desire.
The key to breaking this cycle of defeat is to stop focusing on your performance and begin focusing on what Jesus has already given you. When you made Jesus your Lord, you traded your righteousness—your right-standing with God—for His. Paul wrote, “Not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith (Philippians 3:9). 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that Jesus was made to be something He wasn’t—sinful—so that you could be made to be something you weren’t—righteous. Talk about an extreme makeover!
If you’re a battle-weary soldier, there’s great news. When you run to God in faith instead of running away from Him in shame, He’ll actually wash your conscience clean and give you a fresh start (Romans 10:10–11; Hebrews 9:14, 10:22). By His Spirit, God provides you with the antidote to the poison of condemnation: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1, KJV). When condemnation is cleared out of the way, you can “come boldly to the throne of grace … and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, NKJV). The same way you received God’s breastplate of righteousness—by faith—is the same way you keep it on in the power of the Spirit.
// THE GOOD NEWS OF PEACE SHOES
Have you ever tried to walk over sharp rocks with bare feet? Now imagine doing that while engaged in hand-to-hand combat! Shoes are an important piece of equipment for a soldier. They can provide stability when walking over difficult terrain and they make a long march bearable. Shoes enable you to walk over things that would normally wound and bruise you. They provide a protective buffer between your feet and whatever hard, irritating ground you must walk through.
The same holds true in the spiritual realm. There are many hard, irritating circumstances you must walk through in life. When you put on God’s peace, you’re able to walk through things you never thought you could. The Hebrew word for peace is “shalom,” and it means safety, health, wholeness, soundness and completeness. Before you ever go into battle, you need to prepare and equip yourself with the good news that God has already given you His shalom. This will stabilize you to persevere through combat when the going gets rough and will help you stand against the enemy. You’ll be able to walk right over what would normally wound and bruise you because you’re wearing God’s peace on your feet.
So how do you get this peace? If you belong to Him, the Lord has already deposited His peace within you. Just before He left this earth, Jesus told His followers, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27, NIV). Jesus pointed out that there’s a distinction between His peace and the kind of peace the world offers. The world’s kind of peace is dependent upon circumstances. When a situation looks good, the world feels peace. When things aren’t going as expected or desired, then they worry. The kind of peace Jesus gives isn’t dependent upon changing circumstances. It’s dependent upon knowing the true character of God and believing His promise that He’ll always take care of you (1 Peter 5:7; Hebrews 13:5–6).
The Lord’s part is to supply the peace and the power. Your part is to let His peace rule in your heart so that His power can operate through you. Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Worry and fear shut down the flow of God’s peace and power, but the good news is that worry and fear are within your power to control. Jesus said, “Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27, NASB; emphasis added).
The Son of God became flesh to guide your feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:79). He slept in a boat during a raging storm, made crippled bodies whole, opened blind eyes to see, delivered the tormented, restored dignity to social outcasts, resurrected loved ones and reconciled you with your heavenly Father. The good news of His phenomenal peace must be shared. Not only are you God’s warrior, you’re also His goodwill ambassador. Let the words of Romans 10:15 characterize your life: “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”
// THE SHIELD OF FAITH
Each piece of the spiritual armor described in Ephesians 6 helps you stand strong against the strategies of the devil. Girding your loins with truth gives you courage to fight. The breastplate of righteousness protects you from condemnation so that you can receive God’s help in the midst of the fight. Wearing your shoes of peace enables you to cast your cares upon God and expect a good outcome to the fight. Only the shield of faith, however, can neutralize every enemy attack and give you the victory. The Apostle John wrote, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4, NKJV).
Faith is the shield that quenches all the fiery darts of the enemy. The fact that these darts are fiery gives us a clue about their nature. James 3 says that the tongue is ignited by hell and is used to kindle strife and every evil work. Satan ignites your own words and the words of others and then launches them against you to move you out of faith and love and into fear and strife. Darts are never used in hand-to-hand combat; they must be hurled at close range. Giving in to fear and strife moves you into Satan’s territory where you can easily be defeated. But when you operate in faith and love, you’re on God’s high ground.
