“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.”

“Stand, therefore”
Literally:  “Then stand firm–This is the fourth time that Paul gives us this exhortation.  Prepare yourselves for combat.  Nowhere else will you find Paul laying it on the line and speaking like a sergeant (or should I say, centurion).  Elsewhere he said, “I beseech you,” (“I am asking you; I am begging you”) but now he gives the command to stand.   Not only are we to be in a standing position, but we are to have on a special armor to protect ourselves.  We are not to be outwitted by the wiles of the devil; rather, we are to be ready for his attacks.


Roman Soldeirs Standing              

First, understand that every piece of this armor really speaks of Christ.  We are already in Christ in the heavenlies, and we should daily put on Christ down here in our earthly walk.  Paul has already told us to put on Christ.  He is the One Who is the truth (John 14:6), and we should put Him on in our lives.

        STAND:  (Gr.-stēte)–Literally: “stand firm.”  The repetition of this command in vv. 11, 14, shows that standing, that is, maintaining our ground, not yielding or fleeing, is the grand aim of the Christian soldier.  Prepare yourselves for combat.

Starting with v. 13, we see the complete, or holy, number (7) as Paul begins to name seven pieces of armor for the protection of the believer.      

“having your loins girt about with truth”
Literally:  “having girded your loins about with truth”–So that ye may be ready for every motion.  The allusion is to the military girdle, which was worn about the loins for strength, and not for mere ornament.  Here is the second of the seven pieces of armor that Paul names.

         GIRDLE:  (Gr.-zonē)–This was a sash, or belt, that went about the loins, and served to brace the armor tight to the body, and to support daggers, short swords, and such like weapons, which were frequently stuck in it. This kind of girdle is in general use among the Asiatic nations to the present day.

         The girdle, or sash, was always with the ancients an important part of their dress, in war as well as in peace. They wore loose, flowing robes; and it became necessary to gird them up when they travelled, or ran, or labored. The girdle was often highly ornamented, and was the place where they carried their money, their sword, their pipe, their writing instruments, etc.
        In the garments of Paul’s day, the girdle about the loins held in place every part of the clothing.  It was essential to hold everything in place so that the soldier was not hindered.  If the girdle was lost, you lost everything.  The Roman soldier had such a girding that was covered with metal plates also served to protect his manhood while in battle.  To have the loins of our mind girt about with truth is to have a belt of Scripture reining in and controlling our desires.  When our loins are girt about with the truth, all of our spiritual flabbiness and looseness of character will be taken away.
         A girdle of sincerity keeps the whole man in marching order, and braces him up to meet the father of lies.  An insincere man is a loose man, and a loose man is a lost man.  Truth is the band that girds up and keeps together the flowing robes, so as that the Christian soldier may be unencumbered for action. Incidentally, the Passover was eaten with the loins girt, and the shoes on the feet.

        “And thus shall ye eat it, {with} your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste:  it {is} the LORD’S Passover” (Exo. 12:11).
        “None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken” (Isa. 5:27).
        “Let your loins be girded about and {your} lights burning” (Luke 12:35).


Roman Army “Girdle”

“having on the breastplate of righteousness”
Literally:  “having put on the breastplate of righteousness”  The third piece of armor mentioned is the breastplate of righteousness.

        BREAST-PLATE: (Gr.-thorax)—Or curiassThis consisted of two parts; one covered the whole region of the thorax or breast, in which the principal viscera of life are contained; and the other covered the back, as far down as the front part extended.

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        RIGHTEOUSNESS: (Gr.-dikaisoune)–This word signifies the principle of righteousness; (1)  the practice of righteousness, or living a holy life; (2) God's method of justifying sinners; and it signifies justification itself.

Here it may imply:
1.      A consciousness of justification through the blood of the cross;

2.      The principle of righteousness or true holiness implanted in the heart; and,
3.      A holy life, a life regulated according to the testimonies of God.
As the breast-plate defends the heart and lungs, and all those vital functionaries that are contained in what is called the region of the thorax; so this righteousness, this life of God in the soul of man, defends everything on which the man's spiritual existence depends. While he possesses this principle, and acts from it, his spiritual and eternal life is secure.

