Thursday, December 17, 2020

2020.12.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 6:13–16

Read Ephesians 6:13–16

Questions from the Scripture text: What, again, were they to take up (Ephesians 6:13)? How much of it? That they might be able to do what? When (cf. Ephesians 5:16? And then what? And then what? What command does Ephesians 6:14 repeat? With what are they to gird their loins (waist)? What is to be as a breastplate to them? What footwear should they put on (Ephesians 6:15)? How does Ephesians 6:16 begin by telling us the importance of this item? What is it? With it, what will they be able to do, to what, from whom? 

Having been briefed on the enemy and given our orders, these verses begin to describe our equipment.

We notice that, although it is in the Lord Himself and His powerful might that we are to stand, there is a duty placed upon us to put on this armor. We are told to gird with the belt and put on the breastplate. We are told to put on the shoes and take the shield. 

Yes, it occurs only by God’s grace, only by God’s power. But that does not remove from us either responsibility or activity. Rather, it emphasizes that responsibility because the God in Whom we are told to be strong has told us to do this, and it narrows the central focus of our activity to those particular things that this God has told us to do.

A second thing to notice, even before getting to the pieces of the armor themselves, is that these are corporate commands. We are not surprised, since this fits perfectly with what the apostles spent much of chapter four drilling into us about how believers grow up into Christ our head. But, in our fleshly individualism we are forgetful both of the needs and the needfulness of others. So, it bears pointing out that these are pieces of armor that we put on together, as part of the body of Christ.

This corporate aspect is especially noticeable in the shoes and the shield. The shoes of the gospel of peace almost certainly refers us back to the beautiful feet of the one who announces good news of peace in Isaiah 52:7, and in this book we have learned that we all address one another with this glorious truth (Ephesians 4:12–16), especially in that corporate worship where we address one another with the Word in songs by which the Lord fills us with His Spirit (Ephesians 5:18–21). If you’re missing corporate worship, you are not the beautiful-footed gospelist of Isaiah 52:7 whom we now see as the sure-footed soldier of Ephesians 6:15.

The shield of faith is also one that must be corporately wielded. Of the Roman shields, this was the large one that was used together with the rest of your unit to make an impregnable enclosure. This is confirmed by the fact of its primary use being against fiery darts. Under a hailstorm of pitch-coated fiery arrows, these shields need to be used together in unison. How many a believer has found it nearly impossible to resist doubt and temptation by himself, and then he has gone into the assembly where we all lift together the shield of faith, and the Lord has guarded and delivered him there!

And it is precisely that shield of faith in which we cling to the truth of God, His Word as the belt by which all the pieces are held together. And also to the righteousness of Christ, through which no attack can wound us. It is by the exercise of faith that His perfect truth also makes us wiser in the truth and ourselves more faithful and true. It is by the exercise of faith that Christ’s perfect righteousness that has been counted to us begins to be reflected in the righteous way that we live. It is no longer we who live, but Christ Who lives in us. The life that we live, we live by faith in the Son of God Who loved us and gave Himself for us!

So, while it is ultimately true that what we are really being told here is “put on Christ,” it is helpful to see that Christ has given us specific actions by which He will graciously make that an experienced reality in our lives. And first and foremost, those actions are the clinging together to His Word and His righteousness, as He has given to us to do in His corporate worship. It is this that will be the means by which we come to live as children of light in our everyday lives.

Therefore, take up the whole armor of God!

How does singing thoughtfully and heartily in public worship help you cling to God’s truth? How does it help you cling to Christ’s righteousness? When we hear, pray, sup, and ‘amen’ together, what are we taking up?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH406 “Jesus, with Thy Church Abide”


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