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Practical Truth in Ephesians (2)
The Spiritual Armour (Eph. 6:14-18)

No 1  "Be strong in the Lord" (Eph.6:10)

No 3  "and having done all, to stand " (Eph. 6:13)

In the doctrinal section we learn of the great and wonderful spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ. By faith we enjoy them now, but the full realization is future. Now, we have the earnest, or foretaste, a pledge of the blessing to be enjoyed later.

We read of the will of the Father, who chose us and adopted us into the family with an inheritance in view. The work of the Son is set out, the redemption through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the forgiveness of our sins according to the riches of His grace. The witness of the Spirit includes the sealing with that Holy Spirit of promise, and in the Authorized Version we have the phrase "after that ye believed". Ephesians 1:13,14 reads in the N.I.V., "And you also were included in Christ when ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, Who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-to the praise of His glory". No wonder the apostle Paul exclaims in verse 3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ".

Satan is in opposition to God's plan. We believe that Satan is a defeated enemy, but the war is not yet over. We are subjected to attacks by the enemy, and we are unable to withstand the wiles of the devil in our own strength. We must rely on the power, the mighty power, that is given to us, and remember what Christ has already done. So the apostle Paul writes in Romans:

"In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.
For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers . . . shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus" (Rom.8:37-39).

The extent of the victory of Christ is wider than we often think. He is victor over death and the grave, and that is indeed wonderful for it leads us to think of the resurrection power, but in the passage quoted above we see also a long list of those things which cannot separate us from the love of God. In Colossians 2:15 we see another viewpoint, the victory of Christ over principalities and powers:

"And having spoiled the principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (A.V.).

"And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross" (N.I.V.).

Let us now look at the spiritual armour. We must emphasise that the armour is `spiritual'.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:4;

 "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds".

In Romans 13:12 he refers to the "armour of light" and in 2 Corinthians 6:7, the "armour of righteousness".

On page 414 of In Heavenly Places, Charles Welch sets out the sixfold armour of Ephesians 4:14-18 in the form of a structure, which we quote:

Sixfold Armour

A   THE GIRDLE Truth or faithfulness
    B   THE BREASTPLATE Righteousness
       C   THE SHOES Gospel of peace
A   THE SHIELD Faith or faithfulness
    B   THE HELMET Salvation
       C   THE SWORD The Word of God

In connection with the girdle, we observe that Charles Welch writes "Truth or faithfulness", and we may ask why he adds faithfulness. The Greek word aletheia is translated "truth", but Charles Welch points out that the LXX translates "faithfulness" by aletheia, and quotes as an example Isaiah 11:5:

"Faithfulness (shall be) the girdle of his reins".

It is interesting to note that there is a link with the sixfold armour in other passages:

"For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon his head" (Isa.59:17).

"How beautiful . . . are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace" (Isa.52:7).

Truth is absolutely vital to the Christian. There is a link between truth and faithfulness. The follower of Christ must be sincere, speak the truth and defend the truth at all times. If there is any doubt in the heart, the enemy will use that uncertainty to undermine faith, and ultimately the Christian may be deceived. Satan used this method to sow the seed of doubt when he spoke to Eve in the garden of Eden. So she was persuaded to eat the forbidden fruit and she disobeyed.

In view of the importance of truth in the life of the Christian, it may be helpful if we look at all the references to truth in this epistle. We found that in Ephesians 4:24 the Authorized Version reads "and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness". The margin has a note which reads "the holiness of truth", and it appears that this gives the literal translation. We therefore include this in our list, and so there are seven references to "truth" which we find form a pattern, which we give below:

Truth in Ephesians

A   1:13 Heard the word of truth
   B   4:15 GROW UP Speaking the truth in love
      C   4:21 PUT OFF Taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus
         D   4:24 PUT ON Righteousness and the holiness of truth
      C   4:25 PUT AWAY Speak every man truth
   B   5:9 FRUIT Goodness and righteousness and truth

A   6:14 Loins girt about with truth

It will be seen that in the context of truth, we have the doctrine chapter one (which we need to hold faithfully), followed by instructions which affect not only our faith, but our daily life. We must be sincere, truthful, in our dealings in business and in our social life, as we speak to our `neighbour'. There are references to "grow up into Him in all things which is the Head, even Christ", also to the "fruit of the Spirit", or as translated in the N.I.V. "the fruit of the light", which follows the injuction of 5:8 to "walk as children of light". There are the practical injuctions of putting off the old man, putting on the new man, and putting away lying, so that we speak truth with our neighbour. This is practical truth for today.

We find there are eight references to faith in Ephesians which might be in the form of an introversion, like the structure of the references to Truth. We will however just list the eight references, and leave the reader to test and seek for the structure himself:

Faith in Ephesians

1:15 Heard of your faith
2:8 By grace are ye saved through faith
3:12 Access . . . by the faith of Him
3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith
4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism
4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith
6:16 The shield of faith
6:23 Peace . . love with faith

In connection with the "shield of faith" in 6:16, Charles Welch puts forward the question, is this a reference to our faith, or the Lord's faithfulness? He then draws attention to Psalm 91, as follows:

"He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shah thou trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shaft not be afraid for terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday" (Psa.91:4-6).

The next pair in the structure of The Sixfold Armour, under B.B, is the Breastplate-righteousness, and The Helmet of salvation. Charles Welch links these as `heart' and `head'. From a doctrinal aspect, salvation is essential. We were by nature without Christ, having no hope, and without God in the world. But it is by faith we are saved. In his book Letters From Prison, page 111, Stuart Allen suggests that the breastplate righteousness does refer in the first place to imputed righteousness, that it also has practical implications. It refers to righteousness in action. Stuart Allen also points out that the head stands for thinking and planning so the helmet of salvation has doctrinal and practical implications.

The third pair in the structure, C. C, relating to the feet and hands is "The Shoes-gospel of peace" and "The Sword-The Word of God".

There are four references to gospel in Ephesians, 1:13, 3:6, 6:15, and 6:19 and eight references to peace, bearing in mind that in the Greek "peace" occurs twice in 2:17. We venture to set out these passages in a structure:

Peace in Ephesians

A   1:2 Grace and peace
   B   2:14 He is our peace
      C   2:15 Of twain, one new man, so making peace
         D   2:17 Peace-those far off
         D   2:17 Peace-them that were nigh
      C   4:3 Endeavour to keep unity-bond of peace
   B   6:15 Preparation of gospel of peace
A   6:23 Peace and love with faith

The practical aspect of peace is shown in this structure. The need to keep the unity of the Spirit is so important, and yet how difficult this can be. We should be ready to declare the good news of peace, and witness to our faith at all times.

The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, is our only offensive weapon. All the others are defensive. As we read of the temptation endured by our Lord, we see how He used the Scriptures to great effect. In order that we should be ready to use the sword, we need to read and study the Scripture continually. Let us remember Colossians 3:16:

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord".