We’re continuing with week two of “Weapons of our Warfare,” a series that I originally did a few years ago, but thought I would revisit.
If you have your Bibles, please turn with me to Ephesians 6. Our verses talk about The Full Armor of God. And as you’re turning there, I want to tell you a little story about something that my Mom and Dad used to say to me all the time. Every single day, every single time we would go anywhere, my parents would always say, “Put your shoes on, Lucy.”
I don’t know how old I was, maybe four or five years old, when I first started asking them repeatedly, “Who’s Lucy? Why do you keep calling me Lucy?”
It was either Mom or Dad or both who answered, and probably repeatedly, “I don’t know. It’s just a saying.” Well, like a lot of things your parents say, that was never a satisfying answer.
From a young age, the only Lucy I ever knew of was Lucille Ball. So I kept asking myself, ‘why do they keep calling me Lucy Ball? I mean, I’m a boy for crying out loud. Couldn’t they call me Luke Skywalker instead?’
So when I sat down to put this sermon together, I decided to look up the phrase, “Put your shoes on, Lucy” and do you know what I found? Still not enough to be satisfying.
I found out it was a song written in the late 1940s by Hank Fort, who, despite the name, was actually a female whose real name was Eleanor Hankins. The song was the first hit for Petula Clark and was covered by other artists that time has since forgotten. Other than that, there’s not much else said about it. But you can hear the 78 on Youtube if you want.
The idea of the song was to put your shoes on because you can’t be going around barefoot in the highfalutin’ big city like you can down on the farm. Oh, the days when hit songs used to be so simple and fun, right? I didn’t watch The Grammys, I gave that up a long time ago, but from what I hear it’s gotten even worse.
But today, we’re going to be talking about putting on our shoes. If you have your Bibles, turn with me to Ephesians 6. We’ll read verses 10-18, and like we did last time, we’ll go back and just focus on a couple of verses.
Scripture: 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
As we take a look at just verses 15 and 16 today, it will seem that the two are not necessarily related to each other. I believe that Paul’s intention was that the whole list is connected to each other in the same way that armor is fashioned as individually, separate items that have their own function, yet when put together, is a whole piece of armor. So let’s take a closer look at how the shoes and shield are separate pieces yet in order to be fully functional, you can’t have one without the other. You need to have a firm grip on the ground and a firm grasp on your shield in order to advance. In the spirit, a firm faith and a firm readiness go hand in hand.
I mentioned this last time, and I think that it’s worth repeating, especially now that we’re talking more specifically about our footing. Before Paul begins his list of weaponry, he encourages us three times in verses 13 and 14 to ‘stand our ground.’ Standing our ground requires us to fit our feet firmly, stop and examine our thoughts and our feelings. It is a resolution. If we give in to fear, doubt, and discouragement––the weapons that Satan is attacking us with––then we’ll be paralyzed or run the other way. We won’t advance, we’ll retreat.
And speaking of which, have you ever wondered why Christians go on retreats? Have you ever thought about that? That’s another phrase I always wondered when I was a boy. Why do they call it a retreat? Why do you call it a ‘running away from the enemy? Or letting the enemy win?’ Whenever a group of people go away to a weekend Christian event, they always call it a retreat. I should say they always used to call it a retreat. Nowadays, it’s becoming more common to call them an ‘Advance’ weekend. That’s because the purpose of these events is to strengthen our faith in this manner. To advance against the enemy.
One way to advance in a spiritual battle is to be conscious of the thoughts running through our minds and rethink our thinking. This is one meaning to the phrase Paul uses in 2 Corinthians to ‘take every thought captive.’ Proverbs tells us ‘as a man thinks, so is he.’ We need to pray the scriptures and tell the Devil he’s wrong about what he’s trying to throw at us, or in other words, tell us. Remember, his native language is lies.
So now that Paul is using the illustration of shoes, let’s take a look at what it means to take a strong stance by examining the Roman soldier’s footgear. Remember, we talked about this last week, they were not using the same kind of armor as a medieval knight. The Roman soldiers wore sandals in battle. The Blue Letter Bible states that: The sandal of the Roman soldier was mainly a sole with straps that went up around his ankles and calf holding the sandal tight to his foot. These sandals also had spikes on the bottom much like a golf shoe so that you might have solid footing.
It also says that the famous historian Josephus (who was alive at that time and chronicled his surroundings) “described them as ‘shoes thickly studded with sharp nails’… so as to ensure a good grip. The military successes of both Alexander the Great and of Julius Caesar were due in large measure to their armies’ being well shod and thus able to undertake long marches at incredible speed over rough terrain.”
The battlefield was pitted with sharp sticks that stuck out from the ground like a form of landmines. Think about how the Devil puts spiritual traps in our path. As I said, he’ll put negative thoughts in our heads; he’ll put temptation easily in our path; there will be times when it seems everything is just working against us. We need to be equipped with strong footing tied tightly around us, and fitted with the kind of sharp tread that will keep us from slipping, and will keep us from being struck and disabled from the enemy’s trap of deceit.
To be more specific to keeping a firm, protective footing, Paul tells us what material—what kind of spiritual material—these sandals are to be made out of. Our spiritual sandals are to be made out of readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. What does this mean? It sounds good, but what does it actually mean?
First: Readiness. Paul uses this illustration because when you are putting on your shoes, what are you doing? You are getting ready for something. You are gearing up to do something, to go somewhere, to accomplish something. You generally don’t put your shoes on to relax and unwind, you generally take your shoes off to relax. When we put our shoes on, we’re readying ourselves. In the spirit, we might be readying ourselves as pastors, as prayer warriors, as Sunday School teachers, as missionaries. Sometimes, we’re just readying ourselves to get up in the morning and go out in the world as Christians. In any case, we have to ready ourselves by being fitted with the firmness of the gospel.
You may have heard the phrase, “grounded in the Word?” It’s like what Paul is saying here, we are to be grounded in the gospel.
In his second letter to Timothy, Paul said:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, (17) so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3: 16-17).
You’ll notice how it talks about righteousness, which is what we talked about last week, but he also talks about being equipped. Just like armor. Being ready to go.
In Colossians, Paul said:
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
Again, this passage is similar to ‘taking every thought captive.’ And he talks about the spiritual forces of this world like in this set of verses. It takes being footed in the Word to do so.
And lastly, Luke said in Act that the Bereans, “received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:10-11).
So you see, that verse is another example of the Word and readiness going hand in hand. The shoes are our reception of the Word, whereas the sword is our use of the Word. Whether we’re receiving the Word or proclaiming the Word, we need to be ready with the Word.
Which leads me to the second part of this verse: the gospel of peace.
David Guzik said, “The gospel provides the footing for everything we do. However powerful the rest of your body is, if you are wounded in your feet you are easy prey for the enemy.”
John Brown said, The “good news” or the gospel is the only thing that can give the Christian soldier peace and comfort in his lifelong battle!
Matthew Henry said, “It is styled the gospel of peace because it brings all sorts of peace, peace with God, with ourselves, and with one another.”
So going into battle, we need to be footed with sandals that are able to grip an uneven, slippery, rocky, tough spiritual terrain laden with traps. And those sandals have to be made of a spiritual material that keeps us grounded in God’s word and at peace. Peace with God, peace with others, and peace of mind within ourselves.
But even if we advance forward with tightly laced, heavily cleated sandals, we can’t advance very far without also having a shield to protect us. The pitfalls on the road are not the only traps that will come against us on our path.
So let’s move on to verse 16: In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
The King James Bible begins this verse with “above all.” That should tell you the importance of having a shield in front of you.
The Roman soldier had different types of shields. Generally, there was a relatively decent-sized round shield, but the other was a four-foot-long by two-foot-wide rectangular shield that was slightly curved. If the soldier bent his knees just right, it could cover the whole body. You can guess which one Paul was referring to. He wanted us to be covered and shielded as much as possible.
According to Polybius the shield gave Roman soldiers an edge over their Carthaginian enemies during the Punic Wars: “Their arms also give the men both protection and confidence owing to the size of the shield.”
Note he said protection and confidence. That’s what Paul was saying. We need a shield of faith—a shield of confidence.
