Have you ever wondered what God wears? A quick answer might be, "Well, He wears love, joy, peace, etc." But that's not what He wears; that's who He is. His nature, His character does not change. Even when He brings judgment, it is in love because He can't separate one part of Himself from another. As years ago when I was praying for mercy for a woman whom I knew was bringing judgment upon herself because of her words and actions, He reprimanded me, "RaJean! Everything I do is in mercy!"
That said, when it comes to talking about spiritual apparel, many believers immediately think of how we should wear modest clothing or they think of Ephesians 6 where it talks about putting on the armor of God. But before I get into that, I want to back up a bit. First, take a look at when and what God puts on.
So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him. For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak (Isaiah 59:15-17 emphasis added).
In other words, when we don't do our job as intercessors, God will intervene - in time - but when He does, He has to reinforce Himself to be able to carry out what needs to be done. For He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men (Lamentations 3:33). Perhaps this is why the prophet Samuel said, "As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you" (1 Samuel 12:23).
So, you may ask, what does this have to do with the topic of Spiritual Clothing? Well, consider this: We know that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). Though we were made in His likeness (Genesis 1:26), since Adam and Eve sinned, we have darkness within (1 John 1:8-10). Even after our initial surrender to the Lord, in his first letter to fellow-believers, John lets us know that if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1). By reading the surrounding verses, we learn that continual forgiveness and cleansing is available when we live a life of repentance.
Taking this a little further, as we grow in the Lord, He brings us to the same place as Samuel regarding prayer and intercession for others. So then, the question becomes, "Is there any training or equipping we need first?" Of course! When a person begins to emulate Samuel or finds the command to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) as I did as a sophomore in college, it doesn't take long to realize that true intercession is war against principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:12). And if we're wise (or desperate), we'll cry out as David did for training and submit ourselves to the discipline of prayer (Psalm 18:34, 144:1).
When that training begins, one of the first things God does is to provide the special clothing we'll need just as any army in the world does for its recruits. Appropriately enough, this is what the Apostle Paul was referring to when he instructed us to, cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light (Romans 13:12). But what do the various parts of this armor consist of? The following verses tell us.
· Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts (Romans 13:14).
· Put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him (Colossians 3:10). This means we're to be teachable and keep learning.
· Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering (Colossians 3:12).
· Put on love, which is the bond of perfection (Colossians 3:14).
· Be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).
· Put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).
In my mind, these verses let us know what our "under armor" is to be. Once in place, we're ready for the outer clothing as stated here:
· Let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:8).
· Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11).
· Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:14-15) .
Those last two bullet points are quoted so often we don't always take the time to examine the full meaning of the key words so that we know exactly what we're putting on. Consider a fuller meaning of the words:
BELT OF TRUTH: Gird your waist, or some translations use the word, "loins." Externally, this obviously refers to the hips. But internally, the word means our procreative power. This meaning makes this piece of armor much more powerful, stretching from our physical protection into our spiritual ability to procreate the Life of Christ. And this piece which some translations call a belt is made up of TRUTH. Could failure to include this piece of our armor be why so many Christians are unable share the Gospel, bringing others to Christ?
BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS: A breastplate covers the chest or thorax - which is where the heart is. The word "righteousness" means equity of character or justification. Our character is something God keeps working on. When He gives us victory over a specific aspect of our life, we need to hang onto it. Our part in this process is to simply cooperate with the Holy Spirit and let him perfect His work in us by grace. It’s not of our own doing.
FEET: Literally, of course, this word means the foot. We're to put on the shoes of whatever it takes, the needed preparation, to be able to physically, and/or spiritually, go wherever God wants us to spread the Gospel of Peace. In the Greek, peace means prosperity, quietness, rest, set at one again. In Hebrew, peace/shalom means, among other things, "that which destroys the authority that brings chaos." Since this verse is talking about our feet, bringing the gospel of peace can manifest by going somewhere physically - like to a hospital, or prayer-walking our city streets, or even to the mission field. But it can also be a "simple" transmission of what God has put inside of us into another person. For example, recently Gary made a phone call to a woman in a family we have ministered to for years. Last year, she literally gave up her job to minister to her in-laws before they each died. At the same time, she not only had to deal with her own cancer diagnosis, but amajor health issue with her daughter and very serious medical problems with both of her parents. Gary listened and comforted her as best he could and then began to pray for her. When he was through, the phone was quiet. "Have I lost you?" he asked. "No," she said quietly. "I've been laying here just taking in your words. The sound of your voice is so calming and comforting I've been internalizing every word you’ve said. My heart has slowed down and I have so much peace." Because Gary had previously shod his spiritual feet (prepared beforehand to be able to minister in such a situation), his physical feet took him to his phone instead of her bedside and God was glorified.
