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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
April 19, 2009
Feet Shod With the Gospel of Peace
Shoes. All sorts of shoes. Big shoes, little shoes. Expensive shoes, cheap shoes. Dress shoes, casual shoes. Work shoes, play shoes. Specialty shoes for nearly anything you can think of. Why? Because your feet are important. Try getting around without them sometime and you will see what I mean. As important as shoes are to us and to the athletes who make a lot of money promoting their favorite brand (which is whatever brand will pay them the most), the shoes of the Roman soldier were even more important. His very life depended on them.
The Roman soldier wore what we would call sandals instead of boots like our modern soldiers. But these were a certain type of very good sandal. Leather straps would hold the thick, hardened leather sole of the sandal to the bottom of his feet. This was to protect him from the same sort of things we encounter when we walk around outside. Roads can be very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter. The terrain might be rough stones, sharp rocks, or thorns & brambles. A soldier with blistered, cut or swollen feet would be more vulnerable to his enemies.
The soldier’s shoes were also important to protect him from traps the enemy would set in the ground to disable him. They would sharpen sticks to very sharp points and then fix them in the ground with their tips slightly above the ground level. If an enemy came running along and stepped on these with unprotected feet, the sharp points would pierce the feet causing enough pain and damage to severely hinder the soldier. In addition, the injury could also possibly lead to infections which could put the soldier completely out of action. It was important then to have well-shod feet.
But foot protection was not the only reason for the soldier to wear the special sandals. He also needed to have good traction since he might be called to climb a slippery slope, or stand firm on slick grass or mud. He needed his feet to have a firm grip on the ground so that he would not slide or stumble. For this reason, the sandals would often have bits of metal or nails impregnated into them much like the spikes or hobnobs of athletic shoes. These would give him that extra traction.
Paul uses the analogy of the Roman soldier’s footwear to tell us about the next piece of armor God has given to us so that we can fight the spiritual battle we are in. Turn again to Ephesians 6.
Let me remind you once again that spiritual warfare cannot be fought in our own strength, but must be fought in the strength of the Lord (vs. 10). We have a clever and scheming adversary and we must have on all the armor of God if we are to stand against his strategies against us (vs. 11). Our battle is not against other humans regardless of how much grief they may cause us. They are but pawns in the hands of the wicked one. It is the devil and his host of demons that we are fighting (vs. 12). They are well organized, so it is important that we are as fully prepared as they are if we are to resist them (vs. 13).
The first piece of armor is the belt of truth (See: The Belt of Truth: God’s Existence). Are you girded with it? Do you seek it out and allow it to control you even when it is difficult? Sometime it takes work, a lot of work, to find the truth, but without that foundation we are subject to all the lies and deceptions of the devil. If we do, we will be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. Jesus Christ and His word are the truth. We are to gird ourselves with Him and the Scriptures. We then must carefully listen for that “ring of truth” when things are in harmony with the Bible, God’s word of truth.
The second piece of armor is the breastplate of righteousness. (See: The Breastplate of Righteousness) We must have placed upon us the imputed righteousness of Christ so that we can have confidence in coming before God’s throne of mercy, and so that we will not fall victim to the discouragement that comes when we lose a skirmish with the devil. We must also walk in the imparted righteousness of Christ which is the practical righteousness of daily holy living. This protects us from the temptations the devil seeks to entice us with. Our desire for holiness must exceed our desire for anything else. Our longing for personal, intimate relationship with our creator must be greater than our longing for any other relationship. Nothing the devil can do can penetrate the barrier of the breastplate of righteousness, but we must have it on for it to protect us.
Feet Shod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace
This morning we come to the third piece of equipment. Paul says in verse 15 that we are to have our feet “shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Shoes were important, even vital to the Roman soldier. They are vital to us as well. What kind of shoes are you wearing? Are they protecting you from the wiles of the devil?
An erroneous method of Bible study has led to a false understanding about what Paul is talking about here. Word studies are important, but they, like ever other method of study must always fit the context. I agree with Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “If people paid attention to the context most of our problems of interpretation would be solved.”
