“Father, we’re grateful for today, grateful for the cooler weather, grateful for a new year and a new decade. We’re grateful for Your truth, and we’re grateful for the equipping that You’ve given us to withstand all of the fiery darts of the wicked one, as we’re going to see this morning in our class.
I pray You’ll be with us during Sunday school. I pray for the illuminating ministry of the Spirit during the main service. And I ask that we leave here changed people.
We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name.”
God’s people said, “Amen.”
Open your Bibles to Ephesians 6:10. As you know, we’re continuing our study on the doctrine of the angels. We are at the very end of our subsection on demons. We talked about all kinds of things related to demons. And probably, by this point in the study, you’re saying, “This is so overwhelming—these entities! What hope do we have as God’s people since they are our opponents?”
And that’s what gets us into defense—the final little part on demonology. How do we defend ourselves against demons and Satan, given the fact that they’re so much more powerful than we are?
We’ve looked at things God is already doing—as we speak—which I’m very grateful for! There are certain things God is already doing to protect us from the realm of the demonic.
Then we began looking at our responsibility. We worked our way through this list last time. And we got to the very end—which is the final and perhaps the most important thing that we are to do in defense against spiritual warfare—to put on the full armor of God. I like to call this section, “Dressed for Success!” Are you dressed for success?
We’ve seen that Paul is in prison. He’s using a soldier metaphor, which he can visibly see, most likely, to describe our spiritual armor. He’s going to describe for us six pieces of armor. In the ancient world battles were won or lost depending on the quality of the armor; so this subject of armor is actually a big deal.
Paul is reinforcing in each of these pieces of armor a prior concept that he had mentioned earlier in the Book of Ephesians. More on that in just a minute. Maybe he’s discussing these pieces in the order that the soldier put them on.
But this is a command. When God says, “Put on the full armor of God,” He’s not giving a “Try this out for a while and see if it works.” This is something that God commands the Christian to do.
We’re going to go through each piece of armor. I’ll try to describe it, describe what it represents, and then I’ll try to apply it. In other words, “Here’s how it applies to daily life.”
What we have are six aspects of our weaponry which summarize key concepts of the letter and call the church to action. What we’re doing here is really not the way to do Bible study. Usually, when you do a Bible study you start at the beginning of the book and move to the end of the book. Do you guys agree with my thinking on that? Because the things at the end of the book don’t make sense unless you’ve studied what he says at the beginning of the book.
But here we’re not doing a verse-by-verse study on Ephesians—we’ve done that in this church—but we’re doing a topical study on spiritual warfare. So, that forces us to not follow proper Bible study methodology and start at the end of the book.
Since we’re doing that, let me remind you of the structure of the Book of Ephesians because I think this is very important to understanding the armor of God. The Book of Ephesians—where we find the greatest treatment in Scripture on the armor of God—is divided into two parts. Ephesians 1-3 is part one, Ephesians 4-6 is part two, and those sections couldn’t be more different.
The first section is all about our relationship to God. The second section is all about our responsibility once we understand who we are in Christ. The first section is about doctrine; the second section is about deed. The first section is about orthodoxy—which means correct belief. The second section is about orthopraxy—which means correct practice.
The first section is about knowledge; the second section is about wisdom. Wisdom is the application of knowledge.
The first section is about belief. The second section is about behavior.
The first section is about our position in Christ. The second section is about our practice.
The first section is about our privileges. The second section is about our responsibility.
It’s interesting that when you study this in Greek, there are no what we call “imperatives” in terms of verbs in chapters 1-3. It’s just absolutely fascinating for me to learn that. Because Paul, in chapters 1-3, doesn’t tell Christians to do anything—other than to learn who they are in Christ.
Now, once you get into the second section, chapters 4-6, there are probably about 38 imperatives. An imperative is a command.
You’ll notice the pedagogical style of Paul—the pedagogical philosophy of Paul—the educational philosophy of Paul. He never tells Christians to do anything until he first grounds them and roots them into who they already are by virtue of their relationship to Christ.
He thoroughly explains that in chapters 1-3. He explains our individual wealth that Jesus has given us. He explains our together wealth—our corporate wealth so to speak—that Jesus has given us. After he thoroughly explains that, now we’re in a position to take what we’ve learned and apply it to daily life.
