The scriptures are filled with both physical and spiritual warfare that took place anciently, and it is no different today. Paul told us we “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). How do we deal with these battles? The scriptures inform us of various defenses and weapons and give us patterns to follow as we prepare for and engage in battle. This study topic will examine those from the scriptures and seek to apply them in a practical way to put on the armor of God, as well as draw some parallels to other things in the scriptures.
Remember a few weeks ago in the article on number and color symbolism, we did an exercise examining when things were literal and figurative in the scriptures? Then the last couple weeks we looked at our eye of faith and sacred imagination through visualization and meditation. Today I want you to consider the possibility that everything we are about to discuss is literal and not just figurative. The armor of God, the breastplate, the sword, and the fiery darts of the adversary. There was a war in heaven. We know that. Imagine for a moment that these things are real and tangible and not just symbolic and figurative.
I ask you now to engage your imagination for a moment and picture some things with me.
Imagine if you will, that the devil has a foundry in hell where he constructs weapons and devices of all types. You might picture Saruman’s underground foundry for the Uruk Hai warriors from Lord of the Rings. All manner of weapons and armor was being made for battle.
Imagine the devil’s foundry where he’s making spiritually tangible darts, javelins, swords, traps, bombs, canons, and anything else you can imagine. What and how would he use those weapons upon mankind? How he must long to use those weapons to kill mankind, particularly the righteous. How he must long to put them spiritually into the hands of his servants and others who open themselves to his influence to wield them in earthly battles of all kinds.
What kind of battles does the devil want? He wants all-out-war full of blood and horror. War is hell. It’s the most effective tool Satan has for creating fear, horror, a disbelief in God, a distrust of humanity, etc… He wants it globally, nationally, locally, and in our homes, marriages, and friendships.
The cost of war is extremely high, not only in terms of physical property, but spiritual welfare and connections to God.
On the other side of the equation is the foundry in heaven that makes armor and weapons of light. Picture for a moment the armor heaven has made for you. Recall that scene in the Lord of the Rings where King Theoden is at Helm’s Deep and one of his men is putting armor on him to prepare for battle. Picture yourself being clothed for battle. What does your armor look like? What does your shield and sword look like? Imagine God has a real set of armor for you and it isn’t just figurative. Does it look like kingly medieval armor, or more Mandalorian style? 😉 Armor is only as good as its ability to withstand the weapons thrown at us. Good armor can still be pierced, depending on the strength and integrity of the armor.
How about your sword? Angels carry swords. Jesus Christ bears a sword. (Do a search in Scripture Notes for “angel +sword” without quote marks and you’ll find some verses). Do we think that’s only figurative? Do we think they have no armor? Why do heavenly beings arm themselves? Something to ponder.
Knowing these things, can we not pray and ask God to clothe us in true spiritual armor? Is that too childish for adults? Have we lost our imagination and think that’s silly? Can we not “become as a little child” and use the imagination skills we once had? Some call an “armor of God prayer.” Engage your belief and spiritual eye of faith to be clothed by angels preparing you for battle.
The armor of God is listed twice in the scriptures and the language is similar but slightly different. Lets make our collection note so for the rest of this study topic we can keep adding notes to the topic as we proceed.
1) Open the app and then a library pane. Go to Ephesians 6:18.
2) Click the create collection note (CN) button which is the top button to the right of the verse.
3) When the CN appears, click the up-plus button to add in all the previous verses through verse 10.
4) Use the library pane to open up Doctrine & Covenants 27:18 and drag verse 18 into the CN using the bottom button with 3 lines. Make sure the CN area gets a blue background color so you know you’re in the target zone.
5) Then click the up-plus button on that verse till you add in through verse 15.
6) Title the CN “Put on the Whole Armor of God,” then expand the pane by clicking on the right arrow, and tag it “Armor of God” and “Temple Clothing” and click save to lock this in. (Spoiler alert :))
7) You now have 14 verses to study. Read them over and in the master note area at the top, list off all the items mentioned or copy/paste my list below to your note. As you review the verses, record insights in the verse basic note areas to the right of the verses.
As I read the verses, I saw some words I want to research so I jotted them down in the collection note. You may or may not do the same. It’s up to you. To find definitions, look up these words in Webster’s 1828 dictionary or Strong’s concordance. If you don’t know how, click those links for tutorials on using them. Webster’s 1828 is great for any word’s definition. Strong’s is where to go for Old and New Testament words to see what the Hebrew (OT) or Greek (NT) word and meaning is.
