SCRIPTURE REFERENCES » Ephesians 6:14-17

Morning Sermon: Ephesians 6:14-17: Take Up The Whole Armor Of God

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 11

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious. In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea. He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart, and those who harass Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not harass Ephraim. But they shall swoop down on the shoulder of the Philistines in the west, and together they shall plunder the people of the east. They shall put out their hand against Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites shall obey them. And the LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt, and will wave his hand over the River with his scorching breath, and strike it into seven channels, and he will lead people across in sandals. And there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant that remains of his people, as there was for Israel when they came up from the land of Egypt.” (Isaiah 11, ESV)

New Testament Reading: Ephesians 6:14-17

“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…” (Ephesians 6:14–17, ESV).


[Please excuse any and all typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church, but without the benefit of proofreading.] 


In the passage that we considered on the last Lord’s Day Paul commanded Christians to be strong on the Lord. This should be our aim — maturity in Christ. Strength in Christ. Sometimes one Christian will say to another who is experiencing some difficulty, hang in there, brother. Or hang in there sister. And while I think it is fine to encourage someone in this way (I know that I have), I do hope that we have it as our aim to not merely “hang in there”, but to thrive in the Christian life — to be mature in Christ, to be strong in the Lord. This must be our aim, for this is what the Apostle commands. 

And we know that one of the ways that we will grow strong in the Christian life is to daily gird ourselves for battle. This is the second thing the Apostle commands: “Put on the whole armor of God”, he says. If we are to be strong in the Lord we must choose to dress ourselves with the armor of God daily. 

And why do we need armor? Because we are not at home in, but we are sojourners in a hostile land. We are not living in peacetime, but are at war. We have a fierce enemy who is always scheming. We wrestle, not against “flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV). For this reason, we must “take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13, ESV).



You will notice that the passage before us today begins with another command: “Stand, therefore…” the Apostle says. So this is the fourth command found in this section. “Be strong in the Lord…” (v. 10). “Put on the whole armor of God…” (v. 11). “Take up the whole armor of God…” (V .13). And now the Apostle says, “Stand, therefore…” (v. 14).

The image is that of a Roman centurion taking a firm stance against an enemy that is seeking to overrun him. Can you picture it, brothers and sisters? Can you see with your mind’s eye the strong and courageous soldier with his feet firmly planted? He will not give an inch of ground but is resolved to repel the enemy at all costs. This brothers and sisters, is to be your posture in the spiritual battle that is even now raging all around you. “Stand, therefore…”, the Apostle says. 

Sadly, many who profess faith in Christ do not stand. They are very easily moved. And the reasons for this are many, I think. 

Perhaps they are unaware of the battle that rages all around them, and so they wander casually and carelessly about, oblivious to the enemy and his schemes. As I have said before, naïveté and complacency are a particularly deadly combination during wartime. We have a fierce enemy who never rests, friends. We are not at peace. There is a spiritual battle that is constantly raging. It is a battle for souls. It is a battle for your soul. 

Or perhaps men and women do not stand because they have not learned where the battle lines are. So many who profess faith in Christ are willing to be pushed around by the world. In no time at all, they begin to think like the world, speak like the world, and act like the world. The world, friends, is under the sway of the evil one. The kingdoms and cultures of this world are often opposed to God’s kingdom. If we are in Christ then we must be prepared to stand against the currents of the culture. And if we hope to stand, we must first know where to set our feet. We must know God’s word. We must be governed by his truth. And never should we give an inch when the evil one uses the world presses hard upon us. We must know where the battle lines are if we hope to stand.