Paul obviously would not be a very effective preacher in 21st-century America. Because in 21st-century American evangelical Christianity, everybody’s always looking for the relevance and the application and “What does this mean to me specifically?”
Unless you give people 1-2-3 action steps, you’re not really considered a very effective preacher. In fact, when you take homiletics (preaching) at the seminary level, if you don’t give points of application, then they lower your grade. And I find that very interesting because Paul never gives any points of application for three whole chapters.
It would be like driving a car without any gasoline in the gas tank. I mean, it is completely debilitating to a Christian to tell them what they’re supposed to be doing before you tell them the resources that they have for doing what they’re supposed to be doing. See that? So, I think Paul and his mindset flips, quite frankly, a lot of the educational philosophies that we have in modern-day Christianity.
In point of fact, you’ll find Paul doing this all of the time. Hold your finger in Ephesians and go back a couple of books to 1 Corinthians 15. Everyone knows that this is Paul’s resurrection chapter, a famous chapter in Paul. And what does he do in this whole chapter? It’s not a short chapter, by the way; it has 58 verses. Fifty seven of the 58 verses are all about knowledge.
He spends 57 verses talking about knowledge, and he doesn’t get to the application until verse 58. See that? And we know he’s getting to the application because he uses what word? “Therefore.” When Paul uses the word “therefore,” we say, “What is the word ‘therefore’ there for?” And it typically is to flip us from doctrine to practice.
So, finally, we’ll get to the application. It says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
So, we don’t get an application until we get 57 verses of knowledge, and even the application is only one verse. This is not just germane to the Book of Ephesians. Before I leave the Book of Ephesians momentarily, here is the structure. Ephesians 1-3: doctrine; Ephesians 4-6: practice.
What flips us from doctrine to practice? If you look at Ephesians 4:1, what’s the first word you see there? “Therefore.” So now he’s going to build on the foundation of knowledge that he’s just delivered, and now he gets into application.
This is how the Book of Galatians is set up. Chapters 1-4: doctrine; chapters 5-6: practice. And what’s the hinge word there in the Book of Galatians that flips us from one to the other? Actually, if you just go back one book, you’ll see it. Galatians 5:1, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free…” What’s the next word? “Therefore!” So now we’re getting into application. He’s leaving doctrine and moving us into application. Galatians is set up just like the Book of Ephesians.
The Book of Romans is set up this way. Romans 1-11 is all about doctrine. Romans 1-3 is humanity’s guilt before a Holy God—Jews, Gentiles, the whole world. Romans 3:21 – 5:21 is all about justification. Chapters 6-8 is all about sanctification.
Romans 9-11 is all about how God’s promises can be trusted because He hasn’t forgotten the nation of Israel, His covenanted people. God has a purpose in restoring Israel. So, you read through Romans 1-11, and it’s all doctrine, doctrine, doctrine, doctrine, doctrine, doctrine!
Finally you get to Romans 12:1, and what’s our famous word there at the beginning? “Therefore!” Now we’re getting into application. “Therefore, I urge you, brethren…” You see, these are commands to the Christian! You don’t give these commands to an unsaved person. They don’t have the power within them via the Holy Spirit to execute the commands.
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God…” What mercies of God? Well, everything we just got finished reading in Romans 1-11. And now we start seeing application. “…present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”
I mean, he wasn’t really talking about service in chapters 1-11. Now, all of a sudden, he’s talking about service. You’ll notice what Paul, again, is doing: he is building the Christian on a foundation of truth. And only once that foundation of truth is recognized, absorbed, and properly understood, once the Christian understands the resources that they have in Christ, now they’re in a position to begin to live the Christian life. And Paul will move from knowledge to wisdom: knowledge, GNOSIS; wisdom, SOPHIA, which is knowledge applied.
Paul would never go into a congregation and do a topical study on Ephesians 4-6. Because that would be very debilitating and discouraging to tell people to do 38 things when they don’t even understand the power that they have inside of them to execute or to perform those 38 things.
