Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Eph. 6:13 “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that
ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having
done all, to stand.”
Our foes are awesome and formidable. Human effort is impotent against these evil spiritual forces. “Wherefore,” Paul challenges us to avail ourselves of God’s power. Dressed in the panoply of God, we are invincible.
Eph. 6:14a “Stand therefore,. . .”
Be awake and alert, not slothful and negligent. Stay dressed in God’s armor. Fasten it on before the fray. Putting armor on after the skirmish begins is insane, not to mention deadly. Never lower your guard.
Always be a sentinel, ready to fight. Consciously prepare. Determine in advance to make adequate preparation for doing right. The following verses tell us in detail what must be done if we are to “stand” successfully.
Eph. 6:14b “. . .having your loins girt about. . .”
In Paul’s day, people wore long, loose-fitting robes which had to be tightened up before working, running a race, or fighting. “Having your loins girt about” became a metaphor for resolute preparation to accomplish a task.
For battle, Roman soldiers strapped a large, heavy belt around the waist to bind loose-fitting tunics tightly to the body. This buckled belt was the sign of active duty, of a soldier compact and firm, ready for action. An ungirded soldier in battle was a contradiction, for a loose tunic flapped in the breeze and hindered motion. The belt secured agility, ease and freedom of movement in combat, by keeping the tunic out of the way of one’s arms and legs. Unentangled, a soldier was unfettered and uninhibited in his attack.
Paul’s metaphor is obvious. For our spiritual warfare, we Christians have a belt to buckle on. Affections and intents must be bound up into a unity of purpose and focus. Our lives are not to be helter-skelter, carried along by the whims of our day. Our behavior is to be channeled down foreordained narrow banks. We enter the Christian life through a predetermined strait gate (MT 7:13); the path we walk is also prescribed in advance and narrow.
“Having your loins girt about” means preparing by accepting the self-discipline of a controlled life. The question is, what is this belt which makes us lean, clean, fighting machines by taking away all dissipating distractions?
Eph. 6:14c “. . .with truth,. . .”
For Christians, the belt that holds all else in place is truth. Others guess, grope, and flounder, but believers move freely and decisively, for they know the truth. To gird the loins “with truth” is a commitment to live an outward life of truth based on, and flowing from, inward adherence to truth. The content of this truth is not left in doubt. Jesus said to His Father, “Thy Word is truth” (JN 17:17). The truth we hold inwardly and act outwardly was revealed in God’s incarnate Word, and recorded in God’s written Word.
It is significant that Paul lists truth as the first piece of our spiritual armor. Without a firm grasp on the truth of Scripture, people become completely lost, confused, disoriented, and unwise. The truth of Holy Writ gives assurance and decisiveness to life. The Bible provides clarity and clear direction by drawing a straight and plain path for the believing pilgrim to follow.
Successful Christian living begins with adherence to the truth recorded in the Bible. To fare well in spiritual warfare, a believer has to respond to the truth of Scripture in two ways–love it inwardly and live it outwardly.
First, love it inwardly. With adoration weave it into the warp and woof of our innermost being. If we do not value the Word highly enough, we will fail in putting on this, the very first piece of Christian armor. David, not having proved Saul’s armor, was unable to fight in it. I fear many of us have not proved this first piece of God’s armor, and are unable to use it in battle.
An inward grasp of the Bible is essential to victory. In the wilderness, our Lord responded to temptation by quoting Scripture (MT 4:4-10). At Satan’s first temptation, Jesus said, “It is written.” At the second assault, He repeated, “It is written.” At a third appeal, Jesus replied, “It is written.” Jesus braced Himself against sin by arming Himself with God’s written Word.
I ask all of us to face the pointed question, “Are we in the Word, reading from it daily, reading all of it yearly?” We must be in the Word for the Word to be in us. To be truthful, a believer must be full of truth, God’s truth.
Beware the religious person’s downfall. The failure of many is traceable to letting hearing about the Word substitute for being in the Word. I made this bad choice in seminary. Since I was attending religious classes and studying theological books everyday, I decided I didn’t need a daily private devotional time. As my brain filled with facts, my heart bled dry. I was dying on the vine. I’m glad I learned this difficult lesson in early adulthood.
I’m still an avid reader. I devour devotional, religious, and secular literature–newspapers, magazines, and books of all types. But above, beyond, and before it all, I stay in the Book. This year (2002) will mark the twenty-seventh consecutive year I have read the whole Bible. This custom has proven to be the most helpful single discipline in my spiritual walk before God.
Much good literature is available. Beware, dear saint, best’s worst enemy is always second best. Satan wants us to read many other good things.
We are ever tempted to replace the Bible with magazines, newspapers, novels, or religious literature. We are often like the man described by Harry Ironside. The man’s pastor taught him to read so he could study the Bible on his own. Soon afterwards, the pastor left on a long trip. When he returned he saw the man’s wife and asked if her husband was reading. When she said yes, the pastor asked if he was enjoying reading the Bible on his own. She replied, “He left the Bible and went to the newspaper long ago.” No! Let it not happen to us, especially to Baptists, who are called people of the Book.
Our inner sanctuary must house a secret place where all is weighed and evaluated, a Biblical center which screens every thought, deed, and motivation. This inner Biblical core must be a steel trap inhibiting the flow of anything impure, or to use the metaphor of our text, it must be a tight belt in which we tuck every hindrance to living out inbred principles of Scripture.
In addition to loving Scripture inwardly, Christian soldiers must live it outwardly. Embrace it first in the innermost self; then portray it in outermost conduct. Thought must be consistent with deed, belief with behavior. A Christian whose loins are girt “with truth” is a thinking Bible and a walking Bible, one who ingests the written page and then fleshes it out in actions.
Such a one is able to live a sincere life of straightforward candor. Having integrity, he can risk transparency, “nothing concealed, nothing hollow, nothing false” (Vaughan, in BI). Truth must gain such mastery of our essence that it dominates our every deed, and guides every act of our lives.
The Bible is a divine book, God-breathed (2 TM 3:16). The Holy Spirit breathed it into the writers, and wants to breathe it into the readers. He seeks us to make it part of us, but Satan tries to hinder the attempt.
Satan says Scripture is hard to understand, yet generations of American children learned to read using one of the most difficult translations of Scripture (KJV). Satan says the Bible is archaic, insufficient for today’s complex problems, and instead of studying God’s relevant, helpful Word for themselves, many blindly let the disseminaters of such lies lead them astray.
For security and foundation, build life on the Word. Base your behavior on the Bible. “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.”