Faith is being so fully persuaded and convinced that every word of God is truth that you’re willing to act upon it without having a backup plan waiting in the wings. Faith is trusting that the invisible Truth—Jesus—has power to change the visible facts. When you discover a promise God has given you, align your decisions with it and act accordingly even before you see evidence of it in your life. Believe in God’s integrity and patiently wait for the fulfillment of His promise (Hebrews 6:12). Proverbs 30:5 (KJV) declares, “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him.” When you believe in God’s Word, He honors it and becomes your shield.
If you’re convinced that God loves you and always keeps His promises, then Satan’s attacks will bounce off your shield of faith and fall to the ground. The Father proved His love for you once and for all by sending His Son, Jesus, to die in your place (1 John 4:9–19). When you believe in God’s love, your faith becomes energized, because perfect love casts out all fear (Galatians 5:6; 1 John 4:18).
Satan can’t physically do anything to separate you from God’s love, because God’s love is always with you (Romans 8:35–39). However, when you begin to doubt God’s perfect love, you lose the strength you need to hold up the shield of faith and become vulnerable to attack. Faith involves both fighting and resting. You fight the good fight of faith by fleeing the things which seduce you from faith, by pursuing things which build faith and by resting in God’s promises through faith (1 Timothy 6:10–12; Hebrews 4:9–11). Lift up your shield of faith, and obtain all that God has promised you.
// THE HELMET OF SALVATION
he last piece of defensive spiritual armor described in Ephesians 6 is the helmet of salvation. In medieval times, a knight’s helmet not only protected his brain but his eyes and his ears as well. This gave him extra protection and assurance before entering combat. 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV) says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” A sound mind is convinced of salvation and certain that God keeps His promises. As a spiritual warrior, your helmet of salvation helps you combat the enemy’s lies by protecting you from fear and by guarding the way you see, hear and perceive things.
Satan’s strategy for capturing your mind is as old as the Garden of Eden. First he plants doubt in your thoughts like he did with Eve. Genesis 3:1 (NLT) says that Satan asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” When you don’t recognize that thought as a lie and reject it, then Satan gains access to your mind and deceives you. He then bombards you with more lies until he’s established a thought pattern. Like reels of film, these thought patterns clutter your mind. Whatever reel you focus on is loaded into your mind’s projector and is played upon the screen of your mind—your imagination. Scientists have discovered that your imagination is connected to your auditory nerve. Whatever you listen to, whether words or music, activates your imagination. God gave you the gift of imagination so that you could dream and envision things like He does. That’s why Jesus said, “Take heed what you hear” (Mark 4:24a, NKJV). Whether you realize it or not, the movies you play over and over in your mind eventually shape your beliefs and actions. Whatever you believe in your heart becomes the fruit you bear in your life (Luke 6:44–45). From thought to belief to repeated behavior, that’s how the devil builds a pattern of sin—a stronghold—in your life.
The good news is that strongholds can be pulled down. In 2 Corinthians 10:4–5 (NKJV) Paul said, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” If you want to pull down a stronghold, stop playing the wrong movies on the screen of your imagination. Dismantle harmful thought patterns one lie at a time until you’ve eliminated the original lie that opened a door for the enemy. You have to take your thoughts prisoners in this war. God’s Spirit of Truth will help you capture your thoughts through the bright light of His Word. By changing your thoughts to agree with God’s truth, you free yourself from the devil’s traps and reload your mind’s projector with the right thoughts (2 Timothy 2:25–26; Philippians 4:8).
// THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
The sword of the Spirit—the Word of God—is your core weapon for defeating the enemy. You use all the other pieces of armor to help you survive the attacks of the enemy, but the sword of the Spirit is the only weapon you need to make Satan flee. This sword isn’t a physical weapon you wield in your hand; it’s one the Spirit wields through your mouth. The Bible clearly states that all Scripture is God-breathed and anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit’s breath (2 Timothy 3:16). When you speak God’s words aloud, they give life and accomplish exactly what He sends them to do (Isaiah 55:10–11). The power isn’t in your voice; it’s in the Spirit’s anointing upon God’s Word spoken in faith. Jesus said, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63, NIV). When you understand this, you’re able to speak God’s Word in faith and see results, because your focus is on the power of His Word instead of the weakness of your flesh.
A careful look at Ephesians 6:10–18 reveals that every piece of spiritual armor, including the sword of the Spirit, is intended to be used within the context of prayer. Speaking God’s Word in faith energizes your prayers with power. Hebrews 4:12 (KJV) explains it well: “For the Word of God 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.” God’s Word separates what’s coming from your spirit versus what’s coming from your soul, and it discerns between your thoughts and the true motives of your heart. The literal meaning of the word “sword” in these two passages is actually “knife or dagger.” The truth of God’s Word is like a powerful surgical knife that helps you extract the heart of a matter from all of its surrounding details and centers your prayer around God’s wisdom so that you can see His results. Like a laser used for eye surgery, the light of God’s Word pierces through any tissue obstructing your spiritual eyes and brings a sharper, clearer vision to your prayers (Psalm 119:130). When your prayers are Spirit-led instead of soul-driven, you gain a tremendous advantage in overcoming the enemy. The more you know God’s Word, the greater your results will be.
When Satan misquoted God’s Word in an effort to ensnare Jesus in a trap, Jesus used the sword of the Spirit to resist Satan’s deceptions and make him flee. Jesus knew that God’s Word wasn’t merely a bunch of words written on the pages of a book. He was able to discern the intent of God’s words, because He knew God’s heart. Jesus’ life illustrated the truth that the ultimate purpose for knowing the Word of God is to know God Himself.
// PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT
n effective spiritual warrior must have two things before entering battle: strength and wisdom. Strength is necessary, because it enables you to “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3, KJV). And while exercise may build up and strengthen your physical body, your spirit can only be empowered “with inner strength through His Spirit” (Ephesians 3:16, NLT). If you’ve grown weary of praying, lack physical and mental endurance or have just simply run out of things to pray, the Spirit wants to come to your aid and refresh you. When you cooperate with the Holy Spirit by praying in tongues, you allow Him to pray on your behalf, and His words strengthen you (1 Corinthians 14:2–4; Jude 20).
Prayer is supposed to be a two-way conversation with God, and praying in tongues is an additional way to shift your prayers from a monologue to God into a partnership with God. Sadly, many soldiers of God avoid praying in tongues. Either they’ve been turned off by someone who does it, they fear anything their minds can’t comprehend, or they’ve not learned the benefits of praying in the Spirit. But praying in tongues is a wonderful tool that helps you avoid missing God’s purpose when you pray. Romans 8:26–28 (MSG) says, “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” The Holy Spirit searches God’s thoughts about you and prays His perfect will for your life. If you charge into prayer leaning upon your own understanding, bullets will fly, and some may hit your target. However, if you spend time listening for the direction of the Holy Spirit before praying, your prayers will be focused on the target and you’ll see greater results. The Holy Spirit is a great prayer partner to have!
When you’re filled with God’s Spirit, you can pray with wisdom, understanding, wise counsel and power (Isaiah 11:2). You can intercede for yourselves and others according to God’s will. Remember that you’re not wrestling against flesh and blood; you’re waging war against the prince of the power of the air and against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 2:2; 6:12). When facing the enemy at such high spiritual altitudes, you can’t afford to become confused and weak because of insufficient spiritual oxygen. Remember that the word Spirit means “breath.” Empowered Spirit-led praying is like getting doses of spiritual oxygen, and you must first put on your own oxygen mask in prayer before you’re able to support someone else through your prayers. If you pray on a daily basis, you’ll receive regular doses of the Holy Spirit’s spiritual oxygen, and you’ll be able to walk in confidence with God’s strength and wisdom.