SHIELD OF FAITH: To understand the deeper meaning of the Shield of Faith, we must first remove from our mind the image of a Roman soldier’s shield, which has been taught for generations. The meaning of shield in Ephesians 6 is actually a shield in the shape of a door. What purpose does a door serve but to allow entry or exit. Since Jesus said He was the door (John 10:9), we can imagine our Shield of Faith to be like Him! And where do we place our faith in any and all situations? In Jesus! Add to this the invitation Jesus gave to believers in Revelation 3:20 to open the door (of our hearts) when He knocks. Put this all together and we see that when we open our "door" to Him, He not only comes in as the door to God's purposes, allowing or denying access, but our Shield of Faith looks like Him. When we lift up our Shield of Faith in battle, we are quite literally lifting Him up with the kind of faith that looks like Jesus! And that is HOW we are able to "quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one."
God showed me in a vision years ago that if I'm praying, as instructed, from the position of being seated in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:6), then the fiery (burning, inflamed with anger, grief, lust, etc.) darts (missiles, spears, arrows) would be coming at me from the second heaven which is satan's domain, that is below where we are seated. If I stay in the "heavenlies," spiritually speaking, then I need to position my Shield of Faith downward where the enemy is. After all, faith is, according to the Greek meaning, our persuasion, profession, assurance, belief and truth itself. This makes the Shield of Faith a defensive piece of armor that just "happens" to look like a door which Jesus said was Himself.
HELMET OF SALVATION: A helmet is something that encircles the head. We need this form of protection since our head is where we think, receive and process information. It provides protection for the mind of Christ which is given to us at salvation (1 Corinthians 2:16).
SWORD OF THE SPIRIT: This sword can be either a knife or a long sword. Its sole purpose is for war or punishment. Hebrews 4:12 says it’s also for discernment. Of course, we're not to use it against human beings but against the "darkness of this age," and the "spiritual hosts of wickedness" (Ephesians 6:12). Verse 17 says it is the Word of God. That same scripture says it is living, powerful and "sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Wow! If you ever need a verse that sums up the ability of the Sword of the Spirit to deal with spirit, soul and body issues, this is it! And it isn't just talking about the word written in our Bibles. It includes Rhema words and any word uttered by God concerning a matter, topic, command or dispute.
Quickly covering the rest of this Ephesians 6 passage by looking at the original meaning of the words, we're to use the armor of God in prayer which includes worship, supplication and petition (Vs. 18). The word Paul used when he wrote, "being watchful" means "to be sleepless, to keep awake." Many Christians complain when they can't sleep at night. Some even take sleeping pills. I would never discount a person's need to take something that will help them sleep, but I've also discovered few ever consider an inability to sleep might an invitation from God to pray.
Many people teach and practice putting on the armor of God every day or before a special prayer assignment. I'm not against this, but I always wonder why they ever took it off in the first place. To date, I've not found a scripture that tells us to do that. Decades ago, I learned from a saint who has since gone to her reward, to just clean and straighten my armor regularly. This has served me well because when God calls me to pray in the night (which is often), I'm able to obey instantly without taking the time to put my spiritual clothes on. Another reason to have it on at night is to protect us from the enemy as we sleep when we might otherwise be susceptible.
I'd like to close this teaching with an update. In a recent high-level time of group prayer, our leader told us God had told her to instruct us to remove our armor because God had new armor for us for this particular season of warfare for our nation. As we did, God gave Gary a picture in his mind's eye. He saw a warrior clothed in armor that was body-fitting like an impenetrable glove all around, covering the head (helmet), chest (breastplate), loins (belt), legs, feet, arms and hands. I immediately had a vision of a very sleek person wearing such a body suit that was silver in color. "I could never fit into that!" I said to myself. After all, I'm short, far from sleek and old by human standards. God immediately responded in reprimand, "RaJean, that IS you." "Then why don't I look that way?" I fussed. "How you look on the outside is your disguise," He responded. When I shared this exchange with Gary, he quickly said, "That works." Praying about this later on, God showed me that this "new" armor has built-in headphones for clear communication with the Father. It also has sensors so that when we need extra strength to stand, walk or run in the Spirit we can push the sensors and gain strength to do what He wants us to do.
You might laugh at the above exchange or even discount it. But ask God if He wants to put the new armor on you too. Either way, remove the old, flawed image of the armor of God, looking like the Roman soldier with no protection for his back. Clothe yourself with the "under armor" and the complete Ephesians 6 outer armor, remembering that you are fully clothed because "The God of Israel will be your rear guard" (Isaiah 52:12).