…your loins girded… with TRUTH
“What is truth?”
The old campaigner was hard-bitten, crafty and arrogant. His question was a cynical response to Jesus of Nazareth’s straightforward answer to a query: “Art thou the King of the Jews?” (Jn. 18:33). “To this end was I born,” Jesus replied, “and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice” (Jn. 18:37). And so the confrontation launched in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1-5) is restated and clarified. Perhaps we could better say, “restated and personified”, because, for all practical purposes, this was precisely what was being done.
Pontius Pilate spoke for a system that ranged from the Euphrates to the Atlantic, and from the barren sands of the Libyan desert to the fertile banks of the Rhine. Alexander’s Greeks had captivated humanity’s mind; Caesar’s legions had captured its body. The Greeks, with their art, culture and philosophy, had lifted man to an intellectual zenith, while the Romans enshrined the rule of law and the strength to enforce it. But for Roman and Greek alike, the pursuit of truth was always only that – a chase. The procurator spoke succinctly for himself and his world when he asked his question, “What is truth?” (Jn. 18:38).
The God-Man was truth personified. “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (Jn. 1:17). He was God’s absolute truth embodied in human form for men to see, receive and follow. Thus, ever thereafter, until He comes again, earth’s fiercest arena of combat will not be found where armies and empires vie for territorial and political supremacy, but where the emissaries of the truth in Jesus Christ meet the forces of Satanic delusion and enslaving error. It is not, therefore, a casual coincidence that places the “girdle of truth” first in the listing of articles comprising the “whole armor of God” in Ephesians 6:13-17.
The verses that detail the necessity of our being armed for the spiritual warfare, Ephesians 6:10-12, illuminate the dimensions of the conflict and the resources available to the soldier-saint. The admonition, “. . . be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (v. 10), is amplified by the instruction to “Put on the whole armor of God” (v. 11). This indispensable counsel is set forth in contrast to the opinion popular among some who hold that the successful Christian is one who aggressively “rolls up his sleeves and wades into the enemy”. This “sanctified” macho image has caused many sincere adherents to stagger back from the fray bloody and bowed. Our strength must be “in the Lord”. Apart from His power we stand helpless before our foe. The words “put on” in verse 11 mean literally to “envelope oneself” or “hide in” the armor of God. Herein is the clear conception of our weakness made available to His strength. Hiding in His armor is not a craven exhibition of cowardice; it is, rather, the prudent appropriation of God’s provision for our immediate and ultimate victory.
Human devices, no matter how skillfully or sincerely crafted, will not prevail in a struggle which only involves human adversaries in their capacity as agents of the true enemy. Fundamentally, the battle is with:
1) “The devil” and his”wiles” – all of the strategies and deceits crafted by Satan himself.
2) “Principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness in high places” – The reference here is to demon hosts, Satan’s immediate underlings, operating in the regions of a world system under the dominion of the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2).
It should at once be abundantly clear that against such forces there is no strength in our strength. Likewise, in our feeble human armor there is no defense, let alone a successful offense. So the admonition is restated for emphasis: “Wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (v. 13). Every piece of armor must be in its place. No area of the believer’s spiritual being should be exposed to the adversary. Taking on the armor is to be a once-and-for-all act. That is to say, the Christian is to exercise himself as a disciplined, reliable soldier all the days of his life on this earth.
Now, how can we do it? What has God provided for you and me to make us overcomers in Christ?
“Stand, therefore, having your loins girded about with truth . . . “ (v. 14).
Girding the loins, though often only quaintly suggestive to us, was a matter of great importance to men in ancient times. The loins included the hips and lower back, and was regarded as the region crucial to the provision of strength and mobility in combat. The girdle, actually, in the case of a soldier, a wide leather belt, was the piece of equipment essential to this area of the body.
The Girdle: A Source of Strength
The Christian is involved in a contest at close quarters – “we wrestle” (v. 12). Proper support is required by the nature of the struggle, and that support is described as the “girdle of truth”. Soldier-saints are supplied with unceasing power sources through which to make their “stand for the faith”. Our provision includes:
Implanted truth – This is the “I AM” truth resident in the believer through the indwelling person of Jesus Christ. “. . . I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jn.14:6). It is not simply, in popular terminology, “a born again experience” emanating from emotional or intellectual stimulation. (Webster defines “experience” as “The apprehension of an object, thought or emotion through the senses of the mind.”) No, it is in reality a true spiritual birth – one born through the agonies of a Spirit-induced conviction of sin, repentant contrition before an awesomely holy God, and faith which rests in the crucified, risen, saving Christ. Thus, through the reality of the new birth, the “born one” is transformed by the living Christ who resides within him.
