“Wobbly Christians who have no firm foothold in Christ are an easy prey for the devil” – John Stott
Of all the pieces of armour Paul could have started with, he started with the belt of truth. Seems like a bit of weird place to start, with an item of clothing that just holds your trousers up. However! The belt of truth is far more important and indispensable than we may first think.
The belt of a Roman soldier’s armour was made of thick leather. It had strips of armour that hung down to protect the lower portions of the body. It held all the important weapons at a soldier’s disposal (specifically his sword!), secured all other pieces of armour and also helped gather up and keep secure all the extra fabric of the soldier’s tunic, to prevent them from tripping as they ran into battle. More than just being extremely practical and useful, the Roman military belt was a status symbol. It was worn on and off duty and so became like an identification badge. Suffice to say, this was more than just your average trouser securer! It provided support and braced the soldier for action. Much like the belt of truth does for us as we face our own spiritual battles.
So what is the truth part of the piece of armour? There is some debate as to whether or not Paul is talking about the truth we find written in scripture, the truth that comes from God, and the sacrifice of Jesus, the truth that sets us free from sin and all that binds us. John 17:17 says “Your word is truth! So make them holy by the truth”. As John Stott writes, in his book “The Message of Ephesians”, some scholars suggest Paul is referring to sincerity or integrity. He says that “God requires truth in the inward being and as Christians we must be honest and truthful. To be deceitful, hypocritical, scheming; is to play the devil’s game. We cannot beat him at his own game”.
Instead, I think William Gurnell (a minister in 1655) put it best when he said “some, by ‘truth’ mean a truth of doctrine; others will have it trust of heart, sincerity; they I think best that comprise both…one will not do without the other”. The word of God is truth – it is our foundation. As it says in 2 Tim 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. It is our starting point in figuring out what is good and what is not. From there, as it says in Proverbs 4:23, flows our character and our attitudes. As one author puts it “It’s not just about a bible study. Rather, the implication is that when we put on the belt of truth, we are putting on Christ, who is the truth…we are asking Him to cover us and conform every part of our lives to His image”, like it says to do in Romans 13:14 “Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires”.
The devil likes to operate in half-truths. He likes to twist the truth ever so slightly, so that we stumble away from God’s truth. The whole truth. But there is no lie found in God. He is always on the side of truth, and truth will set us free, just as John 8:32 reminds us – “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”. As Christians, if we are not rooted in God’s word, then we stand no chance in overcoming the battles we are bound to face.
If a soldier did not have his belt securely tightened, he was at risk of losing his life on the battlefield. The same applies to us. If we do not take this piece of armour seriously, and keep the truth tight and close, we, too, are at risk of defeat. To secure the belt around our waist, we must turn to the source of truth – to Jesus. We must ask God to equip us and regularly spend time with Him in scripture and prayer. We cannot possibly know what the truth is if we do not spend time seeking it out. When we put on the belt of truth, we are making the choice to live in this truth, no matter what our emotions, desires, boss/friends/spouse, or cultures tell us is “better” or “right”. To fasten the belt of truth is to give Christ the final say in our lives. James 1:21 says “So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls”. Following truth, the word of God and example of Jesus, frees us from the burden of sin and allows us to move forward in our relationship with God.
So my question to you is, how tight is your belt? Do you need to bring it in a few notches?