You need to know this about me . . . I have a black belt.
Impressed? Probably not when you discover that it is just a black leather belt. My black belt is designed to hold up my britches not warn potential foes that I have “a special set of skills.” Blackie is one of seven belts I own, though currently its AWOL from my closet and that is a real shame, but totally beside the point.
I went on a belt-safari yesterday. I tallied 22 strips of leather in our home. That got me thinking about other belts . . . alternator belts, serpentine belts, conveyor belts. It seems every strap serves a purpose but none is as essential as the belt Paul mentions in Ephesians 6:
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, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness . . . Ephesians 6:10-14 ESV
In the day Paul penned this letter, a soldier’s belt was a critical part of his armor. Experts are fairly united here. The belt was not decorative but functional. It served as the junction point for his body armor and provided a place on which to hang his sword. Remove the belt and the soldier’s garments—and effectiveness—would unravel.
The same can be said of the Christian. If we don’t march into the battle Paul describes, armed with integrity and righteous living, we might as well wave the white flag. We don’t stand a chance against our enemy. Matthew Henry, the English commentator and Presbyterian minister said,
God desires truth, that is, sincerity, in the inward parts. This is the strength of our loins; and it girds on all other pieces
of our armour, and therefore is first mentioned.
God desires truth, so here is the $64,000 question: "Where do we get this belt of truth?" The answer is Jesus. Interestingly, when Isaiah prophesies about the coming Messiah he tells us, “Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness (fidelity/truth) the belt of his loins.” Isaiah 11:5 ESV
Truth comes from knowing the One who is the way and the truth and the life. It comes from what David Nicholas, my predecessor at Spanish River Church, described as “a love relationship with Jesus.” This means knowing him and being in day-to-day fellowship with him.
Truth is more than a list of facts to which we ascribe. Truth is the very thing we live. When we wear the belt of truth we know it and others do too. In the movie, A Few Good Men, military lawyer, Lt. Daniel Kaffee (played by Tom Cruise) leans on Colonel Nathan Jessup (played by Jack Nicholson) to “tell the truth.” The scene is intense. Jessup shouts back, “You can’t handle the truth!”
The fact is — and we the viewers know it — Jessup can't handle the truth. Because he lacked truth at the core of his being, his “armor” unraveled at the critical moment. That’s what Paul wants us to get in Ephesians 6. The belt of truth is not decorative (carrying our Bibles). The belt of truth is functional (living the Bible because the living Christ is alive in us).
That is why Paul describes us as "having fastened on the belt of truth." In one sense it is something we do, but in a greater sense it is something we've done. It happens as we enter into that love relationship with Jesus and live in the truth of his Word.
Note: This week at Don't Ask The Fish we are focusing on the armor of God. On Sunday, I asked our church family to do three things:
1. Read about the armor every day in Ephesians 6:10-20, and read this devotional as we unpack it.
2. Suit up in the armor of God. Ask God to help you live in the reality of you are in Christ.
3. Pray for yourself and others to live in the reality of what Christ has given us to fight the evil one.
If you missed the message this week, click here to listen.
The Matthew Henry quote is from the Ephesians 6:14 entry in Matthew Henry's Commentary On The Whole Bible (One Volume).