At some point every Christian learns about the armor of God, the spiritual weaponry through which we are able to resist the relentless attacks of Satan as he seeks to destroy us. According to Ephesians 6, we are to fasten on the belt of truth, put on the breastplate of righteousness, take up the shield of faith, wield the sword which is the Word of God, and so on. Through it all we take both an appropriately offensive and defensive posture in this great cosmic battle.
In his classic work Holy Helps for a Godly Life, Richard Rogers puts significant effort into describing this armor, then pauses to tell why we must not only know about it, but diligently use it. “The Christian cannot stand without this armor. He that is willing to live Christianly throughout his whole life must not be content to have the knowledge of the armor only in his head or in a book. He must digest this knowledge and make it his own. He must neither doubt the truth of the armor nor fail to put it on. He must be always ready to clothe and furnish his soul with the pieces of the armor. For as apparel clothes the body, so the armor covers his nakedness and shame, making him comely and well-favoured in the sight of God. He must arm himself as the soldier arms himself with his breastplate, helmet, and sword, because God has applied this armor to defend him from the craftiness of the devil, his deadly enemy, and from the deceitfulness of the most horrible sin.”
He provides a few reasons why we, as Christians, just won’t make it without this armor.
All Other Helps Do Less Good Without the Armor. “All other good helps to godliness (such as prayer, reading, and godly conversation), though they are profitable in themselves, yet do Christians less good without the armor.”
The Devil Wounds Us if We Are Not Armed. “Seeing the devil is a professed enemy of ours, an enemy who wounds us secretly when we are unaware and an enemy at hand to do us more harm when we least expect it, we know that if we are not prepared against such dangers, we will certainly be hurt. Who goes naked and unarmed into battle, where so many kinds of weapons are ready to take away his life?”
Each Piece of Armor is Necessary. “Who will venture to go barefooted among thorns? Or who will run among spikes without shoes? Even so, who will boldly go through the many storms and tribulations of this life, which every place arise not to prick his feet but to pierce through his heart—who (I say) will go through these storms, but he who is well armed against them? Who, but he who is strongly prepared and settled to stay himself upon God by the peace and comfort which he draws from Christ’s own words—namely, ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33)?”
God’s Children Have No Strength Against Sin at Any Time, but by Means of the Armor. “This is so truly verified in all God’s children that even those who are not the most forward, yet if they have any strength against evil at any time, they have it from God by themes of the armor. If they were not always armed, they would make it as great breaches and fall as dangerously one day as well as another. On the other hand, if they were thoroughly acquainted with this armor, they should make their worst and most uncomfortable day in the week equal to their best and happiest in passing their time in heavenly ways and in sweet comfort.”
His conclusion, which we would do well to heed, is that the Christian simply cannot stand without carefully taking up the whole armor of God.
If you are reading Holy Helps for a Godly Life with me as part of the Reading Classics Together program, please finish off the last three chapters by next Thursday. Check back for some reflections on it then!