Ephesians 6 v 15
A Christian soldier’s equipment is vital for survival. We have been thinking about this equipment and discovering the value of each piece.
Piece Number 1 – The Belt or Girdle of Truth.
V14a Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth,
The Belt of Truth is listed first because truth is the integrating force in the life of the believer and holds everything else together. The second part of the equipment in verse 14 is called
2. The Breastplate of Righteousness.
v 14b and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
The breastplate of righteousness is a “life that is right with God and with man.” It was designed to protect the soul’s vital organs- the spirit, heart and emotions need the protection of the imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. He gifts every one of His children with this righteousness, and in wearing the breastplate Christians SHOW the righteousness of Christ in their behaviour and service.
Now it would be very neat and easy to bring out another “B” this morning. We have had the BELT of truth and the BREASTPLATE of righteousness. How convenient it would be to say that the third piece of Spiritual equipment was the BOOTS of the preparation of the Gospel of peace. Belt, breastplate and boots.
But that is not possible – because the Roman soldier, the illustration used by Paul the Apostle here in Ephesians 6, did not wear boots – he wore sandals! Not the light summer sandals that we would wear on our holidays, but thick, heavy sandals that had a substantial sole attached to the feet by leather straps that wrapped around lower legs to secure them. The soles had hobnails in them to give the soldier grip on all kinds of terrain.
All kinds of terrain that is except marble pavements. In Josephus’ account of the Jewish wars he describes an incident when a centurion called Julian who was fighting in the streets of Jerusalem putting many Jews to flight – until he chased some into the Temple precincts and the inner court. The highly polished marble pavement proved too slippery for Julian with his “shoes all full of thick and sharp nails as had every one of the other soldiers.” (Josephus – Wars – 6 : 1 :8.) Julian fell in his heavy armour and was killed by Jews who hearing him fall took advantage of his inability to get up again. Josephus calls them shoes but they were sandals. And the thickness of the sole had a purpose. In warfare 2000 years ago the equivalent to modern land mines were sharp and pointed pieces of wood or metal driven into the ground point up. Any one advancing in bare feet would find themselves spiked from below and wounded just by moving forward. These spikes were hidden but the sandals gave the soldier protection from beneath. The third piece of armour is
3. Feet shod with the Gospel.
Paul confirms this style of footwear by the language that he uses here in verse 15 –
“having your feet shod.”
The word shod is the Greek HOOPO-DEO meaning to “bind under”. There are two other places in the New Testament where this word is used – Mark 6 - Jesus gave instructions to His disciples as they went out on a preaching tour in His Name.
8 And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: 9 But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.
It appears that the reverse was true in New Testament times to nowadays. Our shoes are stronger than our sandals - but in those days the sandals were stronger than shoes. Shoes were flimsy moccasin type coverings – sandals were strong and heavy, durable and protective. No wonder the Lord Jesus made this recommendation.
A further text that has this word is in Acts 12 v 8. Peter is in prison and has retired for the night, removing his sandals but lying chained to a soldier either side of him, he was going nowhere, so why not remove his sandals and outer coat? No doubt his coat would have served as a pillow.
Then an angel came to wake him up, miraculously the chains fell off his hands without wakening the two guards; and then the angel gave Peter this instruction –
And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
Put on your sandals and walk! Bind them to your feet – this is the sense of this word, which we translate SHOD, or be “shoed”.
Sandals of this strength and sturdiness gave the soldier readiness to go into action; firmness to ensure no slipping or sliding and mobility – these soldiers could move fast when needed to do so. They also gave a degree of protection to the feet. It was not merely the vital organs of the centre of the man that needed protection – without his feet the soldier could not stand, he could not walk and he could not run. Therefore sandals were just as vital a part of the soldier’s equipment as the breastplate and belt. Before we come to the spiritual applications of this equipment there is another word in the verse that is significant for the soldier – it is the word PREPARATION. Military training, once it is successfully completed, never leaves the soldier, or any other serviceman for that matter. Habits are established, strategies learned and reactions to orders are instant in the well-trained soldier. These traits never leave him. Among them is a constant attitude of readiness and preparedness. It is ever being on the alert and prepared to plunge into the battle ready to face the foe and having all the equipment to hand. In the secular world the army has a purpose – the defence of the country under a sovereign or president. The making sure that those who cannot fight for themselves at home are well protected. Courage and determination are needed in every soldier to win whatever the cost. This was graphically demonstrated, as we have been reminded so recently, in the successes of British troops 20 years ago on the Falkland Islands. British troops had an eagerness in their objective – the occupiers had no heart and quickly surrendered when challenged. History bears record to other such examples.
