Summary: The first piece of spiritual armor to be put-on is the Belt of Sincerity.
Christian Warfare - Pt. 2
In our previous study, we saw that we are engaged in a spiritual war. All of the forces of evil are arrayed against us to keep us from knowing the true God and to prevent us from doing His divine will. We learned that Christ Jesus does not send us out on our own, unequipped, to resist and fight against temptation and error On the contrary, He has provided us with powerful spiritual resources that can enable us to achieve victory over the forces of evil.
We noted that the Roman army was, at the time of Paul’s writing, the most powerful military force in the world. The Roman soldier‘s superior armor and weaponry was largely responsible for the Roman military‘s might and success. Paul likens God’s powerful spiritual resources or virtues for we Christian soldiers to the battle armor and weaponry of the Roman soldier.
The reasons why most Christians do not have strong victorious spiritual lives is because (A) They do not know what their spiritual armor and weaponry consists of and, (B) if they know about their armor and weaponry, they simply fail or refuse to use them.
In today’s study, we will begin to examine our armor and weaponry in detail.
I. The Belt.
The first piece of equipment that Paul mentions is the belt. Around the waist, a Roman soldier wore a wide belt. Strictly speaking, one could assert that the belt is not truly armor. However, the belt was essential because it had two vital purposes: (1) the belt held the rest of the armor in place and supported the sword (therefore, it was the first piece to be put on), (2) the belt acted as a girdle which collected together the soldier’s long under-garments about the waist. This ensured that the under-garments wouldn’t trip-up the soldier in combat and it provided needed support and additional strength.
II Truth (Sincerity).
Now, Paul says that our belt is "truth". The Greek word translated "truth" is aletheuo. Aletheuo can be understood as objective truth or subjective truth. As objective truth, it would refer to spiritual facts or knowledge. The information received through Divine revelation or inspiration Subjective truth is personal truth. It is being genuine, without hypocrisy. We call it sincerity.
I believe that Paul is saying that our belt is spiritual ‘sincerity’ rather than spiritual ‘facts’ or ‘information’. The reasons why I believe this is that (1) Paul says, in verse 17, that spiritual facts or truth is the Christian soldier’s "sword"; (2) sincerity for the Christian soldier performs exactly as the belt did for the Roman soldier. Before we examine how sincerity corresponds so well to the soldier’s belt, let’s get a better grasp of what is meant by spiritual sincerity.
When the Scriptures speak of sincerity, it means a genuine and singular desire to please the Lord. It means that our heart’s one longing and our mind’s one aim is to serve the Lord and promote His glory. God has always desired and required this virtue of sincerity in His people.
Under the Old Covenant, this was clearly expressed:
Deuteronomy 10:12-13," And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?" Joshua 24:14, "Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.
Psalm 51:6, "Behold, You desire truth (sincerity) in the innermost being"
Jesus clearly stated that to be one of His followers, it requires a complete commitment of heart and will:
Matthew 10:37-39, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it" Luke 14:26-27, "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple."
In Hebrews 10:22, we are beckoned to "draw near [to God] with a sincere heart."
And in 1 Corinthians 5:8, Paul likens the Christian life to the Jewish Feast of Unleavened Bread. He exhorts us to "celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."