When you go out in a boat, why do you take a life jacket? In case you need it, of course. We take the Belt of Truth with us in our spiritual journey. Life throws nasty curves at us and we must be prepared to stand our ground and not be destroyed, because we are in a war. Spiritual Warfare may be defined as “Overcoming the world, the flesh and the devil—knowingly, intentionally and consistently.” A simpler definition is “Walking with God through life.”
“Why are you exhorting me to duty if I am saved by grace?” you might ask. Has God planned everything? Yes. Do we have a choice? Yes. The Bible teaches both that God is sovereign and that we are responsible. We are looking here at how the grace of God is worked out in real time. You are saved by grace, but you must put on the Belt of Truth. We are given life; we need to live that life. Salvation calls us to action and we must be prepared. This instruction is rightly applied personally, but when Paul says “you,” the Greek word really means “All y’all.” The Church is involved as a whole—all of us together—in Spiritual Warfare.
In many ways, our preparation for action is our action. In battle as in sports, what we do to prepare (physical conditioning, drilling, practicing) determines the outcome of the battle or the sports event. Paul tells us to prepare for battle by putting on the whole Armor of God. He has in mind all the armor of a heavily armed Roman infantry soldier (also referred to as his panoply).
Before we get into the armor itself, we need to understand some prerequisites for Spiritual Warfare. First, you must see yourself as a soldier. Each of us is expected to be active in the battle. Second, you must attend basic training. You must be entirely focused on your training and not distracted by civilian activities (2 Timothy 2:4). Third, you must understand that your armor comes from God and belongs to Him. It is God’s own armor, in which Christ has already won the victory. Fourth, understand that your goal is to stand and not fall before the enemy. Fifth, in order to enter the fray without fear, you must trust your armor to protect you against temptation, sin, the flesh, our foibles and everything else the devil throws at us. Sixth, understand that it is treason to open the gates and surrender while we are well protected and provisioned. We have everything we need—all the resources of Christ—to sustain us through a fierce battle or a long siege. We must not surrender! Finally, we must understand that this armor does not protect you in flight. It covers your front so that you can fight the enemy, but it does not cover your back. You have no protection if you turn your back and run. You must stand your ground and fight!
Today we will look specifically at the Belt of Truth. In the Roman military, a belt was used to hold a soldier’s undergarments together so that loosely flowing clothing would not get in the way and hinder his movement in battle. Even in our culture we can see the significance of a belt. Loosening your belt is a sign of relaxation. Tightening your belt is done in preparation for action.
Spiritually speaking, the Belt of Truth refers to truth revealed and applied—the truth of doctrine, which was once for all delivered to the saints, and faithfulness, loyalty and sincerity of heart in relation to this truth. Doctrine should affect every aspect of who we are and what we do. The first thing you must do is to learn the truth, but knowledge alone is not sufficient. You must take it, embrace it, pursue it, understand it, practice it and make it your own. You must master it, or perhaps more correctly, truth must master you. You must know who God is and what He has said and live your life out of confidence in this truth.
The world offers many conflicting sources of authority—pleasure, education, experience, feelings, science and tradition, to name a few—but God’s truth must be the Christian’s ultimate authority. You can and must stand against the world, the flesh and the devil on the authority of God’s word.
We have been given the Belt of Truth. We must “gird on” this belt. Cultural Christianity is failing. It used to be that there was enough Christianity in our culture that you could hear and learn the truth of God from many sources, not only in church. Now Christian influence is limited, marginalized and separated from the culture at large. If you are to know the truth of God, you must intentionally pursue and study it. Listen to the sermon; go to Sunday School; read the Bible, memorize the Word of God; read good Christian books. Invest in truth by utilizing the means of grace available to you. This will help you to recognize temptation when it comes because you will know the truth.
Jesus, the Son of God, resisted temptation by quoting the Word of God (Matthew 4:1-11). He spoke the truth that He knew and embraced. We must follow His example, and we must know and embrace Him, because Jesus is the Truth. Know Him and you will be able to stand and have victory.