‘Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breast plate of righteousness in place…’ (Ephesians 6:14). The belt that Paul is speaking of here was worn by Roman soldiers. It was not simply a strip of cloth around his waist or even a narrow belt. Instead, it was more like a leather apron that helped to protect the lower part of the soldiers body.
The belt was also used as a sheath for the soldier’s sword. A belt had the function of pulling things together. In the culture of the day, both men and women, including soldiers, wore flowing robes. When they wanted to move rapidly, the people would gather up their robes and tuck the ends into their belt so their legs would be free to move quickly.
As Christians, we must prepare our minds and hearts for battle, eliminating any thoughts or habits that would hinder our walk with God. Peter had this idea in mind when he wrote, ‘Therefore, prepare your minds for action’ (1 Peter 1:13). The belt of truth represents a life and a mind that is pulled together and ready to serve.
‘Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inner most place’ (Psalm 51:6). It is not enough to simply read the Word of God, the truth of God’s Word must penetrate our lives so that our actions and motives are governed by God’s truth. Paul told the Ephesians that instead of being tossed about by every wind of doctrine, they should speak the truth in love. Paul was speaking of a settled conviction that gives purpose, confidence and direction to our steps.
① As we wear the belt of truth we exhibit strong Conviction
Election times can be fascinating when it comes to observing human nature. There will usually be a number of hardcore voters who stand firm on each opposing side, but the swing of balance is usually focused on those who haven’t quite made up their mind. These are the voters that each opposing side aims to influence and persuade to vote for their cause. These are the unknown and uncertain voters who often don’t know where they will stand because they don’t have any firm convictions.
The truth is that if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything. There are many people who don’t know what they really believe in life. They have no firm convictions so they are not committed to anything in particular. Your convictions are what you believe – and it is these beliefs that help to establish your life.
In 1994, South Africa held its first democratic, multi-racial elections and Nelson Mandela was elected president of his country when he gained a huge majority of the votes. But three decades before, Nelson Mandela had made a stand for what he believed to be right and ended up going to jail for 27 years – his cause and struggle was to end apartheid in South Africa. On any given Sunday, millions of Christian believers attend church services all over the world. But how many of them would be prepared to be arrested and jailed for their faith, their convictions or their beliefs?
The Apostle Paul was prepared to suffer persecution for the sake of the Gospel. He was able to state with absolute conviction: ‘That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know who I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day’ (2 Timothy 1:12). Unfortunately, there are many who don’t know their own convictions and are unsure what they really believe. The result is that they can be easily persuaded one way or the other. They are not committed to anything.
Paul went on to exhort and encourage Timothy by saying, ‘What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us’ (2 Timothy 1:13-14). Strong convictions can build a strong life, but if your convictions are weak and wavering, you life will also be weak and wavering. Take a good look at your life – are you weak and wavering because you lack strong convictions? If you have a pattern of sound teaching in your life – something you hold fast to – then remember to guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Those who stand firm on the promises of God can begin to see a pattern of blessing emerging in their lives. No matter what happens in life, you need to have strong convictions about your faith, and even your church. Let us become people of strong convictions, so that we can stand firm when tough times come.
② As we wear the belt of truth we learn to serve one master
The opposite of integrity is double-mindedness. Double-mindedness is hypocrisy – trying to lead a double life: trying to focus our minds on God and on worldly pleasures at the same time. This kind of double thinking always leads to unfaithfulness. We cannot serve two masters (see Matthew 6:24). Only the soldier who has directed all his energies toward one goal – winning the battle – will be victorious.
Jesus is our best example of integrity – in describing the coming Messiah, the Prophet Isaiah wrote, ‘Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist’ (Isaiah 11:5). Throughout his life on earth, Jesus had only one purpose and goal in mind: “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and finish his work” (John 4:34).
If we are going to stand firm against Satan’s attacks, we must declare our allegiance to Jesus and maintain our integrity. The minute we display any division or double-mindedness, we have given Satan an opening where he can attack us. Once he gains a foothold, his influence in our lives gradually grows until he finally controls us.
Jesus spoke to us about this matter of double-mindedness, when he stated, ‘Do not store up for yourself treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourself treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where the treasure is, there your heart will be also’ (Matthew 6:19-21). Jesus makes it clear in this passage that we cannot have a divided heart. We cannot look for the pleasures of this world and for the joys of the Christian life at the same time. God has given us all things to richly enjoy (see 1 Timothy 6:17), and He does want us to enjoy life – however, God doesn’t want us to focus our hearts and energies on gaining all these temporary pleasures.
