When we became Christians, we gained an enemy. Satan and his demons desire to steal our peace and joy, kill our physical bodies, and destroy our witness.
We stand firm in the strength and power of the Lord—apart from this, we will be destroyed (Eph 6:10). But we also stand firm by putting on the full armor of God (Eph 6:11).
Each piece must be firmly put in place. The armor of God refers to righteous character traits (cf. Col 3:12). Therefore, sin in the life of believers gives the devil a foothold to destroy us and others.
The belt of truth reminds us that Satan is a liar and that he constantly uses deception. The breastplate of righteousness reminds us that Satan attacks our vital organs representing our mind and emotions and also that sin in general opens a door for him.
In Ephesians 6:15, we will consider the footwear of peace, as well as its implications about Satan’s schemes.
6:15 …and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.NIV Proper footwear can make a huge difference, whether you’re hiking or playing a sport or fighting in a war. In Paul’s day, soldiers did not have land mines. Instead, they put sharpened spikes just beneath the surface of the ground, camouflaged with leaves or soft dirt around them.
An advancing soldier needed sturdy boots to stop the spikes from penetrating or he would suffer a debilitating injury. He could be outfitted in the most invincible armor from his head down to his ankles, but it wouldn’t do him a bit of good if he couldn’t walk.
When your feet hurt badly, you can’t even stand up, much less fight or march. So it was essential for soldiers to wear rugged boots designed for battle.
Roman soldiers wore boots that had small nails protruding from the bottom to give them firm footing in combat.
The Word of God is the gospel, or Good News, that brings peace. In other words, believers are ready for battle because “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard [their] hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7 nkjv).
They can stand firm, with peace, even in hand-to-hand combat, because they know that they are doing right and that they are on the winning side. Christians are in the battle both with the inner peace Christ has already given and the desire to produce that peace in the hearts of others.
When the enemy, the deceiver (Revelation 12:9), offers false ways to peace or tries to get us to focus on our concerns and fears, we Christian soldiers can stand up to him. Jesus promised, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27 nkjv).
There is deliberate irony, in that the gospel of peace enables us to wage war successfully. The gospel of peace is our firm footing in the battle against Satan. Let’s see how that applies to us.
1. To be prepared with the boots of the gospel of peace, we must clearly understand the gospel so that we can defend it against attack.
There is one sense in which the gospel is easy to understand. Little children can grasp it. Illiterate primitive people can get it. In fact, Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, it is often those who are wise in this world that scoff at the gospel, whereas God reveals it to the simple, so that no one may boast before Him.
The good news (that’s what gospel means) is that although we all have sinned against God and deserve His eternal judgment, because of His great love and mercy He sent His own Son to bear the penalty that we deserve.
We receive God’s gift of salvation by faith alone, apart from any merit or good works on our part.
Satan hates the gospel and is always attacking it from various angles. We see this repeatedly within the pages of the New Testament, where false teachers quickly perverted the essentials of the gospel.
Paul wrote Galatians to defend the gospel against those that claimed to believe it, but they added the Jewish rite of circumcision to faith as necessary for salvation. Paul rails against them in the strongest possible language (Gal. 1:6-9).
Even Peter and Barnabas for a short while had compromised the gospel by currying the favor of these false teachers, until Paul confronted them (Gal. 2:11-14).
The apostle John wrote much of his first epistle to warn his readers against those who were trying to deceive them (1 John 2:26).
2. To be prepared with the boots of the gospel of peace, we must have appropriated that message personally.
A. Appropriating the gospel personally begins with repentance from sin and faith in Christ alone for salvation.
In order to appropriate the good news about Jesus Christ, you must also accept the bad news about your sin. The Bible confronts and indicts us all with the plain truth (Rom. 3:23), “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Further (Rom. 6:23a), “For the wages of sin is death….” If you take sin and judgment out of the gospel in order to make the message more acceptable to modern thinking, you just took away the need for a Savior.
Christ did not die to save us from poor self-esteem! He does not save us from a bad marriage to a good marriage! He does not save us from financial failure to success. Christ died to save us from sin and God’s eternal judgment, which we deserve because we have sinned.
To appropriate the gospel, we must repent of sin as you believe in Jesus Christ, and as you are a sinner in need of a Savior, the Biblical and logical step is to die to sin and be immersed in water in order to have your sins forgiven, and the guilt removed.
