A couple of years ago, our human resources department sent out an amendment to the employee dress code. And it was all because of a growing fashion trend – leggings. Are they tights, or are they pants? What should be worn with them – a shirt or a dress?
Suddenly, our modern dress policy referred to the wearing of “tunics.” Before then, I had only heard the word used to describe garments worn in ancient Greece and Rome. You know what they say, fashion moves in circles.
Do you ever watch old movies and notice that men wore their trousers (that’s what they called their pants) considerably higher on their waists? It looks a little silly to most of us who didn’t live in that era.
Back in the day of Leave it to Beaver, it was considered inappropriate for men to go without a belt securing their pants in that elevated position. Still today, many employers require men to wear belts.
Some boys and men allow their pants to hang far below their wastes revealing nearly the entirety of their underwear. This would have been an absurd concept to consider a couple of decades ago. And in the opinion of many, it still is.
The apostle Paul provided a dress code of sorts to the church at Ephesus. His instructions weren’t about fashion sense or modesty, but they were more of a military order that applied to both men and women:
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm (Ephesians 6:11-13, ESV).
We are reminded through this text that we live in a temporal world that is controlled by the spiritual realm. Although the armor described was specific to that day and time, the spiritual reality it represents is unchanging.
The next verse (v 14) begins: “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth…” (emphasis added). I’ve read this passage countless times, but it wasn’t until recently that I really began to understand the meaning. What was Paul picturing in his mind as he described to his believing friends in Ephesus what they would need to suit up for spiritual warfare? Of course, the passage continues with a full description of the “whole armor” that, by the way, would have weighed nearly 70 pounds. But, how does that relate to us here and now, 2,000 years later?
The belt Paul referred to wasn’t a narrow, leather strip that functioned simply to hold up a pair of pants. It was a wide metal or leather belt worn around the lower trunk to hold the armor tightly against the body.
The soldier’s loosely draped tunic would have been a dangerous impediment in hand-to-hand combat had it not been carefully cinched up and tucked into the heavy belt. It also secured the weight of the breastplate and held the other armor in place, including the sword. It stabilized the core so the soldier could maintain balance and strength.
It was the central, foundational piece of equipment that a soldier strapped on before any other armor. Without it, the rest of the uniform was practically useless. And in terms of the battle, so was the soldier.
If we are weak in truth – the core piece of armor – it will be evident in our spiritual lives individually and as a culture. There is a reason the American church fails to consistently hold and communicate clear views on right living and God-honoring choices.
“While America’s evangelical Christians are rightly concerned about the secular worldview’s rejection of biblical Christianity,” explained theologian Albert Mohler, “we ought to give some urgent attention to a problem much closer to home – biblical illiteracy in the church. This scandalous problem is our own, and it’s up to us to fix it.”
Priscilla Shirer, author of The Armor of God Bible study, provides excellent insight by outlining the evidence of a weak core in a believer’s life. To summarize her points, below are some questions we can ask ourselves to help us honestly detect whether our spiritual belts could use some tightening (or maybe they’re lying on the closet floor or under a bed somewhere):
Do you find it difficult to keep your spiritual backbone straight when you are:
- Under pressure from others to conform?
- Put on the spot to defend your biblical beliefs?
- Carrying the extra weight of difficulty and struggle?
How prone are you to injury? Do you:
- Feel injured or wounded by the words or actions of others?
- Find it difficult to forgive, to get over past hurts and move forward?
- Cause others to tiptoe around you for fear of hurting your fragile feelings?
Are you weak and tired? (When the core isn’t supported, the level of strength needed for other body movements is affected. Conversely, when truth is at the core of your existence, strength flows from every area of your life.)
How would you describe your level of stamina in the following areas of your life?
Bottom line, we are left dangerously vulnerable if we are not tightly secured in God’s truth. Compromise, offense, and weariness are all strategic weapons (fiery darts) that weaken us as individual believers and as the body of Christ – the beloved bride, the church. Against it, Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail. (Matthew 16:18)
Believer, we have been equipped to be victorious. All that we must do is use the equipment. Put it on. Wear it. Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save our souls. “But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only who deceive themselves” (James 1:21-22).
Let’s prepare and strengthen ourselves for what is to come with the timeless belt of truth.