We have been learning about the full armor of God and its importance in our daily lives. We have learned about the reality of the warfare raging around us, that we do not wrestle with people but we do wrestle with very real spiritual entities which we cannot see. Because we are wrestling in hand-to-hand combat with spiritual forces, we are to be clad in God’s armor of light. This armor is composed of pieces that are woven intricately together. We started by looking at the beautifully ornate yet impenetrable, irreplaceable helmet of salvation and how it is there to protect our thinking, for we have been given the mind of Christ. The helmet is one of wholeness, security, right thinking, renewal, a shield from destructive mindsets and emotions. It is a helmet that enables us to change our form and be transfigured from the earthly to the spiritual, from darkness to light.
Today, we’re moving on to the belt of truth. Ephesians 6:14 reads, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth….”
When dressed for battle, everyone could identify a Roman soldier without problem. But, when off duty, was there something that still made him recognizable?
Unlike the present day and age wherein everyone on vacation, running errands or lounging around looks and dresses essentially the same, in Jesus’ day, according to researcher and professor Stefanie Hoss, “In Rome, a man’s dress and his social cultural and political identity in Roman society were directly connected.”
Thus, there was something about the Roman soldier’s dress and manner that led an onlooker to quickly identify him as a soldier. So, what was it about his clothing that defined him? His loinbelt with sword attached and shoes (Stefanie Hoss, “A Theoretical Approach to Roman Military Belts,” http://www.academia.edu/4849015/A_Theoretical_Approach_to_Roman_Military_Belts). (Since we’ll be talking about the shoes and sword later, we won’t address them today. We’re going to focus on the belt.) According to researchers and archeologists, the Roman military belt was “decorated with elaborate buckles, metal plates, strp-ends and other attachments, which made it heavy, eye-catching and jingly. Together with the crunch of hob-nailed sandals, the jingling of the metal belt pieces must have given soldiers a distinctive sound, announcing their presence” (Stefanie Hoss, “The Roman Military Belt,” http://www.academia.edu/212354/The_Roman_Military_Belt). Not only this, but Roman soldiers walked differently and had a distinctive stance because their belts were heavy (actually all of their armor was heavy). Even when not on the battlefield, this heavy belt with its sword was worn with pride. Truly the belt was the mark of soldier, and was symbolic of who he was. To take it away (such as they did at times for disciplinary reasons), was shameful and humiliating.
Furthermore, when used in battle, Rick Renner states that, “…the Roman soldier’s loinbelt was the piece of armor that held all the other pieces together…When not in use, his shield was hung on a special clip on the other side of his loinbelt. The pouch that carried his arrows rested on a small ledge attached to his loinbelt on his backside. Even his breastplate was attached in some places to his loinbelt.
You can see why the loinbelt was absolutely essential to the Roman soldier in order for him to be confident in battle. With that belt securely fastened, he could be assured that all the other pieces of his equipment would stay in place, enabling him to move quickly and fight with great fury.
Thus, the loinbelt was the most vital part of all the weaponry the Roman soldier wore” (Rick Renner, “The Most Essential Weapon In Your Spiritual Arsenal,” https://renner.org/the-most-essential-weapon-in-your-spiritual-arsenal/).
Thus, whether on the battlefield or while recreating, the Roman soldier’s belt was not only a recognizable marker and proud symbol but was apart of who he was. His identity was wrapped up in it, and a true soldier would never be without it.
So, how do we apply this?
There are a lot of facts in this life, but facts are not truth. In the story of David and Goliath this is made very clear.
First Samuel 17 states beginning in verse 4, “And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.
5 And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass.
6 And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders.
7 And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.
8 And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me.
9 If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us.
10 And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.
11 When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.”
Fact number one: Goliath is a champion meaning, he’s done this many times before and won, so….he’s frightening in reputation
Fact number two: Goliath is massive, after all everything he’s wearing is heavy and long and tall and wide etc. So….he’s frightening in appearance
Fact number three: He’s boastful and charismatic and loud. So….he’s frightening in speech
These are facts that the Israelite soldiers were well aware of and took very seriously, after all it says that “they were dismayed and greatly afraid.”
Then comes David who sees, hears and knows the facts like everyone else, BUT he does sees God’s appearance, hears God’s words, and knows of God’s reputation better than Goliaths. As David stated to King Saul, “Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:35-37).
David held onto that truth as he marched out to meet the frightening, very real, factual giant with only a stone and sling shot. Though Goliath mocks him, David boldly exclaimed the TRUTH,
“Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:45-47).
Our application of this timeless truth is not so different from what David did, only our adversary is unseen. But, the message is the same.
Now, how can this look for us?
The enemy uses a fact…yes, he tells us something factual…but then he turns it on us and gets us to believe a lie. He might say, “You live in a care center.” Yes, that’s a fact. Then comes the lie. “So, you have no purpose now.” Or he might say, “You’re just a housewife and mother.” Again, that’s a fact, but he always spins it. “So, you’re not important.” Or he might say, “You work as a cook or a salesman or whatever it is that you do.” And then he’ll state the lie that you again believe, “So, you’ll never amount to anything.” Or he again might say, “You’re not married.” Okay, that may be a fact. But then comes the lie, “Because you’re not worth it,” or “you’re not handsome/pretty enough” or “because you’re too shy or too outgoing.” And the more we think on that lie which is based in fact (so he gets us all confused) the farther away from truth we get, and we become like the children of Israel who huddled together at the sound of Goliath’s voice. So long as we ingest the poison, the more poisoned we’ll become. The more we resonate with the lie, the farther from truth we’ll wander. The more we consider the deception, the more self-focused and less God-focused we’ll get. Until our weaknesses and shortcomings are magnified larger than God’s Word, even God Himself.
So, how can we better respond?
Remember Eve in Genesis 3. Her mistake was not in her facts, but rather, her mistake was in arguing the facts with the most cunning of all creatures, the wisest of God’s creation. Our adversary is not stupid. He may be repetitive, but he’s not dumb. He knows we are like silly sheep and easily duped. So, here’s one way to NOT respond: Don’t argue facts with the enemy. Usually he’s got the facts right anyway. The facts are rather obvious after all. But, once you start down that slope of argumentation, he’s won. He’s good at arguing. He’s been at it a long time.
Let’s, instead, learn from Jesus who was tempted by the devil in Matthew 4. It is there during that confrontation that we do not see him discussing things nor arguing with the adversary. He simply speaks the Word. We see Him standing firmly with the belt of truth buckled on tightly. His words are not His own, but rather, are the Word of God. We see the enemy use and misuse the Word, but Jesus does not correct Him nor debate Him. Rather, He unwaveringly quotes the unchanging Word of truth. And that is the ONLY WAY that the enemy is defeated. The Truth of the God’s Word.
In closing, like Roman soldiers, we as Christians are never to take off our belts, for it is the belt of truth and upon it all else holds together. Like David we are to stand on that TRUTH of what God has already done in our lives and the Bible. We are to buckle on the belt of truth and keep it on, for it is the mark of a Christian. When evil in the world looks gigantic, we’re to say, “Our God is Bigger!” When facts are used against us, may we like David say, “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand…for the battle is the Lord’s!”
Stefanie Hoss, “A Theoretical Approach to Roman Military Belts,” http://www.academia.edu/4849015/A_Theoretical_Approach_to_Roman_Military_Belts
Stefanie Hoss, “The Roman Military Belt,” http://www.academia.edu/212354/The_Roman_Military_Belt
Rick Renner, “The Most Essential Weapon In Your Spiritual Arsenal,” https://renner.org/the-most-essential-weapon-in-your-spiritual-arsenal/