Ephesians 6:15
The spiritual equipment of the Christian is here described in detail - the belt, the breastplate, the sandals, the shield, the helmet, and the sword.

I. TRUTH IS THE BELT, AS RIGHTEOUSNESS IS THE BREASTPLATE. "Having your loins girt about with truth." As the belt or girdle kept the armor in its proper place, giving strength and buoyancy of action, so truth acts in relation to righteousness, faith, and peace. If truth were wanting, there could be none of these things, and nothing Christ-like or noble. The truth here does not mean truth of doctrine, as the Word of God is again referred to, nor even sincerity in the sense of truthfulness, but the truth subjectively apprehended, that is, the knowledge and belief of the truth. It is the conscious grasp of the truth which gives a Christian boundless confidence in his conflict with evil. Error, as a principle of life, dissolves strength and unnerves for the great fight with sin. Truth is our proper girdle, because we fight for a God of truth (Titus 1:2), and against Satan the father of lies (John 8:44). Without it we are spiritless, heartless, and weak.

II. THE BREASTPLATE. "Having on the breastplate of righteousness." The Roman soldier wore it to protect his heart, the center of physical life. The breastplate of the Christian is here called "the righteousness," evidently in allusion to Isaiah 59:17, where Jehovah puts on "righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head." It can hardly mean moral rectitude, which, after all, would be but a poor guard against the reproaches of conscience or the assaults of Satan. This righteousness is that which the Apostle Paul desired for himself - "the righteousness of God by faith" (Philippians 3:8, 9). It is emphatically "the righteousness," so perfect that it satisfied every demand of Law, and is perfectly proof against all assaults from within or from without. Let us not show the bare breast of our righteousness to the tempter, but rather the righteousness of God himself, imputed to us and received by faith. This breastplate was purchased by Christ at a dear rate; none are his soldiers who have not put it on; without it, God himself will fight against you; if you have it, you are sure of ultimate triumph (Romans 8:31, 32)

III. SANDALS. "Having your feet shod with the preparedness of the gospel of peace." The legs of the Roman soldier were covered with greaves, and below these were the sandals, or caligae. Swiftness of foot was of great consequence in military movements. Christians are to show a readiness, a celerity, an alacrity of movement, in doing God's will. This preparedness is the effect of the gospel of peace, which inspires us with severity and courage, and liberates us from those doubts which generate weakness. The unready warrior is liable to sudden and secret attacks. The Christian ought ever to be prepared to advance against the enemy, to obey his great Captain, to fight, to suffer, and to die in the cause of God and truth.

IV. THE SHIELD. "Above all, taking the shield of faith." The shield covered the whole body, as well as the armor itself. Faith is a shield in the spiritual warfare. It is that faith of which Christ is the Object, at once "the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen;" that confidence which defends the understanding from error, the heart from weakness or despair, the will from revolt against Divine command. It is, in a word, "the victory that overcometh the world" (1 John 5:4, 5). Its special service is "to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Satan showers his burning arrows upon the soul of the Christian, either in the shape of blasphemous suggestions, or unholy thoughts, or dark despair; but faith makes the soul impenetrable to such destructive missiles, because it falls back upon the Divine Word, and apprehends the mercy of God, the merits of Christ, and the help of the Spirit.

V. THE HELMET. "And take the helmet of salvation." The helmet protects the head, the most exposed part of the body, enables the soldier to hold it up without the fear of injury, and to look calmly round upon the enemy's movements. Salvation, and not the mere hope of it (1 Thessalonians 5:8), is the helmet that covers the head, is our true defense against the devil. It will make you active in all duties, courageous in all conflicts, cheerful in all conditions, and constant to the end of life.

VI. THE SWORD. "And the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." The other parts of the armor were defensive; this is both offensive and defensive.

1. The Word of God is a sword, because it pierces like a sword into the heart (Hebrews 4:12), because it pierces through all disguises of error, because it lays bare the "wiles" of the devil. It was wielded by Christ himself in his great temptation. It is still the saint's only weapon of offence. Whether the temptation is to atheism, to impiety, to despair, to unbelief, to covetousness, to pride, to hatred, or to worldliness, the legend, "It is written," stands clearly revealed on the handle of this sword.

2. It is the sword of the Spirit, because he is its Author, its Interpreter, and he who makes it effectual to the defeat of all enemies. - T.C.







And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. -
1. The particular grace which is here meant. The grace itself is comprised under the word "preparation." It implies a furniture which the gospel of peace procures and prepares; or a heart settled, resolved, and prepared by the gospel of peace, to go on to God through all difficulties. Now, the very grace itself, which thus settles the soul, I take to be patience; for it is, without doubt, the drift and scope of the apostle to arm the Christian soldier against trouble and affliction by this particular piece of spiritual armour here meant: but what grace so fit thereunto as patience?