There is a statement that’s always stuck with me, and I like to use it quite frequently. People say, “The Christian life is hard!” I usually like to correct that, “The Christian life is not hard; the Christian life is impossible if you are trying to do it under your own strength!”
And if you just move directly into application without discussing knowledge, then you’re giving people the impression that they ought to be doing this for Jesus, they ought to be doing that for Jesus, and they don’t even know who they are in Jesus yet. See that? Because it’s only in Christ—a famous Pauline statement—that we understand that we have the resources necessary for daily life.
I am of the opinion that Paul wouldn’t fit in with a lot of modern day evangelicalism. He certainly wouldn’t fit in with a lot of modern day preaching philosophies. And I don’t think he would fit in with a lot of what we call “Christian education” today. Because to stand in the pulpit and develop meaning requires mental discipline—not only on the part of the preacher, but on the part of the listener—and your average person’s attention span today really doesn’t want to put themselves through that process.
What they want to do is come to church and hear how God is speaking directly to them in their particular problem, and they want to know how to handle their immediate problem. They don’t really have a lot of patience for people who want to stand in the pulpit and develop meaning first—and then move to application later.
So, the things that Paul says I don’t think would fit in with modern day Christianity. And I don’t think your average Christian who comes to church week after week really would have a lot of patience for Paul’s style of teaching. And yet, if you don’t understand Paul’s style of teaching, and you don’t understand exactly what he’s trying to get across, you’re just going to go out there and you’re just going to burn out. And you’re going to think, “Well, Christianity works for everybody else… It doesn’t work for me!”
You’re just going to see a long list of failures in your life, because we haven’t really rooted and grounded people in the reality that God never intended them to drive the car with the gas tank empty. God’s whole point is to fill up the gas tank so people understand their resources. And once they get that, now we’ll move into application. So, that’s the danger in just jumping right into Ephesians 6. That’s a whole sermon in and of itself, so I’m finished with the sermon on that.
Having said all that, let’s talk about these pieces of armor. Given the structure of Ephesians, I think it’s really important to understand that everything on this list has already been developed by Paul earlier in the book. So the way to understand these pieces of armor is to track down how the same terms and words are used earlier in the book.
We have six pieces of armor. The first thing that we have mentioned is the belt of truth. Even before we get to that, let me read Ephesians 6:10-20. “Finally…” Did you catch that? He doesn’t begin the book with this stuff. He ends the book with this stuff, because he’s building on a foundation that he’s already established earlier in the book.
“Finally, be strong…” In your own self will? No! “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” Now, where would I learn about the strength of His might for my life? Ephesians 1-3 told me all about that.
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” Satan has schemes that are directed at your life and my life, as I speak. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
“Therefore, take up the…” What? What kind of armor are we talking about? Full armor! The reason that’s significant? For many years in my life I was proficient maybe in one or two of these. I thought I was doing pretty well because I developed some skill in a couple of them, but I was still defeated in many other areas because I wasn’t paying attention to what the Bible says. It says to put on the full armor.
In the ancient world, if you go out into battle and you are only proficient in one or two pieces—or you only have one or two pieces on—then we know what’s going to happen. You’re going to go down in defeat. So, the language here of “full armor” is very significant.
“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day [evil day meaning the day of attack], and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish…”
What’s the next word? “All.” You say, “What does ‘all’ mean?” All means all! In other words, what God has given us in the armor is 100% sufficient to be everything that you are called to be in Christ Jesus. You don’t have to say, “Well, the Bible is like a piece of Swiss cheese. It’s got holes in it, so I’ve got to go out into secular thought and plug the hole with something else. So, to counsel effectively, I’ve got to go get Jung, Rogers, and Freud. To understand how to manage a church, I’ve got to get into the latest secular management theory. To understand origins, I’ve got to dip into Darwin…”
The Bible makes a claim of sufficiency! Sufficient for what? Sufficient for all matters of faith and practice—which would include your armor! Everything in your armor is enough in God to extinguish all of the flaming arrows of the evil one, an enemy far more powerful than we are, and yet God has given us the resources to extinguish all of his fiery darts.