Armor of God List:
Loins girt with truth
Breastplate of righteousness; of faith and love
Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace
Shield of faith
Helmet of salvation; hope of salvation
Sword of the Spirit which is the word of God
Praying always in the Spirit
Words to research:
How does Satan use the weapons he forges? How can a spiritual weapon be used against a mortal? What would cause a spiritual weapon to wound you and pierce your soul? The prophet Jacob identified one such event:
Jacob 2:9 “Wherefore, it burdeneth my soul that I should be constrained, because of the strict commandment which I have received from God, to admonish you according to your crimes, to enlarge the wounds of those who are already wounded, instead of consoling and healing their wounds; and those who have not been wounded, instead of feasting upon the pleasing word of God have daggers placed to pierce their souls and wound their delicate minds.”
Imagine an individual wearing armor and feeling protected from the assault of their enemy, only to have their spouse admit to infidelity. That’s a powerful fiery tipped spear to the heart. It would pierce that armor in an instant and cause unspeakable pain and suffering. Satan knows how to take advantage of our words and actions to attach his weapons to. Then laces them with poison and drives them deeper by the assault of toxic questions he pummels the wounded with. “This is your fault. If only you had been more loving. If only you had done…”
A more common tool the devil can easily attach weapons to is the sarcasm, criticism, and accusations that constantly jab little wounds through the armor of our loved ones. These attacks all cause pain and inner turmoil. He loves the long game. Keep wounding someone over and over till they finally get set off like a ticking time bomb and break up a relationship or turn to violence.
In James chapter 3 we read “8. But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” Poison is a powerful weapon that can easily bypass armor if we drink it in. The Savior referred to the Jewish leaders as vipers because their words were poisonous (Matthew 3:7).
Paul warned us in Ephesians 4, “31. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice…” These are weapons of the tongue.
Pornography is an engineered biological weapon. Once it gets past our helmet into the mind, it’s one of the most effective deterrents to righteousness in thought, word, and deed.
These are all attacks on others, but we also inflict spiritual “hari-kari” on ourselves. Hari-kari was the Japanese practice of suicide, falling on their own swords, to avoid capture after a battle, or as a legal punishment. Spiritually speaking, all the negative thinking we do contributes to a state of spiritual suicide. Thinking we can’t repent because we’ve sinned too much is a form of spiritual suicide.
Negative thinking about others is like drinking poison. Resentment, malice, pride, envy, all burn within us without vocalizing anything. They are toxic to the soul.
I loved the recent general conference talk by Elder Renlund where he shared the story of converts to Christianity in the Congo, throwing their weapons of war into the deep water under waterfalls so they were unrecoverable. This is just as the people of Ammon in the Book of Mormon buried their weapons of war deep in the earth so they would never again be tempted to take them up again (Alma 24:16-17).
We also must bury our weapons of war. End our criticism, bury our hatred, remove sarcastic language, terminate evil behaviors, and stop our negative thinking. This has multiple benefits: increased peace of mind, harmony within families, better relationships with neighbors and friends, which in turn leads to better communities, states, and nations.
How do we implement these antidotes to the poisons and put away our weapons of war?
When wounded, the first step in any healing is removing the weapons that have done the damage. Imagine for a moment that the critical comment (ie. weapon) you delivered to a friend, spouse, or child, is still in them. They know it’s there, and it’s affecting them on a spiritual level, which transfers over into the physical realm. The weapon must be pulled out carefully and the wound treated. This is what Jacob wanted to do above. Console and heal with the word of God, not twist the knife by reminding the people of the gross crimes committed.
Apologies remove weapons. A sincere “I’m sorry” starts the process. Asking forgiveness of the victim, and forgiveness from God moves the process along.
Sometimes we aren’t even aware we’ve given offense. It’s not a bad idea to pray for forgiveness for things we’ve done and also the sins we aren’t aware we committed, and ask to become more aware. Building relationships is an effort worth pursuing. Strong relationships don’t generate wars and they withstand storms of life because they are built on love and trust.
Paul admonished us in Ephesians 4:32.
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
These are healing actions. Once the weapon is removed, an increase of love is the fastest path to reconciliation.
How do we properly defend ourselves? There are perhaps many examples we could find in the scriptures but these two jumped to mind immediately. A most effective use of the shield of faith is this bit of wisdom from Solomon.
Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”
Picture the weapon coming in at you and casually swinging your shield into place to block the weapon. Having the ability to deflect words of wrath prevents those words from getting inside of you and landing a blow. Allowing that blow to land and returning it with “grievous words” just escalates the battle. Jesus taught us to be peacemakers and soft answers help tremendously once we change our desire to be one of peace instead of warfare.
