The Christian Warrior
LOINS OF TRUTH
A BREASTPLATE of RIGHTEOUSNESSS
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth [doctrine], and having on the breastplate of [which is] righteousness [a holy character];
Paul was familiar with the Roman army in general, and he was familiar with the Roman solider in particular, and what an individual soldier wore into battle. Item by item, Paul used each piece of a soldier’s personal equipment to spiritually arm the believer-priest in the day of spiritual battle. With the Roman solider in mind Paul tells Christians to have their loins “girt”, or encircled, with a belt of truth. The reference to the loins cryptically refers to a basic and essential item of Roman military dress, the BALDRIC. It is similar to the modern Sam Brown belt.
The BALDRIC consisted of two parts: a broad leather girdle, which was worn around the waist, and a leather strap, which was worn across the chest and over the shoulder. To this foundational belt, the bottom part of the breastplate would be attached for security and stability. When the armor was light the scabbard for the sword could be attached. There were loops to hook ropes and rations. All of these items were easily assessible. Later, if the solider was successful in battle and took souvenirs from the enemies, they could also be carried on the BALDRIC as a trophy.
For the Christian, the basic foundation piece of armor is Bible doctrine in the soul. Without a foundation of Bible doctrine, the Christian is at a disadvantage. The truth is paramount to all else. The ungodly, the unbelieving do not know the truth, and so, they are at a disadvantage to the Christian who knows God, and His Son, Jesus Christ. The Christian who knows the whole truth about creation, the Fall, sin, salvation, and the hope of the resurrection has foundational armor in the day of spiritual conflict.
The second item mentioned is the breastplate. The Roman solider wore the LORICA, in the Latin, called the THORAX (lit. “door”) in the Greek. This article was usually made of leather and was often overlaid with metal strips or mail. The LORICA was shaped like a sleeveless shirt and covered both chest and back. It was contoured to the shoulders and was fastened by a series of studs and slots. The cuirass (kwi’ras) of the enlisted man was sometimes reinforced with iron or bronze and had metal fringes over the shoulders. The cuirass of an officer was usually plated with silver or gold depending upon wealth and military position.
For the Christian, his LORICA, or breastplate, is righteousness. It is not a single act of overt righteousness which protects the believer, but intrinsic righteousness in the soul characterized by personal integrity. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” They are consumed with doing the right thing at the right time each moment of the day. The Bible says that Job was a righteous man. He was blameless and upright. Job “feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). The LORD detests the way of the wicked, but He loves those who pursue righteousness” (Prov. 15:9). The word most often translated “righteousness” can so be rendered “justice” or “divine holiness.” The person who lives a sanctified or holy life is a righteous person. “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6).
The righteous person will manifest graciousness in speech. The righteous person will be thoughtful of others. The righteous person will live in peace with all men, and allow others to live their own lives in peace without trying to dominate, manipulate, or control every facet of their lives. There is respect of freedom and privacy. There is a nobility of soul that matches the nobility of their status in Christ who is the Most Righteous One.
SANDLES OF PREPARATION
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace [a willing desire to present Christ];
No matter how well trained and well-armed a solider might be, if he is not able to mobilize, if he is not able to walk into battle and fight effectively on his feet, the victory will go to the enemy. Therefore, the solider must have proper equipment for the feet. Proper footwear has always been important to every army that has ever marched. The Romans paid special attention to the soldier’s footwear for the infantry will always be the “Queen of the Services.” Call them “Dogface” today, as was popularly done during World War II, or “Doughboys”, as was done during World War I, the foot solider is essential to any military organization. The Romans called their infantry by the word CALIGATI after the heavy footwear they wore, the CALIGAE. The CALIGAE alleviated some problems other infantry soldiers would have who wore combat boots. There was not much foot disease or discomfort associated with the CALLIGAE.
The first thing the Roman soldier was taught after enlistment in the infantry was how to march in military step. By constant practice of a variety of orders the infantry could move right, left, flank, or reverse their march. It was not uncommon for a Roman soldier to march at half step twenty miles in five hours during the summer hours. By using the quicker full step, twenty-four miles could be covered. The hobnailed-studded leather soles, half an inch thick, provided traction and stability while on the march.
As the apostle Paul considered the foot wear of the Roman solider, and how it allowed the army to advance, he associated that marching with advancing the gospel. The Christian must be willing to march and advance the gospel. Spiritual feet must be shod. The Christian must put on their spiritual footwear. This means there is a readiness to serve our supreme Commander whenever and where ever He leads. The Christian puts on the footwear of the gospel of peace and sings a song while on the march.
“Wherever He leads I’ll go,
Wherever He leads I’ll go,
I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so,
Wherever He leads I’ll go.”