         This righteousness is not only the righteousness imputed to us by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but it is also the personal righteousness wrought in us by the Holy Spirit showing to the world that we have been born again, and made a new creation.  Christ is the righteousness of the believer.  The filthy rags of self-righteousness are useless as a breastplate.  Only the righteousness of Christ can enable the believer to stand before men and before God, but the heart that is to be protected should be a heart that is not condemning the believer.  It is an awful condition to have sin in the life while we are trying to carry on the battle.  We can never win in that way.
         The breastplate is worn upon the heart, from whence originate our affections and emotions, and out of which the issues of life arise.  Many unsaved people rankle under a sense of injustice as they deal with professing Christians, because such Christians do not have upon them the breastplate of righteousness.  Eloquent testimonies carry little weight when they are neutralized by unrighteous deeds and acts.  When the messenger is discredited, the message is discredited.  When we are filled with the Holy Spirit and when we yield our lives to the indwelling Christ, it is an easy matter to put on the breastplate of righteousness.

“And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace”

         Here we have the fourth of the seven pieces of the believers spiritual armor–his shoes. f the feet or legs are materially wounded, a man can neither stand to resist his foe, pursue him if vanquished, nor flee from him should he have the worst of the fight.  The Romans soldiers’ shoes were constructed from leather and laced up the center of the foot and onto the top of the ankle. The shoe was furnished with nails that gripped the ground firmly, even when it was sloping or slippery; likewise, the good news of peace keeps us upright and firm. The idea seems that the mind is to be steadied, kept from fear and flutter, by  means of the good news of peace—the good news that we are at peace with God.
Roman Shoes         Shoes can also speak of our readiness to do anything; our readiness to go when God says, “Go,” ready to stay when He says, “Be quiet.”   We need to be not merely church goers and pew warmers, but Christians ready for service.  The responsibility of letting the world know that Christ has “made peace through the blood of His Cross” (Col. 1:20) has been placed into our hands.
         Shoes can also speak of our Christian walk, i.e., our service for the Lord.  Shoes are necessary for walking over rough ground.  They also speak of the foundation of Christ upon which we stand and labor.  We need to put on Christ!  Oh, how we need Him today as we face a world that is becoming more antagonistic toward Christianity and also spiritual wickedness in the darkness of this world!  This part of the armor, for the feet, is needful, considering what a journey we have to go; what a race to run.  Our feet must be so shod, that our feet do not slip.

        PREPARATION:   (Gr.-etoimasiai)– Literally:, “the preparedness,” or “readiness of;” that is, preparedness to do and suffer all that God wills; readiness for march, as a Christian soldier.

To order our life and conversation rightly, we must be prepared by the gospel blessing, the peace and love of God ruling in the heart, Col. 3:14,15.  This is really the only way we can walk the rough ways and surmount our difficulties.

“of the gospel of peace”
The “peace” within forms such a beautiful contrast to the raging of the outward conflict. The sense is, that the Christian soldier is to be prepared with the gospel of peace to meet attacks similar to those against which the ancient soldier designed to guard himself by the sandals or greaves which he wore.

        “Thou wilt keep {him} in perfect peace, {whose} mind {is} stayed on {Thee} because he trusted in Thee” (Isa. 26:3).
        “To give light to them that sit in darkness and {in} the shadow of death, to guide our feet unto the way of peace” (Luke 1:79).

        “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7)

“Above all taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”

         “Above all taking the shield of faith,”
        Here we have the fifth of the seven pieces of the believers spiritual armor.

        ABOVE ALL:  (Gr.-epi pasin)–Not above all in point of importance or value, but over- all, as a soldier holds his shield to defend himself. It constitutes a protection over every part of his body, as it can be turned in every direction.

The idea is, that as the shield covered or protected the other parts of the armor, so faith had a similar importance in the Christian virtues.

“taking the shield of faith”
Literally:  “having taken up the shield of faith.”–Here we have the sixth of the seven pieces of the believers spiritual armor.

        SHIELD:  (Gr.-threon)–This shield (Latin–scutum) was usually made of light wood, or a rim of brass, and covered with several folds or thickness of stout hide, which was preserved by frequent anointing.

