The Christian's Helmet
Shoes for Pilgrims
Shield of Faith
Sword of the Spirit
Master Sermon List
Shoes for Pilgrims and Warriors
by C. H. Spurgeon
"And your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace..." Ephesians 6:15
The Christian was evidently intended to be in motion, for here are shoes for his feet. His head is provided with a helmet, for he is to be thoughtful. His heart is covered with a breastplate, for he is to be a man of feeling. His whole nature is protected by a shield, for he is called to endurance and caution. But that he is to be active is certain, for a sword is provided for his hand and sandals for his feet.
To think that a Christian is to be motionless as a post and inanimate as a stone, or merely pensive as a weeping willow and passive as a reed shaken by the wind, is altogether a mistake. God works in us, and His grace is the great motivating power that secures our salvation. But He does not drug us into unconscious submission or engineer us into mechanical motion. Rather, He arouses all our activities by working in us "to will and to do of His good pleasure." Grace imparts healthy life, and life rejoices in activity.
The Lord never intended His people to be automatons worked by clock or statues cold and dead. He meant them to have life, to have it abundantly, and in the power of that life to be full of energy. It is true He makes us lie down in green pastures, but equally certain is it that He leads us onward beside still waters. A true believer is an active person; he has feet, and he uses them.
He who marches meets with rough terrain, or if as a warrior he dashes into the thick of conflict, he is assailed with weapons, and therefore he needs footwear to meet his perils. The active and energetic Christian meets with temptations that others do not meet. Idle persons can hardly be said to be in danger; they are a stage beyond that and are already overcome. Satan barely needs to tempt them; they rather tempt him and are a fermenting mass in which sin multiplies exceedingly. But earnest, laborious believers are sure to be assailed, even as fruit-bearing trees are certain to be visited by birds. Satan cannot tolerate a person who serves God earnestly; such a person does damage to the archenemy's dominions and therefore must be incessantly assailed. The prince of darkness will try, if he can, to injure the person's character, to break his communion with God, to spoil the simplicity of his faith, to make him proud of what he is doing, or to make him despair of success. In one way or another he will, if possible, bruise the worker's heel or trip him up or lame him altogether. Because of all these dangers, infinite mercy has provided gospel shoes for the believer's feet, shoes of the best kind, such as only those warriors wear who serve the Lord of Hosts.
The shoes come from a blessed Maker, for the believer's feet are to be Shod with a Divine Preparation:
Many preparations and inventions are used for protecting feet, but this is a preparation in which infinite skill has been displayed and the same wisdom put forth as in the Gospel, which is the Masterpiece of God. Every portion of the Gospel is from God, and all the influence that makes it a Gospel of Peace is His, and we are therefore thankful to find that we are to wear "the preparation of the Gospel of Peace."
It would not be fitting that he who is helmeted with divine salvation should have shoes of mere human production. Having begun in the Spirit, it would be strange to be made perfect in the flesh. We rejoice that all the pieces of armor that compose our panoply come from the celestial Armorer, whose productions are without flaw.
We are glad to find that the shoes are made of excellent material,
...and what better material can there be than the Gospel of Peace and the peace that grows out of the Gospel? This is what is meant. We believe in a gospel that was formed in the purpose of God from all eternity, designed with infinite wisdom, wrought out at an enormous expense, costing nothing less than the Blood of Jesus, brought home by the infinite power of the Holy Spirit; a gospel full of blessings, any one of which would outweigh a world in price; a gospel as free as it is full; a gospel everlasting and immutable; a gospel of which we can never think too much, whose praises we can never exaggerate! It is from this choice Gospel that its choicest essence is taken, namely, its peace, and from this peace those sandals are prepared with which a man may tread on the lion and the adder [Psa_91:13; Luke_10:19], and even on the fierce burning coals of malice, slander, and persecution. What better shoes can our souls require?
What matchless material for the pilgrim's foot is the peace of the Gospel, the preparation of heart and life, which springs from a full knowledge, reception, and experience of the Gospel in our souls!
It means, first, that a Sense of Perfect Peace with God...
...is the grandest thing in all the world with which to travel through life. Let a man know that his sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, that he is reconciled to God by the death of His Son, and that between him and God there is no ground of difference, and what a joyful pilgrim he becomes!
When we know that as the Lord looks on us, His glance is full of infinite, undivided affection; that He sees us in Jesus Christ as cleansed from every speck of sin and "accepted in the Beloved" (Eph_1:6); that by virtue of a complete atonement we are forever reconciled to God; then do we march through life without fear, booted and buskined for all the difficulties of the way, ready to plunge without fear through fire and water, thorn and thistle. A man at peace with God dreads neither the ills of life nor the terrors of death; poverty, sickness, persecution, and pain have lost their sting when sin is pardoned. What is there that a man needs to fear when he knows that everything comes from the Father's Hand and works his everlasting good?
