The battle imagery of Ephesians 6 is not the picture of modern day warfare with mach2 F-35 fighter jets splitting the sound barrier, of remote drones, or satellites observing enemy movements. The imagery is of the soldier, dressed in armor, on the ancient battlefield in a one-on-one, face-to-face, deadly combat, with swords flashing and arrows flying. One of the main truths Paul is trying to convey is that we cannot go into the battle unprotected. In order to be a victorious believer in a hostile environment, we need protection beyond what we ourselves can provide. We need God’s protection. This is why Paul says, “Take up the whole armor of God” (Eph 6:13, ESV). Without God’s help we will fail.
It is not surprising that the first piece of armor Paul instructs believers to put on is the belt of truth; through the truth, we are enabled to combat deception. Jesus, who is the Truth, described Satan saying, “When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44, ESV). As children of God, it is essential that we know the truth and live in the truth. Paul describes the truth as a belt, which may not seem like a significant piece of armor, but it is essential for the soldier’s welfare. Roman soldiers wore a short skirt and on top of that, a cloak or tunic, secured at the waist with a belt. When they were about to enter battle, they would tuck the loose hanging material under the wide leather belt to give them freedom of movement. “Girding up,” as the King James Version says, or “fastening the belt,” was an indication of readiness to fight. As believers, we cannot do battle until we have “tightened” the belt of truth. Knowing and living in the truth will increase our appreciation of Christ, strengthen our ability to fight the lies, and transform us more and more into the image of our Lord.
Knowing and Enjoying the Truth
Truth is inseparably linked with the nature and person of God Himself. In Deuteronomy 32:4 it says, “He is the rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He” (KJV). He is the author, originator, and possessor of truth. In John 14, the Lord Jesus says, “I am the truth.” Introducing the person of the Holy Spirit to His disciples, He calls him the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17). Later in the prayer, we are reminded that the Word of God is truth. This is why there is no substitute for getting into the Word of God and allowing its truth to fill us. We need to see the greatness, wonder, and majesty of our God and Savior. Truth becomes our nourishment and enjoyment. This was the experience of Jeremiah, who said, “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jer. 15:16, ESV).
To put on the belt of truth is to make the Word of God a priority in our lives. We need to fasten this belt tightly each day of our lives. It is truth that makes us ready.
Combating the Lies with the Truth
With the attacks of the enemy, the attraction of the world, and our own treacherous tendency toward sin, it is extremely easy to let lies take over and control us. Peter said, “Gird up the loins of your mind,” to guard our thinking with the powerful Word of the living God (1Peter 1:13, KJV). While the truth of God protects and defends us, it also actively opposes the enemy. Paul tells us to destroy or tear down the strongholds of Satan by the power of God, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” (2Cor 10:4 KJV).
Satanic strongholds are formidable fortresses erected in the mind, which can only be demolished by the power of God—strongholds such as pride, lust, anxiety, discouragement, inferiority, doubt, and greed, just to name a few. Each of these strongholds is based on a lie and needs to be counteracted by the truth.
First, we must face the lie. This takes humility to accept our weaknesses and tendencies. Second, we must name the lie. What sin is presently controlling my life? Third, we must shine the truth on the lie. Take what God says, and let its truth become more real to us than the lie we have believed. Finally, we must confess the truth by faith. Allow the power of God’s Word through the Holy Spirit to demolish strongholds so we are able to live in the reality of the truth.
Allowing the Truth to Transform
If we yield to the truth of Scripture, we will become truthful, like our Lord. Because of the absence of the definite article in Ephesians 6:14, it is quite possible that “putting on the belt of truth,” is “putting on the belt of truthfulness.” This emphasizes the necessity of an honest, open, sincere, and authentic life.
William MacDonald says, “The first piece of armor mentioned is the belt of truth. Certainly we must be faithful in holding the truth of God’s Word, but it is also necessary for the truth to hold us. We must apply it to our daily lives. As we test everything by the truth, we find strength and protection in the combat.”
As we submit to the truth, it grips us and, in turn, changes us. Truth has the amazing ability to transform, to make us more like our God and His Son, Jesus Christ. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2Cor 3:18, ESV). The question we need to ask ourselves is this: Am I becoming more like Jesus? As each day goes by, am I more holy, more righteous, more free, more gentle, more loving, more forgiving, more gracious?
If we are going to effectively battle for God, we must have the belt of truth firmly fastened about us. His truth will sustain, direct, enable, and change us into warriors that He can use for His own glory.