“I am ready” said Paul to the Church in Rome (Rom. 1:15). Notice it is a gospel of peace that is emphasized. Many Fundamentalists are known for emphasizing “hell-fire and damnation.” People are constantly being told they are going to hell, even if they don’t know it. While that is true, that is not the message that people want to hear, or the Lord wants us to emphasize. The Gospel is good news that God the Father, in love, Has given His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith [to believe the promises of God], wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
An effective army must have weapons of offense and weapons of defense. On March 29, 2002, the Israeli military launched Operation Defensive Shield against the Palestinians during the Second Intifada (uprising).
The Roman soldier had an effective weapon of defense in the shield. The SCUTUM (Latin), or THURA (Greek) was shaped like a door. It was constructed of a double thickness of planks, bound together with glue derived from the hides of bulls. The outer surface of the shield was wrapped in canvas and covered with calfskin. Along the top and bottom rims, the shield had an ornamental metal binding made of iron which protected the shield from damaging blows or cutting strokes of the enemy during combat.
The shield was fitted with an iron boss to ward off the destructive blows of stones, long javelins, and any projectiles flung at the soldier. Two leather straps attached to the shield fitted the soldier’s forearm and enable him to move the shield according to command and need. Every shield was painted with the soldier’s particular colors of his unit and identified his insignia. If needed, the soldiers could form a formation and put the shields over their heads, or use them as a solid line of defense.
To protect the Christian Warrior, God has given the shield of faith, which needs some explanation. For many people, faith is an emotional word that indicates a person has stopped thinking, and abandoned everything to a hope that all shall be well. That is not biblical faith. The Bible says that faith is the substance, or the firm confidence of things believed in. Faith is the evidence or guarantee of things not seen (Heb. 11:1).
In life, faith is how people learn. Someone told you that one plus one equals two, and you believed them. Someone told you the sky is blue, and you believed that the color you looked up and saw is blue. You learned in history class that George Washington was America’s first president, and you believed. That is faith.
By taking up the shield of faith, by believing the promises of God, every Christian Warrior is able to put out the flames of the fiery darts of the wicked.
Faith in God is the basis for power in prayer. “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matt. 21:22).
Faith in God vanquishes fear. There are many types of fear: fear of sickness, fear of adversity, fear of failure, fear of losing someone loved, fear of loss of job, fear of death. Nevertheless, fear can be overcome by faith. “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee” (Psalm 56:3).
Faith in God diminishes worry. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
Faith in God brings blessings to others. The faith of the centurion brought healing and health to his critically ill servant. “And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour” (Matt. 8:13).
Faith in God allows the Christian Warrior to be occupied with the person of Christ as a Believer Priest. “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:4, 5).
Faith in God is the modus operandi, the basic method of operation in the Royal Priesthood of the Believer. It is Divine Viewpoint that should occupy the mind of a Christian. “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:5), and not the wisdom of man. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).
Faith in God is the victory that overcomes the world, the flesh, and the Devil. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).
Christian Warrior, do you carry with you the shield of faith? Are you using it effectively to defend your body and soul as you move to advance the gospel of peace? The Wicked One has many fiery darts or projectiles to fling at you. There are many temptations that involve various lustful or fiery passions.
Some have a passion to become famous, or even infamous.
Some have a passion for wealth, and know the fiery temptation of scheming to get rich.
Many have a burning passion for sensuality, only to learn it cannot be adequately satisfied.
There are those who are driven by unholy ambition and lust to have power over others. In the Church, these people become the Legalist.
There is the intense need to be right in all that is said or done.
The fiery darts of the Wicked One are constantly flung at the Christian Warrior. Only true Biblical faith, or belief in God, can adequately shield the Believer-Priest.
THE HELMENT OF SALVATION
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word [Gr. rhema, selected portions] of God:
The Roman helmet was generally made from bronze which fitted over an iron skullcap, which had been lined with either leather or cloth for comfort. The helmet covered the back of the head and was reinforced by a back plate, which protected the neck of the soldier. On the top of the helmet was a ring for a crest of horsehair, or a feathered plume for military dress or parade. Officers wore a more ornate helmet which was often plated with silver or gold.
The helmet for the Christian Warrior is said to be salvation. The salvation of the soul is what protects the Believer-Priest in life and death. Once salvation is received, it can never be lost. “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28).
Salvation is referred to in three tenses in scripture. The Christian Warrior has been saved from the penalty and power of sin. That is Justification. “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
The Christian Warrior is now being saved from the pollution of sin. That is Sanctification.
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).
The Christian Warrior shall be saved, for to die is to gain. That is Glorification. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:28-31).