Another powerful defense is charity. It is literally a shield of faith.
Moroni 7:45 “And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
Charity is a premium defense. It blocks all kinds of attacks from getting inside our armor. Our mind is clean and clear, our shields deflect careless friendly-fire (ie. ignoring simple criticisms with a Godly perspective), our armor is strong, and we are prepared for spiritual warfare.
Can you think of other defenses mentioned in the scriptures? Share your insights below in the comment section.
Sometimes it is fully appropriate to not back down from a fight. When prompted by the Spirit, declaring the truth cuts through all defenses of the adversary. That’s why deception is key to the devil’s success. Self-deception, and deception of others changes the battle. Truth is revolutionary. It even made a difference to Laman and Lemuel at one time until they became so hardened later in their own self-deception that it had no effect on them.
1 Nephi 16
1 AND now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold they said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear.
2 And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.
3 And now my brethren, if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us.
4 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did exhort my brethren, with all diligence, to keep the commandments of the Lord.
5 And it came to pass that they did humble themselves before the Lord; insomuch that I had joy and great hopes of them, that they would walk in the paths of righteousness.
Timing is everything. We know this from section 121 in the Doctrine and Covenants on the proper use of authority.
D&C 121:43 Reproving betimes with sharpness (sword-sharpness), when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved (healing action), lest he esteem thee to be his enemy (don’t start an aggressor’s war);
We have a curious story in the New Testament. Before Christ goes to Gethsemane, he tells the disciples to sell a garment to buy a sword (Luke 22:36). They tell him they have 2 swords among them and he says it’s enough. Several verses later when the Romans and Jews come to arrest Jesus, we read that Peter cuts off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus then tells Peter to put his sword away and he heals the man’s ear (Luke 22:51). That must have been a mind blowing experience for this servant. Then the Savior tells Peter:
52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
Why would Jesus tell them to buy a sword and then tell them to put it away and those who use it will die from it?
The answer is more clearly seen several times in the Book of Mormon.
Mosiah 10:1. “And it came to pass that we again began to establish the kingdom and we again began to possess the land in peace. And I caused that there should be weapons of war made of every kind, that thereby I might have weapons for my people against the time the Lamanites should come up again to war against my people.”
From the Book of Mormon we gain the understanding that it is fully proper to defend ourselves and our families from the aggressions of others.
D&C 98:31 “Nevertheless, thine enemy is in thine hands; and if thou rewardest him according to his works thou art justified; if he has sought thy life, and thy life is endangered by him, thine enemy is in thine hands and thou art justified.”
Now lets have a little fun. What good is a search tool if you don’t use it to search for fun stuff?
The descriptions of the armor of God characterize each component with certain attributes. Is there anything else worn that we read about in the scriptures that might lend itself to a greater understanding about the meaning of these components? What other verses can we add to our collection note to round out our understanding of this topic?
Our largest component of our armor is the breastplate of righteousness. What else is described as “of righteousness?” Open a search pane and do this search:
We get 68 verses returned. Press ctrl/cmd-F in your browser and type “of righteousness” to highlight all those occurrences. Now scan down the list and see all the other things listed as something of righteousness.
I particularly like Isaiah 61:3’s reference to trees of righteousness :), but it’s verse 10 that is really relevant to this study topic. The righteous are clothed with the “garments of salvation” including a “robe of righteousness“. That’s what the helmet and breastplate are identified with, but also reminds me of temple clothing.
What else is listed as “of righteousness?” Instruments, armour (New Testament spelling), crown, scepter, armor (Book of Mormon, modern spelling), and throne.
Drag these verses over into your collection note as you deem appropriate. Sometimes you might want to add in other verses for context. After you drag over 2 Corinthians 6:7, I clicked the up-plus button to get verses 3-6 in there as well.
A crown of righteousness reminds me of a helmet. When I picture a crown, I mentally imagine maintaining the dignity of a king who doesn’t let lesser things occupy his mind. This reminds me of a helmet of salvation.
Could the armor of God be temple clothing? It is surely a protection. Wearing sacred garments to be reminded of our covenants with God is a shield to protect us. Remembering who we are and what we’ve promised is a powerful defense against unrighteous temptations.
This verse in Exodus tells us what Aaron and the priests wore as they served in the temple.
Exodus 28:4. “And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.”
It clearly seems that the temple clothing is directly related to the armor or God.
Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote this concerning the garments.
[It] “fosters modesty and becomes a shield and a protection to the wearer. . . . For many Church members the garment has formed a barrier of protection when the wearer has been faced with temptation.” (The Holy Temple (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980), 75ff.)
