“For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”
The word for is, again, confirmation of what has already been said. Paul emphasizes that the character of the believer is to be in all ways different from those who walk in darkness. It seems obvious that most of the time, we sleep during the night hours; the application here would seem to be that the unbeliever is in spiritual darkness, while the believer is a child of the light. We cannot indulge in moral darkness without losing our fellowship with God.
Drunkenness was commonly practiced during the night in the society Paul is addressing. Even unbelievers tended to cover their drunkenness, since then, as now, public drunkenness in broad daylight was a shameful thing (Acts 2:15; II Peter 2:13).
Instead of hiding ungodly behavior in the dark, believers are to belong to the day. To be sober is more than not being drunk. It is to be watchful, alert, possessing self-control, being prepared. Part of that preparedness is seen in the putting on of protective armor (see also Eph. 6: 10-18). Putting on conveys the sense of being clothed with the Christian armor.We are watchmen, and we are also warriors; our offensive weapon is the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. While we watch and wait for Christ’s return, we are to be on guard for the attacks of Satan.
It is interesting to me that the verb tense in Greek would indicate that we are not to put on armor, remove it, put it on again as we would our daily clothing; instead, it is a once-and-done act. We are never to remove the brestplate of faith and love or the helmet of salvation.
The breastplate was a piece of armor which covered the soldier’s body from neck to waist and protected his heart. Our breastplate of faith and love protects us against spiritual assault. The breastplate is pictures as being double, or having two sides. Faith is the inner attitude of the believer toward Christ, while love is the proper outward expression of the Christian life toward other believers.
The helmet gave protection to the head of the soldier. It has been described as the brightest and most conspicuous piece, inviting the special attention of the enemy. Our helmet is the bright hope of salvation. We need to be clear that we are not hoping for salvation, because we have it the moment we confess our sin and invite Christ into our lives. The hope we see in this passage is for the consummation of our salvation when Christ returns and we are glorified with Him (Phil. 3:21; Ro. 8:23). It is this hope which helps us to stay the course; to not be weary in well-doing; to patiently await His return as believers have done throughout the centuries since He went back to heaven.