What It Is Not
Because Paul mentions the gospel here and includes with it the idea of feet, there are many that have quickly rushed to passages such as Romans 10:13-15 as the basis for interpretation. “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!” This is a quote from Isaiah 52:7. Many commentators also like to point out that feet are what make us mobile, and since this is the “preparation” of the gospel of peace signifying those who are ready to move, then Paul is talking about those who are ready to take the gospel wherever God leads them.
Certainly we must say that those who take the message of the gospel from place to place have feet made beautiful to those who are hearing the message. We must also agree that the Christian should be ready and willing to proclaim to the good news of Jesus Christ to whoever, whenever and wherever God leads. However, we must be careful ourselves to ask if such an interpretation fits the context of what Paul is saying in this passage.
What has Paul said? He has not been talking about evangelism, but rather about being in spiritual warfare. Three times he has already said that we are to “stand firm against the schemes of the devil” – verse 11; “and having done everything, to stand firm” – verse 13; “Stand firm therefore” – verse 14. In addition, the armor is given so that we “may be able to resist in the evil day” – vs. 13. The context here is one of being attacked, not attacking. The analogy of having our feet shod is so that we can resist and stand firm when we are attacked. We are to stand firm, hold our position and not run away. In order to do that our feet need to be both protected and equipped to keep from slipping.
Paul is not talking about evangelism here, but something else that will protect us in our fights with our spiritual enemies. We are to have our feet shod, but with what? The preparation of the gospel of peace. What is that and how can that help protect us?
What It Is
The word preparation here, eJtoimasia / hetoimasia, refers to being in the condition of readiness or preparedness. Its cognate term is used in Titus 3:1, “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed . . .” A good pair of shoes allows the soldier to be ready for conflict. In the same way we are to be prepared for spiritual battle by having our shoes on, the shoes of the gospel of peace.
Part of our protection from the devil is that we must be ready. I have either mentioned this or alluded to this many times already in this series. Spartacus was able to defeat larger, better trained and better equipped Roman armies because he would strike when they were not ready. Satan is no threat to us when we are ready with all our armor on. He who is in us is more powerful than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). However, if we are not ready, if we do not have our armor on, then we are extremely vulnerable to Satan’s deceptive attacks. When our armor is on, we are in submission to the Lord and resisting the devil so we can hold fast to the promise of scripture that he will flee (James 4:7).
Are you ready? Are you prepared? Are you wearing the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness? Are your shoes on?
What does Paul mean that we are to be ready, prepared by having our feet shod with the gospel of peace. First, take careful note of Paul’s clarifying description of the gospel. He specifically calls it the gospel of “peace” because it is the peace brought to us by the gospel that provides us protection.
What is peace? I discussed this in detail some years ago when I was going through the Sermon on the Mount and talked about the blessedness of being a peacemaker (See: Blessed are the Peacemakers – 8/16/98). Is peace the absence of conflict? Is it the interlude between wars, or what one person described as “that glorious moment in history when everyone stops to reload”? Those might be common definitions and be true to the way the word peace is so often used, but the absence of conflict is not a good description of the peace the gospel gives, for it is much deeper than an absence of conflict. The world might say that North and South Korea are at peace because they are not currently shooting at each other, but technically and in reality they are still at war. It is just that the hostilities are not as widespread. This is seen in continued efforts by North Korea to infiltrate and intimidate South Korea. That is part of the reason they want nuclear weapons.
The meaning of peace that comes with the gospel is better described as the sense of well-being as contrasted to evil in every possible form. For example, Proverbs 3:17 sates concerning wisdom, “her ways are pleasant ways, And all her paths are peace.” Peace also signifies the good which comes from God. An example of this is in the Aaronic blessing in Numbers 6:26, “LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.” The gospel of peace is more than merely “rest,” but denotes the tranquility that comes with salvation which cannot be overthrown by any violence or misfortune. That is why in Genesis 15:15 even death could be spoken of as “going to your fathers in peace.”
The gospel of peace brings true peace; the peace that comes with reconciliation. The two parties that had been in conflict are now friends working together in harmony for the same goals. North and South Korea are not at peace because they are not reconciled. That is why there is a DMZ between them and it will remain there until they are reconciled.