Verse 17, “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
So we have these six pieces of armor: the belt of truth (verse 14); the breastplate of righteousness (verse 14); sandals of peace (verse 15); shield of faith (verse 16); helmet of salvation (verse 17); sword of the Spirit (verse 17). Let’s see if we can march through these and see if we can understand what they mean. We mentally appropriate these—moment by moment by faith—as we walk out the Christian life.
The first thing we see here is the belt of truth. You’ll see that in verse 14, “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth…” There is a likely picture of what that represented in the ancient world. But “truth” is the Greek word ALETHEIA.
So, to figure out what the belt of truth is, how do you think we should go about this? Should I run off to every other part of the Bible that defines what truth is? No. I should simply track how Paul has used the word truth—ALETHEIA—where? Earlier in this letter.
In fact, you’ll find Paul using it twice—of the gospel itself—in Ephesians 1:13 and 4:21. You’ll find him using it of doctrinal orthodoxy and stability in Ephesians 4:15. And then you’ll find him using it of moral purity in Ephesians 4:24-25 and Ephesians 5:9. So, I’m paying attention to how the word “truth” is used in the same book, given the structure of Ephesians.
With that in mind, I’m prepared to offer the following definition of the belt of truth. The belt of truth is the foundation of our defense, and it is standing firm in God’s Word as well as walking in personal integrity.
So, when you put on the belt of truth, you’re always looking at the Bible, you’re standing firm in it, and you’re acknowledging that it’s true. The fiery dart of the wicked one comes contradicting the Bible, and you say, “No, I’m going to follow and believe the Bible!”
There’s not just an objective quality of it—believing the Bible—but there is a subjective quality where you are allowing your practice to catch up with your position. In other words, we’re already told all about truth in Ephesians 1-3. What’s happening now as I’m putting on this piece of armor is that I’m letting my practice catch up with my position and I’m actually walking in personal Truth or personal integrity.
So, we objectively stand on the truth of God’s Word. I can’t tell you how much we need to do that today because Satan is doing everything within his power to get our eyes off God’s instruction manual. In fact, John 8:44 gives a tremendous description of what Satan is constantly doing. And when you understand what Satan is constantly doing, suddenly you see the need for this belt of truth.
John 8:44 Jesus says, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.” In other words, he’s been a liar from the beginning—since his own fall—he’s going to be a liar until the very end. Even as we’ve studied in the Book of Revelation, a thousand years of solitary confinement is not going to fix his problem. When he lies, it says here, he speaks his native language. “Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” How do you know Satan is lying? His lips are moving—that’s how you know!
Notice the definite article. “…he is a liar and the father of lies.” Your father is your source, so he is the source of all lies and deception in the world. So, all of the time as you walk out the Christian life, you’re dealing with one lie after another—even from your own culture—sometimes from your own church—sometimes even in the religious world.
What you’ve developed is such a knowledge of the Bible that you can screen the two. You say, “That doesn’t sound exactly right, because God’s Word says something else!” Now, unless you know something about the Bible, you have no ability to do this. You’re just victimized by one deception after another. So, I think this is what it means when it talks about put on the belt of truth.
The Bereans (Acts 17:11) weren’t unteachable because it says they received the teachings of the Apostle Paul with gladness or eagerness. They searched the Scriptures how frequently? Daily! To see if the things taught by Paul were so. And the Bereans were considered more noble than the Thessalonians who didn’t follow that same practice. See that? So, the Bereans had put on the belt of truth. That’s basically what it means to put on the belt of truth.
So there is an objective quality to it. But there’s also a subjective quality to it, where I’m not just knowing things about the Bible but I’m actually seeking to walk in the truth of the Bible.
Now you say to yourself, “I don’t really know much about the Bible.” Well, you know something about it! Everybody in here knows at least one or two things, right? Are you being faithful in your daily life to that one thing you know? And if you start becoming faithful in your daily life to that one thing you know, you watch what God does with your mind! He starts to open it up, and you start to understand a little bit more about the Bible and a little bit more about the Bible.
You see, the problem with most people? It’s not a lack of intellectual capacity; it’s a volition problem—it’s a will problem—where we are confronted with something in our daily life from the Bible. And the fact of the matter is, there’s a crisis of will where we like our sin. “I want to hold onto this sin.” So God says, “Okay, then I’m not going to show you anything else until you’re faithful with that one thing.” Because doesn’t the Bible say that if you’re faithful in the little things, God will trust you in the big things?
