Expounding the Armor of God, Part 2
THE GIRDLE OF TRUTH Ephesians 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; In Bible times, a girdle was actually a strong belt that helped hold all the different
THE GIRDLE OF TRUTH
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
In Bible times, a girdle was actually a strong belt that helped hold all the different pieces of a soldier’s army in place. The same was true, if not more so, for the Oriental attire. In fact, it was a necessity. Without it, garments would otherwise be left to flow and eventually turned cumbersome, especially in high winds when their movements would become hindered.
This girdle was even more necessary in actual battle. If there were pieces of the armor left loose during active duty, especially while fighting, that armor became hanging pieces of embarrassment to the soldier instead of appropriate tools for adding efficiency to his movements and battle plan. These loose pieces of armor became a trouble and distress, creating an awkward sense of unreadiness.
With a firm girdle in place, a soldier felt secure, snug, and ready to meet any enemy’s attack with both strength and confidence. As it should be, he felt as if he had it all together, and would not be left in a compromising position as the attacks came from the enemy.
It is just that type of military component that Paul speaks about in his text telling us to have our loins girt about with truth. As a good soldier of Jesus, he cannot simply allow our armor to flap in a disorderly arrangement. That soldier will be highly distracted, with scattered vehemence, inconsistent in every way, including in head to head combat with a foe. A true soldier of Jesus, Paul is saying, has to have his thoughts collected, along with everything else, in order to be determined and decisive. He has to have it all together so that he can face any fight with immediate availability of strength.
The True Witness of Character
Since everyday experience adds a lot more to personal testimony as a means of teaching, we will examine this in that way. Everyone knows that a solid bedrock of personal principal and conviction leads to a strong life. Nothing is quite as noble as a young person in school, even throughout college, that exhibits strong moral character on a consistent basis.
While most people think such a life is a “drag” and keeps the young person from “having fun”, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there is no other kind of life that offers this kind of joy, amazing liberty, and express freedom that makes perfect sense according to their commitment to moral boundaries.
The same thing can be said of anyone, at any stage in life. This kind of commitment to sincere morals isn’t the bondage some would have you believe it is. It is rather a release from bonds far stronger than those we make for ourselves. Keeping yourself under complete control can add to both your attack and resistance in spiritual battle.
In a life that expresses truly virtuous behaviors, you’ll find no loose ends to tie up, and no flighty opinions or unnecessary mood swings. Instead, you will find moral solidarity that remains consistent, even in the grip of the strongest storms of life. Even in lives that are not rooted in Christianity, it is still easy to pick out someone who stands on principle and has loins that are truly girt up with some kind of strong moral truth.
Something Much More Than Principle
As important as strong principles and excellent morals are to a healthy functioning life, Paul is talking about something that goes far deeper than that. He is speaking of a soul that is held firm in the belt of the Truth of the Gospel and God’s precious promises. He is speaking of someone who takes revelation and grace and binds it to himself or herself in active service to the One True King.
You can see this kind of truth girdled around Martin Luther as you read the words he penned to Melanchthon on the 26th of May, 1521:
“Do not be troubled in spirit; but sing the Lord’s song in the night, as we are commanded, and I shall join in. Let us only be concerned about the Word.”
This is what it looks like to actively put that girdle on. Again, in a letter addressed to a group of Christians in the city of Wittenberg:
“I send you this thirty-seventh Psalm for your consolation and instruction. Take comfort and remain steadfast. Do not be alarmed through the raging of the godless.”
John Wesley can be found girding up as well, with a true servant’s heart:
“When I opened the New Testament at five o’clock in the morning my eyes fell on the words, ‘There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises that we should be partakers of the divine nature.’ Just before I left the room I opened the Book again, and this sentence gleamed from the open page, ‘Thou art not far from the Kingdom of God.’”
He used this promise to gird himself up with the Truth.
There were many like these, that constantly used the Scriptures to secure their armor, to gird up their loins, and to make ready for the spiritual battle ahead. To list them all would take massive amounts of space and time. Still, all of them were bound to the Truth and the Truth to them.
Moving On In The Spirit
It was just this kind of equipment that Paul was speaking of as he addressed those at Ephesus. There, in the midst of their worldly surroundings, strange religions influencing everything around them by the domination of presence, antagonistic traditions, and customs of the times, and all of that being backed by all the invisible forces of “wickedness in heavenly places”.
