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"Discerning the Times in the Light of the Word"

This excerpt is from chapter nine of the book
Disarming the Powers of Darkness
by Eric Barger and David Benoit.

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SHOES and a HAT to Match!

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.

—Ephesians 6:15

Shoes in ancient times were very important. They were so important that they were the only piece of clothing that the children of Israel wore continuously for forty years. Not a red pair for Tuesday and a blue pair for Thursday, but one pair of shoes for forty years. One reason these shoes were so important was that they fought their battles in the hot sand.

David grew up in Louisiana, not too far from the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. Eric grew up in a town in West Virginia, situated right on the Ohio River. Like most kids, we’d go to the beach and learned firsthand that even though there is cool water nearby, the sand is unusually hot. The point is that you can’t fight a battle when your feet are on fire. You can try to run, but all you seem to do is concentrate on just how uncomfortable your feet are.

A person can’t win spiritual battles without having solid footing either. The shoes of the gospel of peace are not just about us winning a battle and walking in salvation ourselves. Others are depending on us (though they most likely don’t know it) to share the truth of God’s salvation message with them. The good news is that God has given us long-lasting, protective and anointed footwear for our journey here on earth! These shoes in Ephesians 6:15 are the finest designer model available! They are constructed for battlefield use, to protect and serve the wearer well in adverse situations; and unlike the type we buy at the department store, they only get stronger with use! They were designed to assist us in spreading the gospel and to enable us to defend the faith. They are not cheap shoes. They are issued free of charge to all who will pick up the cause and join the army. However, the price tag was more than we could ever afford ourselves, for these shoes were purchased with the earthly life of our Savior Jesus Christ. Wear them with Him in mind and with His Kingdom’s business as their purpose. Walking in the power they represent is as if these shoes are sealed in His blood—no matter how hot the sands of battle might be, they’ll withstand it all!

David has had the opportunity to minister to the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, Indianapolis Pacers, Washington Wizards . . . and other professional teams, as well as many on the PGA golf tour. Over the years, Eric has had the occasion to minister both to and with sports figures, such as baseball great Dave Dravecky. In every case, one thing is a constant—sports figures know their equipment, starting with their shoes. In the case of the basketball teams, these guys come in—some of them are seven feet tall and we can assure you that these men don’t have normal feet. We’re not talking size eight, nine, ten; we’re talking size eighteen, nineteen, twenty. These shoes don’t have those little pumps. You’d have to have an air compressor to put that much air in that much shoe. The point is that you will never see a professional basketball player come to a pregame chapel service wearing baseball cleats. Nor will you see a professional baseball player come to a game with golf shoes on. They wear the shoes that are designed for their particular sport. And the shoes that we find mentioned in Ephesians 6 are designed to spread the gospel. So is the “helmet of salvation.”

Without any doubt, the most precious element in the protective or defensive suit of armor in biblical times was the helmet. It was often the difference between life and death in the close hand-to-hand combat that most battles were comprised of then. A person could be wounded in many other places and live, but a wound to the head could often spell death. The same is true with us Christians. The helmet is still a vital item in a soldier’s outfit and just as it is a lifesaver in times of war, the helmet of salvation is a life saver too—an eternal life saver! It is no accident that God used the analogy of salvation being a helmet. The helmet symbolizes the protection of the most crucial things in our physical lives on earth—our minds, eyes, ears—and is related to the most crucial element in eternity—our salvation. “And take the helmet of salvation . . .” (Ephesians 6:17a).

If there is any part of our walk with God that we need to take complete grasp of, it is our salvation. Countless Christians walk through their lives in abject fear about their place in eternity. How tragic. A person who is in constant fear of his place and acceptance with God will never be able to do the great things God has called him to. He will however, be exactly where Satan wants him—powerless, fearful, and usually silent. A person should fear if he or she is living in sin, but if there is anything that we have seen in our combined thirty-five–plus years in ministry, it is that the church needs a good dose of just who they really are in Christ! If we realize the awesome nature of what God has done for us and then what He has commissioned us to do for Him, the effects upon the lost world and the kingdom of darkness would be staggering! Satan wants an anemic, confused church, one consumed with fear and filled with people who walk without the knowledge and assurance of their own salvation. This is not only the very heart of the issue of Spiritual Warfare for many; it is also the thread that sews the banner of evangelism as well.

Part of defending the faith (Jude 3) is being ready to give every man an answer for the hope that lies within us (I Peter 3:15). Many Christians are lost for words when challenged about why they believe what they believe. Our lack of knowledge or inability to articulate our salvation to others causes us to retreat instead of going forward and taking back ground for the enemy. In short, we fail in perhaps the most eminent part of Spiritual Warfare simply because we are not prepared and studied in the very thing we contend is most important. Question yourself right now. Do you know why you believe what you do about salvation, the authenticity of the Bible, or even about Jesus and his death, blood, resurrection, and forgiveness? If not, you need to make it a point of ultimate importance and explore God’s Word and other study helps for answers. We guarantee that when the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses come to your door, they know what they have been told to say. Anyone who’s ever had a conversation with a cultist knows they have it down, don’t they? Either from being compelled to go door to door by man-made organizations or from outright fear that the god they serve will reject them if they don’t, they are vigilant in their assault on neighborhoods worldwide. Here they come, spreading a false gospel with more zeal than we do with the real thing! There is something tragically wrong with that picture. We have the age-old, historic, Christian message to spread, the right and privilege to do so, and the ability to honor and obey God by taking it to “whosoever.” Why is it that cultists are seemingly more effective through being forced and coerced to come to our doors with their false gospels? Perhaps our inability to communicate the basic creeds of our faith is directly related to the shirking of our responsibility to “go ye therefore” as Jesus commanded us ALL to do in the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:19–20). It’s again a matter of our lack of knowledge being perhaps the main detriment.

Spreading the gospel is the responsibility of every Christian, not just the pastor or evangelist. Once you have studied, prayed, and prepared yourself to do so, there is a supernatural phenomenon that takes place. It’s called a smile! And a smile on the face of a Christian is certainly an act of Warfare against the Devil’s forces. Shouldn’t it just be that way? After all, we ought to be the happiest people on earth—we’re going to Heaven! And shouldn’t our happiness be like a bombshell to the enemy? You will find that though doing the actual work of evangelism can heat up your spiritual battles, it won’t be a negative thing. The closeness and intimacy with God that results from sharing your faith will also bring you an unexplainable and uncontrollable happiness and satisfaction. This joy seems to self-produce and will make you like a beacon of God’s hope and love to a lost world. The closer we draw to God; the more yielded we become to His will; the higher we climb on the happiness meter! Our decision to be a witness for Jesus will position us to clearly experience what Nehemiah 8:10 proclaims—the joy of the Lord is your strength! This heaven-sent joy will result in your witness, both in lifestyle and in words, being far more effective as well. Are you getting this? The joy we sense in doing His will then spurs us on to more good works which will replenish the joy again, causing us to continue doing His will and so on. Remember it all starts with our decision to find our happiness in God by following the scriptural premise, “This IS the day that the Lord has made, I WILL rejoice and be glad in it.” Does your joy need a refreshing? If so, make the decision to start today!

All rights reserved. Copyright 2002, Eric Barger and David Benoit

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