See, we don’t think that the little things matter—how we act around the house—how we are short fused—how we’re unforgiving. “If I watch this particular show on TV, what’s the big deal? Yeah, it’s a little racy, but no one’s in here but me,” kind of thing. We really don’t think the little things matter. But in God the little things matter, because the Bible says if you’re faithful with something little, God trusts you with something more.
So that’s what putting on the belt of truth is! You hear truth, and then you see there is an inconsistency in your own life. And a lot of us are so worried about what other people are doing! “Well, how come they’re not putting on the belt of truth?” And God says, “I’m not talking about them right now. I’m talking about you! You put it on! This is a problem in your life! You don’t have any control over what everybody else is doing.”
So the Holy Spirit places His finger on something in our life that isn’t right. And we say, “You know what? I’m going to try to yield to God today under His power. I’m not going to do it on my own strength; I’m going to yield to God under His own power!” Guess what? You just put on the belt of truth! Then, once you’ve put on the belt of truth, God says, “Alright, now I can trust you with something greater…and something greater…and something greater!”
You run into a lot of people in evangelical Christianity who are extremely talented—and they’re not being used by God to do anything. You ask yourself, “That person over there is very talented at X, Y, and Z. Why aren’t they being more strategically used by God?” I’m not omniscient, but if you were to look into their lives, I think you would see these areas of disobedience that they haven’t handed over to the Lord.
If you’re faithful with something small, God will trust you with something great! You’ve got an awful lot of talented people out there who, frankly, haven’t been faithful with something very minor. They’ve never really put on the belt of truth the way God commands us to put on the belt of truth. So that’s my best understanding of the belt of truth.
Go back to Ephesians 4:25. Here it’s talking about this subjective quality. Here it’s not just dealing with objective facts, but now it’s subjective—it’s obedience. And it says, “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” So there it’s dealing with truth. You’ll see the word “truth” there—the Greek word ALETHEIA. And now it’s not just being used as an academic intellectual understanding of content; now it’s actually walking it out.
So we have an objective dimension of it. That’s what the Bereans were doing. They were good students, and they were screening the teachings of Paul through what they knew—the Scriptures. But then it gets beyond that, and it gets into a subjective quality where you’re actually walking now in personal integrity.
You see, your reputation is who others think you are. Reputation is not the same thing as integrity. Integrity is how you really are when no one else sees. See that? Putting on the belt of truth involves not just staying away from certain sins because “I don’t want to blow my cover” kind of thing. But you’re actually walking out truth in personal daily life—financially, things we look at on the internet, gossip—on and on it goes. So we need to put on the belt of truth.
The second piece of armor is the breastplate of righteousness. You’ll also see that in the second part of Ephesians 6:14. “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness…” Obviously, the breastplate is not something you want to go out to war without—or you’re going to take a flaming arrow right into your chest.
So what does this breastplate of righteousness mean? Well, it’s the Greek word for righteousness—DIKAIOSYNE—and its used only two other times in the Book of Ephesians. Both times it is used not of positional righteousness but practical righteousness.
Positional righteousness is the idea that I’m righteous before God because of who I am in Christ. Practical righteousness involves volition—or a step of the will—where I’m going to now seek to live out my position in Christ. I’m going to allow my practice to catch up with my position. “Gee, the Bible says that I’m righteous. Maybe I ought to act like it!” The moment you make that decision is the moment you just put on the breastplate of righteousness. So, I think it’s largely talking about practical righteousness.
So I’m going to define the breastplate of righteousness as follows. It’s our underlying protection, including our righteous character and deeds (notice the emphasis on deeds) stemming from our positional righteousness.
Well, goodness gracious, where would I learn about my positional righteousness? Ephesians 1-3. Positional righteousness—Holy in Jesus Christ. Then you get to Ephesians 4:1, “Therefore…” and now I begin to apply what I’ve learned in Ephesians 1-3. If Ephesians 1-3 says I’m positionally righteous, then maybe my personal life and conduct should start looking like it. See that?