Goliath had greaves of brass upon his legs, [1_Sam_17:6] but he is better armed who wears a full assurance of peace with God through the Gospel; he shall tread down his enemies and crush them as grapes in the winepress. His shoes shall be iron and brass; and shod with them, he shall stand upon the high places of the earth, and his feet shall not slip. Achilles received a deadly wound in the heel, but no arrow can pierce the heel of the man whose foot is sandalled with reconciliation by Atoning Blood. Many a warrior has fainted on the march and dropped from the ranks exhausted, but no weariness of the way can happen to the man who is upheld by the Eternal God, for his strength shall daily be renewed.
There are times when the Lord of pilgrims hides His face from them in sore displeasure, and then it is very hard travelling. Life is a "great and terrible wilderness" when the Lord's Presence is withdrawn. The more a man loves the Lord, the more he suffers when there is a temporary suspension of happy communion between his soul and heaven; and he cannot be happy again till he knows that he is fully restored to the Father's favor.
O child of God, you will soon have your feet torn with the briers of the way if you do not abide in fellowship with God! When Adam lost his oneness with God, he discovered he was naked; and so will you, if you lose your communion with Jesus. Where before you dashed onward as with a charmed life, treading the world and all its cares beneath your feet, you will find yourself pierced with many sorrows, bleeding with acute griefs, scratched, torn, lacerated with trials, losses, crosses, and annoyances endless.
If we continue in the love of Jesus, pleasing Him in all things, jealously watching and carefully observing His will, our mind will be kept by the Peace of God that passes all understanding, and our road to Heaven will be a pleasant one. While it may indeed be very rough in itself and in the judgment of others, it will be so smoothed to us by the Peace that reigns within, that we shall glory in weakness, exult in suffering, and triumph in distress, knowing that the Lord is with us and no harm can come to us. Thus you see that the Peace that comes from justification and the fuller Peace that arises from enjoying the love of God, are a grand preparation for our life's journey, a shoe for the foot unrivalled in excellence.
Surely it is when the heart is completely at one with God that the true beauty of the Christian character is seen. Shod with perfect delight in the Will of the Lord, we are able to surmount all the difficulties and trials of the way, for it becomes sweet to suffer when we see that it is the Will of God. Resignation is good, but perfect acquiescence is better; and happy is the man who feels it. No silver sandals were ever so precious, no buskins of golden mail adorned with precious stones were so glorious, to look upon, as a mind molded to the Divine Will, perfectly in tune with the Mind of the Lord Most High.
The preparation of the Gospel of Peace, as you can see, is in many aspects, the fittest help for our journey to the Promised Land; and he who has his feet shod with it need not fear the flinty ways, the craggy rocks, or the thorny defiles.
But the Gospel of Peace has another side to it, for it not only brings us peace with God, but also inspires us with peace toward ourselves.
Civil war is the worst war, and for a man to be at discord with himself is the worst of strife. The worst peril of the Christian pilgrimage is that which arises from the pilgrim's own self; and if the pilgrim is ill at ease within himself, his course cannot be a happy one. It is a cruel case for a man when his own heart condemns him. To whom shall he look for a defense when his own conscience indicts him and all his faculties turn king's evidence against him? It is to be feared that many believers habitually do things on which they would not like to be questioned by the rule of the Word of God. Such people have to close their eyes to many passages of Scripture or be uneasy in their consciences. This makes for wretched travelling. It is like walking through a woods with bare feet. If you cannot satisfy your own heart that you are right, you are in a sad case indeed, and the sooner matters are changed, the better.
But a man who proceeds with confidence can say before the Living God, "I know that what I am about to do is right, and whatever comes of it, I have a pure motive and the Lord's sanction to sustain me in it." Such a pilgrim is prepared for roughest ways, and will hold on his way joyfully to the end. Come what may, if we order our ways with reverent regard to the Lord's commands, we shall be able to confront the future with serenity; for we shall not have to accuse ourselves of bringing ourselves into trouble by sin, or losing our joys by indulging in forbidden things. When the believer falls into any trouble through having been zealous for God, then may he spread his complaint before God with the full expectation that He will bring him out of all his difficulties; for it is written, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord... None of his steps shall slide." (Psa_37:23,31) Oh, to walk in such a way that your conscience is void of offense both toward God and toward man, then integrity and uprightness will preserve you, and your goings will be established.
