So this is a little late, but recently, when I was leading the YWAM team in Europe, I kept hearing references to Ephesians 6 and the "armour of God", in prayers, in discussions about evangelism, etc. Some of it I agreed with, some of it I didn't, some I was sure. One thing is for sure though, it got me thinking about the passage in question. So heeeere we go!
The first piece mentioned is TRUTH. It is our belt, it holds our tools. Any tool we use in life needs to be anchor in truth. Truth is NOT an offensive weapon. It is something we wrap ourselves in to stand firm and not be swayed. If we do not know what is true, we will go chasing after every wild goose that comes our way.
The second is RIGHTEOUSNESS. It is described as a breastplate. It protects our body. As week seek to live righteously, we protect our body parts from being used as "instruments of wickedness (iniquity)" (Rom. 6:13) Now we are not righteous in/through what we do, but through Christ's sacrifice that covers us. But being covered in Christ means no longer living for ourselves, but living a life that please Him. It involves walking in purity and uprightness, not to gain anything, but because of who we have put on.
The next element is READINESS or being prepared. The Gospel of peace should lead us to a place where we are dynamic. Where we can adapt (not change) the message that we have so the everyone can hear AND understand. We need to be flexible to changing circumstances, and ready to drop everything and GO when we are called elsewhere.
Then comes FAITH. "Above all, taking the shield of faith..." (eph.6:16) Faith is the key. I don't want to play favorites, but in a battle, if I could only choose on piece it would be the shield. It is the most rugged, and most versitile. Faith comes "above all" because without it the other pieces get bashed to bits. Truth is not always popular, it requires Faith to walk it out. Faith is needed to walk righteously when the world, and our flesh, are racing towards all things unrighteous. If we don't have faith to believe the message, we won't be ready to go share it. Without faith it is impossible to please God (heb.11:6). If we don't have the faith to believe that God is who He says He is, the rest won't stand.
I have to admit, I got stuck at salvation. Why is salvation a helmet? It wasn't until i got home and was discussing it with a friend that I found something that seems to fit. My friend was telling me how the Roman helmet had the plummage to show rank, but als who you belonged to. It's pretty key to be able to easily locate your friends in the heat of battle. Taking on the helmet of salvation is saying "I belong here. This is my camp. These are my brothers, I fight wih them." If you're are ashamed to claim Jesus as your general, or other christians as co-soldiers, you need to start thinking why, and how you can change that.
Finally, things are wrapped up with the SWORD of the SPIRIT, which is the WORD of GOD. And every little boy in Sunday school sighes in relief. We finally get our sword. This, however, is where things get delicate. Often people mix up the sword with truth. It is an honest mistake, the two are related. The difference is subtle, but key. The sword is not the belt, but it hangs on the belt. And yes, the word of God IS truth. It is our source of truth. However, it only becomes an effective weapon when it is guided by the SPIRIT. It is His sword. He tells us when, how, and where to use it. When we start waving our sword around without guidance, the most common result is one shown in the garden on the mount of olives, yes that's right, ears getting cut off. In modern terms, the difference is that of carpet bombing, or using guided smart bombs.
I conclude with one final remark. In all this, we need to manage our lives in soldier-like discipline, but manage our relationships in love. This is how we will be effective as dancing sheep warriors in this crazy upside down world.