Armor Series, Part Five: The Belt of Truth
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 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.” (Ephesians 6:10-17, ESV)
I won’t lie. For a while, this one stumped me. What purpose does a belt serve armor? It’s not like metal breastplates and chainmail needed to be held up by a belt. In fact, this piece seemed the most ornamentary to me.
I know now, I could not have been more wrong. But that’s because I misunderstood the purpose of the belt, much like I think people misunderstand truth.
The belt, for a Roman soldier, was just as important as any other piece of his armor because of what it
held. The belt served as the holster for his sword. If the soldier went into battle without his belt, he went into battle without his weapon.
In the same way, the truth must be the way we regard our spiritual sword, which we already know is God’s word. If we don’t value truth enough to take it into battle with us, then we leave ourselves open to attack. We will have tons of defenses out on the battlefield, but nothing to put us on the offense.
“I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.” (John 17:14-19, NLT)
When a soldier is off the battlefield, he needs a scabbard to neutralize the sharp blade of the sword. Otherwise, he could be stabbing innocent passerby with his weapon. I find it funny that the true, God-breathed word that serves as our sword is sheathed with more truth. That should be our first reassurance that the Bible is nothing but the full and honest counsel of the Lord. In order for us to wield our swords, we must be constantly reminded of the truth it stands in.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV)
And while the belt serves as a holster for our first and only weapon, it also is a symbol of how every follower of Christ needs to be wrapped in the Way, the Truth, and the Life– Jesus.
A belt is a continuous strip or chain that wraps around our waist. If one chain were to break, or if one segment were missing, the whole belt would fall off and be rendered useless. Much the same way, if we are found to be outside of the truth, our righteousness falls into question.
Jesus never lied; not even little white lies that would save someone’s feelings. He came so that people could live more abundantly, and sometimes, that meant calling them out on their shortcomings or pointing out their character flaws.
Peter, you say you’ll stick with me no matter how hard it gets, but I know that you’ll deny me before a new day dawns. (Luke 22: 34)
Judas, you will betray me, and you would have been better off if you had never been born. (Matthew 26:23-24)
Martha, stop being upset over things that don’t actually matter. Your busy work can wait. Lay down your chores, and just enjoy some time with me. (Luke 10: 41-42)
Okay, yes, those were my versions of what Jesus said, but all help to make my point: Jesus was blunt sometimes, but only when others were so caught up in their own weaknesses that they were missing the bigger picture. Jesus wasn’t afraid to tell people the God-sanctioned truth. Did this give Him permission to be overly cruel or curt? No, and that should serve as an example to all of us.
We can use the truth of God to correct, train, teach and edify, but it doesn’t give us license to condemn. Only God has that right. But we do have an obligation to live in truth, and that means correctly calling out our fellow soldiers on things that we see going on that we know don’t line up with the truth of the scriptures, as Jesus did.
I also learned that the belt of truth may have looked ornamental, but every aspect of its design is intentional. A Roman soldier’s belt was called the cingulum or balteus, and included not only the wide strip of leather that circled his waist but also had long, vertical strips hanging down in front. This not only served as the soldier’s protection for the lower half of his body but also served as an intimidation tactic to his enemy. When the soldier marched with his unit, the strips would swish and knock against one another. The resulting noise would give the illusion to nearby enemies that the incoming army was actually bigger and more intimidating than they planned.
“Through You, we will push down our enemies; through Your name, we will trample those who rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me. But You have saved us from our enemies, and have put to shame those who hated us. In God, we boast all day long, and praise Your name forever.” (Psalm 44:5, NASB)
The enemy only speaks in lies; it is his first and only language. The sound of your footsteps are enough to scare him, (we talked about your shoes last week) but the sound of your belt of truth? That intimidates him. He knows that no lie of his can stand up against the unwavering, unfailing truth of God. He has tried time and again to undermine that truth to no avail, and the sound your belt makes as you come to take his ground is enough to remind him that he can never conquer that truth.
This week, I encourage you to study truth and really get to know it. Sometimes, we can underestimate its importance and forget how critical it is for us to adhere to it. Open your heart to the truth of the gospel and allow it to wrap around your life. The only way to truly understand your one and only weapon– the Word of God– is to fully embrace and live in reverence of His truth.
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