by Julia Grant
There are so many trials that we face in this world. We look around us, and we see so much chaos, death, decay, and suffering. As Christians, we are sure to face much difficulty, as following Jesus puts us in direct contrast (and even opposition) with much of the world. How then, do we stand strong? How do manage to endure all of the suffering of the world and not lose hope? How do we counteract direct satanic opposition and stand strong as Christians?
Ephesians gives us a six-fold answer. Paul tells us to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). He encourages us to “put on the whole armor of God, that [we] may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (v. 11). According to Paul, we are fighting much more than earthly matters. As we align ourselves with Christ, we are literally wrestling against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (v. 12). The source of the difficulties we face is not simply physical, and so the source of our strength must also be more than physical.
The word here for armor in the Greek is panoplia, and refers to “the complete equipment of a fully armed soldier, consisting of both shields and weapons” (ESV Study Bible). Paul is encouraging us to wage war as a sensible soldier, fully fitted for the battle at hand. Here is exactly how Paul describes the armor of God for a follower of Jesus:
“Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” (Ephesians 6:13-18a).
Each one of these pieces of armor is of utmost importance. Just as a soldier must go to battle equipped with all of his armor, a Christian must not forsake one piece of the armor of God. Today we will consider the belt of truth.
The Belt of Truth
The belt is an interesting piece of armor, because it does not provide any protection to a soldier. Rather, the belt is what holds together the rest of the items. Without a belt, one can have all the proper tools but no way to affix them to his person. Thus, we see that a belt is that which “gathers up our garments so that we can fight effectively” (David Guzik).
In the time of Paul’s writing, a belt also signified being ready for action. A soldier would sit down and take off his belt when it was time to relax. In contrast, “putting on the belt prepared for action, it freed one for movement, and it put a soldier in a battle frame of mind” (David Guzik).
So we see the practical function of a belt – to hold the rest of the armor together, and to put us in the mindset for battle. This, according to Paul, is the function of truth in the armor of God. Truth holds together the rest of the pieces of the armor while readying us for battle.
Currently, the world favors a culture of relativism over a culture of absolutes. To believe in anything as truth is seen as offensive. The Bible, however, makes very absolute claims about what truth is. To be a disciple of Christ is to believe that there is only one God, that there is only one way to God, and that His words and ways are truth. This is not a popular opinion, but in order to put on the armor of God, we must start by embracing the belt of truth. By girding ourselves with the knowledge of what Jesus says to be true, and arming ourselves with confidence in this truth.
All of the other elements of the armor must be combined with a firm grasp of the truth if we are to use them correctly. I encourage you to be bold, and take God at His word regarding what is truth. Do not succumb to the culture around us that so desperately wants to define truth by emotion and experience. Truth is unchanging, and His name is Jesus. He has revealed Himself and His ways to us throughout history as recorded in Scripture, and if we are to be ready for battle with the full armor of God, we must take up the belt of truth firmly.
All Scripture is quoted from the ESV unless noted otherwise. David Guzik quotes are from his study notes on Ephesians Chapter 6.