Or perhaps the one who professes faith in Christ is aware of the battle, knows where they ought to stand, but is weak in faith, and is easily pushed this way and that by the enemy. I’m afraid that this is often the case. If we are to stand against the evil one then we must be strong in the Lord. The evil one will certainly press hard against us, and so we must be strong if we are to withstand it. Are you strong in the Lord, brothers and sisters? Are you in good shape, spiritually peaking? Or have you grown soft and weak? All who are in Christ need to be exhorted in this way, but I think it is particularly important for our young people to hear. You have grown up under the shelter of your parent’s home. And of course, the enemy has attacked you even there — I am not denying that! But you have enjoyed a level of protection being raised in a Christian home by a Mom and/or Dad who has faith in Christ. But there will come a time when you will go out to establish a household of your own. Will you be ready to stand when that day comes? You will not stand all alone, for you will have the church of God to stand with you. Nevertheless, the challenges and pressures will be greater as you move on into adulthood and independence. Will you be ready to stand? That is my question. If you are very young right now, you probably don’t feel ready for it at all, and that is fine! I trust that you will be ready when the time comes. I am simply encouraging all of our young people to grow strong in the Lord even now so that you will also be able to stand with us in Christ as you emerge into adulthood. The pressures that the enemy puts upon the people of God as we sojourn in this world can be very great. 

The command is to “stand”. But notice that Paul commands us to stand in the armor which God has provided. If we are in Christ, then we are in the Lord’s army. And never should a soldier of the Lord be found on the battle line unprepared and ill-equipped. God has supplied you with armor, and here you are commanded to have it on.


The Belt Of Truth

Specifically, we are commanded to stand, “having fastened on the belt of truth…” (Ephesians 6:14, ESV). 

Though we might think otherwise, a belt is among the most important items in a soldier’s armament. This was especially true in ancient times. The clothes that a Roman centurion wore were loose and free-flowing. The belt held everything together and in place so that the soldier could move freely and unhindered as he fought. And this is what truth does for the believer. Truth — God’s revealed truth — truth properly understood, sincerely believed, and consistently applied — is like a belt for the believer. It holds everything together. To know the truth, to sincerely believe it, and to live according to it will enable the believer to fight with freedom and efficiency. But to be ignorant of the truth, to be plagued by doubt or hypocrisy will lead to a cumbersome existence. The Christian who is ignorant, doubtful, and hypocritical will find themselves often entangled with many of life’s difficulties. They will often stumble and fall when the enemy presses hard against them. 

Do you know the truth, brothers and sisters? And even more to the point, do you believe the truth sincerely in the mind and heart and strive to live according to it? Please here me: the Christian has not “fastened on the belt of truth” if she has merely learned the truth, but has not believed it sincerely, leading to obedience. Instead, she fastens on her belt when she knows the truth, believes it, and obeys it. There is a great difference, brothers and sisters, between merely knowing the truth, and knowing it so that we believe and obey. As James says, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22, ESV).

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ walked in this world “having fastened on the belt of truth”.  In that Isaiah passage that we read at the start of this sermon it was predicted that in due time a Savior would arise from Israel, “a shoot from the stump of Jesse.” And in that passage we learn many things about this Messiah, one of them being that he would have “righteousness” and “faithfulness” as “the belt of his loins”. The Hebrew word that is translated as “faithfulness” could also be rendered “truth” or integrity”. The meaning is that the Christ would walk in the world with perfect integrity and according to the truth. And this he did!  Truth was Christ’s belt. He revealed the truth to us and lived according to it always. We are to do the same if we are in Christ. We are to be clothed by him, and we are to walk as he walked.     

So have you “fastened on the belt of truth…” (Ephesians 6:14, ESV), friends? Have you “put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and [received] with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21, ESV). Have you believed God’s word sincerely to live according to it? This you are to do daily so that you might move freely and unhindered as a soldier of Christ, which will enable you to stand firm.   


The Breastplate Of Righteousness

Secondly, Paul commands us to stand,  “having put on the breastplate of righteousness…” (Ephesians 6:14, ESV). 

