10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
I can still hear the hollow sound of my foot striking the manhole cover in the middle of the street between the church my home. It was in the first parish which I served. We had gotten disturbing news. Most of the leadership of the congregation was leaving. There was no scandal or controversy involved. They were being transferred to work in other parts of the country. The parish was small, and this inexperienced pastor wondered what he would do without their seasoned presence in the life of the parish. They were the largest givers of both financial and other resources.
As my foot struck that round plate in the middle of the street it was as if a bell went off in my head. Suddenly I heard Eph. 2:8-10 being recited clearly in my head.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
In a moment the great burden of anxiety and worry lifted from me. I believe that this was a moment the Holy Spirit used Scripture to help me. I was no longer worried about what would happen. It was God’s work, not mine. He would make it succeed if He wanted it. And it did.
Paul’s image of armor here is a wonderful device he uses (by the Spirit’s inspiration) to help us remember the message of the whole book of Ephesians. If you read back through the letter, you will find sections which talk about truth, faith, righteousness, peace, etc. He is urging us to listen and put into practice all that he has said in this wonderful letter to the Ephesians and to us. On that day, when I remembered/listened to those verses from Eph. 2, I was clothed in the breastplate of righteousness and held the shield of faith. The flaming arrows of my enemy, which would have had me despair and lose hope, were all extinguished.