2. The fitness of the metaphor. The piece of harness whereunto patience is here resembled, is that whereby a soldier's feet or legs are covered; for feet are here expressed, and the metaphor of being shod implies as much. By "feet" he means legs also: the pieces of armour proper to this purpose are called greaves or leg harness; they are also called soldier's shoes and boots. The metaphor may either be generally taken of all shoes, or particularly of greaves. We all know the use of shoes is to keep our feet from sharp stones, hard clods, etc.; for our feet are naturally tender, insomuch that if we go abroad barefoot, every hard stone hurts them, every sharp stick and pricking thorn pierces them; therefore we are accustomed not to venture abroad barefoot. If any be so foolhardy as to venture, soon will he wax weary, and either sit down and go no further, or else turn back again. But if we have good boots or shoes on, then we think ourselves well fenced, and so with boldness and courage go on, whatsoever the way be. To apply this: Stones, sticks, thorns, and the like, are not more grievous to our bare feet, than troubles, crosses, and afflictions are to our naked heart and soul. Now then, this world, through which we must pass to heaven, being a very hard and rough way, stony and thorny, full of all sorts of afflictions, if our souls be naked and bare, not fenced with patience, and so fitted and prepared well to endure all crosses, we shall either never venture to enter into this hard way, or at least not endure to hold out therein. But if our souls be thoroughly possessed with sound and true patience, then shall we with undaunted courage pass through all the troubles of this world.

3. How patience is procured. By "the gospel of peace." The gospel prepares our hearts by declaring

(1)That nothing shall hurt us.

(2)That all things shall turn to our good.

(William Gouge.)

I. LET US EXAMINE THE SHOES.

1. They come from a blessed Maker. One who is skilful in all arts, and knows by experience what is wanted, since He has Himself journeyed through life's roughest ways.

2. They are made of excellent material - "the preparation of the gospel of peace." Well seasoned, soft in wear, lasting long.

(1)Peace with God as to the past, the future, the present.

(2)Peace of full submission to the Divine mind and will.

(3)Peace with the Word and all its teachings

(4)Peace with one's inner self, conscience, fears, desires, etc.

(5)Peace with brethren in the Church and the family.

(6)Peace with all man, kind (Romans 12:18).

3. They are such as none can make except the Lord, who both sends the gospel and prepares the peace.

4. They are such shoes as Jesus wore, and all the saints.

5. They are such as will never wear out; they are old, yet ever new; we may wear them at all ages and in all places.

II. LET US TRY THEM ON. Observe with delight -

1. Their perfect fitness. They are made to suit each one of us.

2. Their excellent foothold: we can tread with holy boldness upon our high places with these shoes.

3. Their marching powers for daily duty. No one grows weary or footsore when he is thus shod.

4. Their wonderful protection against trials by the way (Psalm 91:13).

5. Their pleasantness of wear, giving rest to the whole man.

6. Their adaptation for hard work.

7. Their endurance of fire and water (Isaiah 43:2).

8. Their fighting qualities.

III. LET US LOOK AT THE BAREFOOTED AROUND US.

1. The sinner is unshod. Yet he kicks against the pricks. How can he hope to fulfil the heavenly pilgrimage?

2. The professor is slipshod, or else he wears tight shoes. His fine slippers will soon be worn out. He loves not the gospel, knows not its peace, seeks not its preparation.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Exodus 12:11). When God is feasting the Christian with present comforts, he must have this gospel shoe on; he must not sit down as if he were feasting at home, but stand and eat even as he takes a running meal in an inn on his way, willing to be gone as soon as ever he is a little refreshed for his journey. The conceited professor, who hath a high opinion of himself, is a man shod and prepared, he thinks; but not with the right gospel shoe. He that cannot take the length of his foot, how can he of himself fit a shoe to it? Is not thy shoe, Christian, yet on? art thou not yet ready to march? If thou hast it, what hast thou to dread? Canst fear that any stone can hurt thy foot through so thick a sole?

(William Gurnall.)

Romans 8:38). "All things, I know, work together for the good of them that are beloved of God" (Romans 8:28). And this furniture made him go such hard ways cheerfully, in which showers of afflictions did fall as thick as hailstones. This doth make God's children, though not in the letter, yet in some sort, tread upon the adder and the basilisk; yea, to defy vipers, and receive no hurt; whereas, if the feet be bared a little with the absence of this peace, anything causeth us sore smart.

(Paul Bayne.)

1. The first is, that you must always have "peace" - a "prepared peace" - under your feet, like the "shoes" you tread in - carrying it with you, as the base upon which yon stand. This is what we want - to have God's "peace" as a foundation - a sure, firm thing under us. Not something which we are to reach by and by; but a fact, a resting point. "Christ is mine! The enmity is gone! I am forgiven!" How strong will be your step! how quiet your journey! how calm your bearing - with this feeling - "I walk in my holy confidence." "My feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace."