The last piece of equipment is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
There were a variety of Roman weapons in general use – the bow, the spear, the javelin, the battle-ax, the sling, the battering ram, and the ballista for hurling large stones – but the most effective weapon was the sword, of which there were five types.
ROMPHAIA, a broadsword of great length which curved. It was never shorter than four feet. It had one sharp edge and was developed by the Thracians.
XZIPHOS, was a long thin rounded sword with a sharp point and was used for thrusting.
AKINAKES, was an ornate Persian sheathed sword of various limited length with ivory handles and studded with gems faceted in gold. It was useless in combat.
DOLON, the hidden sword, was encased in either a riding whip or in a cane. They are still popular today.
MACHAIRA, is the sword referred to by the apostle Paul. The MACHAIRA was a short sword, sharp, double edged, very maneuverable, and gave maximin mobility to the Roman solider who was never off balance while using it. The MACHAIRA was designed to be thrusted at the enemy, in contrast to conventional warfare of hacking and cutting thereby exposing the arm and side. The MACHARIRA took advantage of that exposure.
Like the Roman solider, the Christian Warrior, when properly trained, can take advantage of his Enemy and pierce him with gospel thrusts. The Christian Warrior need never be off balance when the Word of God is effectively used under the control of the Holy 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, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
The most effective way to use the MACHAIRA of the SPIRIT is to unsheathe the sword by appropriating the right Scripture in any given situation. Defensively, this is done by hiding God’s Word in the heart, and then unsheathing it when needed, as Jesus did when confronted by Satan. Offensively, the MACHAIRA of the SPIRIT is used in bold witnessing.
Victory in combat is often determined, not by numbers and courage, but by skill and discipline. Therefore, practice with the MACHAIRA by a daily intake of Bible study. And then remember the Roman challenge:
“Fortune Favors the Brave”
A TONGUE OF PRAYER
EYES OF WATCHFULNESS
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
When a Believer-Priest is fully clothed, when a Christian Warrior has on the full armor of God, the soldier of the Cross is equipped to handle any situation in life with maturity.
The putting on the armor is not an option, but a royal command from the Commander in Chief. It would have been unthinkable for a Roman solider to disobey a direct order from a superior officer. It should be unthinkable for any Christian to knowingly disobey any command of Christ given in Holy Scripture. Duty demands obedience regardless of personal feelings or thoughts.
The putting on the whole armor was for the protection of the solider. The command was not given to make life uncomfortable for the solider, though there is a certain amount of discomfort with being a solider in full armor.
In the Christian life, there are periods of discomfort. Jesus said, “In the world you shall have tribulation.” However, overall, Jesus came to give believers life, and that more abundantly. But to have life, to stay alive to enjoy life, there must be readiness. Therefore, stand fast in the Lord, be alert, and be armed.
Despite the constant assault by Satan, the believer is to stand and face the enemy. There is to be no running away. There is to be no desertion. There is to be no surrender. There is to be no giving up, or the laying down of any piece of armour.
Victory will come for the Christian only by standing and fighting the enemy while wearing the full armour.
When a Christian is not vigilant, when a Christian takes off his armour, he opens himself to spiritual defeat. Satan is not only a roaring lion, he is a watching lion, and stalks the Christian to devour him at a strategic moment.
Therefore, it is imperative that the Christian know as much about his Enemy as possible. A careful study should be taken to know the character and tactics of the Devil.
Concerning the character of Satan, the Bible reveals him to be a liar. Jesus said “He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).
The comprehensive strategy of Satan is to damn as many souls as possible “because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Rev. 12:12). The future of Satan has been predestined. He shall one day be cast into the Lake of Fire and Brimstone to be “tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev. 20:10). Satan desires to damn as many souls as possible, and take them into the abyss with him.
This idea is not as outrageous as it seems. During the final 100 days of Adolf Hitler during World War II he lived in a bunker in Berlin. By that time, Hitler knew the war was lost, and still he fought on. He adopted a scorched earth policy and was determined to bring death to as many people as possible, including his own countrymen. He decided that the German people were unworthy of their Fuhrer, and gloated over leading them into the abyss. Said Hitler, “Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way round, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.”
The way that Satan implements his grand strategy is by employing proven “devices” or tactics, of which, Paul said, “We are not ignorant” (2 Cor. 2:11).
The most successful tactic employed by Satan is to get people to doubt the Word of God. If the Word of God can be successfully challenged, then the presence of God can be dismissed, and individuals are free to do as they please. So, Satan asked Eve, “Yea, hath God said” (Gen. 3:1).
The success of Satan in casting aspersions on the Word of God, and doubt on the existence of God is reflected in society where people are “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:2-4).