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Twelve wrote that:
“we wear the [temple] garment faithfully as part of the enduring armor of God.” (Ensign, May 2001, 32-).
And there are other protections for attending the temple.
“It is in the ordinances of the temple that we are placed under covenant to Him….[If] we will enter into our covenants without reservation or apology, the Lord will protect us. We will receive inspiration sufficient for the challenges of life.” – Elder Boyd K. Packer
Who doesn’t want the Lord fighting our battles?
Do you want to have the protection of the armor of God? Do you want the sword of truth and the shield of faith? Pray for it. Visualize it being put on you each morning to protect yourself from the weapons thrown at you. Cultivate charity to obtain a powerful defense by feeling nothing but love for others. Instead of resenting the requests of a child or spouse, embrace it as an opportunity to serve. Don’t drink the poisons offered to you. We all do it from time to time, but it requires a change in our thinking patterns to overcome these behaviors. Sometimes we will need to pray for spiritual gifts (and the armor of God) to truly overcome these established thinking routes.
If you have a particular issue, a trigger, that you know sets you off, sit down and analyze it. Write down the triggers and write down a plan to defuse those bombs and neutralize the poisons. For negative thinking, write down your top 10 negative thoughts. Reverse each one of them and add another positive statement to it. If one of your negative thoughts is, “I’m no good,” Next to it write, “I am good and God loves me and wants me to succeed.” Then whenever you have a negative thought hit your mind, reverse it with these statements and bombard your mind with positivity. It’s Satan and his minions trying to get you to hold yourself back with negativity.
For another great way to neutralize poisons inside of you, check out this presentation by Kirk Duncan at the 2019 Agency-Based Education conference. Kirk taught a technique for what he sometimes calls “slaying dragons” which is an emotional management technique. In short, you write down “I feel _________ because __________” and write it all down on paper. Then destroy the paper. Rip it up or burn it to get rid of it. By doing this you identify all the things affecting you emotionally with a rational process. Watch the video for a better explanation and training. Don’t let your emotions rule you.
When trying to teach kids about the armor of God, it’s always helpful to have a picture of a knight and explain what the components of the armor are. But then we need to go a little deeper and discuss what we are being protected from. What does each component protect? What’s kept in those areas that is sacred? Why is it important to keep pure, and to reject negative thinking about ourselves and others? How can we be reflective for self-evaluation, yet not let Satan’s weapons and devices invade our mind?
If you want a great summary overview of the various components of the armor, here’s a link to a short article in the New Era from 2009 that lists off the parts and a brief meaning for each of them.
Hopefully this blog post has given you something to ponder about those things. Please share a comment below about your own insights.
Now you can go as deep as you want with this study topic. This is what I call going down the rabbit hole. Scripture Notes lets you do basic work, but then makes it a thousand times easier to do deeper work than any other app. You can create connections so fast searching in a new pane while seeing everything you’ve already done side-by-side.
Now perform searches for other words and phrases and see how they are used in the scriptures to consider adding them to your collection note (just drag them in). After doing a search, it will help to find relevant verses faster if you do a ctrl/cmd-F search for the search term to light up all the keywords and then decide if you want to add them in or not.
Armour (use the search filter to limit this to the New Testament) Armor (filter this to the Book of Mormon) Breastplate Helmet Shield
And whatever else you choose. You can also look up words in Webster’s or Strong’s and find definitions that are foreign to you such as ephod, mitre, and girdle, as used in the Exodus verse above. Happy searching!
1) A couple of great books for establishing peace in relationships are “Leadership and Self-Deception” and “The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict” by the Arbinger Institute. They are available at bookstores everywhere, and possibly on Audible if you want to listen to them. They are stories with some powerful principles for how we treat others and the effects of our speech toward them if our hearts are at peace or war with them. Look them up on Amazon and you’ll read plenty of good reviews about them.
2) One of the most powerful realizations I ever had was in watching this video years ago of KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov. He came to America and then shared insights into how the communists overthrew countries. It’s a 4-stage plan and stage 1 is the “demoralization” of a country. That’s not in the sense of putting them down, that’s changing the cultural norms to make them immoral…literally de-moralize them. Yuri points out that when a people are immoral, you can present the truth to them with great clarity and they will reject it and thus the communist message pumped into the youth becomes appealing and difficult to overturn. This is so telling of where we are at in the world today. The sword of truth needs to be wielded! (with love 🙂)
(Featured Image by Kostic Dusan @ 123rf.com)