Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph 6:13-17)
It seems strange that The Belt is the first piece of spiritual armor mentioned by Paul! Is a belt really armor? Although it binds combat gear in-place, its role is not offensive or defensive. The role of the “belt”, and the reason that Paul makes it the first item in his symbolic gear, is combat readiness with truth.
Paul’s “belt” imagery is about our readiness to engage the enemy. A soldier is trained, physically, to engage his enemy. In boot camp, soldiers undergo physical training for combat readiness. Their strength and skills are chiseled. Soldiers prepare for conflict before it arises so that they can move decisively to engage their enemy. Daily, the Roman soldier would cinch his belt to secure his weaponry in preparation for combat. So, daily, spiritual soldiers ought to focus their training to prepare for the spiritual confrontation that will come. For Roman soldiers, who were probably within eye-shot, Paul saw how a belt held weaponry intact, facilitated movement and made the soldier ready for battle.
Paul’s “truth” imagery is about our ability to engage the enemy. A soldier is trained, spiritually, to engage his enemy. Before Paul exhorted Ephesians to clothe themselves with armor, he challenged them to grow spiritually. He wrote,“We are no longer infants tossed to and from by every wave of teaching… from cunning and crafty men … with deceitful scheming” (Eph 4:14). Maturity is needed for combat. Maturity means firmly holding to God’s truth, in love, in combat. Spiritual boot camp strips away anything that gives advantage to the enemy. Enlistees take-off the corrupt character of bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, malice, obscenity, foolish talk and course joking, etc. Soldiers put-on eternal character of goodness, righteousness, holiness, kindness, compassion and forgiveness. (Eph 4-5) Trained in “truth”, that is integrity and sincerity, spiritual soldiers engage the enemy with conviction and love.
In other words, the “Belt of Truth” says two things about the spiritual soldier. First, as a soldier trained in God’s truth, I am ready to confront the enemy with God’s truth. Second, assessing each situation with Christlike maturity, I am able to confront the enemy’s cunning and crafty lies and deceitful schemes.
Two chapters after his challenge to maturity, Paul provides his troops with “field intelligence”. The foe is supernatural and substantial. He writes, “We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil.” (Eph 6:14-15, JB Phillips). He instructs Godly men to suit-up and cinch-down their spiritual weaponry with the Belt of Truth! Boot camp is over. The enemy is real. Diligently assess every situation. Engage the enemy. Using God’s truth as guide, confront the enemy in every physical and spiritual arena.
The Belt of Truth is about physical and spiritual readiness for combat. John reports how, in Gethsemane, Jesus prayed for his disciples and future believers. He asks His Father on behalf of His followers, who would be persecuted by Satan, that they be protected and purified through the truth of scripture. He prayed, “…make them holy by the truth; for your word is the truth.” (Jn 17:17)
Cinch-down the Belt of Truth. Recognize the enemy. Assess his lies. Engage the battle with truth. “Test all things (and) hold fast to what is good.” (1 Thes 5:21)