The Girdle of Truth
13 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. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.
One thing that scripture establishes very clearly, but which is easily overlooked, is the fact that the Christian life is a warfare, as we saw in our last lesson. In fact, worse than that, the battle is against a powerful, unseen enemy, Satan himself. Hosts of wicked angels are organized under his authority to fight his battles. And his opposition is incessant and unrelenting. Because he is of a different class of beings we cannot anticipate how he will attack us, nor what weapons are effective in resisting him. In fact, if it were not for the fact that God has equipped us with exactly the armor we need to stand against this enemy!
And the only problem we face is that too often we don’t take advantage of it. But perhaps one of the reasons that we don’t put the armor on is that we don’t understand it. Many, perhaps most, Christians don’t know these terms from a civilization of 2,000 years ago. So in the next several lessons we will be looking at each of these six pieces of the armor which He has provided. And in doing that we will see: the picture of truth, the power of truth, and, the provisions for the truth.
So let’s begin by looking at the picture of truth that is presented by the “girdle” In verse 16. It may seem strange that the apostle would begin with the girdle, because, although it was worn by Roman officers, it was not really a piece of the armor. It was like a sash or a cumber bund. A soldier who tried to engage in combat with a loose toga would be easily tripped up in it. So before going into battle he would pull up the bottom edges of the toga and tuck them into the girdle to give him the full range of motion of his legs. But it was also used “offensively” in a sense, to support his weapons. He would hang his sword from it. Or a quiver full of arrows. But there was a third use for the girdle – it was used to display decorations earned in battle. The various awards would be attached to the girdle. Thus in speaking of the girdle, Paul was referring to something with which every 1st century Roman would have been familiar. So that is the picture of truth. But there was a third use for the girdle which the Apostle is going to use to teach us. But now let’s think about the power of truth that is brought out here. Notice that he takes this common item, the girdle, and refers to as the girdle of truth. So we need to be sure we understand the identification of truth in this passage. Our first thought about that would probably be that he is talking about the Word of God. And that is reasonable – the scripture is spoken of in terms of truth over and over again. But in the over-all scheme of things, Paul is really carrying that though one step further: his idea here is more of truthfulness. The Christian must be clothed with “truthfulness” – integrity of character; sincerity. This is what gives us courage of mind as we go into the battle. This doesn’t mean that we will never sin, but too often we “cover up” our sins, rather than confessing them. And under the heat and the pressure of our battle with Satan, we crack for that very reason! And that leads us to the second aspect of the power of truth – the insulation that is given by the truth if a soldier is worried about what is going on back at the camp, his attention is divided, and he can’t be devoted to the battle. Just so, if a Christian is trying to “cover” for himself, he will fall before Satan because he can’t give his full attention to the spiritual battle.
Now this may seem like a minor matter, but it is a very significant point in Satan’s strategy: Rodents or termites or other pests need only a small crack through which they can enter a building. And in the same way, Satan does not require a wide open door – he can get into a person’s life through the smallest little crack. We might take an illustration of this from current events: A corrupt lobbyist may want to bribe a certain legislator to win his support for a bill he is pushing, but if the lobbyist knows that the legislator is a man of integrity and cannot be corrupted by a bribe, he will probably not even approach him. So legislator’s integrity protects him from the advances of the dishonest lobbyist. And in the same way, our “girdle of truth” will protect us from the advances of Satan; many kinds of weapons are hung on the girdle.
This may all seem well and good, but there are those among us who would say, “How can I live up to this standard? Fortunately, God makes a provision for truth for every believer. The first provision that He has for us is the standard of truth in the person Jesus Christ. On one occasion Jesus said to His disciples “I am the way, the truth and the life.” In other words “I personify truth.” Christ’s enemies watched Him throughout the years of His earthly life and could find no flaw in Him – because He was “girded about with truth.” The Pharisees hung on His every word, and watched His every action so as to have a basis upon which to put Him to death. But when they came to take Him He said, “Which of you convicts me of sin? And they were speechless. Why? Because He was “girded about with truth.” When He went to the cross, the centurion who watched Him die, said “surely this man was the Son of God. The thief who hung on the cross said, “This man has done nothing amiss.”
But not only was Jesus Christ the standard of truth, He was the source of truth as well. Because He is truth. And because He is truth, when the believer allows the character of God to shine out through us we become “girded with truth” as well. And the mechanics of this are spelled out in a couple of places. First, in John 14:16, 17, Jesus promised that He would send a replacement for Himself after He departed.
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,[f] to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be[g] in you.
Then in John 16:13 He tells us what that replacement will do.
13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will show you things to come.
As we expose ourselves to the truthful standards of the Word of god we can gain truthfulness (if we obey it.) And this is God’s provision of truth for us, spelled us for us in His word, and taught and reminded by the Holy Spirit.
There is nothing like a guilty conscience to turn a man into a coward. A few years ago a machine being used to cut a drainage ditch in a suburb of Miami cut a water line and disrupted service over a large area. Within a matter of hours fifty people who had unpaid water bills came to the water company to pay their bills! In a lighter vein, author and humorist Mark Twain once played a joke on some of his friends. He sent six men a telegram that said. “You have been found out! Flee at once! And all but one of them did.
When the enemy attacks us, if we do not have on the girdle of truthfulness, we will be vulnerable. It is the thing upon which we hang our offensive and defensive weapons. And thankfully, this is one of the aspects of Christ’s character produced in believers as the fruit of the Spirit.