So, if you start becoming righteous—not under your own power but under God’s power in daily life—and you start making practical decisions in that way, then you just put on, moment by moment, the breastplate of righteousness. And if you don’t put this on and live consistently with our position—not being sinless but sinning less? If you won’t do that, it’s like going out to battle without a breastplate on! Your chest is wide open. Consequently, you can take an arrow right into the chest if you don’t have this on.
You say, “Do you have any examples of this?” Oh my goodness, where do we start? How about David? First of all, 2 Samuel 11, David should have been out in combat doing what he was supposed to do. He wasn’t where he was supposed to be; he was hanging around the palace. And he sees a young woman named Bathsheba bathing.
It’s interesting that when you go to the city of David in Israel, you can see exactly what that’s talking about. Because the city of David is way up yonder on a hill, and you can see everything down the hill. So you get the picture that David was looking and saw something he shouldn’t have seen.
David saw a young woman bathing, and he went into lust at that point. He had the power to fulfill his lusts, so he commanded that she be brought to him. One night stand—everything’s fine, right? She went home and the whole thing was forgotten. No, it doesn’t work that way!
She comes back and says she’s pregnant… You know the rest of the story—how David actually ended up committing first-degree murder of her husband to cover up his problems. Then he is confronted by Nathan the prophet—2 Samuel 12—which would be humiliating enough. Then he’s told the child that was born through this unholy union is going to die, and the sword is never going to depart from your household. And David was actually deposed as king and was a refugee for a long time until he was finally returned to his throne later.
It was just one headache after another in David’s life—one problem after another in David’s life. Why is that? Because Satan lobbed a fiery dart right into David’s chest. He didn’t have his breastplate of righteousness on, and he took it right into the chest. And it brought inalterable consequences to the rest of his earthly life.
I can’t tell you how many people I know who are gifted in ministry, talented in ministry, who were doing great things for God. And yet they did something where they didn’t have their breastplate of righteousness on, and it has completely wrecked their ministries for decades—even right up to the present day. You say, “Doesn’t God forgive?” Yes, He does. He does forgive!
I’ve seen God forgive and restore multiple people! But, as God is my witness, their ministry, as far as I can tell, never really fully recovers. There’s always this dark cloud that hangs over it, and it has to do with making a decision one day where you just don’t have your breastplate of righteousness on. You don’t allow your practice to be consistent with your position—and boom! You just took it right into the chest! And Satan set you up for this. So there we have it—breastplate of righteousness.
Then we have a third piece of armor called the sandals of peace. Ephesians 6:15, “and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace…” It mentions feet and peace, so we call these the sandals of peace.
It’s interesting that when you study warfare, battles are won or lost based on the quality of the footwear. I think that’s a truism in the Greco-Roman world. So we look at these sandals as if they’re really not important, but when you actually study armor and warfare from the Greco-Roman times, you start to see that footwear is a big deal.
Your battle is won or lost depending on your footwear. Think if one NBA team comes out with the proper shoes on, and another team comes out with bare feet or sandals on. You know who’s going to win the game, right? In fact, we played a team, probably the most undisciplined team I’d ever seen in my life! And you would expect it; it was UC Santa Cruz—a hippy haven.
These people came out in bathing suits—and the bottom and top didn’t match. They wore what they wanted to wear, and we just annihilated them! I don’t know if we had more talent than they did, but they just weren’t equipped for the battle. They just had no discipline. Consequently, this is how it worked in the Greco-Roman world—footwear becomes a big deal!
So how do we ascertain—how do we determine—what the sandals of peace are? We simply track the word peace, which is the word EIRENE, from which you get the word irenic. If you call someone irenic, what are you calling them? You’re calling them a peaceful person. It’s the opposite of polemical—you’re warlike. POLEMOS is a Greek word meaning war.
If someone is polemical, they’re warlike. If someone is irenical, then they’re peaceful—a peaceful person. A lot of the parents will name their children or their young girls Irene, which is a beautiful name. Basically, it means peaceful. It all comes from this word EIRENE.
EIRENE is used seven times in the Book of Ephesians, and twice it means positional peace. In other words, the war between us and God has been called off because of our right relationship with God through the blood of Jesus Christ. So we have peace with God, Ephesians 1:2. It’s also referenced in Ephesians 6:23.
