Series: PPE for Spiritual Warfare, by Rosie Moore
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist… (Eph 6:14a)
If you were a healthcare worker today, would you dare to step into the war zone of a COVID-19 hospital ward without wearing “Personal Protective Equipment” (PPE)? That’s because we know the mortal dangers of the enemy virus, and so we take every measure not to expose ourselves to its attack. But somehow, as a Christian soldier engaged in a fierce spiritual war we cannot see, we are sometimes so casual.
How often do we step into our day unprepared and unprotected, without the personal protective equipment that Christ himself has provided through his death and resurrection? Paul lists the PPE in his letter to the Ephesian Christians: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace; the shield of faith; the helmet of salvation; the sword of the Spirit, and a posture of alert, continuous prayer (Eph 6:13-18).
Unlike PPE for medics, this spiritual equipment is not in short supply and is potent enough to demolish the enemy’s strongholds (2 Cor 10:4-5). It is ample and sufficient armoury, freely available to every Christian who is connected and abiding in Christ himself. Today we will look at how to buckle the belt of truth securely around our waists. But first, let’s remind ourselves of who our enemy is, in order to understand why this belt of truth matters so much.
Know your enemy!
As Christians, it’s easy to brush off Satan and hell, choosing instead to give all our attention to struggles that we can see. But God’s Word is no conspiracy theory, and Paul is clear that the real war is “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the authorities and powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 6:12). If we ignore or minimise demonic forces standing behind flesh-and-blood people, conflicts and ideas, we will be easily diverted and ill-equipped for the real battle. But when we understand Satan’s character in the Bible, we can spot his attempts to rule in world affairs; in relationships; in churches and our personal lives:
Let’s remember that our enemy was unsatisfied serving God, so he rebelled and tried to take over and rule God’s creation for himself. He is always the accuser of Christ’s people, a liar and the father of lies. The effects of his work directly oppose Christ’s: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, but I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). So, when Satan tempted Jesus, he offered to give Christ everything in this world, to divert him from the real battlefield of the cross.
And let’s not forget that our enemy is crafty, the master of deception and delusion, ever since he first twisted God’s Word in the Garden:
Did God actually say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden? You will not surely die! For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (John 8:44; Gen 3:1-2; 4).
Satan’s ploy is always to make humans think that we can define good and evil for ourselves– that we can be like God. He loves to make us believe that God is withholding something lovely from us and can’t be trusted to know what’s good for us. And Satan is masterful at replacing God’s truth with a beautifully-wrapped lie. As C.S Lewis puts it, our enemy is the ‘ape of God.’ Like a slight of hand, it’s not always easy to see the truth behind the illusion.
Satan knows where he’s going and he wants to take as many people with him, or in the case of Christians, to cripple us for life. He focuses on this world and leads people to worship themselves. Satan always offers shiny, attractive ‘gifts’ which look pleasing to the senses, but he never reveals the death and destruction inside the package. As Ed Welch puts it, he invites us to a “banquet in the grave.” This is the modus operandi of the enemy who “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14).
Like a mob boss, Satan often uses people to get the job done; he infiltrates the unsuspecting church and his lies hold sway in much of culture today.
So, as we seek to wear the armour Christ has given us, we need to know that we face a powerful demonic army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church and turn Christians away from the Jesus of history. He will use whatever means to divert us from the real Jesus of the Bible, who holds out the only hope to dying, enslaved, blind and deceived people. That’s why the belt of truth matters so much.
The truth that matters
And that’s why the father of lies hates to see Christians with the belt of truth firmly buckled around our waists. He fears the kind of ministry Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 4:1-7, where we proclaim, not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord. The enemy would prefer Christians to be tripping over ourselves; living double lives; speaking with forked tongues; using underhanded methods; tampering with the Bible, and more eager to make people feel better about themselves than “setting forth the truth plainly” (2 Cor 4:2).
More than anything else, the devil fears Christians speaking the truth by the power of God’s Spirit. All his delusions are useless the moment a previously blind person is able to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus. It is only the gospel’s light that can evaporate the smokescreen of Satan’s deceptions, leaving the god of this world impotent and defeated (2 Cor 4:4; 6). And it is wonderful to think that ordinary Christians like you and me have been given this precious, unique truth to wear around our waist every day! What an extraordinary privilege to be a steward of this life-giving truth!