But what of the Christian Soldier? How do these thoughts apply spiritually?
First of all the Christian in the Spiritual armour demonstrates an eager and ready courage that is due, not to national honour, but to the Gospel, which fills the soldier’s heart with peace! The readiness to fight the devil and his hordes is actually inspired by the Gospel of Peace. We have spiritual feet that need to be ready, firm and mobile. So let us now concentrate on the feet – spiritual feet.
The Bible has a surprisingly large number of texts that refer to the feet - 239 mentions in the Old and New Testaments.
The prophet Habakkuk says this in 3 v 19
The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.
The swift deer mentioned in this verse indicates the lively activity of the Christian soldier’s feet spurred on by the love and grace of God in the soul. How agile these hinds are and how wide is their territory where they run – how firm is their footing on the high craggy rocks of the mountains.
And he likens them to the feet of Christians. Let us think for a few moments about
The Believer’s Feet.
1. Our Feet are set upon a rock. Our Salvation.
Just like those hinds we too are given surefootedness in our salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our Rock as the Psalmist maintained in Psalm 40:2
He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.
What a glorious picture this is. In our sins we were almost drowned in wickedness and we were trapped in a horrible pit floundering in the filth and mud at the bottom of the pit. My friend if you are not a Christian this morning that is just where you are – in a pit, in a hole in the ground, filthy and muddy, stuck there and nothing you can do will get you out. You need rescue – you need to be brought up out of that pit where you are wallowing. Who can do this? Other people also stuck in the mud? No they are in the same situation. Can Christians get you out? No – all they can do is tell you to call to the only one who can rescue you – the Lord Jesus Christ – God’s only begotten son, who, when you believe in Him to save you, cleanse you, and pardon you from the sins that keep you in the pit, will bring you up out of it, never to return – and then your spiritual feet will be resting firmly on His salvation, called here a rock! Every Christian who is born again is standing on the rock. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. Christ puts our feet firmly on the rock – and He is the rock!
2. Our Feet are kept by Divine power. Our Preservation.
The godly mother of the prophet Samuel, Hannah, prayed a prayer that has been preserved in 1 Samuel chapter 2. In it she says these words
1 And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. 2 There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.
There is the mention of the rock again – God our rock. V 3 – 8.
3 Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. 4 The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. 5 They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble. 6 The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. 7 The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. 8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them.
God lifts His people out of the dust and the rubbish heap of their sins, similar thoughts to Psalm 40 – but then she says in verse 9
He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.
Our feet have been given a firm footing – on Christ the rock – but our feet are also KEPT. The Lord Jesus Christ is an able, faithful, tender, compassionate, constant and everlasting keeper of the feet of is saints; and not only their feet but he keeps their whole persons. He guides, directs, and orders all their actions and goings; he keeps their feet in his own ways, where he has guided them; he keeps them in Christ the way, and in all the paths of faith, truth, righteousness, and holiness, and in the way everlasting: he keeps them from falling; even though they are liable to fall into sin, and by temptation, and from an active exercise of grace, they will never totally and finally fall. This divine preservation is yours and mine in the Lord Jesus Christ – what a saviour He is – keeping and preserving our feet by His divine power.
3. Our Feet are cleansed by the Word. Our Communion.
We have so recently been reminded of the loving selfless action of our Lord Jesus Christ when He washed His disciples’ feet, recorded in John 13 v 3 – 14. The Spiritual application of that incident is about the refreshing of the believer by the word of the Lord Jesus, the cleansing not only of his feet but also of his soul through the washing of water by the word, and the blest close contact of the saviour with us His believing saints. Our communion with him is this close – when He washes us with His word it is close communion. No mother washes her little boys face and hands from a distance. Nearness and closeness is need in the process of washing – so it is with us, His saints.
4. Our Feet are sandaled ready for conflict. Our Preparation.
This brings us back to the text in Ephesians 6 v 15
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Our spiritual feet are bound with the leather straps of His peace and love. It is an objective peace – it has a purpose as the Lord Jesus said in John 14 v 27
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
It is objective because the purpose of Christ is that we are neither to be troubled nor afraid. We are to replace our inner fears and doubts, our troubled thoughts and dreads, with His perfect peace. There is a marvellous connection between the belt, breastplate and sandals – the truth of Christ and His gospel leads us to believe in Christ and His righteousness and to have His righteousness in our souls. And then we see the meaning of Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 32:17
And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
What a glorious verse this is! Righteousness, not ours, but His in us, leads on to peace in the soul. It is the work of righteousness to produce this peace in the Christian’s heart. That is the objective nature of righteousness. But then the Lord adds the subjective, felt experience of peace in the heart as well –
and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
Eternal peace, felt peace, quietness within, confidence in Him, the Lord Jesus Christ. Glorious assurance that our sins are forgiven and that Christ is our saviour for time and eternity. Do you have this peace within, my brother, my sister? Do you have any peace this morning who ever you are that hears these words about peace? Are you looking for peace but all you find is turmoil, confusion, bitterness and dissatisfaction in your soul? You need the saviour’s peace – the preparation of peace. Seek it with all your heart my friend. For unless you have it you are unprepared for the conflict of life. Seek it in Christ – He is ready to give it!
