Spiritual Warfare – 4

“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore… 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 all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:13, 15-16 (NASB)

Spiritual Warfare is all about what Christ has accomplished; where Christ is now and my relationship with Him. Spiritual warfare is not gimmicks or methods but it is the practical outworking of the ministry of Christ in me. We have already looked at girding our loins with truth and the breastplate of righteousness. This leads us to the next part:

FEET SHOD

Having our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of truth. Our feet of course give us stability in our movement and the word shod here has the meaning that they are so prepared that we do not trip up or get caught in a trap. The Greek word only appear four times in Scripture and is always used of putting your sandals on so you can go on a journey (See Mark 6:9 and Acts 12:8).

In many ways this aspect of the armour is the most important, in the sense that if we do not move or stand well and in the right direction we will be overwhelmed by the enemy anyway. As we already saw in verses 11 and 13 standing firm is very important and without our feet shod properly then we cannot do this. The reality of this part of the armour is foundational in our life. We talk of walking with the Lord; we talk of running the race; we talk of standing on a firm foundation; all these metaphors are dependent on our feet being shod and there being a firm foundation.

The Psalmist (18:33) gives the illustration of us having hinds feet and set upon my high places; this swift animal that has sure footing even in the craggiest and highest mountains. There is not one mountain that the Lord cannot help us walk over, nor one situation where our feet need to slip; indeed on many occasions the Psalmist rejoiced that the Lord had not allowed his foot to slip. When a Christian does not walk with the Lord we talk of them backsliding – the feet are not moving as they should and are not in the good of what the Lord has accomplished for us.

Before we look at exactly what our feet are shod with we need to notice this word ‘preparation’ in other words it indicates that something has to be done in order for this part of the armour to function properly. Not in the sense of doing something in my own strength but doing something in co-operation with the Lord. This is the only time the Greek Word is used in the New Testament but the translators of the Septuagint used it in Zechariah:

“Then he said to me, ‘To build a temple for her in the land of Shinar; and when it is prepared, she will be set there on her own pedestal.'” – Zechariah 5:11

Here it talks of providing a base for this wicked woman from which she can act in her wickedness. In other words the meaning is similar to that of ‘shod’ it is providing a solid base from which we can move. It has the idea of time connected to it – in other words this will not happen in an instant; if we are to have a firm foundation then time and care needs to be taken over the preparation. Although a different Greek word we have the same thought in 1 Peter 3:15, “Always being ready”. We can only fulfil this command by owning up when we are not ready and taking steps to ensure we are ready the next time.

We also have an interesting illustration in Luke 22:33 where Peter says of following the Lord to death, “I am ready…”. We of course know that he was not, that the ‘work’ had not been accomplished in his life that only Calvary and Pentecost could do. This is such a vital matter because until we face the real test we do not know that we are ready. Until we take our stand on the rocky ground and face the testing times we do not know if we will slip. The period of preparation is therefore vital and we should not be slack or hold back at this time. But just what are we preparing in our lives?

It is the Gospel or Good News of peace. It is being in that place where we are at peace with God and out of that at peace with ourselves. WE know our position as accepted in Christ and there is no unconfessed sin or disobedience within the way – we can stand firm against the enemy in the Lord’s strength. Equally there is no guilt or doubt that we continue hold on to so the enemy can use it as a doorway into our lives – we know that the accuser of our brethren has been cast down! This is our inheritance in Christ and this is the preparation that needs to go on in our lives – seeking Him and His word so that these things are a reality in our lives. The two passages that are great for meditating on to bring us through to the reality of this position and give us a firm foundation to stand on are Hebrews 4 and Romans 5.

Hebrews 4 is written for encouragement and instruction; it is written about a people who did not enter into God’s rest and were at peace with Him but the writer clearly says this does not have to happen to us! The key is in verse 2 where it is stated that they had good news preached but they did not receive it and allow it to be worked out in their life. The seed scattered by the sower was the same in each case but the results could not have been different, why? The heart of the receiver was the problem. Here is the preparation – the Good News has been preached but unless we take the time to meditate upon it and receive it into good ground, it will not profit us. We need to receive the word we hear and allow the Holy Spirit to work it out.

The Children of Israel were told that the land was theirs. They went in and saw the land was very good and was exactly as God had described it – they could trust Him. BUT there were giants and they could not take it. In other words they could believe some of what God said but when it came to areas that they were not in control of and they could not do in their own strength (defeat the giants) then they could no longer trust God’s Word. I wonder how often that has been our problem – we can believe the parts of God’s Word that make sense to us and we feel we can be in control of but once we lose control and are in areas that are beyond my human capabilities we say NO.

You may remember we wrote this in the Leader for the last Quarterly:

“When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe.” – Act 28:23, 24.

