Book Review: The Whole Armor of God
Hopefully, we are all familiar with the section of Ephesians 6 dealing with the armor of God: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Eph. 6:11) Some Christians may have given it more thought in children’s Sunday School as they took crayons to the various components of the Christian’s armor than they have as adults. As adults we should be very aware of the “schemes of the devil” against us, but are we aware of the defenses that God has put at our disposal?
Iain Duguid’s recent book, The Whole Armor of God: How Christ’s Victory Strengthens Us for Spiritual Warfare, masterfully describes each component of our armor and how it points us to Christ, whose victory has secured our victory. When I first saw this book advertised, I thought- “Why is an Old Testament professor writing a book on a section of Ephesians?” After reading it, it became apparent that the author’s OT expertise was precisely what made it so helpful. Duguid connects the armor to Christ as He is prophesied in the Old Testament and as He has secured our victory by His death and resurrection.
As Christians who should be doing constant battle with sin in our lives, we need the defense of the armor of God and the assurance that its pieces are effective because of what Jesus has done. Duguid shows this throughout the book. The Belt of God’s Truth should be our constant companion. The belt was, and is foundational, both to a soldier and to the believer, to undergird all their thoughts and actions. Dugid’s constant pointing to Christ is humbling as we see how Christ faithfully clung to the truth in his victory over Satan in the wilderness. He writes, “His (Christ’s) faithful girding of himself with the truth stands for us, so that on the last day, when the Father summons us into his presence, he will not condemn us for our faithlessness, but will delight to clothe us in Christ’s perfect faithfulness.” (p.35)
The author shows us how God was the warrior King described in Isaiah 59:17. There He dealt with Israel’s enemies, the Babylonians. But this warrior King is also our Redeemer, who has dealt with a far greater enemy, our sin! In Ephesians, Paul is showing us that “the Divine Warrior would win the victory over our sin by becoming the suffering servant who bears our transgressions in our place.” (p. 41)
Much more could be said about this beneficial work. Each chapter helps us to rely upon Christ. I read this book in preparation for recent teaching on this passage. I had also purchased William Gurnall’s, The Christian in Complete Armour, and was a bit overwhelmed by the heft of this Puritan volume - nearly 1200 pages in the one-volume Banner of Truth edition! When I saw Duguid’s work, I thought it might make more sense to tackle its 120 pages. Gurnall is still on my ‘reading bucket list’, but I’m grateful for Duguid’s work. It can be quickly read, but I would recommend reading it slowly, perhaps even devotionally. Reflect upon Christ as He is as prophesied in the Old Testament, as He relied upon the help of the Spirit and the Word in His hour of temptation, and as He has already defeated and will ultimately triumph over of all His and our enemies!