While travelling through the mazes of life, another form of the Preperation of The Gospel of Peace will be of Essential Service to us, Namely, Peace with our Fellowmen.
The Gospel of Peace leads us into the closest bonds of amity with our fellow believers, although alas, it is not always possible to prevent offenses arising, even with the best of them. If we cannot make all our brethren amiable, we are at least to be at peace, on our side; and if we succeed at this, no great disagreement can arise, for it always requires two to make a quarrel.
It is good to go to bed every night feeling, "I have no difference in my soul with any members of Christ's body; I wish all of them well and love, from my heart." This would enable us to travel royal style over fields that now are often stony with controversy and thorny with prejudice. Theological conflicts and squabbles would utterly disappear, if we were shod with the true spirit of the Gospel of Peace. An unwillingness to think badly of any Christian is a sandal most easy to the foot, protecting it from many a thorn. Wear it in the church; wear it in all holy service; wear it in all fellowship with Christians; and you will find your way among the brethren greatly smoothed. You will before long win their love and esteem, and avoid a world of jealousy and opposition that would otherwise have impeded your course.
It is best to travel with this shoe of Peace of All Mankind.
"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." (Rom_12:18) It is barely possible, but aim at it; and if you do not perfectly succeed, try again. You cannot help that the unconverted despise your religion, but you must love them; and by degrees, you may win them to love both you and your Lord. If they will not live peaceably with you, yet give them your love and live peaceably with them.
Be not easily provoked, bear and forbear, forgive and love on, return good for evil, seek to benefit even the most unthankful; and you will travel to Heaven in the pleasantest manner. Hatred, envy, and persecution may come, but a loving spirit materially blunts their edge and oftentimes inherits the promise, "When a man's ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." (Prov_16:7)
If you set out to avenge a wrong, you will not journey pleasantly or safely; but if from the depth of your soul you can say, "When Christ made peace with God for me, He made peace between me and my bitterest foe," you will march on like a hero. God grant us that loving spirit that comes of free grace and is the work of the Holy Spirit, for it is a mystic sandal that gives wings to feet and lightens a weary load.
Having thus described these Gospel shoes, I should like to say that the feet of our Lord and Master were sandalled in this manner. Jesus was the King of pilgrims, and to Him the way was even rougher than it can be to us; but these were the shoes He wore; and having worn them, He counsels us to put on the same. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you." (John 14:27) He always walked in fellowship with God; He could truly say, "I came down from Heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me. He that sent me is with me." Ever did He seek the good of His chosen: "having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." (John 13:1)
And as for His enemies, He had only prayers and tears for them; He was at peace with all above, around, and within Him. That peaceableness of His, that wonderful serenity, was one of the marvelous points of His character. You never find Him worried, disturbed, flustered. No, that is our weakness, because we take our shoes off and are taken by surprise; but His feet were always shod. He dwelt in perfect peace, and therefore He was the grandest Pilgrim and noblest Worker. We cannot be better shod than our Lord was. Let us sandal our hearts with His Peace, and we shall be royally prepared for our journey.
I may add that these shoes are such, as will last all our journey. We feel most comfortable in our old shoes, for they fit the foot so well; but they will wear out at last: These shoes of my text are old, yet ever new. The everlasting Gospel yields us everlasting Peace. The Good News from Heaven never grows stale. The man who wears the preparation of the Gospel of Peace was comforted by it when he was young, and it still cheers him in his later days. It made him a good traveller when he first set out, and it will protect his last footsteps when he crosses the River Jordan and climbs the Celestial Hills.
Let us Try on the Shoes:
Here our joy is great to find that they fit perfectly...
...and need no tugging or straining to get them on. By a miracle more strange than magic, the preparation of the Gospel of Peace suits every foot, whether it be of a babe in grace or a strong man in Christ. No man can travel well, much less engage in battle successfully, unless his dress is comfortable, especially that part of it that relates to the feet; and here we have the grand advantage, that no foot was ever uneasy, once it put on this shoe. Mephibosheths [2_Sam_4:4], who have been lame in both feet from their birth, have found this shoe works miracles and causes them to leap as harts upon the mountains.
The Gospel of Peace helps all our weaknesses, heals all the wounds of our old sins, and suits itself to all our tender places. Whatever the weaknesses may be, the Gospel provides for it; whatever the distress, its Peace relieves it. Other shoes have their pinching points, but he who wears the preparation of the Gospel of Peace shall know no straitness of spirit, for the Gospel gives rest to our minds. Real Gospel, really believed, means real peace. That which disturbs us is something alien to the spirit of the Gospel, but the Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of Peace. Who would not wear such a shoe?