The truth that holds it all together
But the belt of truth also gives our lives integrity. The opposite of integrity is hypocrisy. Listen to what Os Guiness says:
“Hypocrisy is a lie in deeds rather than in words. And evil always uses lies to cover its oppressions. Only with truth can we stand up to deception and manipulation”.
The belt that Paul had in mind was worn by a Roman soldier, like a leather apron that protected the whole lower part of his body. It was also used as a sheath for the soldier’s sword. When people wanted to move quickly, they would gather up their robes and tuck the ends into their belts, so that their legs could run unhindered. It’s the idea Peter had in mind when he wrote,
“Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).
The Roman belt held everything together. It is the picture of a Christian, whose life and words and methods are tied together by truth, as revealed in God’s Word. Of course, no Christian can do this perfectly all the time, but this integrity should mark our lives. It is the picture of a Christian who doesn’t care for optics, but stands firmly on the side of God’s truth, even when no one is looking. She lives to please only one Master, rather than dividing her loyalties (Matt 6:24; Matt 6:22-23).
In Paul’s words, a Christian who wears the belt of truth has “renounced disgraceful underhanded ways, refuses to practice cunning, or to tamper with God’s word” (2 Cor 4:2). We do not use the tactics of Satan, like shame, ridicule or manipulation, as the ends never justify the means. Instead, we seek to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30).
God’s truth is the only antidote to what James describes as a divided and unstable mind (James 1:8). Truth keeps us from being “tossed about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph 4:14-15; 21). And that’s precisely why Satan hates us to wear the belt of truth. He loathes integrity.
Instead, our enemy loves to divide, deceive and pull our lives apart, just as he did with Lot. Unlike his uncle Abraham, Lot had his eyes on the well-watered plains of the Jordan, instead of on the Lord. And so, without a belt of truth, Lot and his family drifted off into wicked Sodom. Lot’s problem was a divided heart. For, as Jesus warns us, “a household divided against itself will not stand” (Matt 12:25).
The war on truth
In my lifetime, I’ve never seen such a ferocious culture war as I see today in society. War has been declared on God’s order in almost every sphere and relationship. I see many people drowning in a sea of confusion, absurdity and despair because of false beliefs. Ten years ago, in speaking on why truth matters, Os Guinness said:
“Christians have the grounds as well as the duty to confront false ideas with the assurance that they are neither true in the end nor are they in the best interests of those who believe them. And we must never forget today that our stand for truth must start in the church itself. We must resist the powerful seductions of those who downplay truth for methodology, or truth in the name of activism, or truth for entertainment, or truth for seeker sensitivity, and above all those who put modern and revisionist views of truth in the place of the biblical view. Whatever the motive of these people, all such seductions lead to a weak and compromised faith and they end in sorrow and a betrayal of our Lord…If our faith is not true, it would be false even if the whole world believed it. If our faith is true, it would be true even if the whole world were against it. We worship and serve the God of truth and humbly and resolutely, we seek to live as people of truth. Here we still stand, so help us God. As evangelicals we are people of the good news, but may we also always be people of truth, worthy of the God of truth. God is true. God can be trusted in all situations. Have faith in God. Have no fear. Hold fast to truth. And may God be with us all.”
For myself, I’m grateful that an older Christian woman took time to disciple me when I was a young woman in my early 20’s, successfully brainwashed by feminism and clueless about God’s beautiful design for motherhood and marriage. It took her patient efforts to bring the truth, as set out in God’s Word, to bear on the twisted ideas I’d believed for years. Let’s offer to do the same for a younger person, so that everyone in the household of God is dressed and prepared for battle, standing firm with the belt of truth buckled around our waists.
Pete and I have found the resources below useful in helping our family apply Biblical truth to many cultural issues:
- Series, The War on Truth, by The Fuel Project #7 The Left Pit; #8 The Right Pit; #13 The Truth about Feminism; #10 The Postmodern Era.
- Os Guiness, Why Truth Matters (RZIM).
- Voddie Baucham—Racial Reconciliation; Cultural Marxism.
- Centre for Biblical unity, Monique Duson.
- Neil Shenvi Apologetics
- Christ Church Midrand sermon series: Controversial issues
- Greg Morse, The Globdrop Letters: A senior demon (Wormwood) corresponds with a junior demon to advise him in the evil art of subtle deception. The series of articles follows in the large footsteps of C.S. Lewis in his classic work, The Screwtape Letters. They’re brilliantly written.
- The Alisa Childers Podcast: What is Progressive Christianity?
- Julius Twongyeirwe, Are we forsaking truth? Africa the Gospel Coalition.