2. The next thing in the illustration is, you must "go" - not only "in peace" - but as a peacemaker.

3. But you may come nearer to Him still. As a servant of the Cross, you are appointed the high work to bring souls to Christ.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

I. First, WITH REGARD TO THE PORTION OF ARMOUR SPOKEN OF. The covering for the legs, in military equipment, would be most familiarly understood by the name of "greaves," and the most apt representative to our own minds would be that of a high military boot, made of jointed steel or brass.

1. Having thus glanced at the scope of the apostle's metaphor, let us look at the word he employs in his illustration. Thus, you will observe, he says it is "the preparation of the gospel." The gospel - glad tidings, cheering and long looked for intelligence from the court of heaven. "Now," says the apostle, "here is a preparation for you. Christian traveller, you are going on a trying pilgrimage; Christian soldier, you are about to enter upon an arduous warfare; comfort ye one another with these words - take with you as the companion and solace of all your trials the glorious gospel of the blessed God these tidings from the great Father of your spirits, tidings of mercy, tidings of reconciliation, tidings of assured sympathy and support through all your trials, until through grace you are more than conquerors." This is to be your preparation, this your stay and stand.

2. But the suitableness of this part of the apostle's reference will appear further when we look at the next expression - "The gospel of peace." First, of peace with God. This is all-important to the Christian warrior. Were we about to enter on some long journey, or were we quitting our native shores to enter upon some foreign expedition, how heavy would the thought lie at the heart, that all was not right and happy at home. A man of God, visiting the bedsides of the wounded and dying at the hospital of Scutari, was asked by one, who felt that his hours were numbered, to write a letter to his father. The visitor complied; and having concluded, asked the dying man in what words he should subscribe it - "Your dutiful and affectionate son?" "No, no," said the dying man, "not dutiful; I never have been a dutiful son; the thought which most agonises my soul at this moment is, that my disobedience and unkindness have well nigh broken my father's heart." I quote it to show how essential to the happiness of the Christian soldier it is, that he should go forth with a sense of reconciliation upon his spirit that he should feel his heavenly Father was looking upon him with a pleasant countenance, that his heart should be comforted with the answer of peace. The apostle knew that no soldier could fight happily, or fight well, while there was this load of unpardoned sin lying at his door.

3. But the expression may be taken in reference to another part of gospel preparation equally necessary for the Christian soldier, namely, that we should have peace one with another. "See that ye fall not out by the way," was the advice of Joseph to his brethren.

II. Let us proceed to our second inquiry: FOR WHAT IS THIS PART OF THE SOLDIER'S EQUIPMENT ESPECIALLY DESIGNED TO PREPARE US? - this "preparation of the gospel of peace."

1. Well, first, it is designed to prepare us for active and persevering service. The Israelites had to be well shod, because they had before them a journey of forty years in the wilderness; and yet at the end of that time, we are told, "their shoes waxed not old, neither did their foot swell."

2. Again: this part of our Christian covering may be designed to prepare us for hidden and unsuspected dangers. The refined cruelty of ancient warfare, as I have said, was to hide traps a little beneath the surface of the earth. We have some remarkable allusions to these things in the Psalms. "In the way I have walked they have privily laid snares for me." "The proud have hid a snare for me, and have spread a net by the wayside; they have set gins for me." "In the way where they have laid snares for me is their own foot taken."

3. Once more: a designed part of this gospel preparation is to prepare us to endure sharp afflictions. The ancient soldier was preserved by his greaves from any fatal injury; but this did not prevent him often encountering those concealed snares, and in encountering them, from enduring much of suffering and pain.

(D. Moore, M. A.)

I. Now, the first thing that strikes me about these words as being very beautiful and significant is THE COMBINATION OF THE TWO ANTAGONISTIC IDEAS OF WARFARE AND PEACE. It is the soldier's equipment that comes from this gospel of peace. The apostle evidently thinks that the possession in our souls of that inward peace which comes from the great message and work of Jesus Christ is the best preparation for the fight. "If you want peace prepare for war," says the heathenish and wicked old motto. If you want war and victory, secure peace in your hearts, is the Christian article of belief. The two things are not compatible, a central repose and a ruffled surface. The frost of a winter's night goes an inch or two into the ground, but the heart of the globe is a fire. And there may be, all round about us, touching and affecting the surface of our being, distractions enough, distractions of circumstances, of sorrows, of difficulties, many things that are at enmity with joy and with tranquillity, and yet away down in the depths, which are the real man, there may be a stillness as of some land-locked valley that "heareth not the loud winds when they call." Your feet may be shod for all the warfare, with the readiness that comes from the possession of a general peace. The foes may storm round the little castle, but in the centre of the keep there may be a quiet room, with thick walls and curtains, where no sound of warfare ever reaches.

