After many years of diverse career experience, I was excitedly counting down the days until my retirement. I eagerly anticipated being in control of my schedule and time while enjoying a slower pace of life. I envisioned more days devoted to serving in ministry at my church and deepening relationships...
Ephesians 6:10-13 is a “wake you up” passage:
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… (Ephesians 6:10-14)
God is telling us here that we are in a spiritual war. We are facing the schemes of the devil, and our earthly struggles are not, ultimately, against flesh and blood—things of earth. We’re wrestling against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. That will wake you up!
Wonderfully, then, God has not left us alone but has given us armor to protect us and to help us in our fight, so that we might stand firm (v. 13). And the piece of armor we see first to aid us in this all-important fight against the evil one is…a belt. What?
What the Belt of Truth Means
Almost everyone in those days wore some sort of long sheet or light robe—typically as a heat-defeating undergarment—quite similar to what you’d see in some Middle Eastern countries today. But, if you were a solider, this arrangement would present a problem. A long robe would make it very difficult to move quickly (you’d trip over your robe) and make you easily grabbed.
So, what the soldiers would do is take a belt to fasten all the excess fabric more tightly to their body. That’s why the older translations of Ephesians 6:14 will say something like, “Gird up your loins with truth.” What this belt did was free the soldiers’ legs up to help them be ready for the fight, ready for action.
Most scholars believe that this was the first thing a soldier would do in putting on armor—fasten their belt. For with their robe, their undergarments fastened into place by the belt, they could now put on all the other armor.
So that’s what the belt means—but what “truth” is being referred to in “belt of truth”?
The Truth in the Belt
Our answer comes a few chapters earlier in Ephesians 4:21: “…assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus…”
“Truth is in Jesus.” Truth flows from Jesus, the King of the Universe, and God, himself. As the second person of the Trinity, he created all things. So any truth finds its roots, its source, in Jesus Christ.
This is established and cemented by the prophet Isaiah. The Apostle Paul is not just drawing on Roman armor, but on Christ as the fulfillment of the prophecy of the divine warrior who came to rescue God’s people:
…truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking…The Lord saw it, and it displeased him…then his own arm brought him salvation…He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak. (Isaiah 59:14-17)
Truth had stumbled in the public squares—truth was lacking. The Lord’s answer was the Messiah. His answer was Jesus! So, the “truth” in “belt of truth” is Christ Himself (Ephesians 4:21, Isa 59:14-17).
Let’s recap here before moving forward. Now we understand what the belt means. Now we understand that the truth here refers to Christ Himself and all the truth He embodies. But what do we actually do to put this armor on?
The Final Say
The answer begins by each of us asking ourselves this question: Who or what has the final say in my life? When it comes to decisions I’m making, to how I navigate relationships, to how I parent, to how I work, to how I worship and believe, who or what has the final say in my life?
- Is it my feelings? In the final assessment, do I simply do whatever I want to do?
- Is it a person? In the final assessment, do I simply do whatever my boss or my friends or my spouse wants me to do?
- Is it my culture? In the final assessment, do I simply do whatever accords with the way our world seems to work and think today?
- Is it comfort? In the final assessment, do I simply do whatever is easiest and causes me the least amount of trouble?
If I could write what the belt of truth is in one sentence, it would be this: To fasten on the belt of truth is to give Christ the final say in our lives (v. 14).
Friend, does Christ have the final say in your life? Is he the ultimate trump card, the ultimate truth in your life? Is he the light by which you see truth and determine what truth is in your world, in your life, and in your circumstances?
So how exactly do we make Christ the final say in our lives? Stay tuned for Part II of this post, when we will talk about some practical application for donning the belt of truth—the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ.