“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth,” the apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:14. How does truth serve as a defense in the armor of God?
The very idea of truth as an absolute—as a constant—has been pushed further and further aside. Truth is often viewed as a subject for philosophical debate or as a concept that changes as the world changes around us.
Is there such a thing as absolute truth in our modern society? And if so, why did the apostle Paul list it as the first element in a Christian’s armor against evil?
Truth and Jesus Christ
The idea of absolute truth is inseparable from the life of Jesus Christ and from the Bible. Jesus defined Himself as “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). He also defined the Word of God as truth: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). In a world that drifts without absolutes, these words are an anchor! Jesus Christ and the Bible (the Word of God) represent absolute truth!
The doubts and debates about the existence of absolute truth existed in Christ’s time also. When He was put on trial for His life, Jesus was asked by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate if He was indeed proclaiming Himself to be a king, as the Jews claimed. He answered that He came to bear witness to truth. “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37).
Pilate’s response was a question: “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Jesus obviously found it important to tell Pilate that He, Jesus Christ, was the source of absolute truth. In his response, Pilate, like so many in our world today, seemed to find it doubtful that real truth can be identified.
What should Jesus’ statement mean to a Christian today? How is truth such an important part of the armor of God?
Truth makes you free
“The truth shall set you free.” This is a commonly quoted Bible phrase, but what does it really mean? Telling the truth could certainly set us free from the guilt that might come from lying to a friend or loved one, but that falls short of the full meaning of the original statement.
“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). These are once again the words of Jesus Christ, spoken this time to His disciples. The disciples, in turn, thought He was referring to physical bondage (John 8:33). Jesus’ response was to tell them that truth—following His words and example—would free them from the bondage of sin. “Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin’” (verse 34).
Sin is a weight that can entrap us and prevent us from following the life that God intended for us. Notice this analogy of being weighted down in a way that prevents us from winning a race: “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Following truth—the Word of God and the example of Jesus Christ—frees us from a great burden of sin and allows us to move forward in the path of obedience to God’s ways.
Truth allows us to be prepared
The belt—known as the cingulum or balteus—held the Roman soldier’s scabbard and sword. The belt provided a place to house the sword and carry it into battle effectively. The spiritual sword is the Bible, the Word of God, as shown in Ephesians 6:17. This is another piece of the armor of God.
The belt “girds on all other pieces of our armor, and therefore is first mentioned.” Similarly, without truth girding us, a Christian is unprepared.Mathew Henry’s Complete Bible Commentary states that the belt “girds on all other pieces of our armor, and therefore is first mentioned.” Similarly, without truth girding us, a Christian is unprepared.
Notice the words of the apostle Peter as he compared a belt with spiritual preparedness: “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).
Jesus Christ Himself made a similar analogy when He admonished His disciples to be ready for His coming: “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for your master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately” (Luke 12:35-36).
In Jesus’ day, the belt allowed a man to gather up his robe and tuck it in for swift movement. Being grounded and girded in the truth does the same for a Christian.
Truth guides us into safe paths
As noted earlier, the Word of God is truth (John 17:17), and that truth can show us how to avoid danger. The psalmist compared it to a light, guiding him through the darkness: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). Having the ability to avoid dangerous situations is a tremendous defense! This thought is expanded a little further in Psalm 119:130: “The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”
When Jesus was preparing for the end of His earthly ministry, He advised His disciples that He would be leaving. One of the disciples (Thomas) asked: “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). Jesus replied, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (verse 6).
Following truth gives us the best path to take in life. What better defense can there be than following the safe and rewarding path?
Be encompassed by truth!
A belt and scabbard, especially when thought of in terms of a soldier’s defense, brings to mind the image of something that encircles or encompasses someone in order to protect. Truth does that for the Christian. It allows us to follow God without deviating from the path.
When God spoke of the historic nation of Israel, He spoke in exactly those terms. “‘For as the sash clings to the waist of a man, so I have caused the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to cling to Me,’ says the LORD, ‘that they may become My people, for renown, for praise, and for glory; but they would not hear’” (Jeremiah 13:11).
The ancient nation of Israel chose not to be encircled by truth—by the Word of God. What will be your choice—to follow error or follow truth?