The Gospel of Peace
The peace of the gospel is the peace with God that comes through being reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1 states this clearly: “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This same truth is seen in Ephesians 2:14-18, “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, [which is] the Law of commandments [contained] in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, [thus] establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.”
Notice in that passage that there was enmity (vs 16) between God and man. We were His enemies because of our sin. Something had to be done to end the war that was between us. A truce would not have been enough because that would have left us in our sins and we would eventually have to pay the price for those sins. God sent His own son Jesus Christ to pay the penalty of our sin so that we could be reconciled with God (vs 16). That is the gospel message. That is the message of peace that Jesus brought and preached (vs 17) and why Jesus is called our peace (vs 14). Romans 5:10 says the same thing, “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”
True peace comes only by being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. That is salvation from sin and its consequences of condemnation by God. And since that reconciliation takes place because of God’s initiative, God is called the God of peace (Hebrews 13:20, Philippians 4:9). It is this good news that is the message of the gospel of peace.
We are to stand firm in the gospel of peace. When we do, we can remain calm, tranquil and at ease regardless of any circumstance that may come, regardless of any temptation faced, any lie presented, any slander made or any persecution Satan may bring against us. We are controlled by God’s peace instead of fear. God knows what he is doing. He loves us and nothing can separate us from that love as Romans 8:28-39 makes clear.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to [His] purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined [to become] conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; 30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God [is] for us, who [is] against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written, “For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
With promises such as these what could we possibly worry and be anxious about?
The Protection of Peace
How does the peace that comes with the gospel protect us from Satan? How does it help us to stand firm? It removes fear, and fear is a great weapon wielded by Satan to cause us to retreat.
The greatest threat any army faces is not the enemy, but fear of the enemy and what they might do. How many countless battles throughout history have been won by what was in reality an inferior force simply because that army overcame fear and in their boldness they invoked fear in their enemies. The classic Scriptural example is that of Gideon in his battle with the Midianites in Judges 6 & 7.
In brief, the Midianites had oppressed Israel for seven years. They would come through every year and steal or destroy all their food reserves including all their animals. Finally God reveals himself to Gideon who is beating out wheat in a wine press in order to save it from the Midianites. Judges 6:12 records the angel’s message, “The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior.”
Valiant warrior? This man was so scared he was trying to get the grain heads off the stalks by beating them down in a hole rather than threshing it up on a hill where the wind would blow the chaff away. He fears the Midianites would steal it if they knew he was harvesting his crop. Yet the angel says he is a “valiant warrior.” Why? Because God sees what we will be, not just what we are currently.
The angel tells Gideon that God will deliver Israel from the Midianites through him. Gideon is still afraid and wants a sign. The angel then has Gideon take the meal he had prepared and put it on a rock. The angel takes his staff and touches the food and fire sprang from the rock and consumed the meal as a burnt offering.
The Lord then tells Gideon to destroy the altar of Baal, which he does that very night. Soon after the Midianites gather to fight against Gideon. He is still afraid so he sets out two tests to boost his faith that God will do what the angel has said. First he puts out a fleece, the wool of a sheep, on two successive nights having God wet the fleece only with dew the first night, and on the second night wetting everything but the fleece with dew. Gideon is not as scared now, besides, he has called an army together of 32,000. Now the odds are not very good since the Midianite army was 135,000 strong, but God did not want Israel to be able to boast at all, so through a series of tests, God reduces Gideon’s army to just 300. How would you feel now if you were Gideon with your 300 and you were facing 135,000?
God gives Gideon the plan, bolsters his faith, and Gideon trusts God and carries out the plan. Each of the 300 has a trumpet in one hand, a torch covered with a pitcher in the other and a sword on their belt. The 300 men encircle the valley the enemy is in. Each man is standing alone with considerable space between him and the next man. When the sign was given, each man broke the pitcher revealing the torch light, blew their trumpet and shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon.” The men then just stood in place. Judges 7:22 records, “And when they blew 300 trumpets, the LORD set the sword of one against another even throughout the whole army and the army fled . . .” 120,000 died right there at the hands of one another. The 300 men of Gideon’s army then chased the remaining 15,000 and eventually defeated them too.
