Summary: What exactly is Paul getting at with each of these things that God has given us? This message tries to dig out the importance of each.
- This passage is often preached, yet I never felt like I understood what exactly Paul was getting at with each piece that’s mentioned. What are the specific needs? What are the specific dangers? What specifically has God given us?
- In preparing, I tried to dig deeper. For instance: “having your girded your waist with truth” -what does that mean? Why a belt image for truth? What does it symbolize? How does it play into the spiritual battles we face?
- In digging, I think (not surprisingly) that each of these is here because it’s a major concern in spiritual warfare and God’s provision in each case is just what’s needed to combat the problem.
- I’m addressing this as seven ways to lose a spiritual fight so that we can begin each point by highlighting the mistakes that we make and problems we encounter as we get into spiritual fights and then move onto God’s perfect provision in each case.
SEVEN WAYS TO LOSE A (SPIRITUAL) FIGHT:
1. Get tripped up.
- v. 14 - “. . .having girded your waist with truth.”
- What does “girded” mean? It simply means “wrapped around.” What we’re talking about here is a belt.
- This is an important piece in two ways.
a. People back in that day often wore long flowing robes. One need before you went into battle was to tuck your long robe into your belt. Why did you do this? Because if you tried to move around much with that long robe, you’d inevitably trip on it and fall down. In battle, getting tripped up could be a death sentence.
- Think of a bride’s wedding dress. It’s usually at least floor length. Think of the trouble she has as she tries to negotiate the stairs up to the platform. She usually has to hand off her bouquet and use that hand to pull up her dress a bit, all the while using her other arm to hold onto her father to keep from falling down. Imagine trying to do any kind of strenuous physical activity (running, climbing stairs, etc.) in that kind of a dress. It wouldn’t take long for you to be on the floor.
- Why is this belt a belt of truth, as opposed to a belt of grace or a belt of justice or something else? It’s because if you don’t know the real truth, you’re constantly going to be getting tripped up. One small example: Jesus said in our relationships to others that we should respond to their mistakes with forgiveness. Many disagree with that and live their lives keeping a careful mental record of wrongs committed and malice received. As a result of that, those people live not in victory, but are constantly tripped up by resentment and bitterness and hatred. It happens because they don’t know the truth and therefore are constantly tripped up by the lies they take for truth.
b. A second, although less important, point here is simply that if you don’t have your belt (which would normally hold your sheath), then you aren’t going to have your sword as you walk into battle. Spiritually, if you don’t know the truth, you definitely aren’t going to have the power of the Word of God flowing through your life.
2. In the midst of the battle, lose heart because of your mistakes.
- v. 14 - “. . .having put on the breastplate of righteousness. . .”
- What is meant here by “righteousness”? It simply means that we have been made right before God because of what Jesus has done for us. We have been justified by Jesus’ blood.
- Sometimes, though, as we sin (especially in the midst of battles where we should be boldly standing for Christ), we will begin to get discouraged and our heart begins to question whether our mistakes are the proof that God can’t use us effectively. The matters of the heart are primarily emotional and a sense of discouragement and defeat can envelope us emotionally.
- It is in this moment that we need protection for our heart and God provides it in the form of a breastplate. This is a piece of armor that would protect the chest and abdomen. That is, it protects your heart.
- When we begin to feel ourselves sinking because we’ve made some mistakes, our defense is the absolute knowledge that our righteousness is not based on anything that we do, but on what Jesus did for us. We are defended from Satanic attack by the confidence we gain in knowing that what Christ did for us cannot be taken away, even by our mistakes and sins.
- Does this mean that we excuse our sins? Absolutely not. This is not meant to be an avenue toward laziness. It simply gives us the courage to know that God can still use us and that we aren’t done for because we have sinned because our status as soldiers was not founded on our perfection, but on His perfection.