Another aspect of the Believer’s feet is this –
5. Our Feet will bruise satan. Our Victory.
Right at the end of the Letter of Paul to the Romans we find this wonderful assertion –
Romans 16 v 20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.
There is that sense of peace again – but notice what we the saints will do – we will join our dear saviour in His Victory parade – leading captivity captive. As believers in Jesus we are on the Victory side – on His side. He has invited us to share in the spoils of His victory, identified with Him the Victor, achieved on the cross when he crushed Satan. It is not so much that we will tread on Satan and his demons individually– but in Christ we stand over those principalities and powers who will be cast into the lake of fire. Notice what the verse says – GOD, the Lord Jesus Christ, shall bruise Satan – and he will be under our feet! We will tread the tempter down because he is already a beaten foe, despite His attacks and struggles. Certainly at the second coming of our saviour we will see Satan judged and trodden down. But as we appropriate Christ’s victory in our daily struggles with sin and Satan, we can imagine ourselves as those who have our feet on Satan’s neck – joint victors with the Lord Jesus!
6. Our Feet should be running with the Gospel of Peace. Our Preaching.
This sixth aspect of the believer’s feet takes us into a further application of the use of the spiritual armour – the Preaching of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The text that comments most helpfully on our text in Ephesians 6 v 15 is Romans 10 v 15
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
Preachers’ feet are called beautiful! But surely it is the message that is beautiful. This is Paul’s quotation of Isaiah 52 v 7
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
Nahum 1 v 15 Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.
Why did the ancients have this obsession with feet? It was the feet that carried messengers with tidings. Fast runners carried news from place to place and often they were spurred on to run as fast as they could when they carried GOOD news. This eagerness is conveyed in this verse – and its origin is in the Gospel of Peace – the good tidings of peace with God. Romans 5 v 1 tells us of this brilliant news –
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
With such news in our hearts we become those who advance into battle. The battle is won. Peace is achieved. So there is an eagerness and willingness to advance against the devil and take the fight to him. It is almost as if we are reminding him over and over again that he is conquered. We can be bold to tell him his days are numbered whereas our days are eternal! The believer is freed from anxiety even though the advance is against such a powerful enemy – his power is limited. Paul again –
Romans 5 v 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
He died for sinners who have now become soldiers. We have peace with God through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is peace for distressed minds – because God’s wrath has been turned away by the marvellous work of Calvary. Once our hearts were at war with God – now there is peace in those hearts.
What about this Gospel of Peace? Surely it is the Good News that, through the Lord Jesus Christ we are wonderfully at peace with God and he is on our side. Look how Paul further states it in Romans 5 v 7 - 10
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
What is it that enables us ordinary Christians to stand firm on our feet? It is the support, divine support, that allows each believer to stand firm knowing, that since he is at peace with God then God is his strength and he has the sandals of the readiness and preparation of the Gospel of Peace. The Gospel prepares us to fight and stand for Christ.
Is this our experience my friends? Is the thrill and joy of sins forgiven racing through your veins, sufficient to drive you amongst your neighbours with the message of the Gospel of peace? Surely we who have been delivered from a great burden, through the Gospel of peace have courage now to take the fight to the enemy and the good news to those who are still captives?
Here then is our responsibility as Christian soldiers. To march against the enemy, and to run with the Gospel. To advance in holiness, resisting the devil, and to spread the good news of peace.
Are we afraid? Are we timid? Does Satan terrify us? Do our neighbours give us a hard time?
Then let us afresh realise the terms of the Gospel of Peace, and take them to our hearts. Because we have the peace with God that comes from the Gospel then we need not fear the attack of men or Satan.
The most victorious Christian is the witnessing Christian. If we wear the sandals of the Gospel then WE too have beautiful feet. Satan has declared war but you and I are ambassadors of peace and we take the Gospel of peace wherever we go. Let us be eager and ready to demonstrate this peace in our hearts – by the movement and readiness of our feet. May the Lord encourage us with His word from Romans 8 v 31 to the end.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.