We are at war. Each of us a soldier in the battle of good vs. evil. Thankfully our Commander in Chief has given His soldiers all that we need to be victorious, but it is upon us to take up our gear daily as we go to the front lines.
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 GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, Eph 6:13-14
As we saw recently, in many translations, like the NASB, a passage in all-caps indicates a quote from the Old Testament. As Paul encouraged Christians to put on the armor of God, he referenced several passages in Isaiah, specifically from chapters 11, 52, and 59. While somewhat loosely quoted, they similarly relate a soldier’s physical outfitting to the implements believers use to defend and fight against spiritual attacks.
The first thing to note is that Paul repeats himself several times in this passage. He twice tells readers to put on the full armor of God (Eph 6:11 and 6:13), and three times he says we are to stand firm (verses 11, 12 and 13). Typically, anytime Scripture repeats itself that should tell us it’s doubly important, and Paul not only uses ‘stand firm’ multiple times right here, but he also repeated this exact phrase in nearly every epistle he wrote to churches.
The Greek word we get ‘stand firm’ from is histēmi, and it conveys standing in an upright posture, firmly set in place. What first catches my attention is this is not something we do passively nor by accident. A solider doesn’t stand at attention without effort. While we can sit for long periods of time without a second thought, standing firm requires mental and physical exertion and is not always easy, nor is something we do while we’re resting or asleep. So, the first lesson here is that as we put on the armor of God, we have to be standing firm.
Roman soldiers of the 1st century A.D. wore caliega. These were sandals with hobnails in the bottom, which would give them greater traction and resistance to being pushed backward, much like the cleats on an athletic shoe. The nails gripped the earth under them to help them stand firm while in combat. In similar fashion, Paul tells us that as soldiers of Christ it is imperative that we do not give up ground to the enemy.
Paul then moves to outlining the spiritual armor we have as believers in Christ. “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth.” Interestingly, the first piece of armor he mentions is truth. Without truth we are lost. The world around us hates truth; truth is probably the enemy’s greatest fear because deception is one of his greatest tools. How do we know truth? We study Scripture for ourselves. We sit at the feet of pastors and teachers who are passionate about proclaiming sound doctrine and are not busy tickling ears or entertaining the lost (cf: 2 Tim 4:3). And we spend quiet time with the Lord in prayer seeking wisdom and understanding.
Remember, the devil is all about deception (John 8:44), and Scripture reminds us repeatedly to be careful of anyone who does not teach truth. This often happen all too often, even in churches and small groups, so if you hear something that doesn’t seem right or blatantly goes against God’s Word, watch out – spiritual arrows are coming your way!
After girding ourselves with truth, Paul then tells us to “put on the breastplate of righteousness.” While ‘truth’ is mentioned 203 times in the NASB, ‘righteousness’ is used an astonishing 312 times! Both are clearly important! As a physical breastplate covers many of our vital organs, righteousness also protects our heart. While humans can live without their arms and legs, we cannot live without our heart, and a wound to the chest can be quickly fatal. Likewise, if we walk through life with little concern of our behavior, attitude, or sin, we are effectively setting aside our armor and are putting ourselves in grave spiritual danger. Standing firm requires attentiveness both to the enemy’s attacks and our own spiritual health.
We’ll look at more of the armor of God next time, but our takeaway today is fairly simple: Stand firm! Stand firm in truth and righteousness! Let’s not sit down on the job or slumber while the battle rages. We can do this by seeking God’s truth through His Word (Jesus said God’s Word is truth [John 17:17]), and by humbly walking with a desire to live righteously and resisting sin. We’re not going to be perfect at it, but if we consciously remember to put on our armor every morning before we start our day (cf: Mark 1:35), we will certainly be much stronger as we go onto the battlefield.