Summary: Of all the metal armor pieces as described by Paul, he begins with a belt made of leather. The reason is because it's the most important part of the armor. Without it, the armor falls apart.
As you may recall when Paul wrote Ephesians, he was in prison in Rome. He had been arrested after the fire that almost destroyed the city. Nero blamed the fire on the Christians. Paul, being one the most influential leaders, was handcuffed constantly to a Roman guard.
As Paul analyzed the soldier that stood before him, he observed his body armor. He observed his shoes. He noticed his shield and lance leaning in the corner. Beside it lay a helmet. By his side was a sword hanging on to his belt. As Paul made these observations, the Holy Spirit began to speak. It was the prompting of the Holy Spirit that led Paul to write Ephesians 6:14-18. “Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere”
As you arrived this morning perhaps you took note of how I was dressed. Perhaps you noticed my shirt, that I was wearing blue jeans, maybe even my new tennis shoes. But no one asked to see my belt.
Belts pretty much go unnoticed. However, they are very important. If I were one to tuck in my shirt, the belt would help keep it tucked. Also, the belt keeps my pants from falling down. And it was the belt that the Holy Spirit first pointed out. Ephesians 6:14 “Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.”
Paul begins with a command. “Stand your ground.” The Greek word meant stand upright. It was a picture of the Roman soldier who stood before him with his head held high and his shoulders thrown back. Roman soldiers were fierce warriors. Even when captured they would never bow their head to their enemies.
Paul is telling the church to stand upright. Too often in our spiritual battles, we allow ourselves to be broken to the point of cowering before the enemy. Last week we were reminded our battles would be eye-to-eye conflicts. Yet often we are afraid to take on those battles in a face-to-face manner. The enemy finds us staring at our feet, dejected and surrendered. When the enemy finds us with our heads down he should be frightened. Because the only time that posture is acceptable is when we are seeking power from on high through prayer. So Paul says stand your ground and put on the belt of truth.
Imagine the Roman soldier. On his head is a helmet. It is very elaborate and decorative. Next is a huge body armor weighing 33 lbs. It was made of two pieces of bronze or brass. These pieces were joined together by solid brass rings on the top and sides. The armor would be slipped over the head so that one sheet of metal protected the front while the other protected the back. This armor would hang from the neck down to the hips and continue to the knees as a metal skirt. Sheets of metal that had been pressed, formed to fit the lower legs, and fitted on the inside with cloth or leather protected the shins. Finally, shoes with dangerous metal spikes protruding from the soles covered the feet. The Roman soldier was completely covered from head to foot with metal. When these soldiers went into combat their total gear and weaponry was in excess of 100 lbs.
With all of this glorious shining metal, notice the Holy Spirit points Paul to what seems to be the most unimportant part of the armor, the belt. The belt is the only part of the armor not made of metal. It was made of leather. But it was just as vital as any part of the armor. Because it was the belt that held the rest of the armor together.
The Roman shield weighed 22 pounds and was attached to the belt. Without the belt, the soldier had no place to rest this massive shield. Without the belt, there was no place to hang his sword. Without the belt, there was no place to rest his spear. Without the belt, his body armor would flap in the wind. Without the belt, his armor could literally fall apart. But with the belt, everything stayed fixed in its place and at the soldier’s disposal.
We cannot see most of the spiritual armor protecting us. We cannot see the armor of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, or the sword of the Spirit. But we can physically see the belt of truth. Because the belt of truth is the written Word of God. Without the Word of God, we have no support for our faith. We have no place to allow the Spirit to work in our life. Without the Word of God, our righteousness would just flap in the wind. Without the Word of God, everything would fall apart.