The breastplate was a piece of armor that would cover from the neck down to the waist in both the front and the back, protecting the vital organs of the soldier. To be without a breastplate on the field of battle would mean almost certain death. The soldier’s heart would be exposed to every thrust of the spear and every dart thrown in his direction by the enemy. And the Apostle says that the Christian’s breastplate is righteousness. To be righteous is to be right before God, guiltless and pure. Only if we are righteous will our hearts be guarded against the attacks of the evil one, which come in the form of accusations. The evil one is called “the accuser.” He attacks the people of God in many ways, one of them being to accuse them of their sin and guilt. How important it is for our hearts to be guarded against these attacks. We must put on the breastplate of righteousness if we are to withstand them. 

But the question remains, where do we get this breastplate righteousness? Where does this righteousness come from? It is our righteousness? Or is it the righteousness of another? Friends, it must be the righteousness of another, for we do not have a righteousness of our own. Truth be told, we stand guilty before God if left to ourselves. The evil one is in fact correct when he accuses of sin and reminds us of our guilt — that is unless our sin has been atoned for and our guilt removed.

This “breastplate of righteousness” that we are here commanded to put on is not our own. This breastplate is made from the righteousness that belongs to Christ. He was without sin and guilt. He was truly righteous. And we come to have his righteousness as our own when we turn from our sin and believe upon his name. It is at that moment — at the moment we believe — that a great exchange takes place. Our sin and guilt are removed (Christ having paid for it on the cross), and his righteousness is imputed (applied)  to us.   

The same Paul who wrote Ephesians also wrote Philippians. And there in that epistle, he says concerning himself, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith…” (Philippians 3:8–11, ESV). When Paul commands the believer in Ephesians to put on the “breastplate of righteousness”, he cannot mean, put on your own righteousness as a breastplate. He must instead mean, put on the righteousness of Christ which is yours by the grace of God alone and received by faith alone, for he himself teaches that we do not have such a breastplate of our own, but must be clothed in Christ’s righteousness. 

And Christ does in fact have righteousness to give. In another passage in Isaiah (the one that we read last week at the start of that sermon), the coming Messiah was described in this way: “He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak” (Isaiah 59:17, ESV). When Christ “put on righteousness as a breastplate”, he put on his own righteousness, for he was truly righteous. Never did he sin. He always did what was right before God. And this righteousness that is his he now gives to all who call upon his name. 

So what does it mean for the Christian to put on the breastplate of righteousness as Paul commands? What does that look like practically speaking? 

Well, we should remember that Christ’s righteousness is given to us the moment we turn from our sins and believe upon him. It is then, at the start of the Christian life that we come to have Christ’s righteousness as our own. But here the Christian is commanded to pick up that righteousness that is already theirs, having been received by faith, and to put it on as armor. We are to pick up this spiritual breastplate and put it on daily and momentarily so that when the enemy comes to attack, delivering blow after blow in the form of accusation, we are able to deflect those blows. This means that we must regularly be reminded of the gospel that we have believed. We must hear that good news preached, and we must even preach it to our own souls, lest we be overrun by the Accuser.  We must remember what Christ has accomplished for us. He has removed our guilt and has given us his righteousness, all of this received by faith. We must not move on from these gospel truths but remember them daily. This is what it means to put on the breastplate of righteousness.  

I’m reminded of that wonderful little passage in the allegory, the Pilgrim’s Progress, where Apollyon (who represents our advisory the Devil) comes against Christian to accuse him. He reminds Christian of his sin and of his unfaithfulness to Christ. This is indeed what the evil one does. He accuses the brethren. But I love the response of Christian in that allegory. He answers Apollyon’s accusations, saying, “All this is true; and much more which thou hast left out: but the Prince whom I serve and honor is merciful and ready to forgive.” Though Christian does not mention Christ’s righteousness imputed to him (which is our focus here), the illustration is still helpful, I think. When Apollyon accused Christian, he did not defend himself by appealing to his own righteousness (for he knew that he had none). He did not say, no Apollyon, I’m not really so bad. To the contrary, he said you don’t know the half of it, Apollyon. I’m far worse than you say! And then he appealed to the mercy of God and to the forgiveness that he had received through faith in Christ. We must do the same. I think this is what it means to put on the breastplate of righteousness. We are to deflect the accusations of the evil one by appealing to Christ, to the forgiveness of sins that we have in him, and to his righteousness imputed to us and received by faith. 