B. Appropriating the gospel personally continues with preaching the gospel often to your own soul.
Jerry Bridges’ book, The Discipline of Grace [NavPress, 1994] challenges us to preach the gospel to himself every day. Vincent writes (p. 7), “God did not give us His gospel just so we could embrace it and be converted. Actually, He offers it to us every day as a gift that keeps on giving to us everything we need for life and godliness.” He adds (p. 8), “Over the course of time, preaching the gospel to myself every day has made more of a difference in my life than any other discipline I have ever practiced.” I can’t give you all of the benefits that he lists, but here are three:
(1). Preaching the gospel to your own soul increases your love for God, for others, and for the lost.
These three loves represent the two greatest commandments and the Great Commission. The gospel focuses us on God’s great love for us and of the infinite price that He paid to redeem us from our sins.
The gospel also increases our love for others. Many verses could be cited, but note Ephesians 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us….”
And, the gospel increases our love for those who need to know Christ. After Paul goes through the gospel in Romans 3-8, reaching the crescendo of God’s unfailing love that enables us to endure all trials (Rom. 8:35-39), Paul’s next words tell of his great sorrow and unceasing grief because his fellow Jews are not, for the most part, saved (Rom. 9:1-3). Rehearsing the gospel to your own soul burdens you with the condition of those who need to hear about Jesus Christ.
(2). Preaching the gospel to your own soul humbles your pride.
Pride is at the root of every sin. Pride leads me to think that I know better than God does what is good for me. Pride leads me to be selfish and disregard the feelings of others. “Nothing suffocates my pride more than daily reminders regarding the glory of my God, the gravity of my sins, and the crucifixion of God’s own Son in my place.”
(3). Preaching the gospel to your own soul causes you to glorify God in all things, including your trials.
In Ephesians 1, the fact that God chose us before the foundation of the world and saved us through Christ’s blood is all “to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Eph. 1:6).
Paul shows repeatedly, reveling in the gospel of God’s grace towards us while we were yet sinners causes us to rejoice even in our trials, knowing that He is using them to conform us to the image of His Son (Rom. 5:1-8; 8:28-39).
C. Appropriating the gospel personally brings the peace of Christ practically into your daily life.
Paul tells us to stand firm by putting on the boots of “the gospel of peace.” We saw in Ephesians 2 the two-fold peace which the gospel brings to us.
First, it brings us peace with God. Formerly, we were alienated from God because of our sins, separate from Christ, “having no hope and without God in the world” (2:12). But as Paul goes on to say, the cross of Christ preached peace to us and reconciled us to God, so that now we have access to Him. You cannot fight the evil one unless you have God’s peace in your heart because you are reconciled to Him through the blood of Christ.
Second, the gospel brings us peace with one another. As Ephesians 2 shows, Christ Himself is our peace (2:14). He brought together into one the formerly hostile Jews and Gentiles, reconciling “them both in one body to God through the cross” (2:16). The battle against Satan is not just individual; it also is corporate. He is trying to destroy the church and one way he does it is by creating division and strife over personality clashes or over non-essential doctrinal fights.
Be alert to Satan’s schemes here! He often gets a church fighting over non-essentials. Then some in the church react to the sinful fighting by saying, “We shouldn’t fight at all!” So the church ends up tolerating those who promote destructive heresies regarding the gospel.
Paul has emphasized the need for tolerance with one another on the non-essentials (4:1-3). But he also has warned about the dangers of destructive false doctrines (4:13-16). We should be at peace with all that love the true gospel. We are at war with those that pervert the gospel.
3. The readiness that comes from the gospel of peace represents having the peace of God.
Not only has God given each of us peace with himself, but we also have the peace of God. In John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” The peace Christ had while asleep in the boat during the storm, the peace that enabled him to go to the cross, he has given to us. It is not God’s will for us to live in anxiety, fear, and worry. Scripture says, “Do not be afraid,” “Do not worry,” and “Be anxious for nothing” (Phil 4:6). Christ has given us the promise of his peace.
If you are worried, anxious, and fearful, you have the wrong footwear for this battle. Our enemy is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). The lion roars to incite fear in his prey. Some believers are fearful about their future; others are fearful about what others think or say. Others are afraid of failure. These fears undermine the footing of Christians—our readiness for battle comes from God’s peace.
Therefore, God commands us to put on his peace. Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Paul also refers to the peace of Christ as clothing to be worn (cf. Col 3:12). As believers, we must let God’s peace rule in our hearts—not fear of failure, losing our jobs, or rejection. Satan wants to lead us as slaves through fear, but God guides us as children through his peace (cf. Rom 8:15).
Philippians 4:6-7 says, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
If we are going to have God’s peace, we must reject anxiety and fear. They are not God’s will for us, and they are sinful. They say, “God, you are not to be trusted,” or “You are not in control.”
If we are going to have God’s peace, we must learn to pray about everything. Prayer must become the atmosphere we live in. When we are not living in prayer (i.e. God’s presence), the storms of life will constantly frighten and overwhelm us.
