The apostle Paul is concluding his letter to the Ephesian Christians to be strong in the Lord and find their strength in the Lord. Only by finding strength in the Lord can we stand against the devil and the evil forces of darkness. Paul is describing the whole armor that God has given so that we are able to stand and walk worthy of our calling. Ephesians 6:15 records the third piece of armor given to us.
“…as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” (Ephesians 6:15 ESV)
Paul declares the need to prepare our feet. Our feet are to be fitted with readiness which comes from the gospel of peace. Consider that our shoes reflect what we are doing. Depending on what we are going to do we have different shoes for the task. You may have work shoes. You may have exercise shoes. You may have dress shoes. You may have church shoes. You may have “around the house” shoes. The concept of readiness fits perfectly with the idea of preparing your feet. We use this metaphor in our own language today. When I tell my kids to get ready to leave, what is the one certain thing they will have to do? They will need to put their shoes on. They are not ready until they have their shoes on their feet so that they can go to wherever we are going. When I check to see if my kids are ready to go, one of the first things I look for is if they have their shoes on. In 2000 years the imagery of having your shoes on representing how one is ready has not changed. We are not ready until we have prepared our feet.
So what makes our feet ready to stand against the tactics of the devil? What will prepare our feet so that we can withstand in the evil day? The answer Paul gives is the gospel of peace. Consider that the shoes God has given are to be another tool that will strengthen us in the Lord. We are not ready to begin our day and go out into the world until we have put on as shoes the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
What Is The Gospel of Peace?
Before we can understand the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, we must first understand what the gospel of peace is. The apostle Paul has already taught the effect of the gospel of peace in this letter to the Ephesians.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:13–18 ESV)
Notice that Jesus is the peace. What Jesus did was destroy the hostility between Jews and Gentiles and created one new group of people, replacing the two, which created peace between the two. There is another peace that has occurred through Jesus. Verse 16 declares that both peoples are reconciled to God, putting an end to that hostility also. Jesus came preaching peace to those who were far off (the Gentiles) and to those who were near (the Jews). The Old Testament scriptures taught the world that there was separation between people and God because of sins. God loves the world and this is why he sent Jesus. But our sinfulness has caused a separation and hostility between us and God. We caused the hostility and are worthy of judgment. The prophet Isaiah repeatedly declared that judgment was coming on the people for their sins. They were a degenerate vine that was not bearing fruit for the Lord. They were unclean in God’s sight. But in Isaiah 52 God declares that he is going to redeem his people (52:3). It is with this hope in mind that Isaiah declares:
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” (Isaiah 52:7 ESV)
God has purchased peace through the death of his Son. Our sins put us at war with God. But we do not solve the problem of sin. Amazingly, God himself solves the problem of sin by giving his Son as a ransom. Isaiah is picturing that glorious message of happiness and salvation going throughout the earth. We no longer have to remain dead in our sins. We no longer are children of wrath. We will no longer receive the condemnation that is due to us. We will not receive what we absolutely deserve. We have been reconciled to God through the blood of the cross. Listen to what Isaiah says next.
The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the LORD to Zion. 9 Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem. 10 The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:8–10 ESV)
Rejoice because the salvation of the Lord has been extended to the ends of the earth. God’s grace has intervene into this world and into our lives so that we will not receive the judgment we deserve. The gospel of peace is a glorious message that Jesus has made peace between us and God so that we can be his people and be his children.
How Does The Gospel of Peace Prepare Us To Stand?
Now we must consider why Paul is using this as armor for us to stand against the tactics of the devil. How does the gospel of peace function as armor for the battle against the spiritual forces of darkness?
We noted earlier in the lesson that you are not prepared to go until you have the appropriate shoes on your feet. In the same way, we are not ready to face what the devil will throw at us today until we put on the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Knowing exactly what God has done for us and putting that knowledge and love at the forefront of our minds will make us ready to stand. I do not want to give into the attacks of the devil because submitting to those temptations means I am rejecting the Lord who loves me and sent his Son to save me. Giving into my fleshly desires means that I have forgotten that the wrath of God does come upon the disobedient (Romans 1:18). Listen to how Paul made this point in his letter to Titus.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11–14 ESV)
The grace of God which brings salvation for all trains us to turn our back on all those temptations that the devil is throwing at us. The grace of God is what gives us the strength to stand knowing that we are waiting for the coming of our Lord. We have been redeemed and have been purified to be his people. We are standing in the amazing grace of God.
Further, the gospel of peace makes us ready to stand because it demands continued proclamation. The good news cannot be hidden. It is too wonderful of a message to be kept to ourselves. Listen again to Isaiah’s prophecy: “How beautiful are the feet of those who proclaim the good news.” It is a beautiful thing in God’s sight to proclaim his good news. The apostle Paul quoted this in Romans 10:15 pointing out that no one will call on the name of the Lord and be saved from their sins by the grace of God unless this wonderful gospel of peace is proclaimed.
Our faith is grounded even further when we proclaim the gospel of peace. Our knowledge grows when we teach this message to others. I have seen in my life that my knowledge has rapidly grown because I teach people the gospel of peace every week. There is nothing more encouraging than watching God open the hearts of people and see them respond to the gospel. Proclaiming the gospel of peace and watching people respond to it is so faith building and encouraging. Friends, we are missing out on an important piece of the armor of God when we choose not to proclaim this good news to others.
The Call To Submission
There is one more aspect of the gospel of peace that we must consider so that we have the full armor of God on our bodies. Peace had a little bit of a different idea in the first century world than it does in our world. When we speak of peace today, we often think of two sides sitting down at a diplomatic table, making compromises, and then agreeing to a peace treaty. But there was another way that peace was secured that the world was keenly aware of. Augustus Caesar described the peace that he brought to the world. Of course, he did not bring this peace through diplomatic means but through conquest and subjugation. The peoples of the other nations had peace with Rome when they bowed the knee and yielded to the authority of Caesar.
We must recognize that this is how we have peace with God. We do not bring our demands to the table and barter with God the terms of peace. We submit to the terms of the agreement. Notice that this is the message of the peace. Go back to Isaiah 52:7 where the content of the message is declared, “Your God reigns.” God rules. This is how peace is administered. Listen to the words of Paul.
For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” (Romans 14:11 ESV)
We do not get to set any terms for the covenant. Jesus is the conquering king. To find peace we must submit to the king or receive judgment. Therefore, the way we have peace with God and enjoy the gospel of peace in our lives is by full submission to the king. But we must not bristle at this because this is good news. We are able to belong to a loving king who has saved us from our sins and saved us from eternal judgment. Stand in the gospel of peace. Do not yield to the devil. Do not give into temptation. See the glorious king we serve. See the privileged position we have in Christ and live for him. Our joy in Christ and the continued proclamation of the gospel is a major assault on Satan’s schemes. Live in the gospel and you will be ready to stand.