         This helped it to repel flaming arrows.  It was held by the left arm, and was secured by straps, through which the arm passed.  The outer surface of the shield was made more or less rounding from the center to the edge, and was polished smooth, or anointed with oil, so that arrows or “darts” would glance off, or rebound.  Basically, this shield was about the size of a door.  It was curved and covered the soldier from just below his eyes to mid-calf.   This was the shield of the heavy infantry—the protection of the in-fighter for hand-to-hand combat.

Soldier with Shield

Roman Soldier with Shield

 Christ is both the door to salvation and the door that protects the believer from the enemy without.

         OF FAITH: (Gr.-pisteos)–Faith here is made to occupy a more important place than either of the other Christian graces.  

1.      It bears, to the whole Christian character, the same relation which the shield does to the other parts of the armor of a soldier.
2.      It protects all, and is indispensable to the security of all, as is the case with the shield.
The shield was an ingenious device by which blows and arrows might be parried off, and the whole body defended. It could be made to protect the head, or the heart, or thrown behind to meet an attack there. As long as the soldier had his shield, he felt secure; and as long as a Christian has faith, he is safe. It comes to his aid in every attack that is made on him, no matter from what quarter; it is the defense and guardian of every other Christian grace; and it secures the protection which the Christian needs in the whole of the spiritual war.  

         Faith, like a shield, covers all and is therefore important above all. Look well to your confidence in God, for if this fails all fails. And as faith is the grace by which all others are preserved and rendered active, so it is properly represented here under the notion of a shield, by which the whole body is covered and protected.  Faith, in this place, must mean that evidence of things unseen which every genuine believer has, that God, for Christ's sake, has blotted out his sins, and by which he is enabled to call God his Father, and feel him to be his portion.  It is such an appropriating faith as this which can quench any dart of the devil.    

“Wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked”
Literally:  “With which you will be able to quench all of the darts of the wicked one”–The allusion is undoubtedly to the great enemy of the people of God, called, by way of eminence, THE wicked one..

        FIERY DARTS:   (Gr.-belē pepurōmena)–:Literally:  “darts having been made fiery.”  These “fiery darts” that were used in war were small, slender pieces of cane, which were filled with combustible materials, and set on fire; or darts around which some combustible material was wound, and which were set on fire, and then shot slowly against a foe. The object was to make the arrow fasten in the body, and increase the danger by the burning; or, more frequently, those darts were thrown against ships, forts, tents, etc., with an intention to set them on fire.

         By the “fiery darts of the wicked,” Paul here refers, probably, to the temptations of the great adversary, which are like fiery darts; or those furious suggestions of evil, and excitements to sin, which he may throw into the mind like fiery darts. They are blasphemous thoughts, unbelief, sudden temptation to do wrong, or thoughts that wound and torment the soul. In regard to them, we may observe,
1.      That they come suddenly, like arrows sped from a bow;

2.      They come from unexpected quarters, like arrows shot suddenly from an enemy in ambush;
3.      They pierce, and penetrate, and torment the soul, as arrows would that are on fire;
4.      They set the soul on fire, and enkindle the worst passions, as fiery darts do a ship or camp against which they are sent.

The only way to meet them is by the “shield of faith;” by confidence in God, and by relying on His gracious promises and aid. It is not by our own strength; and, if we have not faith in God, we are wholly defenseless. We should have a shield that we can turn in any direction, on which we may receive the arrow, and by which it may be put out.

Each doubt concerning God’s faithfulness and reliability and authenticity of God’s promises is like a fiery dart (arrow) with flames of hellish hate speeding to the heart of the soldier of the cross.  These Satanic darts are to be met by the “shield of faith,” which is protecting the heart.

         Oh, how the devil shoots a fiery dart when we pass through strange and trying experiences and testings.  When a loved one is removed from our presence, or when our possessions are swept away, how the darts come raining down on us and cause us to question the goodness and faithfulness of Him who said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5).  Strange things sometime happen to us, and sometimes in our attempt to find out why, we give the devil an opportunity to fire his darts at us.  Do not reason why, but bow low before Him and say, ‘Oh God, teach me the lesson which Thou hast for me to learn through this circumstance.  Give me the heart of a little child to believe that what I do not understand now I shall understand hereafter.”  Job wore the Shield of Faith when he suffered in the midst of afflictions, and tough he could not understand why God dealt thus with him, he cried, “Thou He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15).

