THE BELT OF TRUTH

EPHESIANS 6:14

 

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            Last Sunday we began a sermon series on putting on, not some, not most, but putting on the “whole” armor of God.  In case you missed it, take out your pew bible and turn to Ephesians 6:10 on page 952 of your pew Bible. 

 

            Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.  Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, stand firm.

 

            That’s what we looked at last Sunday as we looked at the big picture, taking an overhead look at the subject of spiritual warfare.  Today we turn our attention to the specific pieces of armor Paul encourages us to wear if we are going to be successful in this battle.  Let’s continue reading, and as we read note the different pieces of armor we are to put on.  Again, we are to put on the whole armor of God, not just some of the things listed here, but all of the things listed here.  Verse 14.

 

            Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness.  As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.  With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmut of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 

            The picture the Apostle Paul paints is that of a Roman soldier.  He was familiar with Roman soldiers because he grew up in Tarsus which was a Roman colony.  He would have seen these Roman soldiers on a daily basis.  Not only that, he wrote this letter while in jail and he alludes to that in this chapter.  Read down a little further, to verse 19.  He writes,

 

            Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.

 

            As he writes this letter to the Ephesians, he’s in a jail cell, guarded by Roman soldiers.  And I believe, as he writes this portion of the letter, he’s looking at one of the Roman soldiers, dressed in Roman armor, in full Roman regalia, and Paul takes that image, borrows that image, and applies it to the invisible spiritual forces we battle every day of our lives, the forces of evil in heavenly places.   

            With that background let’s turn our attention to the first piece of armor Paul tells us to put on.  All in all there are six pieces of armor we are to put on and let me say that no one piece is more important than another.  They are all equally important, and we need to wear all of them, or we will be extremely vulnerable.  Think of a football player.  Think of Taylor Martinez, Nebraska’s starting quarterback, and imagine he goes into that first game against the football powerhouse Tennessee-Chattanooga, and he’s not wearing shoulder pads.  He has everything else on, but no shoulder pads.  What would we say to him?  We would say, “Taylor, what are you thinking?  You need to put on your entire uniform.  All your padding.  All your protection.”  The same applies to the armor of God.  All pieces of the armor are important, and this morning we will focus our attention on the first piece we are to make sure we have on as we take the field against the wiles of Old Redlegs, and that is “the belt of truth.”  Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist.

            Now, some older translations read, “Stand therefore, having your loins girded with the truth.”  We don’t use those terms much today.  At least, I don’t usually hear the words “loin” and “gird” in daily conversation.  So, what are loins and how do you gird them?  Well in human anatomy terms “loins” referred to the bottom of the rib cage to the bottom of the pelvic area.  It included both one’s digestive system and one’s reproductive system, and if you noticed, those are very fleshy areas, for some of us more fleshy than others of us, and those areas are very vulnerable to attack.  This area is easily punctured, and in battle a wound here would likely be fatal, if not on the battlefield but later when infection would set in.

            Now, both translations, the one with girded loins and ours with the belt, are important to take together to understand what Paul is saying.  If you were a Roman soldier, the belt and girded loins would go together.  You see, before a Roman soldier would put on his armor, he would put on a tunic, sort of a large, long baggy t-shirt that would hang down to one’s knees, and then at the bottom of the tunic, he would pull it together, pull it between his legs, for support, sort of like, and I’m trying to be a delicate as I can here, sort of like an athletic supporter, and pull it between his legs and attach it to the back of his belt.  And his belt had leather strips hanging from it, sometimes with metal on the strips, that would protect his nether region, both front and back.  Then with that in place, the Roman soldier would attach his breastplate to the belt, and from the belt he would hang his sword. 

            So, the tunic first, and then the belt would be the first piece of armor you would put on before putting on the rest of the armor, and Paul, being around Roman soldiers knew that, so that’s the first piece of armor the tells us to put on.  Start with the belt, that foundational piece of armor, and Paul calls that belt, “the belt of truth.” 

            Of course, when we need to be clear as to the type of truth we are wrapping around our waist.   When we talk about truth we usually think of two kinds of truth: subjective and objective. If we are going to be effective in this battle we find ourselves in, we ought to know what kind of truth we are wrapping around ourselves.  Subjective truth has to do with personal perspective, personal opinion.  For example, what’s your favorite grocery store?  Is it Baker’s or Bag and Save or Hy-Vee or Fareway?  How we answer is not objective truth, it is subjective truth.  Who’s the sexiest man in the world or the most beautiful woman in the world?  People  magazine makes that determination every year.  I don’t recall who was the sexiest man in the world, but according to People the most beautiful woman in the world today is Jennifer Lopez.  That’s subjective truth.  On the other hand, maybe you saw the results of a study this past week about the cities where you could get the most value, the most bang for your buck.  They used all sorts of criteria and came up with a list, and Omaha was ranked number one in the entire United States.  Now, that would lean to more toward objective truth, but maybe not totally objective because they had choose certain criteria to make their analysis, including some barometers of value and excluding others.  Then there is completely objective truth, like gravity.  Whether we believe in gravity or not, it is objectively true.  Objective truth has to do with fact.  Objective truth says there is a standard of determining what is and what is not true that goes beyond opinion and interpretation.