The Preparation of the Gospel of Peace is a wonderful shoe for Giving its Wearer a Firm Foothold.
Surely it was one of this shoe that Habakkuk sang, "The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places." (Hab_3:19) When persons are on slippery rocks or dangerous cliffs where a fall would be fatal, it is essential to be so shod that the feet can grip and hold. Nothing aids a man to stand fast in the Lord like the Peace of the Gospel.
Many believers are attacked with doctrinal error and yield easily; they are assailed by temptation, and out go their feet from under them. But the man who has peace with God and relies upon the Most High, shall never be moved, for the Lord upholds him. His shoes have driven themselves into eternal Certainties and hold like Anchors. He knows Whom he has believed, and feels a Heavenly Peace within. Tell him that the Doctrines of Grace are a mistake, that salvation is all of free will and man's merit, and he says, "I know better. I know the Doctrines of Sovereign Grace to be true, by experience; I know that I have peace with God." You cannot move him an inch; his creed is interwoven with his personal consciousness; and there is no arguing him out of it. In these days of skepticism, it is good to be so shod, that you can and do stand on the Truth, and cannot be blown about like thistledown in the breeze.
The shoe of our text is equally famous for its Suitability for Marching in the Ways of Daily Duty.
Soldiers have little time for considering the comfort of their shoes, or their fitness for mere standing, for they have daily marchings to perform. We, too, have our marchings, heavy marches involving stern toil and protracted effort. A soul at perfect peace with God is the soundest preparation for progress and the surest support under trials. Try on these shoes and see whether they do not enable you to run without weariness and walk without fainting. On earth they have no rival; they make men like the angels, to whom duty is delight.
These Gospel shoes are also An Effectual Preservative from all the ordinary roughness of the Road of Life;
although to most of us, the road is far from smooth. He who expects to find a grassy walk all the way to Heaven will be sorrowfully mistaken. [Mat_7:14] The Way is rugged, like the goat tracks of Engedi 1, and oftentimes so narrow and so far on high that the eagle's eye cannot discern it. The blood of former pilgrims stains the Way to Glory; yet from all perils to our feet, the preparation of the Gospel of Peace will guard us; from fears within and fightings without, [2_Cor_7:5] Gospel Peace will surely deliver us.
Perhaps we are more vexed with little trials than with great ones. Certainly we bear them with far less equanimity, but a peaceful heart protects alike from tiny thorns and terrible rocks. Everyday vexations, as well as extraordinary tribulations, we shall bear cheerfully when the Peace of God keeps our heart and mind.
This shoe is also Good for Climbing.
Do you ever practice the holy art of spiritual climbing, God's Blessed Spirit leading the way? Do you ever climb Mount Tabor 2 to be transfigured with your Master? Have you watched with Him one hour and seen His conflict and victory? Have you ever looked upon Pisgah's 3 glorious heights, upon the good land and Lebanon, anticipating the Glory to be revealed? Has your spirit ever been away there alone in mysterious communings with God upon the Hermons 4? I trust you know what climbing work means and that you have enjoyed rapt ecstatic communings with Jesus Christ; but of this I am sure, you can never mount on high if your feet are not shod with the Peace of God. Without these sacred sandals, there is no climbing. Only those who delight themselves in the Lord God shall ascend the Hill of the Lord and stand in His Holy Place.
The heart prepared by Peace with God is shod suitably For Running as well as Climbing.
There are periods when all our energies must be put forth, and we must rush forward at the heroic pace; for at certain passages in life's campaign, things must be carried by storm, and every faculty must dash forward at its swiftest speed. Troubled in heart, our foot is blistered, our knee is weak, and our movements are painfully slow; but the Joy of the Lord is our strength [Psa_21:1]; and in the power of it, we become like Asahel [2_Sam_2:18], fleet of foot as a deer.
Lastly, this shoe is Good for Fighting...
...and that I gather from Paul, having put it among the armor. In the old style, fighting meant hand to hand and foot to foot. Then it was needful for the feet to be well protected, and indeed so well covered over as to be useful in assault; for the warriers spurned with their feet as well as smote with their hands, and many a foe was brought down with a heavy kick. Christians are expected to fight with their feet in the battle against sin and Satan. Indeed, they must fight with all their powers and faculties. That grand promise has been given to us, "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly" (Rom_16:20).
What a tread we will give him when we once have the opportunity! We shall need to have our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace to break that old dragon's head and grind his snares to powder; and, God helping us, we shall do it. Our Covenant Head has trampled on the old servant, and so shall all his members.