“Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:14-15, CSB)
Different Bible translations of verse 15 use other words (shoes, sandals, etc.) but they all have the same meaning. The direct reference Paul uses is the specialized, “tactical” footwear worn by the Roman soldiers of his day: thick-soled sandals secured to the soldier’s feet with straps and with metal studs calls hobnails in the soles (click on the Wikipedia article — Caligae [Latin] — for an accurate description and images). While we don’t wear “sandals” on duty today, the Roman “combat sandal” was state of the art for its day.
The application is powerful: this specialized footwear enabled the soldiers to “stand” (v. 14) firm and hold their ground in battle while their opponents were slipping around in the mud. Likewise, the footwear we wear as police officers help us do much the same while on duty – including but not limited to riot/crowd control situations.
I’ve worn a lot of different kinds of boots during my career and we can all tell stories of the negative impact of the WRONG kind of boots over long (sometimes VERY long) shifts. I’ve also had to kick in quite a few doors while serving warrants and have spent many hours “holding the line” against rioters. Clearly, having the right gear is important (the life and death kind).
So what is the spiritual application for the CHRISTIAN officer (yes, the spiritual Armor of God is “issued” ONLY to genuine, born again Christians)? Let’s first look at the word “readiness” in verse 15. The Greek word Paul used here implies constant preparation (training) and vigilance. Does that not describe a modern peace officer?
Our biblically solid friends at Got Questions Ministries have a wonderful explanation of this passage:
A victorious soldier had to be prepared for battle. He had to have studied his enemy’s strategy, be confident in his own strategy, and have his feet firmly planted so that he could hold his ground when the attacks came… A soldier’s battle shoes were studded with nails or spikes, like cleats, to help him keep his balance in combat. He knew that, if he lost his footing and went down, it wouldn’t matter how great the rest of his armor was; the enemy had him. When we are ready with the gospel of peace, we live with the understanding that we are continually under attack from Satan. Second Timothy 4:2 says to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.”
The tactical “peace” boots that God supplies His soldiers have two purposes: defensive and offensive. In order to defend ourselves against the “flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16), we must have confidence of our position in Christ. We must stand firm in the truth of God’s Word, regardless of how terrifying the circumstances may be (1 John 5:14). We must understand grace without abusing it (Romans 6:1–6), remember that our position in Christ is not based on our own abilities or worthiness (Titus 3:5), and keep our belt of truth and breastplate of righteousness securely fastened (2 Timothy 1:12). Amen! And I strongly encourage you to click on the Bible links. “But wait, there’s more!”
Turn in your Bibles with me to Isaiah 52:7. This passage refers to the “feet” of those preaching the “Good News” of peace. “Preaching?! I’m no preacher!” you might very well argue. But friend, God’s Word (the Bible) clearly teaches that ALL of His faithful are to share (“preach”) the “Good News” of the Gospel with others (as I’ve shared in previous studies). No, not all are called to “preach” in a church or otherwise in public but we are ALL called (commanded even) to share the “gospel of peace” with others (see “Sharing Your Faith 101” and understand our “Great Commission” mandate).
Now understand part of the point or our study here: the Devil does NOT want us to do what God commands and he will work overtime to attack, distract and defeat us in this mission — and this is a huge party of why we need God’s armor and weapons in order to counter those attacks (spiritual warfare).
Next look at the word “peace” used in our passage. Sound familiar? As in “peace officer”? Are we not called to “keep the peace” when on duty (but with the understanding that Jesus’ words, “Blessed are the peacemakers” in Matthew 5:9 are NOT about us as cops unless it just happens to be a Christian officer sharing the “peace” we have in Christ with others — see my article, “Blessed are the Peacekeepers?”). But, in fact, this takes us right back to Ephesians 6:15!
Friends, true peace is found ONLY in a genuine, life-saving/life-changing personal relationship with Christ (a “Christian” as only God gets to define it). And the Devil (the enemy) most certainly does not want people coming to a saving faith or growing in their faith.
God, through Paul, is simply challenging us to be prepared/trained to understand and share the Gospel while standing firm (hold our ground) against a powerful but ultimately defeated enemy. Our feet need to be prepared for battle in the same way we need to be prepared with the Gospel.
Moreover, Paul is admonishing and encouraging us to connect the gospel to our actions, lives and witness. Our preparation and training (part of why it is so important for Christians to be discipled, trained in the Word and be linked “shield to shield” and “boot to boot” with fellow believers) allow us to effectively live (“Hold!” the line) and share the Good News with others. And it is this “Good News” that ultimately brings us true peace.Our preparation and training (part of why it is so important for Christians to be linked “boot to boot” with fellow believers) allow us to effectively live and share the Good News with others. Click To Tweet
Finally, and as I share in each of these studies, we must not forget that God’s spiritual armor and weapons — including our “tactical boots” – are available ONLY to genuine, born again believers (“Christians” as God alone gets to describe it). In fact, if you are an unbeliever (non-Christian), you are utterly helpless (barefoot on muddy ground, if you will) against the enemy’s attacks (see John 15:5 and other passages). So is that you? Are you right with God today? Are you sure? Do you have your “tactical boots” strapped on? If not, I implore you, surrender in faith to Christ (our “battle Captain”) NOW while you still can.
Stand firm and hold the line behind Christ our King and Captain!