            The belt of truth, however, has little to do with subjective or objective truth.  It has to do with something else, actually someone else.   You see, the belt of truth is a person.  Not personal, not subjective, but a person.  Let’s not forget Jesus’ words.  He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”  And when he’s talking to his disciples in the Upper Room he says, “I will ask the Father , and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.  This is the Spirit of truth.” 

            So when we wrap the belt of truth around our waist, we are not wrapping around subjective truth, we are not even wrapping around objective truth.  Instead we are wrapping around our waist the very presence of God, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  When we put on the armor of God we begin by putting on the person of Jesus Christ, the presence of God’s Spirit with us.  Christ is the truth that stands against the lies of Satan, and holds the rest of our armor in place. 

            And putting on the belt of truth, putting on the very person of God, has two very important protective ramifications.  It has a digestive ramification and a reproductive ramification. 

            Let’s reflect for a moment on the digestive ramification.  One of the areas the belt protects is the digestive system, and that’s important because Old Redlegs tells us lies, that he wants us to ingest.  So we put on the belt of truth, to filter those lies through the eyes of Jesus Christ because we are easily duped, easily confused, easily taken in by the lies of Old Redlegs. 

            Have we heard any of his lies recently?  Have we ingested any of them?  Some Baptist preacher came up with Satan’s biggest lies, and that is a subjective list, his opinion of Old Redlegs biggest fibs.  He came up with four.  Lie number one, God is holding out on you.  That’s the one he used on Adam and Eve.  Sometimes we still fall for that lie. I mean, God already woke us up this morning, fed us, and put clothes on our backs, but we want more money in the bank, a car like our next door neighbor and a body like we see on exercise equipment commercials, and since we don’t have those things, God is obviously holding out on us.

            Lie, number two that we sometimes ingest, according to this Baptist pastor is, the lie of self-reliance.  Satan tells us we can do it on our own.  We don't need help from anyone.  Lie, number three, Christians shouldn’t suffer.  God should protect them from all harm.  Lie number four, money buys happiness.  

            Old Redlegs lives to hoodwink us, brainwash us, dupe us, and sometimes he does.  Sometimes we swallow those lies, so Paul says begin your day by putting on the belt of truth, put on Jesus Christ, who is The Truth, so he can help you ingest only good food, not the junk food Old Redlegs wants us to swallow.

            Second, as I mentioned before, the belt of truth also has a reproductive ramification.  As Christians are called to bear fruit, to make, to reproduce other Christians.  And what is the most effective way to do that?  Is it to go on a street corner and shout at the top of our lungs and belt people on the side of the head with our bibles telling them that all who pass us by are terrible sinners who need to repent?  Is that the most effective way to make other Christians?  No, it’s not.  I’ve found over the years, and this is my opinion, this is my subjective truth, that the most effective way to produce other Christians is for us to live the truth. 

            What’s the number one complaint against Christians, the number one reason people don’t come to church?  Whether it’s the real reason or not, the number one reason people voice for not going to church has to do with our living the truth.  People say, “I don’t go to church because those church people are a bunch of hypocrites.”  In other words, they are saying we are not living the truth, and sometimes they are right.  We don’t live the truth, and when we don’t live the truth it’s like being on some form of spiritual birth control. 

            How well do we represent the truth, both in the church and out of the church?  Are we consciously putting on Christ every morning as we head about the tasks of the day.?  Do we regularly put on the belt of truth?  Do we say, “I want to live for you today, Jesus.  I want to be an ambassador, a good representative of you, The Truth?”

            Digestive ramifications and reproductive ramifications.

            Let me close with this.  When Edgar Allen Poe was a young man, he was a cadet at West Point, but he didn't really like it there.  He didn't like all the rules, and all the training he had to go through, so one day, when all the cadets were supposed to turn out in formation on the parade grounds, and march before the generals, Edgar Allan Poe checked his rule book to find out the dress code for the occasion.  It said that he was supposed to wear white gloves and a white belt.  So that's what he put on: white gloves and a white belt . . . and NOTHING else!  And when the military commanders saw him out there on the parade grounds, Edgar Allen Poe got his wish.  The commanders promptly threw him out West Point. 

            As we go into spiritual battle there is more to wear than the belt of truth.  We’ll take a look at what else we need to put on next Sunday.