Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Eph. 6:15a “. . .And your feet shod. . .”
Roman soldiers wore an open-toed leather sandal. It was a sole held firmly to the foot by straps wrapped around the instep, ankle, and lower leg. The sole had nails or studs underneath. This spiked sandal insured safe footing, and prevented sliding on slippery or treacherous terrain.
Traction was vital in battle. The initial collision between two armies was similar to what happens on the line of scrimmage in football. Combatants hurled themselves against one another, clashing in hand to hand conflict. Whichever side held its ground in this opening crush of battle gained a tremendous advantage.
Christian warriors need a good foothold in hand to hand combat against evil. Do not run to battle slipshod. Attend to our shoes. God graciously provides every believer with good combat boots, but we are often careless, guilty of not taking full advantage of His provision. To stand requires a good standing. Our feet must be firmly planted, our shoes well prepared. Many saints need their shoes repaired. Paul prescribes what we require.
Eph. 6:15b “. . .with the preparation of the gospel of peace;”
“Preparation” refers to a prepared foundation. Our firm foothold in the conflict is “the gospel of peace,” good news which brings to the Christian warrior a two-pronged peace–a peace with God which results in a peace from God.
Christian warrior, our firm footing for fighting begins in peace with God. “The gospel of peace” is the good news that God changed from being our enemy to being our friend. Feeling terror toward God paralyzes, but peace with Him steadies a trembling soldier, and allows us to face evil foes with confidence.
Believers know their power to win comes from God. Thus, if we have doubts about being at peace with Him, we are weakened by uncertainty and hesitation. Unrighteousness melts soldiers into cowards. If conscience condemns us, we go down when the devil attacks. The spiritual combatant’s only hope is to be confident of God’s favor, to feel assured God is fighting for us.
Peace with God builds confidence, and buoys our spirits. God tries to use our own conversion experiences to emblazon this truth forever upon our hearts. From the very outset of our Christian lives, God wants us to know how vital peace with Him is. When one becomes a Christian, the overwhelming emotion is a peace with God which passes all understanding (see PH 4:7). The sense of separation is removed, the burden of guilt lifted. Pastor Kent Hughes remembers his conversion as the most joyful event of his life. He said the relief of having his sins lifted made him feel “as if I had lost my gravity and could float up to God. There was nothing between me and God but peace.” Peace with God is liberating.
Whitefield never forgot his experience of being born again. Every time he returned to Oxford, he would run to the spot of his conversion and revel in what he had experienced there. This peace with God we all sensed at the beginning of our Christian walk must be continued, nurtured and maintained, throughout life.
Peace with God plants a soldier’s foot on a firm foundation. Without it there is no true fulfillment, no victory in Christian warfare. No soldier can fight happily or well while a load of unpardoned sin lies in the heart. Our success lies completely in sensing for sure that God is smiling on us with pleasure.
A dying soldier, wounded in battle, asked someone to take dictation for a letter to his father. The transcriber asked if he wanted to end the letter with, “Your dutiful and affectionate son.” The dying soldier grieved, “No, no, not dutiful; I never have been a dutiful son; the thought which most agonizes my soul at this moment is, that my disobedience and unkindness have well-nigh broken my father’s heart.” Breaking father’s heart was more painful than thinking of death itself. Christian warriors, the conflict yields no joy if we think Father is frowning on us.
For the Christian warrior, Heaven is home, and it is hard to be settled and serene on the battle front when things are not at peace on the home front. We soldiers must have peace with God before we can be fully effective in battle.
Our firm footing begins in peace with God, which in turn results in peace from God. The world may be collapsing all around, but Christian soldiers at peace with God have in themselves a peace from God which allows them to stand firm.
It is wonderful how God can enable His people to live in the midst of trials and tribulations as though they had none. Paul and Silas were in jail at midnight when an earthquake struck (AC 16:25ff). Everyone else panicked. A guard began to commit suicide, but Paul and Silas remained calm, saved the soldier’s life, and led him to Jesus. Having peace with God, Paul and Silas enjoyed peace from God.
David, hunted like a partridge in the mountains by King Saul, saw himself as in the midst of lions and of those who breathe fire. All looked hopeless, but David did not despair. He cried in triumph, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises” (PS 57:7 NAS). His men probably thought he was having a heat-stroke, but it was a peace-stroke.
Note the beautiful paradox of Paul’s metaphor in our text–in the midst of a savage raging battle, peace. Showers of afflictions may fall as thick as hailstones about us, but in the midst of it all the Christian has inner peace. The hurricane swirls around us, but our heart is the serene eye of the storm.
None of us will be a mighty Christian warrior until we clear conscience and find inner peace with God which produces peace from God. The only soldier who can stand in battle is the one whose heart is tranquil because it is satisfied in God.
Christian warrior, cultivate peace with God. Then, armed with peace from God, fight life’s battles one at a time. Live one day at a time. Jesus said, “Do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (MT 6:34 NAS). Begin each day seeking God’s cleansing, “Search me, O God, and know my heart. . . .See if there be any wicked way in me” (PS 139:23-24). Begin days in peace with God; then build on it peace from God.
Let God steady our mind and protect it from fear and flutter. Claim for the day His victory over tension, worry, and despair. Fellow soldiers, our birthright is the opportunity to stand through difficulties which waylay unshod unbelievers. We can have bedrock assurance and stability. Whatever the difficulty, we plant our feet, testing the ground and finding all is secure. “Underneath are the everlasting arms” (DT 33:27) to cushion us when we collapse on God. Our firm foundation is peace with God resulting in peace from God.