What kind of chance, then, do you think a loose-fitted Christian, shuffling along with garments and tools hanging all around, would have in such hateful situations? No, in order to be a conqueror in Ephesus in such times, a person could not have any form of slouchiness or ragamuffin tendencies in principle or morals. They had to have the spiritual movements and poise of a lion.
When a Christian belts up with a Truth this big, it makes a difference:
- It does more than confirm… it refreshes a person.
- It does more than define a belief… it vitalizes a person’s soul.
The Christians in Ephesus chose to follow the counsel of the beloved Apostol Paul and followed his good advice. They girded themselves up. The stood in the evil day, after having done all, and stood.
How Did The Ephesians Do It?
After becoming believers in Christ, and undertaking that kind of lifestyle, the Ephesians had a keener sense of sin than they did before. In fact, their very own sinfulness started to show itself more and more. As with anything in the natural realm, getting closer to the Light helped to expose the sin, just like an invisible secret message when the decoder is applied. Much like Isaiah did, these Christians could have exclaimed, “Woe is me, for I am unclean, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips:” (Isaiah 6:5).
But how could this small group of Christians ever hope to deal with the kind of, and number of, sins that surrounded them? It would be like trying to drain a massive marsh that was being fed by springs from secret places. In fact, a task like this actually made them recognize the enormity of their weakness, which could have sent them into helplessness and depression and despair.
Looking at many of the sins around the world today, and the vastness of their depravity in massive cities, we wonder how such a dreadful marsh could be drained!
But we have to look at what Paul decided to do, and how he taught his coworkers in Christ, along with him. So what did he do? He reached out to something that was bigger than the sin itself and then girded himself with it in the face of tasks that seemed too big for him. Hear what he had to say about just that very thing:
But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.
Sin is a big thing. It’s huge, in fact, and seems more of a burden than many can bear. However, grace is bigger. Sin is strong. But grace is stronger and could be said to be the strongest thing in an entire world becoming more alienated by God each day.
So then, gird yourself up with the Truth!
Bind it to your fears, your uncertainties, or anything else that seems too big or too strong. Keep wearing it, day and night. Go into every task braced by its tremendous grip. Begin to drain the part of the marsh that is closest to you.
Don’t just wear this truth, though. Speak it, hum it, sing it, write it, declare it, and live it, and you will be surprised to see how many of life’s troubles become subdued in its life-giving grace. If the Mouth of the Lord has already spoken it, you too can speak it.
There was something else, though, that the Ephesians needed. Being a major city, the Christians in it were incredibly small and didn’t seem to matter at all. As small as the band of Ephesian Christians was, it became smaller still during working hours. It was during those times that each Christian had to stand all by themselves. It was likely that in whatever job they held, they were the only believer there. A kind of strength of fellowship was to be had in being in close communion with fellow believers. If it was broken, there was a sense of weakened communication. So what should they do during times when they were alone?
They had to gird up in the truth. Another truth that works wonderfully, even in the loneliest times is this one:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
This particular truth gives an amazing sense of fellowship no matter how empty, or how lonely, we may feel. Put it on and wear it, day and night. Speak and sing this truth “He loved me and gave Himself for me!”
It Worked Then, And Will Work Now
We see, then, how girding up with the Truth helped these Ephesian soldiers do spiritual battle in tough times. In fact, we see that they wore this girdle:
- When persecutions and threats were upon them
- When their circumstances created nothing but confusion
- When there were ups and down and all manner of strangeness
- When joy was blended with sorrow or good times with bad
- When they were waiting for changes they might not even know about
Precious Promises For the Girdle of Truth
Inside our precious book of Scriptures, there are plenty of promises we can hold onto and can use as a girdle of truth. When it’s time to gird up our loins, we can remember each of them, especially the ones that seem to make so much sense for whatever it is we are going through at the time.
Whatever His Truth is for you, put it on. Put it on and wear it, every day and every night. In doing so, you will find that the Gospel’s strength, not yours, is more than competent to meet your every circumstance, giving you perfect victory in the will of the Savior.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
But to Your name be the glory
Because of Your love and your faithfulness!