Meditation on Ephesians 6:14
Ephesians 6:10-20 is a well-known passage that is usually referred to as the ‘Christian’s armor.’ Using the imagery of what a first century soldier would wear for battle, Paul describes qualities necessary for spiritual battle, which is a reality in the life of every believer. He makes reference to articles of clothing like the “belt of truth” and the “shield of faith” and the “breastplate of righteousness” and the “helmet of salvation.”
This well-known passage is not about our money or our marriages or our families or our jobs … at least it is not about those things directly. The focus of this passage is the foundation for all those things because it speaks about the spiritual vitality of our lives … things that you can’t see, like faith and righteousness and truth. It is these things that determine the quality of our lives and our marriages and our families and our church. The things in our lives that we cannot see determine the quality of the dimensions of our lives that we can see.
Of this section in Ephesians 6, someone might ask, “Is this armor automatically part of our lives if we are Christians? Do we automatically have the shield of faith if we have believed in Christ? Do we automatically have the breastplate of righteousness if we are Christians?” The answer is ‘yes’ in one sense and ‘no’ in another sense. ‘Yes’ in the sense that when we come to Christ, we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. That is our standing with God now and will be our status for all eternity. But in our lives presently we are not totally righteous. In one sense we have put on the righteousness of Christ, but in another sense, which is the sense this passage has in view, we must be in the process of putting on the righteousness of Christ as long as we live. We must struggle with our sin and plead with God to take it away and change our hearts more and more to be like Jesus. In one sense we have salvation, which we will enjoy for all eternity. But in another sense, we work out our salvation with fear and trembling (cf. Phil 2:12) … learning about it, trusting its promises, glorying more deeply in its hope.
Though the imagery in Ephesians 6 is figurative, there is a very serious reality behind the figures of speech. On this earth we are at war. One of the unspoken messages of this passage is that we must live with a wartime mentality. For the Christian, this is not peacetime. When we go to our heavenly home we will rest, but for now every Christian of every age lives in a world that is hostile to Jesus Christ and so living is a battleground.
The first piece of armor is “the belt of truth.” “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day . . . Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth . . .” (Eph 6:13,14). The soldier’s belt was usually made of leather and was used to gather his rather free-flowing tunic around his waist so his legs could be freer to move. The spiritual reality in view here is that the belt is God’s truth. There is an objective dimension to truth and a subjective dimension. The objective dimension of truth is outside of us. Truth, as an objective reality, stands apart from us. The subjective dimension of truth, on the other hand is personal.
Truth, as an objective matter, is outside of us. It is absolute and exists quite apart from us. Truth is not subject to opinion polls. It won’t work to get 1,000 people to log onto a website with their computer and vote on what is true. The fact that 40% of Americans do not believe there is a hell, does not change the reality of hell. Whatever is true is not affected by a vote of the people. Further, there are not several truths. There is only one truth, rooted in the person of true and living God. Whatever is true comes from Him. And there is only one source of our knowing the truth and that is the Bible. The Bible is our only totally reliable guide for our living our lives according to what is real, in this world and the next.
A second aspect of truth here is the subjective dimension. It is not enough to be convinced that truth is absolute … we have to ‘put it on.’ Our hearts have to be captivated by the truth, so that the truth becomes the way we think. Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, then you will be my disciples indeed; and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:31,32).
The subjective dimension of the truth is to take a statement from the Bible and meditate on it until your soul burns with its fire. “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe” (Prov 18:10). It is not enough to memorize that verse, but to taste it and know the strength of running into the tower which is our God. It is to take a verse like “God works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph 1:11), and to consider the providence of God revealed in the Scriptures until we see life as an outworking of the hand of God … and we trust His wisdom and goodness and promises. The subjective element of truth is for us to really believe the things we say we believe.
The definition of a hypocrite is that there is a lack of truth in his heart. What he says and what he is inside are not the same. To put on the belt of truth is not to be hypocritical. So the objective, absolute element of the truth is for our heads and the subjective, experiential element of truth is for our hearts. We must study so we understand what God has said … and we must meditate on the wonder of what He has said until it grips our hearts and dominates our lives.
Rejoicing in the God of truth,