The Armor of Spiritual Warfare—Standing Firm in the Shodding of Our Feet
Ephesians 6:14-17 “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having SHOD YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The verse above is a continuation from Ephesians 6:10-13 which states that because of spiritual warfare we are to be strong in the Lord by putting on the full armor of God so we can stand strong against the schemes of the devil. In the specific verses of ten through thirteen, Paul discusses the armor of God in a general manner (see Reflections #6 and 7).
However, specifically, we are to stand strong against the schemes of our enemy by donning the full armor of God. The third item of armor Paul mentions is to shod our feet with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace. There has been much speculation regarding what this means but when we dig into the language spoken during Paul’s time and consider the audience reading or hearing his letter, we can discover in depth that this is a very important and meaningful piece of defensive armor.
During the time of Paul’s writing, the town of Ephesus was under Roman occupation and the legionaries were a normal daily sight of the people, so it was an easy illustration for Paul to make in order to help his hearers understand his main points of teaching. The shoes of the Roman soldiers were sandals bound with straps. They wore heavy sandals (called a caliga, a low half boot) with soles made of several layers of leather averaging ¾ inch thick, studded with hollow headed hobnails (iron nails with large domed heads that were hammered through the soles). They were tied by leather thongs half way up the shin and were stuffed with wool or fur in the cold weather (historically, many soldiers also wore greaves, which were studded leather straps that extend to the knee for additional marching and battle protection). Caligas were not running sandals but ones that were to dig in and stand firm against the enemy, which kept the soldier in place during battle so the enemy could not push him around. As Christians, we are to shod ourselves in order to stand firm while under or expecting enemy attack; a specific defensive position.
The word “shod” comes from a compound Greek word “hypodeo”, comprised of the terms “hupo” and “deo”. The word hupo means “under” and deo means “to bind”; compounded, it means to bind something tightly on the bottom of ones feet. So it’s a shoe that is fitted very tight against the soldier’s foot. Paul tells his listeners, including us, that we are responsible for shodding our feet as well. The prepositional phrase “with the preparation” reflects the idea of “readiness or preparation” and to “make ready, prepare” or passively as “to be prepared”. Believers who have been shod with preparation and readiness will be able to stand firm against the world, the enemy and our own temptations.
How, then, do we as Christians shod ourselves with readiness in order to stand firm against the world, our own flesh and the wiles of our enemy?
James teaches we are to “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Oftentimes, we don’t need to always be on the offensive to alleviate the devil from our lives; the defensive position of knowing God’s Word, keeping it safe in our heart and relying on God in faith through prayer is enough to make the devil flee. We are to be like men of war who had their shoes tied tightly to ensure a firm footing, so also are we to be firmly footed against the enemy (when the peace of salvation is secured tightly in us). It is the believer’s surefootedness in the tranquility of the mind and security of the heart in the gospel of peace and salvation that gives us readiness to stand against the devil and his fiery darts. In summary, we prepare and stand firm against the enemy by our close relationship with Christ and relying on Him and His Spirit in us to extinguish any darts of belittlement, suggestions of defeat and obstacles placed in our path.
Standing firm in Christ and being prepared by knowing God’s promises and word will also help us when times of our own fleshly temptations come and pressures to succumb to the world’s way of doing business. By wearing the shoes of preparation and readiness we can stand firm by knowing that these sensations of covetous desires, temporary sadness, materialism, languishes and the like will be temporary and fleeting as we remember and trust what we have in Christ and eternity because of our faith and trust in Him. Not everyone in the world has this hope and security, so we must remember to also pray for those who taunt us with such temptations or mistreatments; because ultimately, Christ wants them too, and we should join forces with Him in prayer for such victory, even among strangers.
By being prepared with scripture memory of God’s lovingkindness and promises in Scripture and with keeping ourselves strong in prayer and growing closer to God and understanding who He is by reading Scripture, we can endure and we can stand firm no matter what the enemy throws at us; “for stronger is He who is in us than he who is in the world”. The enemy has already lost, as Christians let us stand firm in reminding the enemy of that not-so-small detail.
So, then, how do we stand firm exactly? How can we get ourselves prepared and ready for those times that “will” come eventually if not already?
- The best way to prepare is to know, understand and apply the spiritual disciplines to your daily life. If those disciplines are unknown, the list below is a sample of a few that can be slowly and progressively implemented into ones life. Try to implement one at a time without over-exerting and attempting to do all at once because burn-out may put us in a place worse than we are now (Matthew 12:44-45). A wonderful presentation of each discipline can be further read in Richard Foster’s book “Celebration of Discipline”.
- Submission and confession
- Prayer, reflection and worship
- Reading, study and memorization
- Celebration and fellowship
- Finding time alone with God in a quiet and secluded place each day will bring a pleasant and rewarding experience of growing closer to Christ as we read His Word, pause to listen and become most humble in His presence. Then, when the temptations or fiery darts hit us, our intention must be to retreat back into the presence of the Holy One and let Him diffuse our fleshly desired response. But this is very difficult to do without a daily practice of experiencing our Lord one on one in solitude and humility.
Thoughts for Reflection:
- Is the enemy pushing you around with ungodly thoughts or habits right now? How are you standing firm in the peace of God’s salvation in order to overcome? What can you do to stand stronger and be a larger impact against the enemy, protecting not only yourself but those around you?
- In what areas of your life do you find it most difficult to live God’s way rather than your own way (“not my will but Your Will be done”? Compose a list of what they are and write beside each one a way or plans in which you can help yourself yield to God instead of yourself (try to incorporate the above-mentioned disciplines).
- Remember to pray always, in everything, without ceasing; for the Lord hears His children and His Spirit is in us to guide us and prompt us; especially when we come to Him humbly in secret asking for His power and His Will over our lives.
 Historical information is derived from Dallas Seminary Lectures 2014
 Strong’s Greek number G5265