Perhaps this is too much information, but the truth is if I’m wearing pants (unless they’re elastic) I’m also wearing a belt. In fact, I still wear the same belt I've worn since high school. (Did I just admit that?) It's black and hardly ever seen because I only tuck my shirt in if it's below twenty degrees. And even then, I’ll have on so many layers you won't see my belt.
Here's the problem: if I don’t wear a belt, I won’t get anything done because I'll be too busy holding up my pants. Whether it's a blessing or a curse that my hips don't keep my jeans in place, I'm not sure, but I take solace in the fact that I'm not alone in my belt-wearing requirements. It was also out of necessity that soldiers of the Roman Empire wore a belt.
Sidenote:Since I just compared my clothes to that of a first-century Roman soldier, it's entirely reasonable that my wardrobe may need an intervention. However, there are several vital differences I'd like to point out between my belt and theirs.
The Purpose of a Soldier’s Belt
While my belt is hidden and narrow, used for the sole purpose of keeping my pants from falling, a Roman soldier’s belt was typically wide, worn on the outside of their tunic, and served multiple purposes.
First of all, when necessary, a soldier could tuck his long tunic into his belt for ease of movement during hand-to-hand combat or if he needed to run. Actually, God told the Israelites to do this exact thing on the eve of their escape from Egypt. They were to eat the Passover meal with their belt fastened (Ex. 12:11). Some translations say they were to eat with their loins girded, meaning they were tucked, prepared, and ready to run.
Second, a Roman soldier's belt provided core support. Since a soldier carried more equipment than most, the belt helped him remain upright, stable, and strong while on his feet all day.
Third, his belt doubled as a tool belt, giving the soldier a place to sheath his weapons. What good is a soldier whose hands are full?
As a mom, I get that last part. My hands are often full of stuff, especially after church when my kids hand me papers and popsicle stick crosses and toilet paper roll mangers and then suddenly lose the ability to put on their jacket. (Can I get an amen?)
The point is, a soldier did not leave home without his belt. It wasn't an optional piece of attire like it is for many today. A soldier's belt occupied the center stage of his uniform, which is why I love that Paul attached the believer's equipping of truth to the soldier's belt.
Surround Yourself with the Truth
Ephesians 6:14 says, "Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth." Or, as the King James version says, "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth."
Paul begins his description of our spiritual armor with the belt of truth because truth is at the core of everything we do and say and believe. It's the truth that keeps us upright, sets us free, and allows us ease of movement in this life, while at the same time offering us core support.
Truth is essential for the believer. It acts as an anchor or security guard and keeps us from being "tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes" (Eph. 4:14).
But what is truth? Pilate asked Jesus that question on the eve of Christ's crucifixion, not realizing He was talking to Truth Himself. Jesus told the disciples, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).
John 1:14 says, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." Then verse 17 states, "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."
In John 17:17, Christ asked the Father to "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth." Christ is the Word, and the Word of God is truth. 2 Samuel 22:31 says, "This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true." Therefore, we test everything the world throws at us against the Bible. Does it fit? If not, we toss it, standing firm on the truth.
Truth Keeps Us Upright
Apart from knowing the truth and believing the truth, we won't stand firm. We'll topple to the ground with the slightest bit of breeze like a paper cup on a picnic table. But if we surround ourselves with truth, allowing it to be our belt, we'll have the core support we need for the weight of all we carry in this life, along with the ability to decipher the lies of the enemy and the deceitful schemes of the devil.
I love how Isaiah 11:5 describes the Messiah. It says, "Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins." Furthermore, Isaiah 59:17 says of the Lord, "He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head." Do you see the similarity?
Paul is describing believers as God described Christ hundreds of years prior in the book of Isaiah because, as believers, we are clothed with Christ (Rom. 13:14). It's no accident the descriptions are similar. Yet there is one significant difference: we wear a belt of truth, while Christ wears the belt of righteousness. Only in Christ can we be righteous, and that's the truth!
The only way we will stand firm in this mixed-up world is if we tuck every lie, every whim of doctrine, every cunning remark, every arrow intended to berate and distract and detain us into the promises of God.
1 John 5:20 says, "And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life."
Allow the Truth to Distinguish You
The bottom line is this: we know the truth if we know Christ. But if Christ is not the center of our lives, then truth is not at the center of our lives. And if the truth is not at our core—we will crumble.
So here's the big question: are we willing to allow the truth to distinguish us as a Roman soldier allowed his belt to distinguish him? Or do we seek to hide the truth like I try to hide my skinny black belt? God desires that we expose the truth by living according to the truth. When all else fails, the truth is still true. We will remain upright when we live surrounded by the truth of God's Word.
Yet truth isn't always fashionable. Sometimes it's easier to believe a lie than it is the truth. But the truth will never wear out or let us down. It fits every shape and size. It may not be the most comfortable thing to wear in certain situations, but it's essential in spiritual warfare. When we tuck the lies of the devil inside our belt of truth, we will not stumble in our walk with Christ.
So give yourself the core support you need to face this day by putting on your spiritual belt of truth. I do this by starting every day in God's Word, purposely placing the truth of God’s Word in my heart and mind no matter how tired I am or how much I was awake the night before. Then when the schemes of the devil invade my day, I'm more likely to see them for what they are—garbage intended to bog me down.
Every believer has a belt of truth; it's simply a matter of whether we're willing to wear it. We can't just look at the latest fashion trends; we have to look to Christ.
As much as I love getting new clothes, I need to put on the same belt I’ve had since I came to know Christ as my Savior—my belt of truth. Come what may, I will trust in the Word of God with my spiritual belt snug and in place, whether I’m home or away. If not, I will inevitably go astray.