“Stand therefore, having your loins girded with truth.” (Eph. 6:14).
The first item of a Christian’s armor mentioned in this section is the belt or girdle. From the expression “girded with truth” this part of the armor has been called the girdle of truth. There are other passages in the Bible which deal with this piece of the warrior’s equipment; we have these: “Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning” (Luke 12:35); and “Wherefore girding up the loins of your mind, be sober and set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:13).
It is strange that the belt or girdle should be the first item of the Christian’s armor to be mentioned. The reason is undoubtedly this that the garments worn in those days were such that without a belt a person could not very well do his work. At least he could not go into battle without one; nor could he go on a longer journey. The purpose of the belt was to hold the garment tight about the body, thus permitting full freedom of motion.
The question arises as to what it might be in Christian life and fellowship with God that has been given the name “girdle of truth.”
When we discussed the work of the Spirit we tried to show that there is more than one truth; perhaps it is more correct to say that there are many sides to the one great truth. We have in the Scriptures the truth concerning God, our creator and redeemer; we also have the truth concerning man, namely that he is a sinner. In addition we have instructions to the effect that it behooves us to approach Him with truthful hearts. Which of these truths, then, constitutes the girdle of truth that we are to have about our loins?
I am of the opinion that it is the truth concerning us. It is not only the truth that we are sinners; it is also this that we ought to be absolutely truthful when we approach God.
People who have lived in fellowship with God for some time often have this question rising in their hearts, “Is there truth in my heart, and do I walk in truth?”
It was right on this point that we fought our first great battles, and we shall long remember the victory that we won; we threw our heart wide open before God and pleaded for grace. From that day and on God has had access to our hearts, and we have had access to the throne of grace. Thus it must be throughout life. If we begin to slacken on this point and become less zealous for the truth, we shall lose the belt with which the breastplate of righteousness is fastened. We have many examples of this in the Bible; one of the most eloquent is found in Joshua 7.
The people of Israel marched against Ai, but lost. When Joshua heard of it he cried lamentingly, “Oh, Lord, what shall I say, after that Israel hath turned their backs before their enemies?” After some time they found the reason for this misfortune. Achan, a man of the Israelites, had taken some of the contraband spoils of the war and had hidden them in his tent. This dishonest act on the part of one robbed the people of their power against the enemy.
Saul and Judas suffered a similar fate, as did also Ananias and Saphira. They were untruthful, and lost their power.
Judging by these examples we have reason to believe that the girdle of truth is this: To be completely honest in one’s inner being as well as in one’s outward conduct.
If it were within my power to do so, I would cry to every Christian soul: “Be absolutely honest from the depths of your heart. Hide nothing from God. Do not ever try to have a secret chamber in your heart into which you do not admit your Savior. Let your life be an open book before the Lord. Never listen to any voices which would persuade you to do otherwise; they are lying spirits sent out by the father of lies. Try also to be honest toward all people in word and deed, whether you are a master or a servant.”
If we make compromises with ourselves on this point, we shall soon lose the girdle of truth; this loss will be followed shortly by a loss of the whole armor, and we shall turn our backs upon the enemy.
When even today it becomes necessary to lament with Joshua, “Oh, Lord, what shall I say, after that Israel hath turned their back before their enemies,” the reason is undoubtedly this that there is something hidden in the heart that we do not wish to reveal.
Be honest before God! It shall be well with such a one. “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.” If the Lord sees that we are right with Him, He helps us; with His support even the poorest pilgrim can make progress, because he is strong in the Lord.
I hope no one thinks that by the girdle of truth I mean sinless perfection. If that were the girdle of truth, none of us would be girded. David was not innocent; but he was honest. Jehoshaphat was not without fault; he went to war on the side of Ahab. He should not have done that. But he was honest, and the Lord was his strength. Peter sinned; but he repented of his sin, and the Lord was gracious toward him. All of these were wounded in the battle, some very severely; but none of them was lost, because they retained the girdle of truth.
This is what I mean: Be truthful in your Christian life. Do not pretend that you are something that you are not. Each one of us is tempted to polish the exterior of his life so that the internal injury can be hidden from view. When you meet someone whom you think to be a much better Christian than you are — and in all probability he is better—you are so easily tempted to act and appear like him without actually being like him. This is a dangerous and cowardly hypocrisy. Never try to clothe yourself in the forms of another’s godliness; use your own coat, even if it may seem a bit scant.
In Acts 19 we are told of seven sons of a Jewish high priest who took upon themselves to use the name of Jesus in driving out evil spirits. They said, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preacheth.” But the evil spirit replied, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” And the man in whom the evil spirit was, leaped upon them and tore their clothes from their backs so that they had to flee from the house naked and wounded.
This was a very coarse form of spiritual impersonation.
No, to go out and perform miracles, or whatever else it might be, under the cloak of another’s Christianity, that will never do. If we ourselves do not have sense enough to see that this is wrong, we can be certain that others see it; often it is those who we think can know the least about such matters who see it most clearly. We can be certain of this too that also today people who pretend to be more than they are will be stripped naked; often they have to flee in shame.
People of God! Gird yourselves with the girdle of truth.
Do you, child of God, feel that you do not amount to much? Does it seem that you are both insignificant and worldly? Confess it to God. Do you find that you have little desire to read God’s Word and to pray? Do you find that you do not particularly care to be obedient to God? If so, you will never find a solution by trying to convince yourself and others that all is well. Tell it to God, calling each sin by its right name; that is true Christian conduct.
Then you will be girded about with the girdle of truth.
Soldiers of Christ, arise And put your armor on; Strong in the strength which God supplies, Through His eternal Son.
Stand then in His great might, With all His strength endued; And take, to arm you for the fight, The panoply of God.