But here’s something that’s very interesting. Peace is not just speaking of our vertical relationship to God, because Ephesians 1-3 describes not just our individual wealth but our what? Corporate wealth. Individually, I have a right relationship with God, but God has done something else in the body of Christ! He has taken groups that formally hated each other’s guts and united them into one new man.
So, you have to understand the vertical element and you have to understand the horizontal element to properly put on the sandals of peace. The vertical element we’ve gotten a lot of teaching on; most people understand that. But what about this horizontal element?
Look back at Ephesians 2. I bring things like this up because I’m showing you that Paul is building metaphors based on concepts he’s already dealt with earlier in the book. You get into Ephesians 2:14-15 and he’s not talking about our individual peace with God. He’s talking about the fact that we are together—harmonized—in Christ in one new man.
The hatreds that we once had with each other on racial grounds—or whatever—are called off. Ephesians 2:14, “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one…” Now what “both groups” is he speaking of here? The Jews and the Gentiles that hated each other’s guts. The Jews called the Gentile dogs, and the Gentiles called the Jews arrogant; they hated each other. What do you do when you get a Jewish convert in the Church Age in Jesus Christ and a Gentile convert in the Church Age in Jesus Christ? What happens to the former hostility between the two groups? It’s canceled! Because now they are fellow brother and sister in the same family.
Ephesians 2:14, “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity [hatred], which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man [that’s the church], thus establishing peace…” EIRENE. We’re no longer dealing with vertical; now it’s become horizontal.
Drop down to verse 17. “And He came and preached peace to you [this would be the Gentiles] who were far away…” I mean, we were outside. All of the blessings were coming to Israel. What about us? What about us Gentiles? Look at what the Lord has done here in the church. He’s gotten rid of that division.
Verse 17, And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near…” Who were those near? The Jews.
Now within this new man called the church—which began on the Day of Pentecost—what do you have? You have Jew and Gentile in one new man; the hostility is canceled; the warfare is called off.
It’s so interesting; our society is talking all about racial issues. Do you realize that we have probably the greatest book that’s ever been written on the subject of race reconciliation? Look at what happened in Acts 8; that is mind-numbing what happened in Acts 8. Because you have a hostility between the Jews and the Samaritans for 700 years. The Jews hated the Samaritans, and the Samaritans hated the Jews.
Who were the Samaritans? They were a group of people that one of the Assyrian kings brought into the land of Israel to replace the Jews who had been evicted, and they began to intermarry with others and created a half breed race. This goes back to the Book of Isaiah! This is 700 years before Christ even showed up.
The Jews would worship in Jerusalem. And the Samaritans say, “We’re not going to Jerusalem! We’re going to Gerizim, the mountain of blessing.” So you’ve got religious hatred; you’ve got racial hatred for 700 years between the Jews and the Samaritans. It’s so bad that when Jesus is speaking to a Samaritan woman—John 4—the disciples say, “What in the world are you doing?” First of all, you don’t talk to a woman! And secondly, you don’t talk to a despised race!
When Jesus—Luke 10—went into a Samaritan village, and they would not respond to Christ’s message, James and John—the sons of thunder—said what to Jesus? “Nuke them!” That’s basically what they said—a loose translation. “Shall we not call down fire from heaven to destroy these people?” Why would they say something like that?
By the way, that’s the love apostle speaking—John. Why would he say something like that? It has to do with this 700 years of hatred. Then you get into Acts 8, and now you discover that the Holy Spirit just fell upon the Samaritans because they receive Christ, and they couldn’t believe it happened! The conversion happened, I should say, and actually God delayed the giving of the Holy Spirit until the Jerusalem saints could come down and lay hands on the Samaritans. It’s what you call a transitional problem in the Book of Acts.
Normally, the Holy Spirit comes upon people immediately when they believe in Jesus. It didn’t happen this way, and everybody’s trying to figure out, “Why did God delay the giving of the Holy Spirit until the Jerusalem saints could lay hands on the Samaritans?” And it has to do with 700 years of racism.