And then having been clothed in Christ’s righteousness — our hearts being guarded by that alien righteousness imputed to us — we are to go on living a righteous life ourselves. And in so doing we will guard our hearts all the more so against the attacks of the evil one. Having been clothed in Christ’s righteousness, we are to live righteously. Having been made holy, we are to live holy. Perhaps this righteous walk is also in view when the Apostle says, put on the breastplate of righteousness. But it cannot be the first thing that he means. If we are righteous — truly right before God and therefore impervious to the accusations of the evil one — it is only because Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us.

“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness…” (Ephesians 6:14, ESV).


Shoes For Your Feet, The Readiness Given By The Gospel Of Peace

Thirdly, in verse 15 the Apostle commands us to put on “shoes for [our] feet… the readiness given by the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15, ESV).

Roman soldiers wore sandals with thick leather soles embedded with pieces of rock for traction. They were tied to the soldier’s feet with numerous straps. They were strong but lightweight, enabling the soldier to stand firm but also to move with agility on the battlefield. Paul identifies the Christian’s spiritual shoes as the “readiness given by the gospel of peace”. 

There is some debate as to what this refers to. Does Paul mean that the gospel and the peace that it brings enables the Christian stand firm and to move about with agility in this spiritual battle? Or does he mean that the Christian is to be prepared to take this gospel of peace and proclaim to those who do not yet believe?

No doubt, the gospel is to be proclaimed by the believer. As Paul says elsewhere, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:15, ESV). But his emphasis here is that the gospel of peace makes the Christian ready. It provides the Christian with a sure footing. It enables her to stand firm in battle so that she does not slip. The shoes of gospel preparedness enable the Christian to run swiftly through life, with grace and agility. The gospel of peace makes the Christian happy and cheerful, light on their feet.

The gospel of peace — that is, the good news that through faith in Christ we are made right with God — must be taken up and applied to the feet of the believer date after day. Do you wish to stand firm? Do you wish to run swiftly, with grace and agility? Then do not forget the gospel of peace. Stand firm upon the foundation of this gospel. Take this good news with you into every situation, into ever endeavor, into every relationship and conversation. Do not leave it behind, but stand upon it always. The gospel of peace — that wonderfully good news that we are at peace with God, through faith in the Savior has provided —  is to be with us always. It is our foundation, our footing. 

I suppose this is true of all items of clothing, but it feels especially true of shoes. Your choice of shoes will be dictated by the activities you plan to engage in on that day. If you are going to the beach you will wear sandals and not work boots. If you are going to a wedding you will wear dress shoes and not sandals. And if you are working in the yard you will wear boots and not dress shoes. Each and every day you decide what shoes to put on, and that decision is dictated by the activities of the day. 

But what are the shoes that we are to apply to our spiritual feet? No matter what the activities of the day might be, the Christian is to have the gospel of peace as shoes for their feet. With the gospel of peace as shoes for our feet, we will be ready — well prepared to face the day. The gospel is to go with us into each and every situation in life. We are to take the gospel with us. We are set our feet down upon it. It is our sure foundation, our confidence. It is our peace and joy. No matter what life brings, the gospel remains true. Our peace with God is secure. 

It was the gospel of peace that enabled Paul to write these words: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31–39, ESV)

How could Paul maintain such a firm and unwavering disposition amid such awful trials and tribulations? He had the gospel of peace as shoes for his feet! And do you wish to run with this confidence? Do you wish to be this light on your feet, impervious to the trials and tribulations of life? Then put on “as shoes for your feet… the readiness given by the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15, ESV).


The Shield Of Faith

Fourthly, Paul commands us to “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16, ESV).

