We put on the full armor of God. If you read the whole passage in Ephesians 6, you will notice that all the weapons are defensive. It is all protective gear, not to be used in offense. I want to focus on the first thing Paul says to put on, the belt.
"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place," (Ephesians 6:13-14).
The Roman soldier's belt was important. I can imagine with all the time Paul spent in prison that he had plenty of time to watch soldiers gear up. The belt was so important to a Roman soldier that it often had two buckles, or at least two places to be tied on. It was called a cingulum or a balteus. It performed several duties. First, it held the other pieces of armor in place. Cinched up tightly, the belt would hold fast the breastplate etc. Secondly, everything hung from the belt. Foremost, a soldier's sword hung from it. He usually hung a length of rope, an empty bag to put loot in, his lunch. There were loops on the belt because everything hung from it. Everything.
Now, when Paul says, 'put on the belt of truth,' we tend to take for granted the most important question. What is the truth? What truth does he mean? Do you know?
Clarke's Commentary gives the answer:
"The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the truth of God; unless this be known and conscientiously believed no man can enter the spiritual warfare with any advantage or prospect of success. By this alone we discover who our enemies are, and how they come on to attack us; and by this we know where our strength lies."
Do you know what the Gospel is? Do you know? We toss around the term, but do we know the basics of what Paul said was the Gospel message? (Gospel means "Good News").
1 Corinthians 15:1-5 has it:
"15:1 Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received – that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve."
So we must know what we believe and why we believe it. We must be ready to make a stand and give a reply as to why we have this Good News, this eternal hope. 1 Peter 3:15 says "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,"
Now, we have the basics down, the belt of truth and why we must cinch it tightly, what the truth is, why we believe it and why we must be ready to articulate it.
Now for the consequences of having a loose belt.
Too many people today study the bible a little and then coast. Or they think that is enough. Or they think that theology doesn't matter. All wrong. It is dangerous to know but a little.
In Revelation 3:15-16 Jesus decries lukewarm Christians. "“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."
Barnes Notes explains: ""That thou art neither cold nor hot - The word "cold" here would seem to denote the state where there was no pretension to religion; where everything was utterly lifeless and dead. The language is obviously figurative, but it is such as is often employed, when we speak of one as being cold toward another, as having a cold or icy heart, etc. The word "hot" would denote, of course, the opposite - warm and zealous in their love and service. The very words that we are constrained to use when speaking on this subject - such words as ardent (that is, hot or burning); fervid (that is, very hot, burning, boiling) - show how necessary it is to use such words, and how common it is. The state indicated here, therefore, would be that in which there was a profession of religion, but no warm-hearted piety; in which there was not, on the one hand, open and honest opposition to him, and, on the other, such warm-hearted and honest love as he had a right to look for among his professed friends; in which there was a profession of that religion which ought to warm the heart with love, and fill the soul with zeal in the cause of the Redeemer; but where the only result, in fact, was deadness and indifference to him and his cause. Among those who made no profession he had reason to expect nothing but coldness; among those who made a profession he had a right to expect the glow of a warm affection; but he found nothing but indifference."
It is the Word that makes us hot. The more tightly you cling to it, the hotter you get. Constant study brings us truth which is constant revelation of Jesus which brings more constant love and zeal for Him. Lackadaisical study brings lukewarm Christians and lukewarm deeds and that is an indignation to Jesus.
When the serpent questioned Eve, she had an answer. And it was mostly right, too. But her belt of truth was a little too loose, some crud had gotten in under it. She added a little to the doctrine, and the serpent saw his opening. He went in for the kill. (Genesis 3:1-5).
The fall of man came after that. Now, if we mess up the ONE DOCTRINE that God had given at that time, what do you think satan can do with a people who play fast and loose with many of the doctrines that we have now?
You say, 'well, I know enough. Satan won't bother me.' That is wrong too. Look how bold satan is. He tempted Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4). In the second temptation, satan tempted Jesus by twisting the WORD OF GOD. He tempted the WORD with twisting the Word! What do you think he will do to you? Especially if he sees that you know just enough to be dangerous, complacent (Revelation 3:15), or studiously ignorant of the truth? (2 Timothy 3:7).
Of course, Jesus made an appropriate reply, and it should be a goal for all of us to be able to refute scripture twisting. Satan takes a little truth and wraps it in a big lie. Or he takes a little lie and wraps it in big truth. For example, back to the conversation satan had with Eve. "And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”" (Genesis 3:2-5)
Satan was telling the truth, they would not surely die...physically. Satan was lying, they would surely die...spiritually. Satan was telling the truth, they would know good and evil. Satan was lying by omission...in not telling them what would happen after they knew good and evil (and he should know, shouldn't he?). And all because her belt of truth was too loose. She knew just enough to be dangerous.
We must wrap the truth around us so tightly it is like a second skin.
We have to know our bibles well enough to detect lies and to sort out what is the truth. We can do that with the belt cinched tightly. If it is loose, then satan will come and insinuate himself between the truth and your body and you will lose.
Now, I am not saying we can know the bible as well as Jesus like when He replied to satan in the wilderness, of course! But we must be diligent to always study. If we know the truth well, when we hear something a little off, we will know it is a little off. We must have an active prayer life and be close enough to the Lord so that when we hear something that doesn't sound quite right, we can appeal to the Spirit to lead us in the bible to where we can find the answer.
Cinch up, soldier! Put on the belt of truth and let us do what Paul urges even in himself:
"Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should." (Eph 6:19-20)
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