Imparted truth – Here we have truth assimilated through vital interaction with the written Word of God – the Bible. It is the “word of truth” (2 Cor. 6:7) by which the soldier becomes skilled through learning and living the truth of the Gospel. In soldiering terms, this, of course, involves a disciplined regimen of study – giving oneself unreservedly to the Book as his authority and priority in living.
Implemented truth – The “Spirit of truth” (Jn. 14:17) is set before us as the enabling force who makes the believer spiritually functional. Implementation involves the Christian as an agent of the empowering Spirit of God, The “Spirit of truth” is our
Teacher – “. . . he shall teach you all things. . .” (Jn. 14:26).
Guide – “. . . he will guide you into all truth . . . “ (Jn. 16:13).
Reminder – “He shall glorify me. . . ” (Jn. 16:14).
Fitness for combat requires knowing what to do, where to do it and keeping in view who shall receive the laurels for the victory – ever, always, only Jesus Christ for whom we labor as serving saints. So we need a teacher, a guide and someone who will help us retain our perspective about who leads and who follows. He does all of these things.
The Girdle: A Source of Liberty
In the days when soldiers wore tunics, preparation for an impending battle meant tucking the lower portion of the garment up under the belt. This action gave freedom of movement and enhanced the soldier’s effectiveness in battle.
Jesus told those who were encumbered by the strictures of the law and tradition, “. . . ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:32). When one is girded with the liberating truth of Jesus Christ, no matter how dark the hour or fearsome the foe, he can move in sublime confidence. There is an assurance in apprehended truth that brings rest. In the heat of battle there is that reassuring peace that comes with knowing the truth.
Liberating truth results in determined action. Truth is something we can act upon without hesitation, doubt or misgivings.
Those who are functioning in the freedom of God’s truth have a singularly attractive advantage: They know the outcome of the battle! God’s truth alone can lift one above past history and current conflicts to place the believer on a prophetic plateau from which he can scan landscape of future eons, see the divine Victor in His ultimate triumph, and shout, “All is well.” “. . . We are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37).
The Girdle: A Source of Restraint
While it was true that the warrior’s belt contributed to his liberty, it was also an instrument of constructive restraint. The girdle, you see, was used to stabilize other parts of the armor, in other words, freedom for proper action, but stability for proper protection. Nothing was to be unsecured when the spears and arrows began to fly.
With all of the privileges we possess in Christ, the Christian is never allowed to turn liberty into license. And while the truth is our greatest source of liberty, it is, at the same time, our primary restraining influence – one which is given for spiritual stability, protection and efficiency in battle.
The word “truth” in Ephesians 6:14 is best understood as meaning sincerity, openness and truthfulness. It is a truthfulness of thought and life that is neither deceitful nor self-serving. It is a life void of hypocrisy. In short, it is a truth-dominated life that exhibits the qualities of Christian character essential to a consistent witness for Christ. It is this kind of character that establishes and maintains the effectiveness of a Christian soldier’s efforts. No matter how shiny our armor may seem to be in our own eyes, it is irreparably tarnished before the world and fellow believers if we are not, in fact, sincere doers of the truth.
Paul was vitally concerned about this. In discussing his own ministry (2 Cor. 6:3-10), he was very careful to be “Giving no offense in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed.” The apostle realized that his conduct was irrevocably linked to his message. Not only was he judged by his Gospel, but his Gospel was judged by his conduct. Thus, after listing the tribulations he endured for Christ, and they were difficult in the extreme, he tells us how he responded: “By pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left” (2 Cor. 6:6-7). The battle-scarred veteran returns to his military figure to display the effectiveness of the “girdle of truth”. He was restrained to the glory of God that his weapons, “on the right hand [the sword] and on the left [the shield] “, might be truly effective in the proclamation and defense of the Gospel. We will learn more about the believer’s sword and shield in the articles to follow.
Let us conclude our thoughts about the “girdle of truth” with a determination to be men and women who have listened to Peter’s timely word. “Gird up the loins of your mind” by a fresh appreciation of what God has committed to us in the “revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13).
THE HOLY SPIRIT IN EPHESIANS
- INTRODUCTION – Ephesians has a great deal to say about the Holy Spirit
- Highest truth in New Testament
- History of Ephesians in Acts 19:2
- HE IS THE SEAL OF THEIR SECURITY (1:13)
- Ownership (2 Tim. 2:19)
- Security (Eph. 4:30; Dan. 6:16-17)
- A finished transaction (Jn. 17:4; 19:30)
- HE IS THE DOOR OF ACCESS (2:18)
- HE IS THE SPRING OF THEIR STRENGTH (3:16)
- HE IS THE GROUNDWORK OF THEIR UNITY (4:3)