Jerusalem needed to understand that in the age of the church they now belong to Samaria. And Samaria now, in the age of the church, needed understand that they belong to Jerusalem. And if that had not happened, you would’ve had an immediate rift in the body of Christ. And this one man that Paul is talking about wouldn’t have been understood as one man.
These are all things that you gain simply by paying attention to this word EIRENE and how it is used. Therefore, what are these sandals of peace? Definition: Because we are at peace with God, we should pursue peace and unity… Where? Within the church. Why would I want to pursue peace and unity within the church? Because that’s what God has made the church into! He has brought peace to formerly conflicting groups.
So the moment— because of personal reasons—I cause a division in the church… I’m not talking about truth reasons or doctrinal reasons. Most church splits and fights do not happen because of some great doctrine. They happen because people take their preferences and, in their mind, elevate them to scriptural truth.
Churches will split over the silliest of reasons—the color of the carpet, the order of the service, whatever. And people think they’re standing for truth. They’re not standing for truth at all! What they’ve done is taken a preference and they’ve turned it into “truth,” under a deception, and they’ve caused a rift in the body of Christ. And they’re not putting on the sandals of peace.
So, when we seek peace within the body, I’m putting on the sandals of peace. And there’s an awful lot of Scripture, folks, about God wanting peace within the family. For example, Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity!”
Assuming it’s not some great doctrinal issue, we ought to be people that are trying to put away the sword, put away the backbiting, put away the division. “Well, I don’t like that person! They don’t vote the way I vote.” What does that have to do with anything? “I don’t like that person because they’re a different color or a different creed.” What does that have to do with anything? They’re a part of this new man on which God has already decreed peace.
There is not just vertical peace, but there’s horizontal peace. And when I live that out and act that out, I am functioning in the body of Christ according to the position that God has already decreed for His body. If I won’t do it, I’m not putting on the sandals of peace. See that?
So what are some things that I can do to pursue peace within the body? Look at Ephesians 4:1-3. “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk [now he’s dealing with practice] in a manner worthy of the calling…” In other words, act like what you’ve been decreed to be as revealed earlier in the letter. “…with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience…” Patience—is that in your Bible? It’s in my Bible! Patience.
Maybe I ought to be a little bit more patient with people. “Yeah, but they’re not growing the way they should be growing!” Well, probably you weren’t either at one point, and people were patient with you! Maybe we should be patient with other people.
Believe me, folks, I’ve got one finger out aimed at you; I’ve got three back at myself! I’m just as convicted by this as anybody else. “…gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love…” Oh my goodness, this will preach! “…being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Why would I do that? “I want my way in the church!” You don’t want to do that because you’re living outside of your design! I start making decisions along those lines and, my goodness, you know what I’m doing? I am walking out the sandals of peace. Giving people the benefit of the doubt. So, the application is that when we pursue unity in the church, we’re putting on sandals of peace.
You’ve got some negative examples of this in the Bible of people who weren’t doing this. Two of them are Euodia and Syntyche—I call them Odious and Sin-touchy—who were just fighting with each other like cats and dogs. What does Paul say to them in Philippians 4:2-3? “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.” In other words, act like the position that you are! “Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
“Pastor, are you telling me that people can fight like cats and dogs over trivial issues in the body of Christ and still be blood bought saints?” That’s exactly what I’m telling you! Doesn’t matter what I’m telling you; it’s what Paul is telling you! So here you have two individuals who aren’t putting on the sandals of peace, and they’re causing a rift in the Philippian church.
We don’t have time to look at all these verses, but this is a major problem in the Book of Corinthians. Paul is very worried about divisions—1 Corinthians 1:11, 3:22; 11:18-19; 12:25; 15:12. Don’t worry if you didn’t get all those down; we’ll go over them next time. But the Corinthians are a negative example. They just weren’t functioning according to the peace that God had decreed upon them at the horizontal level.
Belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, sandals of peace. Next week we’ll take a look at the shield of faith, and we’ll look at what it means to be an unbelieving believer. Did you guys know you can be an unbelieving believer? You say, “What does that mean?” Come back next week and we’ll unpack that.
“Father, we’re grateful for Your Word—Your truth. Help us to put these pieces of armor on and become the people You’ve called us to be. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name.” God’s people said, “Amen.”