So far in this series of blogs on Ephesians 6 and the spiritual armor that Paul lists there, I have written about the importance of truth and right living in overcoming the spiritual warfare that is a very real part of the life of every Christian. In part 3, I will look into the third piece of spiritual armor, the shoes of the spiritual soldier.
After addressing the belt and the chest armor, Paul continues, “As shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). I’ve often heard that the sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon in the Christian arsenal. While that is technically true, you need to realize that your feet are offensive weapons, too, because they carry you into battle. Paul says we overcome Satan by going on the offensive with the gospel.
As long as Satan can keep us from sharing the gospel, our neighbors will be under his power (Ephesians 2:1). But once they hear the good news, then they can become children of God under his grace. What better way to fight against the darkness of Satan than to preach the gospel of light?
The Roman soldier, the image Paul is using to illustrate “the whole armor of God,” wore leather boots that protected the feet and ankles. These boots, called the “caliga”, were a half boot that allowed the soldier to advance toward the enemy undistracted about what they might step on. This piece of the armor was essential to the Roman soldier’s “preparation” for battle. These boots usually had hobnailed soles, which means they had bits of metal, or nails, driven through them. These hobnailed soles gave the Roman soldier great traction as he climbed hills, and fought on uneven terrain. The boots worn by the Roman soldier gave him great stability as he engaged the enemy.
The word “preparation” refers to “being ready.” This same word appears in Titus 3:1, which says, “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.” A soldier’s boots allows him to be ready for whatever he faces. A good pair of boots makes him ready to march, to stand, to climb, to fight, or whatever else he may be called on to do. That same readiness should mark the people of God.
To what does this kind of readiness refer? In one sense it means that the child of God must always be ready to be about the business of sharing the Gospel with a lost world. We are to be ready to move at the Lord’s command, going from place to place preaching the Gospel to the lost and telling them about Jesus. There is a sense in which all believers are to be actively engaged in the business of evangelism. Peter said it this way, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear,” 1 Pet. 3:15.
When God saved us, He commanded us to tell others what He has done for us, and what He can do for them (Mark 16:15). He has given us His Spirit, and the Holy Spirit has equipped us for the work of evangelism (Acts 1:8). The very heart of our duty to the lost is that we “go and tell.” That is The Great Commission (Matt. 28:19–20).
In my opinion that isn’t Paul’s primary emphasis in our text, is not on “going” but on “standing.” Paul is not talking about sharing the Gospel, he is talking about fighting Satan. The “Gospel of peace” refers to the glorious news that, through our relationship with Jesus Christ, we are at peace with God. “The Gospel of peace” to which Paul refers here is the fact that in Christ, we are at peace with God. It is the truth that we have been made one with the Lord. So, having our “feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace” means that we stand in the absolute confidence that God loves us, that He has forgiven us, that we are united with Him, that He fights for us, and that all is well with our souls. It is the confidence that we are saved. When we have that confidence, and when we possess the peace of God in our hearts, we are “ready” to “stand” against any enemy that comes against us.
The child of God who stands in the Lord’s power and is in full assurance of the Lord’s salvation does not have to fear any enemy, even if that enemy is Satan himself. When we are attacked, we stand on the firm, unchanging ground of the Gospel of grace. Everything we need to “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might,” v. 10, is at our disposal. Our confidence in the day of battle does not rest in our own power, but in the promises of God. Here is what He promises His children: “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 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? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 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. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 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,” Romans 8:31–39.
Those promises, those truths, are the shoes that give us the ability to stand in “the evil day.”
So, the question here is this: Are you ready to stand? Do you have absolute confidence in your heart that God has saved your soul, forgive your sins, and adopted you into His family? If you have the kind of confidence, you can stand regardless of what the enemy throws at you. If you don’t have that deep, settled confidence in your heart, you will be unstable in all your battles. Unless you are grounded in absolute assurance of salvation, the enemy will have little trouble knocking you off your feet.