Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
having fastened on the belt of truth,
and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
~ Ephesians 6:13-15 ESV
Welcome to mile-marker 20 of the #encourage marathon! We are in the home stretch! (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.)
Someone out there is unprepared. It might even be you.
When a soldier prepares for battle, he or she “suits up.” They go through a process (usually the same process they’ve established each time) of putting each piece of gear in place—Undershirt, uniform shirt, pants, duty belt/gear belt, boots, bullet-proof vest, ammunition, helmet, and weapon(s). This process of preparation is vital, as each battle brings different challenges. A soldier must be in constant readiness.
Each morning, as we awake to face a new day, we are entering into a battle zone. We have no idea what that day’s battle will bring, though we usually have plans. We do not know what temptations, trials, or challenges our enemy will throw at us.
In the previous post, I noted that Paul encourages the Ephesians to take up the “whole” armor—not just selected pieces. He repeats this encouragement in today’s section in verse 13. “Take up the whole armor… that you may be able to withstand in the evil day.” We cannot withstand in the evil day if we haven’t readied ourselves. We’ll cover three essential pieces of armor today and the remainder tomorrow.
The Belt of Truth
The great thing about a belt is it keeps your pants (and your shirt, if it’s tucked in) in it’s place. This is the first piece that Paul mentions, and I do not think it is a coincidence. A belt goes around the middle of your body. It is a central part of armor. Likewise, truth is the beginning and central piece of our war against Satan. Without truth, we have no foundation; everything becomes disheveled. Consistently fill your mind with the truth of God’s word and meditate on it.
Fasten your belt.
The Breastplate of Righteousness
The breastplate protects the vital organs—heart, liver, lungs, stomach. I have heard about law enforcement officers who have grown so complacent they consider their bulletproof vest as “optional.” They have forgotten that they wear their badge like a target. Soldiers in uniform in enemy territory also bear a target. The enemy lurks everywhere, ready to strike when they least expect it.
Righteousness is essentially our justification from God. When we become Christians, we enter into a covenant with Him and He justifies us. We do the best we can for Him each day, but it is the blood of Christ brings us into good standing with the Lord. We are not protected by our own justification—that would be akin to wearing chiffon into battle. When we are justified/made right by God, it’s an impenetrable protection for our soul. Don’t minimize the righteousness given to us by God. If we don’t have it on, we will die.
Put it on.
The Shoes of Readiness
You aren’t going to get very far being shoeless.
Now, there is research saying that one can run more effectively barefoot, but I wonder if they tried running for miles over jagged rocks. (I highly doubt it). I love being barefoot. I’ve got pretty tough feet and they handle hot asphalt like a champ (most of the time). I can walk on rocks if I step gingerly through them, just don’t ask me to go fast! To be honest, though, I have no desire to go on a long hike, jog, or walk with no shoes. For one thing, there could be anything in the path—nails, rocks, sewage, fecal matter—and I don’t want to expose my skin to it. For any sort of journey (or battle), you need shoes.
Paul says our shoes need to be “the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” How does the gospel make us ready?
The gospel is the good news that Jesus, God’s only son, came to earth to show us the Father and make peace between us. He lived a sinless life, and died on the cross in order that our sins would be taken away. Three days later, He rose from the dead, showing that He has power to raise us to heaven also. Now He sits at the right hand of God and is the head of the church. Jesus’ sacrifice puts us in a peaceful relationship with God. The gospel of peace is not about peace on earth; It’s about peace with God—God is no longer an enemy to us when we are in Christ.
It is critical to be grounded in this knowledge. When we deny who Christ is or what He has done, we won’t go far in our race. Our feet will be so wounded, we’ll be slaughtered because we were unable to stand and fight.
When we face death, persecution, tribulation, what is our hope? Our hope is that Jesus has the power to save our soul! If we do not believe that, then we will not be able to endure anything. What would be the point?
One last point—it is our duty to bring the gospel to others wherever we go. (Shoes again.) We are surrounded by the walking dead; people who are under the spell of satan, walking towards doom. We need revive them so they can be at peace with God as well.
Get your shoes on.
Be prepared for battle today. The Navy Seals have a saying: “The only easy day was yesterday.” In other words, every day is going to be tough (especially in Seal training). Think of yourself as a Christian Seal-in-training. Your enemy is Satan and he is everywhere. He is waiting for you to be unprepared so he can attack.
Be ready. Stand firm. “The only easy day was yesterday.”
Please continue to join me on Facebook, Twitter and here at Elihu’s Corner for this marathon. Share the image or verse reference on your Twitter feed or Facebook page with the hash tag (#encourage). Take time today to copy down this verse for yourself. Send an email or text to someone you know who would benefit from this encouragement.
Make some time to copy down these posts. Some of them are a bit long, but it only takes a few minutes. Ask your kids to do it with you. Don’t just be encouraged, but encourage others in the race!