If we are going to have God’s peace, we must learn to give thanks in everything. When we complain, murmur, and criticize, we lose the peace of God.
4. The readiness that comes from the gospel of peace represents peace in our relationships with others.
Animosity between Jew and Gentile was a major issue for the early church. In Acts 6, the Jews neglected the Greek widows in the daily distribution while providing for the Hebrew widows. However, Paul said Christ is our peace—he has made us one.
Surely disunity is one of the major weapons the enemy uses against our churches. Sometimes he brings disunity through racism, as seen with the Jews and Gentiles in the early church.
Sometimes he uses doctrine. What God means to equip and strengthen us, the enemy uses to bring division and discord.
Most times, he just uses pride. Pride says, “My way is the only way, and it can’t be done any other way.” Churches divide over changing the color of the carpet, the music, the flow of worship services, and any other thing. The root of this is pride—”my way is the only way.”
Ways the Gospel is under attack
A. The gospel is under attack from the radical non-lordship salvation heresy.
Jesus warned of many who would claim to believe in Him, but they are not genuinely saved (Matt. 7:21-23). As James and First John clearly emphasize, saving faith necessarily leads to a life of obedience to Christ. Those who claim to believe in Jesus but do not obey Him are deceived (1 John 3:4-10).
B. The gospel is under attack from “Christian” psychology, which denies the sufficiency of Christ and the gospel.
This popular movement that has flooded into the church claims that while you must believe in Christ for salvation, in order to deal with your psychological and relational problems, you need the insights of psychology. So the gospel is nice “spiritual truth,” that is fine for your devotional life, but it doesn’t really have much to say to the real life problems that you face. To deal with these problems, you need more than Christ, more than the Holy Spirit, and more than the Bible. You need a professional therapist.
But that view assaults the transforming power of the gospel. It subtly, but surely, attacks the person and work of Christ. Did His substitutionary death and bodily resurrection end the tyranny of sin in the lives of believers or not? Is the gospel promise of new life in Christ just a nice, but useless, platitude or does it really give us a new heart, new desires, and the power to overcome sin?
C. The gospel is under attack from the “seeker church” movement.
The seeker church movement has softened the offense of the cross to make the gospel more palatable and user-friendly. It seeks to apply American marketing principles to the church. They have asked potential “customers,” “What would it take to get you to come to church?” The customers answered, “We’d like an upbeat, short service that relates to our felt needs. Tell us how to succeed in our families and at work. Tell us how to cope with our problems. Give us contemporary music that makes us feel good (keep it light on content!). Throw in some entertaining drama to keep the program moving. Keep the sermon short and humorous. By all means, get rid of that hellfire and damnation stuff! That’s depressing!”
So, the church marketing folks went back to the drawing board and designed a church around these felt needs. Throw in a Starbucks Coffee bar, a workout room to keep those bodies in shape, some great multi-media effects, and you’ve got a program that the seekers will flock to. But in the process, the gospel gets changed into some variation of, “Try Jesus, He’ll help you with your problems.”
But that’s not the gospel! It’s really another form of idolatry, where you “use” your “Jesus idol” to get what you want out of life.
D. The gospel is under attack from the postmodern views of the emerging church.
Buying into the view that truth is relative and ultimately unknowable in any certain way, the emerging church has also attacked the atonement of Christ. It proclaims a tolerant, all-inclusive universalism that does not confront sinners with their need to repent and believe the gospel.
If I had time, I could deal with other modern attacks on the gospel.
The “new perspective on Paul” undermines justification by faith alone, which is at the heart of the gospel.
“Open theism” attacks God’s sovereignty and omniscience.
Some in the charismatic movement preach a false gospel that promises health and wealth to everyone.
The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church lure frustrated evangelicals through a message of salvation by ritualism and good works.
The cults all have a works-based offer of salvation.
Native religion and eastern religions promise salvation through mysticism and works. The list goes on and on!
The point is, if we are going to be prepared for battle by being shod with the gospel of peace, we need to understand the gospel clearly so that we can spot Satan’s relentless, but often subtle attacks and defend the gospel against these soul-destroying errors.
Truth could not be truth in this world if it were not a warring thing, and we should at once suspect that it were not true if error were friends with it. The spotless purity of truth must always be at war with the blackness of heresy and lies.
Do you have your boots on? Without them you are not prepared to stand firm against the enemy of the gospel.
Be prepared with the boots of the gospel of peace by understanding the gospel message so that you can defend it against error. Appropriate the gospel of peace personally and preach it often to your own soul, as well as to those who are lost. In so doing, you will enjoy God’s peace in your soul.