Satan knows when our defenses are down. He doesn’t usually come to tempt us or turn our minds and emotions toward defeat when we’re in church, in Bible study, in worship, in prayer, or among other believers. It’s usually during or after a tough day at work. It’s usually when we’re exhausted. It’s usually when we’re alone. When we’ve been away from church for a few days when we’ve been away from our Bibles when we’ve set aside prayer and worship. Sometimes one little thing can trigger his fiery darts. He has a strategy. You don’t go into war without a strategy. He’s always on the offensive, and it seems we’re always on the defensive.
Our shield of faith needs to be readily in hand, anticipating an attack during these times.
But Paul takes this one step further and not only wants us to be shielded, he wants our shields to actually extinguish those flames.
It is true that Roman soldiers did have to protect themselves against projectiles, there is some discussion on the internet whether extinguishing flaming arrows would have been something that Roman shields actually had the capability of doing during that time. And for those who say yes, there is some debate as to how that was done. Some say the wood for the shields were pre-scorched, so the flames wouldn’t spread while others say the soldiers would soak their shields in water or some sort of ointment so that the flames would extinguish. Regardless, the idea is that our shields need to have some sort of protective coating and that it is something we need to do to prepare ourselves ahead of time for battle.
So what is our protective coating? Paul said it is faith. And where does our faith come from? Like our footing, it comes from the Word of God. The writer of Hebrews famously said “11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.”
Then he goes on the rest of the chapter giving illustration after illustration of the Old Testament saints and their faith. When you read through the Bible, everyone who was a saint lived by faith. They died by faith—even Jesus lived and died by faith in His father.
They were all victorious and successful because they had faith in God’s faithfulness.
You can’t be successful in what God has called you to if you doubt, and you can’t doubt if you have faith. Remember, Satan’s greatest tool is discouragement. You can’t be discouraged if you’re full of faith. Satan uses fear. You can’t be conquered by fear if you have faith.
And like I said, you have to have faith in God’s faithfulness. And where do we learn of God’s faithfulness? Through His Word. Through His Spirit. Through times of prayer and worship. And you don’t have to be in church on a Sunday morning to do these things. They can be done every day of the week 24/7. No matter where you are.
So I want to ask you, how’s your footing? How are your shoes? Have you even examined your shoes? Are they tied tightly or loosely? Are you ready to face what battle may strike you at any moment? Are you ready ahead of time for Satan’s ambush? Are you ready to plant your feet into the ground hard enough to leave a spiky imprint and create enough force and momentum to advance forward even though these fiery darts are whirling at you and hitting your shield? Is your shield ready to be hit with fiery darts?
When doubt, discouragement, fear, failure, temptation… all of Satan’s lies come your way, have you trained yourself to lift a big, heavy shield of faith to cover you? Not a small shield, not a small faith, but a large faith. Have you trained yourself as a soldier to lift up your shield of faith, extinguishing his lies against you?
As we close, I want to share with you something that I came across the other day. In fact, it was the day I was reviewing this sermon. It’s a word that puts the message in first person, so it’s as if God is speaking directly to us. So listen to this as if God is saying this directly to you personally:
“My child I have sent you to accomplish many different feats. With each one, is a different land. For the mountains, I gave you hiking boots that you may climb to the top and receive a new perspective.
In the fields, I gave you work boots to break the hard ground. In the battlefield, I gave you combat boots to send the enemy to flight, and in the storms I gave you rain boots to weather your circumstances.
I’ve always prepared you for the road you are to walk and now it is time that I do a new thing. It is time to receive new shoes that will help you walk this road. So, do not be dismayed by the sudden discomfort you are feeling underneath your feet. I am equipping you with a new experience and adding onto you.
For these shoes are a perfect fit and though you feel insecure at times, I am still right here beside you. I will give you the wisdom to walk in them, and to break them in. I will give you the strength to walk in them and when you take them off, I am here to comfort you.
The road is straight, but the doors have opened up before you, so put your new shoes on and pick up your tools, for I have set you before My bride. So go my child, take what you have learned and step out in the splendor I have made you to be. My bride awaits, introductions are in order and I have much to tell her,” says the Lord.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on First Baptist Church of Watkins Glenn