In ancient times soldiers would often carry a shield into battle. The shields would sometimes be covered in leather, and the leather would be soaked in water to extinguish the flaming arrows flung by the enemy. The shields would also be used to deflect other objects hurled in the soldier’s direction — stones, spears, and the like. The evil one does send flaming arrows, stones, and spears in our direction. They are lies, insults, insinuations, and accusations. Only a shield of faith will deflect these blows and extinguish these arrows. 

“Faith” here does not refer to generic faith, as in faith in something, or baseless hope, or wishful thinking. ”Faith” here means faith in God, faith in Christ, faith in his very great promises. To have faith is to believe in God and in Christ. To have faith is to know for certain that God will keep his word. To have faith is to live with confidence — confidence, not in yourself, but in God who is ever faithful. 

The evil one will cast many arrows in your direction. His arrows are lit aflame with the fires of hell. He seeks to consume you. He will say things like, God does not care for you. He has abandoned you and is nowhere to be found. His word is not true. He has lied to you. It would better for you to live, not for him and for the world to come, but for yourself and for the pleasures of this life. When the flaming arrows of the evil one are cast in your direction, you had better have the shield of faith. 

You professed faith in God and in the Christ he provided at the beginning. You claimed to trust in him for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. But here the Apostles is exhorting you to walk by faith and not by sight, to daily take up the shield of faith so that you might repel the constant attack of the evil one, to trust in and rely upon God and Christ always. 


The Helmet Of Salvation

Fifthly, Paul commands the Christian to “take the helmet of salvation…” (Ephesians 6:17, ESV)

The helmet of salvation belongs to Christ. He used it to defeat all of his and our enemies. Again, Isaiah 59:17 prophesied concerning the coming Messiah, saying, “He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak” (Isaiah 59:17, ESV). This helmet of salvation belongs to Christ, for he has earned salvation. But he gives it to us, and it is received by faith. 

If you are in Christ — if you are united to him by faith — then you are saved in him — saved from your sins; saved from the evil one; delivered from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of light; rescued from eternal death and heirs of life eternal. This salvation that was earned by Christ and that is yours through faith in him is to be applied daily as a helmet for your head to guard your mind. 

I am reminded of what the Apostle revealed to us concerning his prayers for the Ephesians back in 1:15, saying, “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:15–21, ESV)

Friends, do you know how rich you are in Christ? Do you know how great a salvation he has accomplished for you? Do you comprehend the “immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe”? I think this is what it means to take the helmet of salvation. The Christian is to forever grow in his comprehension of these things. He is to think upon them. And having considered this marvelous salvation that is ours, he is to lift his head with joy and confidence, knowing that the victory has already been won by our King.


The Sword Of The Spirit, The Word Of God

Sixthly, and lastly, Paul commands us to take up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17, ESV). 

The sword is the only offensive weapon mentioned in this passage. All other pieces of armor are defensive. And sword for the Christian is the word of God. It is called the sword of the Spirit because it is the sword that the Spirit of God supplies. The Spirit inspired the word, and the Spirit does apply the word to the believer — he uses it to convict of sin, to instruct in way of life, and to encourage. The believer is to take up this sword to fight back against the evil one as he attacks.

This is the very thing that Christ did. Being tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he repelled the attack by answering three times over, “it is written.” How did he counter Satan’s lies? By striking back with the word of God. So while it is true that the blows of the evil one may be absorbed and deflected by the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation, the Christian has been supplied with a weapon with which to strike back, the living word of God. 

Regarding the word of God, Charles Hodge has said, “This puts to flight all the powers of darkness. The Christian finds this to be true in his individual experience. It dissipates his doubts; it drives away his fears; it delivers him from the power of Satan. It is also the experience of the church collective. All her triumphs over sin and error have been affected by the word of God. So long as she uses this and relies on it alone, she goes on conquering; but when anything else, be it reason, science, tradition, or the commandments of men, is allowed to take its place or share its office, then the church, or the Christian, is at the mercy of the adversary.”



“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…” (Ephesians 6:14–17, ESV).

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Ephesians 6:14-17, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: Ephesians 6:14-17: Take Up The Whole Armor Of God

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