Truth, Righteousness, and Peace

Ephesians 6:10-15

 

At the end of his epistle to the Ephesian believers, Paul has begun his last series of instructions in chapter 6, starting out with the word "finally" in verse 10. He commands believers to "stand firm" and to take up the full armor of God. In the context of Ephesians, the "full armor" is Christ Himself. Christ is our armor, and as we yield to Him, we are protected and strengthened by Him in order to "stand firm."

Paul continues in verses 14-17 to describe the armor that we have in Christ Jesus. The question in many ways is "How do you know if you are standing firm?" We are commanded to stand firm, so if the five things the apostle lists here are true in our lives, then we can know that we are standing firm in the Lord. The Lord Himself is our armor, our protection against evil. The person surrendered to the Lord, clothed in Christ, being strengthened by His Strength, taking up the full armor of God, etc., will have these five parts of the armor as a part of their lives.

Let's look at the first three parts of the armor of God.

The very first aspect of our armor as believers is truth. Paul's first statement in verse 14 is "having girded your loins with truth." The idea here is to use a belt to secure the clothing as well as other instruments of war, for example, the sword, so as to make sure that freedom of movement may be attained. Thus, to "[gird] your loins with truth" and or "in" truth has the idea that, for the Christian, truth is an essential part to all of the pieces of armor being securely in place. This makes it possible to do what is to be done as a soldier of Christ.

The breastplate is the piece of armor that covers the front and the back, from the neck to the thighs. The breastplate is that of righteousness (dikaiosunēs)-from dike, meaning that which conforms to God's standards. The "sunē" ending here emphasizes the innate nature of the righteousness, meaning what is done as a result of being righteous. Christ ultimately is our righteousness, and when believers are yielded to the Lord, walking in His strength, then the deeds of the believer will reflect the righteous standards of the Lord.

The other interesting note on how the breastplate of righteousness protects the believer is that the good deeds in which believers walk help to protect the heart of their identity in Christ. Rather than sinful activity, which causes a believer to be open to Satanic attack, a believer walking in Christ and His strength will have deeds which help confirm and reassure the believer's identity in Christ Himself. So often, when we sin as believers, the first issue that we have "whispered" to us is an attack on God's love for us or an attack on whether we are truly "beloved" of God. When we walk in Him, He protects our heart from the lies that Satan will attack us with.

Paul goes on to share about our feet being "shod" with the "preparation of the Gospel." Many have believed this to be an activity in terms of sharing the Gospel with the lost. Clearly, as believers, we are to do this, and we can turn to many passages to affirm the Great Commission command. With that said, this passage is about "standing firm" in Christ. What Paul is dealing with in this text is not the "going out" to tell others about the Gospel, per se. Rather, he is dealing with protection for the believer in the midst of Satanic attacks. The word "shod" means to bind together. Our feet ought to be bound together with the preparation of the Gospel. What Paul is indicating here is a "firm footing," having footwear that will not slip in the midst of a battle.

Roman soldiers would wear "cleated" shoes in order to be able to stand firm no matter what kind of ground they found themselves on. Here, Paul is using this picture for the believer to make sure that there is a firm footing in the truth of the Gospel, which is all about His grace toward us. He calls this the Gospel of peace. How do we have peace with God? It is not through our works or efforts, but rather through His grace. Believers are accepted in the beloved by Christ. We believe and are saved on the basis of His grace. We have peace with God as a result of our salvation in Him. The good news for the believer is a tremendous source of hope and assurance in our relationship with God. Paul wants all believers to be able to stand firm in Christ and the message of the truth of the Gospel of grace. No matter what may be said of us, we know what Christ has declared and we believe in Him. Therefore, we can stand firm, not slipping in the midst of the battles we find ourselves in the midst of as believers.

Summary
A) In His truth, we have the freedom of relationship and freedom of "movement" to follow God, being open and honest with Him. We are free to "maneuver" within our actions.

B) In His righteousness, we have the protection and security of knowing that His righteousness is a gift to us, rather than anything that we could earn and thus "deserve". Our hearts are protected and secure in our walk with Him and His acceptance of us as we walk in the righteous deeds that He has for us.

C) In His peace, we are standing on firm ground, knowing that the Gospel is our foundation-who we are in Christ, the presence of Christ in our lives, and the assurance of where we are headed. As a result, we as soldiers cannot be moved or caused to stumble.

The armor of God helps to protect believers, and as we yield to Him, following Him in every area of our lives, we experience the life of Christ within us and through us. Are we following God? Are we clothed in Christ, in His armor, and experiencing what God alone is able to do in and through us?                             

Erik Christensen is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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