The Soldier’s Shoes
The footwear of the first-century soldier was vital to victory on the battlefield. With the rugged terrain and the varied range of land conditions, good shoes were essential. The apostle Paul says, “And, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15, ESV). According to Albert Barnes, “The sandals of the Roman soldier often were fitted with nails, or armed with spikes, to make the hold firm in the ground.” You could hardly imagine a soldier clad in full armor with nothing on his feet. On wet ground, his feet would slip, and on rocky terrain, his feet would be torn and bleeding. Bare feet would render him useless to fight, but with a good pair of well-fitting sandals, the soldier would be ready to fight on the battlefield. Like the soldier, the believer needs the proper footwear when engaged in spiritual warfare.
The Glorious Gospel
The apostle directly connects the footwear to the truth of the gospel. The reason? It is the gospel that gives us our perfect standing in Christ, and the gospel that enables us to walk (to live) as God desires. The gospel message convicted us when we were in our sins, brought us to repentance, and to faith in Christ. It changed us, supplying new purpose and direction in life. To the Thessalonians, Paul said, “Because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction … so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia” (1Thes 1:5-7, ESV). The gospel had radically changed their lives as it has ours, from the inside out.
This glorious message, which originated from the heart of God, reveals His very nature. As Paul instructs Timothy, it is “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted” (1Tim 1:11, ESV). This is the gospel of God’s glory! It illuminates every aspect of His character: His holiness, righteousness, love, grace, mercy, patience, along with every other attribute. So when we put on the shoes of the gospel, we are living in the fullness of what the gospel is – the glory of God. While we need to be reminded every morning to live the gospel as we interact with the world, this “putting on” really took place at the start of our life in Christ and continues all the way through. No wonder Paul took up the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah, first spoken to a redeemed people returning to their millennial rest, and applied it to every messenger of the cross, saying, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom 10:15, KJV).
Walk with Peace
Since the gospel is a revelation of God’s character, when we receive the Lord Jesus as Savior, we are receiving the life-giving gospel in its fullness. This means that we not only speak the gospel, we live the gospel. What is inside must flow out. The gospel should give good evidence in our lives that something amazing has happened on the inside. We have peace with God and can live in the enjoyment of sins forgiven. We have the peace of God and are able to enjoy communion with God. This should be witnessed by the world around us. It is very often the main thing that draws others to the Savior. They watch us when we go through trials and they see how our God sustains us. They behold our behavior when we are hurting deeply and they discover that our God is full of comfort and powerful to heal. They listen to our conversation and notice the difference that comes from a tongue controlled by the Spirit. The peace of God filling and flooding our lives is not only attractive, but can bring conviction because they lack it.
The gospel is called the gospel of peace, because it brings peace to our hearts – peace that our sins are gone, peace that all is well with us and God, peace in difficult, trying circumstances, and peace because we know heaven is our home. It may sound a little ironic, but we prepare for the fray of spiritual conflict and warfare, by strapping onto our feet the “fighting shoes” of the gospel of peace. We move with the peace of God flooding our souls and giving our feet a sure foothold on the battlefield.
Walk with Courage
We have peace because our confidence is in God. As our confidence increases, so will our courage. We need courage to face the enemy in battle. The word used by Paul in Ephesians 6:15 to describe this is “readiness.” This doesn’t mean that we have the Bible memorized from cover to cover, or have well-crafted arguments for every possible question, or have the best three-point sermons. No! It means being prepared in our hearts by the truth of the gospel, and allowing this truth to stabilize our hearts. Through the Spirit’s power, the truth of God within us will find outward expression in our words and actions.
Wuest Word Studies says, “The word ‘preparation’ is hetoimazō, which was used in classical Greek in the sense of establishment or firm foundation. Thus, the Christian soldier should see to it that his feet are equipped with the sandals which will give him a firm footing.” Our courage is based on the solid foundation of God’s Word. The more we allow its truth to fill us, the greater our courage will be. It reveals the wondrous beauties of Christ, the absolute authority of Christ, the saving power of Christ, the momentous work of Christ, the everlasting kingdom of Christ, and the amazing results of Christ to the person who believes. I once heard a man say, “Courage collides with a pressing need and inevitably changes lives. Courage doesn’t remove fear; it takes the power out of it. Courage doesn’t lessen the risk; it increases the resolve.” As we step out into the world today, may we do so with the sandals of the gospel of peace tightly fastened about our feet. May we allow the gospel to work through us for personal development, for the blessing of others, and ultimately for the glory of God.