Summary: Second in a series on the Armor of God
Last week, we studied Ephesians 6:10-13, and saw that--like it or not--we are at war. This war is not against flesh and blood, that is, people; instead it is a battle between the forces of Heaven and the demonic forces that are Hell bound.
We are called to stand--to hold our ground--in the strength provided by God that is available for each saint by putting on the metaphorical armor of God. This armor is not put on just when the need arises, but it is to be worn at all times; we are to be at a state of operational readiness. This is a preparedness against the well organized army of Satan; they spy out us, know our weaknesses and strengths. However, we must remember that greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4b, KJV); if we are in a state of operational preparedness you and I are enabled by God to defeat Satan and his methodia, his methods of tricks, schemes, and snares. Now, let's see how God provides metaphorical equipment so that we can "resist the devil"...so that "he will flee" (James 4:7b).
We are told by Paul repeatedly to stand in this passage of scripture. We are to hold our ground. With one exception, the full armor of God is defensive in nature and are designed to protect us. Paul was no doubt inspired by the Roman soldiers chained to him; they would be outfitted in full Roman armor (see verse 20 above).
The first part of the armor is what would seem to be an innocuous element, the belt of truth (girded your waist with truth). The belt in the armor was a practical thing; it was the centerpiece of the soldier's armor. It was a linchpin of sorts; it held everything together, was often the anchor for a scabbard or sheath to hold one's sword, and also like a belt that you or I wear it holds up our pants! J. Vernon McGee noted that in one case some men from an army slipped into the camp of the opposing army while they slept, cut their belts and when the opposing army went to fight they had to hold up their pants with one hand while trying to fight with the other. Also, the belt secured loose clothing.
All this being said, our anchor or standard, that which holds all together is truth. There are three "truth" elements; first, Jesus is truth (the way, the truth, the life John 14:6) and His truth is the very foundation of our faith. In addition, the believer's life must be marked by truth as a characteristic; if we are liars then all we say is suspect. Thirdly, the Word of God, that is the Bible, is truth and the gospel message is the ultimate truth. All of these truths hold it all together
Righteous Protection, Solid Foundation
There is a commercial on local TV for a basement waterproofing company that emphasizes the quality work and integrity of that company with the slogan "Strong Reputation, Solid Foundation". It's a good motto for the Christian life, one that I think fits the idea of being girded with truth. If you are truthful in your life, and live a life that is free from lies (including embellishment, exaggeration and deception), it makes it harder for the Satanic Mafia to attack.
The breastplate in the Roman soldier's array of armor was a critical piece of equipment that protected the central core of the soldier. The lungs, heart, kidneys and all internal organs were protected by this breastplate, was often made of leather or heavy linen, onto which were sewn overlapping slices of animal hooves or horns or pieces of metal (MacArthur). A sword thrust to any of these areas would not just be disabling, but also most likely lethal. Today, soldiers and law enforcement personnel wear Kevlar vests to do the same job.
Kenneth Wuest quotes the Expositor's Commentary: "With regard to the breastplate, the same authority says: 'As the soldier covers his breast with the breastplate to make it secure against the disabling wound, so the Christian is to endue himself with righteousness so as to make his heart and will proof against the fatal thrust of his spiritual assailants.'"
There are two different types of righteousness, the positional righteousness of the believer in salvation (initial sanctification or setting apart by God) and the progressive, increasing righteousness in our lives and we walk with Christ. However, it is the second one--progressive, increasing righteous living--that Paul has in mind; it "is the practical righteousness of a life lived in obedience to God's Word." (MacArthur).
MacArthur, in his Ephesians commentary, noted that there are three pitfalls to living a life without "practical righteousness":
Lack of joy. "Many, if not most, of the emotional and relational problems Christians experience are caused by lack of personal holiness. Many of our disappointments and discouragements do not come from circumstances or from other people but from our own unconfessed and uncleansed sin. And when circumstances and other people do manage to rob us of happiness, it is because we are unprotected by the armor of a holy life". For instance, when David sinned with Bathsheba, his unrighteousness stole his joy (Ps 51:12).