Q. Please explain Paul’s use of the phrase “full armor of God”
A. We wear the full armor of God for personal protection.When Paul admonished us to put on the full armor of God (Ephes. 6:10-18), he didn’t intend for us to ever take it off. A Christian should always be clothed in the full armor of God, since we never know when the devil will attack. He doesn’t come after us only when we’re ready, but looks for an opportunity to catch us unprepared.
Many people believe Paul was chained to a Roman soldier when he wrote this and took his analogy from the man’s uniform. The soldier wasn’t expecting an enemy attack but even so he was wearing his complete uniform, from helmet to breastplate, belt and sandals, and even his sword and shield. Each one represented a component of our protection from an enemy who seeks to devour us.
The helmet represents our salvation, the breastplate our righteousness, the belt is God’s word of truth, the sandals are the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. The sword is the Spirit, which is the word of God, and the shield is our faith which protects us from the fiery darts of the wicked one.
At the end of every day the soldier checked his armor for weaknesses and repaired any he found. He made sure his sword was always sharp and his shield was always strong. He never knew when an attack would come so he was always prepared. So it should be with us.
In Ephesians 6:13 Paul wrote “Therefore put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground.” He didn’t say wait for the day of the attack and then put on your armor. He said put it on now and keep it on so when the day comes you’ll be ready.