Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
There were five pieces of armor that no Roman soldier went without, for he knew that he was virtually certain to die in battle without them. In Ephesians 6:14-17 Paul mentions these five pieces of protection in the order that the Roman soldier would most likely put them on.
The soldier would begin by putting on his protective apron – a thick leather belt from which hung down, strips of leather with metal plates attached. This gave the soldier freedom of movement while protecting his lower body from horizontal swipes of the sword in hand to hand combat.
In the same way, the Christian believer must gird himself with truth – he must know God’s Word and be equipped with the truth. Peter admonishes (1 Pet 1:13) gird up the loins of your mind for action. We must have our mind continually renewed by truth (Rom 12:2). As we subject it to error, it’s as if the belt which girds up our clothes is loosened so that we become encumbered. The Christian who is girded with truth is free (John 8:32).
With his belt tightened around his waste, so girding up his clothing, the solder then put on his breastplate – a very tough leather smock reinforced with metal.
The Christian’s breastplate is righteousness, which has one of two meanings in the New Testament. First it means, right living – living for truth in holiness and standing against ungodly behavior. Secondly then, righteousness primarily refers to the perfect life of Christ lived on the part of every believer. God’s acceptance of us does not depend on how well we are living the Christian life, how many prayers we pray, how much Bible we read – it is in no way linked to our performance, but to Christ’s perfect keeping of the law in its entirety, and then imputing what He earned to our account in the ‘great exchange,’ that occurred at the cross. The Christian who believes this important truth finds his heart protected from the enemies attempts to bring condemnation as a result of sin.
Next the Roman solider will put on his footwear – his boots. These flat bottomed sandals were tied to his feet with leather straps – they were designed for firm footing in the battle. A soldier who slips and slides in his footing is easy prey for the enemy.
We too must have firm footing if we are going to fight well in our Spiritual war. We find our footing in the foundation of our faith – namely the gospel of peace. We must often reflect on the objective facts of that Gospel – that Christ’s precious blood reconciled us to God; and there is nothing that can keep us from His love. There are many things that promise us peace, but on the Gospel creates a lasting peace with God. No matter how fierce the battle may get, the one who stands firmly on his or her peace with God as a result of the Gospel, will not be moved.