II. And, then, look at the other thought of how this possession of a heart made tranquil because it is quite sure of its harmonious friendship with God, and because it is not suffering from the dreary emotions of passions and lusts, MAKES A MAN READY FOR ANYTHING, BEADY FOR THE MARCH, READY FOR THE FIGHT. Ready for the march. What is it that hinders us from being prepared for any new duties that may come to us, or any new circumstances that may call for our endurance, but one thing - that our wills have not been submitted to His; and another thing - that we have not "learned to sit loose to this world," as the old Puritans used to say. Now, whoever has, deep in his heart, the repose that comes from the possession of the gospel of peace, will have these two things also. He will have a will that is bent and bowed to God's, and he will not hold with such a desperate grip by the things of this present. And so, when new tasks come he will be ready for them, and when the new circumstances emerge out of the darkness they will not take him by surprise, and he will be ready, according to the motto of the old Scotch family, "Ready! aye ready!" His feet will be shod with the alacrity, the quickness to apprehend, and apprehending, to accept any new circumstances that may come to him.

III. HOW CAN THIS PREPAREDNESS BE INCREASED AND MADE HABITUAL? Do not forget, dear brethren, that these words, as they stand in the original, are a commandment We are bidden to put on these marching shoes. It is ours to determine the extent which we shall have the peace that makes ready, and the gospel that brings peace.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Voluntas est locomotiva facultaswe go whither our will sends us. And what the shoe is to the foot, that preparation, or if you please a readiness and alacrity, is to the will. The man whose feet are well shod fears no road, but goes through thick and thin; foul or fair, stones or straws, are all alike to him that is well shod; while the bare-footed man, or slenderly shod, shrinks when he feels the wet, and shrieks when he lights on a sharp stone. Thus, when the will and heart of a man are prompt, and ready to do any work, the man is as it were shod and armed against all trouble and difficulty which he is to go over in the doing of it. They say the Irish tread so light on the ground, that they will ran over some bogs, wherein any other almost would stick or sink. A prepared, ready heart I am sure will do this in a spiritual sense; none can walk where he can run: he makes nothing of afflictions, yea, persecutions, but goes singing over them. David never so merry as in the cave (Psalm 57); and how came he so? "My heart is prepared, my heart is prepared (saith he), I will sing and give praise." If David's heart had not been shod with this preparation, he would not have liked the way so well he was in; you would have had him sing to another tune, and heard him quarrel with his destiny, or fall out with his profession, that had put him to so much trouble, and driven him from the pleasures of a prince's court, to hide himself underground in a cave from those that hunted for his precious life. He would have spent his breath rather in pitying and bemoaning himself, than in praising of God. An unprepared heart, that is not well satisfied with its work or condition, hangs back; and though it may be brought to submit to it with much ado, yet it is but as a foundered horse on a stony way, who goes in pain every step, and would oft be turning out of the path if bit and whip did not keep him in. But why is it called the "preparation of the gospel of peace"? Because the gospel of peace is the great instrument by which God works the will and heart of man into this readiness and preparation to do or suffer what He calls to. It is the business we are set about, when preaching the gospel, to make a "willing people" (Psalm 110). "To make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1). As the captain is sent to beat up his drum in a city, to call in a company that will voluntarily list themselves to follow the prince's wars, and be in a readiness to take the field, and march at an hour's warning; thus the gospel comes to call over the hearts of men to the foot of God, to stand ready for His service, whatever it costs them; now this it doth as it is a "gospel of peace." It brings the joyful tidings of peace concluded betwixt God and man by the blood of Jesus; and this is so welcome to the trembling conscience of poor sinners, who before melted away their sorrowful days in a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation from the Lord to devour them as His adversaries, that no sooner the report of a peace concluded betwixt God and them sounds in their ears by the preaching of the gospel, and is certainly confirmed to be true in their own consciences by the Spirit, who is sent from heaven to seal it to them, and give them some sweet gust of it, by shedding abroad the sense of it in their souls; but instantly there appears a new life in them, that they who before were so fearful and shy of every petty trouble, as to start at the thought of it (knowing it could bring no good news to them), are now shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, able to go out smilingly to meet the greatest sufferings that are, or can be on the way towards them, and say undauntingly to them, as once Christ did to those that came with swords and staves to attack Him, "Whom seek ye?" "Being justified by faith we have peace with God," saith the apostle (Romans 5:1). And this, how mightily doth it work! - even "to make them glory in tribulations." The words opened afford these two points.

1. It is our duty to be always prepared, and ready to meet with any trial and endure any hardship which God may lay out for us in our Christian warfare.

2. The peace which the gospel brings and speaks to the heart will make the creature ready to wade through any trial or trouble that meets him in his Christian course.

(W. Gurnall, M. A.)

(J. Eadie, D. D.)

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