Paul was the great apologist of his day and here we see him skilfully explain the Old Testament. Those listening to him would not believe that Jesus was the Messiah or indeed that the Gospel was for the Gentiles as well as the Jews; they would have held the same prejudices that had caused Paul to be taken to Rome in the first place. However, undaunted he takes the whole day to go through the Old Testament showing Jesus and the purpose of God in His Kingdom of one people with the barrier broken down. All in the room listened intently and at the end of the day we find that, “some were being persuaded”. In other words having looked at the Scriptures; listened to Paul’s words of explanation; they reasoned in their own minds that what he was saying was right and they admitted that they had held a wrong view, re
pented and had a change of heart.

Note however, there were a group of others who, “would not believe”. They heard the same words and they saw the same Scriptures; it was not that they did not understand, they indeed understood too well what it meant but given all the facts they did not want to change from their entrenched positions, they wanted to carry on believing the lie that they had been brought up with and they would not believe. Tragically we will meet people like this, who just will not change.”

May we not be those who say we will not believe but we will receive and allow the Holy Spirit to work out even if we cannot fully understand it with our human minds. Before we leave Hebrews 4 we should just mention verses 11 and 12. It does take diligence of preparation because we have an enemy that will try to stop us and once again it is allowing the Word of God to work in our lives that sorts us out. With this thought it is great that the chapter goes on to talk about High Priest; we can not do it sometimes but He understands and as we come to Him, He enables.

Romans 5 should finish the preparation of the Gospel of Peace if we still need further help from the Scriptures:

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…”

There is no room for doubt or question – we HAVE BEEN justified and therefore WE DO HAVE peace with God. May the Lord bring us into the reality of this fact so that we have a firm foundation under our feet and will be able to stand firm.

SHIELD OF FAITH

Faith is our shield and faith is vital as the only movable part of the armour and can be placed in whatever position we sense the fiery darts coming from. This is especially helpful with other members of the faith as I expect we all have seen on film the human tortoise that the Roman army used to create. The men would march in a square those in the middle of the square would hold their shields above their heads and those on the outside of the square would hold their shields to their sides. As such they were completely covered and the enemy’s fiery darts could not penetrate. However even a person by themselves, with the large shield pictured here, can move it and so there is not one place that the enemy can attack; that the shield cannot defend as long as the shield is pointing in the right direction. We need to be alive and alert to where the enemy is attacking and move the shield – remember these are fiery darts and if they penetrate your defence they can do damage to you.

It goes without saying that the shield needed to be made of the right material – paper would not work! In the same way the faith that we need in Spiritual warfare is the one revealed in Scripture and not one of man’s own imagination. Faith is not just shouting out as loud as we can, making proclamations that we think God will have to honour – God is not bound by man’s words!

Let’s start at Hebrews 11:1:

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”.

Albert Barnes in his Notes on the Bible says of the word for assurance:

“The word rendered ‘substance’ – hupostasis – occurs in the New Testament only in the following places. In 2Co.9:4; 2Co.11:17; Heb.3:14, where it is rendered “confident” and ‘confidence;’ and in Heb.1:3, where it is rendered ‘person,’ and in the passage before us… The word properly means ‘that which is placed under’ (Germ. Unterstellen); then ‘ground, basis, foundation, support.’ Then it means also ‘reality, substance, existence,’ in contradistinction from what is unreal, imaginary, or deceptive (täuschung).”

In other words the things that are ‘hoped for’ are not in the sense of wild wishes but are based clearly on a firm foundation, which as we read the rest of Hebrews 11 is clearly God’s Word. We may not see everything that the Bible yet talks about but it is such a firm foundation I have the assurance that they will come into being (See verses 8-10).

The word conviction means proof or evidence, again not just some whim or fancy of man. But how can you have proof or evidence of things that you cannot see. We in our human state in space and time cannot see them but God outside of space and time can. Our proof and evidence is again from Him. He is there where all these things are reality and He sends us His proof that they exist and that becomes our evidence. What we see so clearly and need to understand is that faith is in Him and in His word, not in me and my ability or some human word that man has made up that is not confirmed with the evidence of God’s Word. Jeremiah 17:5-8 is the perfect example of this:

“Thus says the LORD, ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD. For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.'”

Man’s ways and works, the man that trust in himself will wither but the one who trust God and His hidden resources, the one that does not look to the outward conditions but draws on His inward life, will not wither but by faith will produce fruit even in time of drought!

One final verse to meditate on to ensure that our shield is made of the right material and will therefore do what the Lord has said it would, Galatians 2:20:

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (KJV)

If you are dead (crucified) there is no life left in you and so you cannot do anything – not one thing! In Christ though we are now made alive not because of me but because of Him and I live by faith but not my faith but the faith of the Son of God. It’s His faith given by Him to me and so true faith is a reliance on Him and His Word.

Categories: Apologetics

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