Verse 17:
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;”

   “And take the helmet of salvation”
   Or, as it is expressed, I Thess. 5:8, “And for a helmet, the hope of salvation.”  This is the sixth of the seven pieces of the believers spiritual armor.

          The helmet (galea) had a reinforcing band across the front that gave it added protection from the blow of a battle-axe or heavy sword.  The helmet of the common soldier (legionary),  was simple and normally had no crest on it.  The helmet of the centurion had a horsehair crest that went from side-to-side; while the crest of tribunes and other higher officers had this horsehide crest that ran fore-and-aft. 

Roman Army Helmets


         This is the protection for the head.  A wound in the head is a serious matter.  A soldier for Christ may be true-hearted but if the devil aims a dart at his brain and it hits, the solder loses his worth in the army of Jesus Christ.  His thinking gets all eschewed.  Some believe that all that is necessary is for a Christian to possess a warm heart.  While the possession of a warm heart is not to be undervalued, unless it is coupled with the right doctrine in the head, there is great danger that much error, or heresy, will follow.
         Many a man has become useless in the service of God because his thinking has been changed by the evil one, or because he did not have the right kind of doctrinal instruction, and intellectual grasp. Then too, when a measure of success has been given and enjoyed in the service of God, how easy it is for pride to lift the head.  Such strutting bossiness and enlarged personal esteem have destroyed the ministries of many servants of Christ.  If the devil cannot fire a dart (arrow) through your heart, he will try to affect your head by shooting his arrows of pride and conceit.
         But our hope of continual safety and protection, built on the promises of God, to which the upright follower of Christ feels he has a Divine right, protects the understanding from being darkened, and the judgment from being confused by any temptations of Satan, or subtle arguments of the sophistical ungodly. He who carries Christ in his heart cannot be cheated out of the hope of his heaven.        

         While God does appeal to the heart, He does appeal more to the intellect.  Throughout the Scriptures God uses reason with man—“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD…” (Isa. 1:18).  Paul reasoned with Felix, the Roman governor.  He appealed to the mind of the man, as well as his heart. 

“and the sword of the Spirit”
This is the seventh of the believers spiritual armor. 

         For the believer this is referring to the Word of God, which is “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and the joints and marrow, and {is} a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12)

         The sword was an essential part of the armor of an Roman soldier. His other weapons were the bow, the spear, or the battle-axe. But, without a sword, no soldier would have regarded himself as well armed.  The Roman “short-sword,” (so-called), Latin name, gladius, was about 20 inches long, double edged and used primarily for stabbing (i.e., thrusting)..  The Roman legionary wore his sword high on the right side of his body.  This enabled it to be drawn underarm with the right hand without interfering with the shield which he carried on his left.

Swords         Up to this time, all the parts of the armor mentioned have been for defense.  Everything has been for the front of the soldier.  There is no protection for the back.  Now Paul begins to name two offensive weapons.  The first one is the Word of God, called the sword of the Spirit:  “For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit…” (Heb. 4:12). 
        Christ is the living Word of God.  He used the written Word of God to meet Satan in the hour of His temptation.  Out of His mouth goes a sharp two-edged sword in the battle of Armageddon (Rev. 1:16; 19:21).  He gains the victory with that sword.  What is it?  It is the Word of God.  We need that sharp sword going out of our mouths today.  The Word of God is a powerful weapon of offense.  You and I are to use it as such.
         Paul is referring to the ability to diligently use the Word of God in the culture of our souls.  Was there ever a time in the history of the Church when God’s people had a greater need for a firm grasp of the “Sword of the Spirit?  It is little wonder that Satan continually raises the question, “Hath God said?”  How easy it is for him to pervert and counterfeit the Book.  He knows that when that Book is proclaimed, it is like a warrior wielding a sword; therefore he tries to turn the servant of God to human philosophy and schemes of men.  Whether men believe the Bible is the Word of God or not, proclaim it anyhow.  Let its keen edge be in their consciences and hearts.  We have no need to defend the Word of God.  Attempting to defend the Bible is about as practical as defending a Bengal Tiger.  Just turn it loose.  It can defend itself!

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