In listing the pieces of armor, the first implement Paul mentions is the belt of truth, which is tied around the soldier’s waist. “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth….” (Ephesians 6:14) This may not sound like armor, but it is essential for battle. That is why Paul mentions it first. The belt is used to gather up the soldier’s robe so that he does not trip while fighting, which would result in his being sprawled defenseless before his enemy.
Peter also has this belt in mind when he writes: “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind,” the idea being that we should not allow our minds to wander all over the place like the robe of a man without a belt, because this leaves us vulnerable to trouble. Or to change the analogy, just as surely as water flows downstream, a roving mind will drift in the wrong direction.
Paul is adding to Peter’s teaching by telling us that this focused mind will be characterized by truth while the un-belted mind is susceptible to lies. Lies are comfortable and convenient and therefore the undisciplined mind tends to gravitate toward them. “I can watch movies with nudity without lusting.” I have actually been told that.
As Satan engages us in conflict, which he certainly will, our foundational defense resides in a mind grounded in truth. We must ask of every thought, every idea, every plan, every analysis, every reflection, every proposed and actual behavior: “Is this based on truth?”
For example, a married man may be attracted to a married woman at work and rationalize this relationship by thinking, “My wife does not understand me, but this woman does.” However, the truth is that this man has made a commitment to his wife and that this woman is committed to someone else. The truth is that God has called him to love his wife, commanded him not to covet his neighbor’s wife, and commanded him not to commit adultery. Analyzing this situation squarely based on those truths makes it quite clear how he should respond.
Truth has a way of cutting through the rational clutter and crystallizing the issues. Many times we struggle over issues simply because we do not ask ourselves regarding the truth of the matter.
Of course, these truths are undergirded by even more foundational ones: God exists, the Bible is true, God’s instructions for living work and other approaches don’t, obedience brings God’s blessing while disobedience results in chastening, this life is temporal and eternity lasts forever, etc.
Pilate asked the question, “What is truth?” Not only did he fail to gird his mind with the belt of truth, but he did not even own such a belt. As a result, he kept tripping over his moral robes, falling flat on his face, lacking criteria to make decisions, instead being tangled up in political pressures and driven by fears. Even though we own a belt of truth, we will experience the same outcome if we don’t put it on, if instead we allow our minds to entertain ideas that are not rooted in truth.
The utilization of the belt of truth finds almost endless application. For example, many people are assaulted by remorse: failures and missed opportunities of the past. In dealing with these thoughts, we need to confront them with the truth that this is today. We can’t relive yesterday. So based on that truth we need to let the past go and focus on living today so we won’t have remorse tomorrow. Or if someone treats us unkindly, as we calculate a response the truth is that we are to love our enemy. Or if tempted to have a second dessert, the truth is that this does not constitute good stewardship of our bodies.
We can keep this belt tight by reading, memorizing, and meditating on the Word, which the Holy Spirit uses to teach us the truth and remind us of it. Listening to preaching is also keeps the belt of truth tight. I might know the truth in some area, but hearing someone preach on it challenges me in a special way to tighten the belt regarding that issue. Then it gets down to constantly asking ourselves in every area whether we are thinking and living the truth.
Short-term, the truth can be uncomfortable, the belt might squeeze a little, but long-term it provides the foundation for beating Satan. Keep the belt of truth tight so that he has no means of tripping you up.