In addition to the danger of having a heart that pulls in two directions – Jesus also warns us about having a mind that thinks in two directions. Jesus said, ‘The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!’ (Matthew 6:22-23). In this passage Jesus is describing a person who tries to look in two directions at the same time. When this person attempts to do this he ends up seeing nothing clearly.
Spiritually, the eye represents our outlook. If our outlook is not healthy, then we are not going to be healthy inwardly. Those whose mind and outlook on life is divided will be unstable in everything they do (see James 1:8). Jesus says, ‘No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money’ (Matthew 6:24). They love the treasures of this world while trying to love the Jesus. This is double-mindedness. These people have one eye on heaven and one eye on earth. They want to have the best of both worlds. One minute they are serving God, and the next minute they are serving their own self-interests.
The truth is that this kind of living does not work effectively – it eventually pulls a person apart – and the devil knows this. The only solution for the problem of double-mindedness is integrity. So how can we have integrity?
By practicing the greatest of all the commandments: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ (Mark 12:30). This is integrity. It means putting on the belt of truth and saying, ‘I am totally devoted to Jesus. I don’t have another master. I am looking only to Jesus. I love him with all of my heart; I listen to him with all of my attention; I understand his Word with all of my mind; and I want to do his will with all of my will’. It is so easy for us to slip into double-mindedness – instead of building our house on the rock – unfortunately there are people who are trying to build their lives half on the rock and half on the sand – and then they wonder why thing fall apart for them.
③ As we wear the belt of truth we become winners and not losers
Abraham and Lot
Lot was not wearing his belt of truth – he was afflicted with double vision: ‘Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar’ (Genesis 13:10). Lot had his eyes on the land and how rich he could become instead of having his eyes on the LORD. And when the people of Sodom were taken captive, Lot could do nothing about it. We can see Abraham’s integrity when the king of Sodom came out to meet him. The king said to Abraham, ‘Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself’ (Genesis 14:21). However, Abraham replied, ‘I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of your sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abraham rich’ (Genesis 14:22-23). This is integrity – Abraham didn’t go into battle thinking, ‘I wonder what I am going to get out of this’ – His only thoughts were about rescuing his nephew.
Joshua and Achan
Throughout his life, Joshua’s integrity and loyalty to God never wavered. Just before his death he urged the people, “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness” (Joshua 24:14). This was one of the main reasons why Joshua was able to defeat the enemy and conquer the land so successfully. Joshua’s life stands in contrast to that of Achan, a soldier in Joshua’s army. Achan was double-minded. Achan didn’t enter the battle because he wanted to win the victory for the LORD – he entered it wondering what he could get out of it for himself. Part of his heart loved wealth and material possessions more than the LORD. God had instructed the Israelites to take no goods from the battle but to dedicate everything to Him (see Joshua 6:18-19). However, when Achan saw the great wealth of Jericho, he stole some of it and buried it under his tent (Joshua 7:20-21). Achan was trying to serve two masters. Achan was responsible for the defeat of the whole army when they went to fight. When Joshua discovered that their defeat was due to sin in the camp, Achan’s sin was uncovered and he and his family were stoned and burned along with all that they owned (Joshua 7:24-26).
David and Saul
A third example of the results of integrity can be seen in the lives of David. Have you ever wondered why God chose David to replace Saul as king? The Bible gives us the following answer; ‘He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them’ (Psalm 78:70-72). David’s life teaches us that it doesn’t matter how skillful our hands may be, if we don’t have integrity in our hearts, we cannot be used effectively by God. David’s life is vastly different from that of Saul, the first king of Israel. Saul didn’t have integrity.
While David sought the will of God, Saul was always devising some scheme or plot.
David stood firm, but Saul continually tossed backwards and forwards in his thinking.
When David sinned, he humbly confessed it to God. However, when Saul sinned he only made excuses.
Because Saul tried to live a double life – God rejected him as king. God could not bless Saul because he refused to put on the belt of truth and live all out for God.
Satan loves double-mindedness – because he knows that ‘…every city or house divided against itself will not stand’ (Matthew 12:25). We must decide, once and for all, if we are going to completely yield to Jesus. Paul explained what a good Christian soldier looks like, when he said, ‘Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs – he wants to please his commanding officer’ (2 Timothy 2:3-4). A good soldier of Jesus concentrates only on following the order of his Commander. There are no exceptions or compromises to God’s explicit standards of morality. No matter what others may say or do – we need to stand firmly on God’s side of the truth – we need to say the same as Joshua, ‘As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD’ (Joshua 24:15).
- As we wear the belt of truth we exhibit strong Conviction
- As we wear the belt of truth we learn to serve one master
- As we wear the belt of truth we become winners and not losers