Primary Kids love it when the lesson is about “putting on the whole armor of God”. They sing about it, teach Family Home Evenings about it, and use up miles of aluminum foil making each piece.
And the lesson is a vital one, from Ephesians 6:11-18:
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For 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.
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day…Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…”
Doctrine & Covenants 27 refers to this, as well. And Isaiah says, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness…” (Isaiah 61:10)
Each piece of the armor is described as having a specific function, all of them working together to protect us in the battle against evil. We are told to watch for any chink in the armor, any unguarded area of weakness where Satan could infiltrate. Let’s take a brief look at each piece:
Loins Girt with Truth: Girt means tied firmly with a belt, and covers our loins—the area between hips and abdomen. Through prayer and scripture study we become ready for the battle against evil. (Alma 17:2–3; D&C 11:21; D&C 84:85).
The Breastplate of Righteousness: This protects the heart and lungs, thus when we are obedient and righteous, we protect our very core.
The Shield of faith: With enough faith in Christ (which is different than mere faith), we can defend ourselves against Satan’s attacks, just as we could hold up an impenetrable shield to block spears and arrows.
“In the Church we can teach about the materials from which a shield of faith is made: reverence, courage, chastity, repentance, forgiveness, compassion. In church we can learn how to assemble and fit them together. But the actual making of and fitting on of the shield of faith belongs in the family circle. Otherwise it may loosen and come off in a crisis.” (President N. Eldon Tanner [1898–1982], First Counselor in the First Presidency, “‘Put on the Whole Armor of God,’” Ensign, May 1979, 46.)
Feet Shod: No one would be so foolish as to hope for victory if their feet were unprotected. Shoes are the symbol of preparation and vigilance. (President Harold B. Lee [1899–1973], “Message from the First Presidency,” Ensign, Jan. 1971, 2).
Helmet of Salvation: The helmet protects our head, our brain, and our eyes. With complete focus upon Christ, we keep our “eye single to the glory of God” (D&C 4:5), and protect ourselves against unrighteous thoughts and decisions.
The Sword of the Spirit: This, we are told, is the word of God. The truth of the gospel can penetrate the hearts of men (2 Nephi 33:1). And this, I believe, is the most overlooked piece of armor today.
Fast forward from New Testament times to today. We stand in the midst of true polarization of society: Wickedness has escalated in eerie duplication of the days of Noah, and of Sodom and Gomorrah. True principles are being swatted aside like pests, and replaced by Moral Relativism. Social media and electronic advancements (both for good and for evil), have never before reached the millions they reach now. We live in an explosion of technology.
Yet, at the same time, even more valiant souls are being sent to earth to do battle. The gray area is shrinking, the work is hastening, and people everywhere are finding they must take a stand. It is no longer possible to remain on neutral ground; the wheat and the chaff separate before our eyes.
Putting on the Whole Armor of God is not simply about covering ourselves for protection, and maintaining a defensive stance. Today the call is to action. We must gallop to the battlefront, wield that sword, speak up, and fight for right. Twenty years ago Boyd K. Packer spoke of using this sword to “… even ‘thrash the nations’ through the preaching of the gospel (D&C 35:13). With our testimony and the power and peace of God’s Spirit, we can strike against and conquer the enemy of all righteousness.” (President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Shield of Faith,” Ensign, May 1995, 8.)
If you’ve never gotten involved in politics or civic issues, perhaps now is the time. If you’ve always wanted to be a bolder missionary, maybe this is your moment. Whatever your goals to further the kingdom, there has never been a more desperate need for courageous action. Doing nothing is not a choice—or rather, it’s a choice to embolden the enemy.
As the church urges us to use the tools at hand to spread the gospel, we can also strike back at Satan’s evil designs, and take the battle to his doorstep. Instead of waiting for an attack, we must go on the offensive and wage a war. Latter-day Saints have typically been quiet, industrious people who do good behind the scenes. But the swell of evil today requires that we no longer turn our backs. The tidal wave is here.
Watch the music video of Hilton’s song, What Makes a Woman, from her new musical, The Best Medicine (with music by Jerry Williams). Her books are available on her website, here. Hilton currently serves as a Relief Society President.