Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Eph. 6:14a “Stand therefore,. . .”
In verse 13, “withstand” denotes endurance we need during a battle, “stand” pictures our victory after the war ends. In verse 14, “stand” refers to the preparation required of us before each battle. “Nothing is more beautiful than duty performed under adverse circumstances” (BI). Such valor in the fray comes by determining in advance to make adequate preparation for doing right.
Remain ready. Consciously prepare. 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. Christian soldier, always be a sentinel, wondering, “Where will Satan attack me next?” Be ever ready to fight. 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 doing work, running a race, or fighting. “Having your loins girt about” thus became a metaphor for resolute preparation to accomplish a task.
For battle, Roman soldiers strapped a large, heavy belt around the waist to bind their loose-fitting tunics tightly to their bodies. 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 in terms, for a loose tunic flapped in the breeze and hindered movement. 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. Our 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), and 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 everything else in place is “truth.” Others guess, grope, and flounder, but a Christian moves freely and decisively, for he knows 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 substance 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.
Significantly, Paul lists truth as the first piece of our spiritual armor. Anyone “confused about God’s Word cannot be effective in God’s work” (MacArthur). 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 an 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. Because we do not value the Word highly enough, we often 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 Holy Writ 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, Christ repeated, “It is written.” At the third appeal, Jesus replied, “It is written.” Jesus braced Himself against evil by arming Himself with the written Word of God.
I ask each 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 fateful choice in seminary. Since I was attending religious classes and studying theological books everyday, I decided I did not need a daily private devotional time. As my brain filled with facts, my heart bled dry. I was dying on the vine. Fortunately, I learned this difficult lesson in early adulthood.
I am 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 (1995) will mark the twentieth consecutive year I have read the Bible from cover to cover. This custom has proven to be the most helpful single discipline in my spiritual walk before God.
Much good literature is available. Beware, dear Christian. 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, “Oh, he left the Bible and went to the newspaper long ago.” Oh, no! Let it not happen to us, especially to Baptists, who are known as people of the Book.
Victory in the Christian life is premised on our minds and hearts being saturated with the Word by many hours of solitary reflection. Read it through once a year for instruction, but along the way also meditate on it often to let it soak in deep. Cultivate “truth in the inward parts” (PS 51:6). We must master the truth before the truth can master us. Hold the truth, and it will hold you. Hide it in your heart, and it will hide you in the heart of safety.
Our innermost 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 the inbred principles of Scripture.
A Christian whose loins are girt with truth is one whose blood runs Bibline. Truth is the beloved essence of every fiber of life, from innermost self to outermost conduct, through and through, within without, inside outside, every ounce every inch, controlled and dominated by sheer passion for Holy Writ.