When we are on God’s side we have nothing to fear. All we have to do is be faithful to Him for even in the midst of battle He is the one that fights for us. What chance do 135,000 Midianite soldiers have against Gideon’s 300 plus God? What chance did Assyria’s 185,000 or the whole Egyptian army have against one angel of the LORD? Romans 8:31 declares, “What then shall we say to these things? If God [is] for us, who [is] against us?”
What can Satan do to cause you to fear?
Can the devil take you to hell with Him? Not if you are a true Christian, for the gospel of peace has reconciled you with God and you are in God’s hands as Jesus declared in John 10:29, “My Father, who has given [them] to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch [them] out of the Father’s hand. 30 “I and the Father are one.
Can Satan cause you to lose your salvation? No, for salvation is of God and nothing can separate us from Him or His love. Romans 8:38-39 bear repeating, “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.” Those who are truly saved will always be saved.
However, beware that there are many that believe themselves to be saved, but they are not. They are trusting in themselves and what they have done or someone other than the Jesus declared in the Bible. They have a false gospel or a false Jesus, and salvation is only to those who belong to the true Christ.
Can Satan threaten to take your physical life from you? So what if he does? Because of the Gospel of peace, we have nothing to fear in death. Certainly death is still an enemy and those left behind will grieve, but our destiny is sure in Christ. That is why Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:55, “O death , where is your victory ? O death, where is your sting ?” Like Paul in Philippians 1:23-24 we find ourselves betwixt the two knowing that it is profitable for us to remain and serve Christ here on earth, yet there is a great longing to depart this life and be with our Lord and Savior.
Satan can threaten our life, but it is in God’s hands and he is limited to what God allows him. This truth is brought out clearly in Job. If God allows Satan to take our lives it is because God knows what is best for us and will use even that for His own glory. We will fulfill even in death the purpose of our lives. Has that not been true for all those martyred for the sake of the kingdom of God?
What about Satan’s threat to make our lives miserable? Satan can certainly try through the temptations, trials and persecutions he brings into our lives, but because of the gospel of peace, we as Christians no longer have our joy bound to the things of this world. We live for eternal purposes and while we will have tribulations in this world, as Jesus said in John 16:33, He has overcome the world so we can take courage and be at peace. Jesus suffered at the hands of Satan, but even in that Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame.” Paul said in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
As we mature in Christ and have our minds renewed through the Scriptures we find that we learn to be content in any circumstance just as Paul describes in Philippians 4. Whether rich or poor, well fed or hungry, the things of this world become secondary to living for Christ. The gospel of peace controls us because we are in a right relationship with our creator and that is all that is really important. Everything else stems from this point. I can have peace because I can trust God, and I can trust God because He has proven His everlasting love for me in Jesus Christ. Romans 8:32 states, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”
Jesus commented on this idea in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6. He commanded that we should not be anxious about the material things of this life (food, clothing, shelter), for those are the things the Gentiles, those without a relationship with God, worry about. Because of the gospel of peace, we do not have to be concerned for the mundane things of life. Our concern is to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” and then He will take care of the matters of daily living. Are your feet shod with the gospel of peace, or are you worried about finances, what you will eat and what you will wear?
Paul commanded the same thing as Jesus in even broader terms in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” All the things that can upset us, large or small, significant or trivial, can be brought before our God and cast upon Him because He loves and cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
Satan can attack us and make us fear what other people will think of us. Who wants to be known as a religious fanatic? Who is willing to be called a fool for Christ? Paul was, and I hope everyone here would be. When Paul gave his defense before King Agrippa in Act 26 and spoke of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, Festus, the governor of the area shouted out, “Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad!” Are you willing to be thought a fool for Christ? Or are you like those in John 12:42-43 who would not confess Christ because they feared the Pharisees and loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. The gospel of peace protects us from such fear because we love the approval of God more than the approval of men.
There is only one thing man should really fear. Jesus mentioned it in Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” And who is that? Men can kill the body. Animals can kill us the body. Diseases can kill the body. Accidents can kill the body. Satan can kill the body. But only God can destroy both the soul and body in hell. The only one we should fear is God our creator, but because of the gospel of peace, we no longer have to fear Him. Through Jesus Christ we have been reconciled to Him and we are no longer enemies, but adopted children of His family.
