Our previous post in this series ‘Stand Firm,’ took a look at The Lies We Believe and ways which we can expect Satan to be working in the battles of Spiritual Warfare. We found that deception was not only a key component of his arsenal, but also his character. In light of this, it is not at all surprising that, in reading about the armour of God, the first item we are to put on in order to stand firm in battle against Satan, is the belt of truth. “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist” (Eph. 6:14). As we begin looking at these different aspects of the armour, it is important that we realise that these are primarily not virtuous actions that we are to start doing when we sense Satan is at work; rather, these are all ways of describing the impact of the gospel. That is, as we meditate and apply the gospel to our life daily, the belt of truth will always be buckled around our waist, and we will always be in a position to stand firm.
The Belt of Truth
Back when this letter was written to the church in Ephesus, a belt wasn’t all that different in function to a belt of now-days. It secured and encompassed everything, and in terms of armour, provided attachment of the sword and its sheath (scabbard). Whilst I don’t think the main point of the passage is the physical representations of the armour, if you are going to remember the gospel attributes in relation to the different items of armour, it certainly doesn’t hurt to think of the truth as all encompassing (of our thoughts and actions) and where we find our security in battle.
More importantly however, to be wearing the truth, we need to understand what the truth is. Throughout his teaching, Jesus regularly talks about the truth, but not so in a way that we would probably expect. He does not come as a teacher to say, ‘what I tell you is the truth and everything else is lies.’ No, he goes a step further to be as bold to say ‘I am the truth’. (John 14:6). This is a pretty abstract concept, and furthermore, the idea of wearing Jesus as a belt doesn’t make a whole lot of sense—nor seems easy to implement! Thankfully, Jesus didn’t simply leave us with that nugget to try and work out for ourselves; he also told us “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32). To know the truth- that is, to know Jesus- we need to know his teaching, his Word. And not only are we to know it, but we are to abide in it, to obey it and follow it.
Knowing The Truth
What does this look like in terms of the spiritual battle? Am I saying that in order to wear the belt of truth we need to be a ‘good Christian’ and ‘obey the rules?’ In a word, no. Jesus being the truth and abiding in his Word is so much greater and deeper than that (As much as being obedient to God is still a fundamental aspect of our Christian walk). Much of Jesus’ teaching was about himself—about showing who he was as the Son of God and what he had come to do—and what the Kingdom of God looked like here on Earth.
And so, to know the truth and abide in his Word is fundamentally about aligning ourselves with, and putting our hope and trust in the person and mission of Jesus.
Our lives must be securely founded on the life-changing knowledge of his death and resurrection, which demonstrated his ultimate power and authority, and attained for us our righteousness, reconciliation with God, and hope of an eternal future.
This knowledge of the person and mission of Jesus is not just limited to an intellectual acceptance and agreement; after all, we aren’t just tempted to think wrongly but to do wrongly. Knowing the truth of Jesus is very much about our actions too; Jesus said that that we must abide in his Word, not just know it or agree with it. The active expression of this knowledge is demonstrated to us by Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11, where we see Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by Satan. Satan tries to convince Jesus to do what he wants: “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” (v3) and “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone’” (v6). What stands out in Jesus’ response is what he uses to protect himself from this temptation: God’s Word.
Note that Satan is trying to use Scripture against Jesus here, but such is Jesus’ understanding of the true meaning of Scripture that he can recognize when it is being used out of context. And this is because he knows God’s plan of salvation for the world and his role in it. Had he thrown himself down as Satan was tempting, God indeed would have saved him, but this would have meant that Jesus had put his Father to the test and demonstrated distrust in God’s great plan for his life here on Earth. And so Jesus not only negated Satan with accurate Scripture (‘Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” – v7’); he also did not waver in his knowledge that his father was faithful and trustworthy. This path of obedience in God would not only lead him through this temptation but, eventually, to the cross- the heart of the gospel. Long before Jesus’ arrival on Earth, the prophet Isaiah shared God’s promise of a saviour to come, for whom, “Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins” (Isaiah 11:5). We are wearing the belt of truth when we trust that Jesus lived in righteousness and faithfulness to God for our salvation – just as we saw him demonstrate in the wilderness, on the cross.
Wearing the Truth
But there’s only ever going to be one Saviour. So what does it mean for us, as Jesus’ disciples, to put on the belt of truth? It means understanding and trusting the implications of Jesus’ death and resurrection as outlined in Scripture. It means trusting that Jesus has secured our righteousness before God (Romans 3:22), that we are called to leave our life of sin and to live one of holiness (Eph. 4:22-24) and that Jesus has authority and power over and has already defeated Satan and death (Eph.1:21). Indeed, the New Testament is full of writers continually saying something along the lines of ‘Because Jesus did this,’ or ‘made you this’ or ‘has secured this for you’, you are now to ‘be this,’ ‘think this,’ or “’hope in this.’
But in reading a post like this, it can be easy to nod along and say, ‘Yeah! I can do this, I know the gospel!’ but then find yourself in the midst of temptation or accusation, doubting and worrying, mourning the difficulties of living life for God, or caught in sinful habits and wonder: ‘what went wrong?’. There are two things I want to say to this and encourgae you in:
#1: do not despair.
Etching the truth of the gospel deep in your heart and mind takes time, and what’s more, there are many other aspects to this armour that we are yet to talk about. Just as you would not go into battle only wearing a belt, we must be holistic in how we view and apply this passage, and all Paul has to say to us about the armour of God.
#2: Take some time to think about what wearing the belt of truth looks like in your own life.
How can you preach the gospel to yourself, reminding yourself of this truth each day? Can you take some time to write or think out the gospel focusing on different aspects (obedience/faithfulness in God’s Word, restored relationship with God, remaining sin, reconciliation to other believers, the importance of sharing the truth with others)? Do you prioritise knowing God’s Word, and abiding in Jesus’ teaching? Do you know when the Bible is taken out of context?
If reading and studying the Bible is something you struggle with, you can check out my series on being in a Reading Rut , and if meditation and memorisation (having the truth stored in your heart) is a little unfamiliar, you can read about memorisation here, and find some Bible reading and memorisation resources here.
I want to leave you with some questions that I hope might lead you to think deeply about how we are to apply the belt of truth:
- What lies from Satan are you most susceptible to believing (read my post here) – what truth of the gospel can you specifically apply and meditate on to help you recognise and negate the deception when it comes?
- Which areas of your life demonstrate trust in the person and mission of Jesus? Which do not?
- Which situation is your abiding in Jesus’ teaching an intellectual acceptance rather than an active outworking of knowledge of the truth?
- Do you pray for God to be revealing his gospel truth to you and others?