“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth,…” (Ephesians 6:14, ESV)
Paul starts summing up the items in the armor of God with the one that ties it together: the Belt of Truth. What is this Belt of Truth exactly?
Since the Romans ruled in Ephesus in the days that Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesians, it seems likely that he used the analogy of armor because everybody knew what Roman armor looked like. Most of us don’t see Roman soldiers every day, so I hope the photos used in this series will help to get a clearer picture.
In those days, Roman soldiers wore something that was called a cingulum or balteus. It consisted of a leather belt with metal plating and dangling straps with pendants in the groin area. It was considered a status symbol, and it was the very thing by which you could recognize that a person was a soldier because they would always wear it, even off duty.
This belt sometimes carried their sword or held it in place. And it might have provided some protection to the groin area too. As you can tell, it was more than just a means to hold clothes in place.
Now, what would Paul have meant when he used this analogy under inspiration?
I believe a couple of things:
For a Roman soldier, the belt and the sword operated together.
The same is true for a soldier of the Kingdom of God, who has the Holy Spirit and His Sword (which is the Word of God). It is by the Holy Spirit, also called the Spirit of Truth, that we understand the Word of God. And God’s Word is Truth (John 17:17).
Jesus said: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-14, ESV)
It is by the Spirit that we see, hear, and comprehend God’s Truth. He also enables us to live by the Truth of God’s Word and to glorify God.
A sign of ownership
The belt was a status symbol for Roman soldiers, and they wore it with pride. In a similar way, the Belt of Truth is a status symbol for us too, by which we can boast in our Lord (Jeremiah 9:24, 2 Corinthians 10:17). For if someone doesn’t have the Belt of Truth, because that person doesn’t have the Holy Spirit, he or she is not sealed and so not God’s soldier (Ephesians 1:13).
Jesus says: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV).
So, we need His Spirit to have life and to come to the Father. And that is precisely what we are battling for, to be with the Father for all eternity and for the reward He’ll give us after being victorious. And the only way to be victorious is with the help of the Holy Spirit, Who guides us into all Truth. The truth that sets us free (John 8:32).
The Belt doesn’t only qualify us as soldiers, it also shows other people that we are soldiers of Christ. Our Belt is spiritual, so they won’t be able to see it at first glance, as was the case with the Romans, but they will see it by the way we behave, as a result of how the Holy Spirit works in our hearts.
The Bible teaches us that we will be recognized by the fact that we love one another (John 13:35) and by our fruit (Matthew 7:20).
So it doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that the belt sits around the area of our bodies that represents fruitfulness since we need the Spirit of Truth to produce good fruit.
We are carriers of the Name (and with that: the reputation) of Jesus, Whom we should defend everywhere we go. Even, or maybe especially, if it means suffering disgrace (Acts 5:41).
Before David slew Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, he defended God’s honor. But instead of being commended for it, his eldest brother was totally upset with him. Thankfully David was not at all discouraged by that. (Read more about this in part 5: the Helmet of Salvation.)
When we face opposition like that after following the instructions of the Holy Spirit, we should keep moving forward, just like David. Because God’s honor is way more important than ours.
To me, it’s definitely not a coincidence that Paul listed this piece of armor first, as it represents the role of the Holy Spirit. Without Him, we would not have armor and we would definitely not be fighting with Jesus in His army. We would fight against Him and lose. So, when you go up in battle, make absolutely sure you carry the Belt of Truth because your victory very much depends on it.
Click on any of the links below to read about another piece of armor. Or read them all to see how they work together.
Part 2: The Breastplate of Righteousness
Part 3: The Shoes of Readiness
Part 5: The Helmet of Salvation
Part 6: The Sword of the Spirit