Our church just recently finished a sermon series through the book of Ephesians. As promised, here is the first of seven blog posts looking at each individual piece of the "whole armor of God" in Ephesians 6:14-20.
I think it's an important caveat, before we walk through this passage, to remember that these are not seven separate things to "do," but rather one "whole" that flows out of the gospel. While we will meditate on each of these seven parts together, the context and entire passage is important to keep in mind to effectively grasp the point Paul is trying to make.
Ephesians 6:14a states, "Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth..." (ESV). In this context, Paul is admonishing his readers to trust in the Lord for strength amidst spiritual warfare. He reminds the Ephesian believers that their ultimate battle is not "against flesh and blood," but "against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." For a refresher on that, check out this previous blog post.
Truth is Foundational
So why does Paul (inspired by the Spirit) start with truth when describing the armor of God? I think it is because truth is foundational to the life of a believer. Without truth, we cannot know what is right vs. what is wrong. We cannot know that we are sinners separated from a relationship with God. And we cannot know that there is a way to have our sins forgiven and to be made right with God. All of those things require firm, solid truth.
Perhaps this is why truth is the “belt.” Without a belt, your clothes fall off and there is nothing to hold your outfit together. Likewise, without the concept of truth, everything else on this list would be untrue. When truth is made relative rather than absolute, we lose the gospel.
Satan's Attack on Truth
Is it any wonder then that truth is heavily under assault in our society? Whether we are speaking of the image of God (Imago Dei), or marriage, or gender, or creation, or the concept of sin, or the concept of salvation through Christ alone, truth is constantly questioned and condemned as “hateful” or “bigoted.”
This is because Satan is the prince of liars. Jesus makes that clear in John 8:44 when He says, “[Satan] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Satan will attack truth because he knows that without it we lose the very theological facts (gospel, the glory of God, etc.) that he hates.
Christ is Truth Embodied
Jesus’ words in John 14:6 takes truth a step further: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” Truth is not just a concept. It's ultimately found in a person, namely the God-man Jesus. He Himself is truth-embodied. How do we know what is true and what is false? Look to Christ. He has made clear what we are to believe and how we are to live our lives. It is essential that we know the truths that the Bible makes clear and that the Church has affirmed for 2,000 years.
Belt of Truth in Practice
So what does this mean in practice? How can we "[put] on the belt of truth"? The first obvious way is to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 13:14) since He is the embodiment of truth. Remind yourself daily of the gospel. Remind yourself of your standing before God because of the life and work of Jesus. Remind yourself of truths like this one from Iain Duguid:
"[Jesus'] faithful girding of himself with the truth (see Isaiah 11:5) stands for us so that on the last day when the Father summons us into his presence, he will not condemn us for our faithlessness but will delight to clothe us in Christ's perfect faithfulness."
You may still ask, "so...how do I do that?" I think one way to do this is by evaluating the content you consume on a daily basis and make adjustments as the Lord leads. Everything in our society wants to “catechize” (instruct) you in what they deem to be true. Even people who say there is no such thing as absolute truth are trying to get you to buy the truth that there is no truth. Kind of ironic, isn’t it?
This means evaluating the time you spend watching the news, watching TV shows, reading books, listening to podcasts, listening to music, scrolling social media, etc. You are being formed by some sort of truth. What is the basis of that truth?
Please hear me carefully: I am not saying that you should only listen to or watch explicitly “Christian” things. What I am saying is to guard your heart with truth and evaluate how your heart and mind are being shaped by the truth content you put in. Not everything you read or watch or listen to is true. So be careful of what you allow to shape you.
Above all, keep being formed by Christ. Allow His Word and subsequently, content based on His Word, to shape and guard your heart and mind. He is both the author of truth and the embodiment of it.
Sermon Series: Ephesians: Church Alive In Christ