Are your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace? Are you ready for Satan’s attacks against you that seek to cause you to fear? Isaiah 26:3 tells us that God will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are stayed / fixed on Him because they trust Him.
We live in a war zone. Make sure your armor is on. Be controlled by truth, live in righteousness, stand firm in the peace of God.
The next sermon in this series is: (See Spiritual Warfare Part 15: The Shield of Faith)
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – 1) Count how many times the word “peace” is mentioned. 2) Talk with your parents about the meaning of peace and how you can live in peace.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Why are there so many specialty shoes and why are they so important? What was the sandal of a Roman foot soldier like? Why was it such an important piece of equipment? What is the nature of our enemy and what do we need to do to stand firm against him? What is the “belt of truth” and can it help you stand firm? What is the breastplate of righteousness? What is the “imputed righteousness of Christ” and how can that protect you? What is “imparted” righteousness and how can that protect you? Why is it so important to study any scripture passage in its context? What is the common way that Ephesians 6:15 has been interpreted out of its context? What is its context? What does the word for “preparation” mean? What does it mean in this passage? What role does it serve in spiritual warfare? Define peace according to the world? Define peace according to God? What is necessary for true peace to be achieved? How does the gospel of peace achieve that peace? Why would a truce with God be insufficient? How does the gospel of peace enable us to stand firm? Can anything separate us from the love of God? Why or why not? How does the gospel of peace protect us – enable us to stand firm against the devil? Who was Gideon and what did he do? How was he able to overcome his fears? Why did God reduce his army from 32,000 to 300? How were they able to defeat an enemy army of 135,000? Can the devil take you to hell with him? Why or why not? Can the devil cause you to lose your salvation? Why or why not? What is the limit the devil can bring physical harm upon you? How can the devil make your life miserable and how can you have peace when he tries to do so? How do we overcome anxiety? Who is the only one that should be feared? Are your feet shod with the gospel of peace?
Sermon Notes – 4/19/2009
Spiritual Warfare, Part 14; Feet Shod With the Gospel of Peace
The Roman soldier wore special sandals to protect his feet and give him traction
We fight a clever adversary and must be prepared with the full armor of God to stand firm against Him
It can take a lot of work to make sure our belt of truth is on, but without it, we will fall for the devil’s lies
The imputed righteousness of Christ gives us confidence to come before God’s throne of mercy
Walking in practical righteousness protects us from the temptations of the devil
What it is Not
Context must determine the meaning of any passage
The context is standing firm and resisting the devil’s attacks
This is not talking about evangelism, but something that will protect us in spiritual warfare
What It Is
etoimasia / hetoimasia refers to being in the condition of readiness – prepared
Being ready protects us from Satan. Not being ready makes us vulnerable to His attacks
Peace is more than the absence of conflict
The Gospel of Peace
The gospel brings peace with God that comes through being reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ
A truce would not have been enough because we would eventually have to pay the price of our sins
The good news of being reconciled with God is the message of the Gospel of Peace
We can be calm, regardless of any circumstance, temptation, lie, or persecution against us. Rom. 8:28-39
The Protection of Peace
God’s peace removes fear, one of the great weapons Satan wields against us.
Gideon is the classic example of God enabling a man to overcome fear and accomplish great things
Gideon is called a “valiant warrior” though he was fearful at the time – Judges 6:12
Gideon asks the Lord to perform two miracles to strengthen his faith & confidence
God reduces Gideon’s army from 32,000 to 300. They will face 135,000 Midianites
The 300 encircle the enemy camp, and when they shout, the fear & confusion results in 120,000 casualties
We have nothing to fear when we are on God’s side – Romans 8:31
The devil cannot take you to hell with him – John 10:29-30
Satan cannot cause you to lose your salvation – Romans 8:38-39
Some who think they are saved are not because they have a false gospel or a false Jesus
We can suffer physically and die, but death no longer has the victory – 1 Cor. 15:55; Phil. 1:23-24
Satan threatens, but God is in control. Our joy is bound in Christ who has overcome the world – Jn 16:33
We can yield up our anxieties in prayer and gain God’s peace – Phil. 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:7
Matthew 10:28 – Only the Lord is to be feared – and as His adopted Children we need not fear Him
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