Stand, therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, (ESV)
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, (NIV)
Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. (NLT)
“Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” Ephesians 6:13
The phrase "stand firm" presents the idea that the Christian life is not a vacation but a battle.
By putting on the full armor of God – from the Helmet of Salvation that guards the mind to the sword of the Spirit that serves as a weapon against the darkness – we clothe ourselves against every imaginable scheme our enemy may employ. We have been equipped with every resource necessary to stand strong in the face of temptation and walk in the goodness of the Gospel.
The Unseen Battle
As the New Year begins, we enter into a journey together through the armor of God. This metaphor used by Paul in Ephesians 6 has been a defining vision for followers of Jesus ever since it was written. This passage and the specific armors within teach us how to stand firm against the enemy and remain faithful to our Lord. Paul's two verses prior to this one remind us of the battle we are up against. We aren’t just fighting someone we disagree with, a group of people, or even a military. Paul makes the wild claim that we don’t battle against flesh and blood but against the unseen evil spiritual forces at play in our world. With that in mind, Paul makes the parallel of physical armor to the characteristics we are to take on in our spiritual battle.
Writing in a Roman context, Paul knew the familiarity they would have with soldiers' armor. He also makes a point of ordering the armor in the way a soldier would dress for battle. This may point to the importance of what characteristics we wear and where we wear them. Ultimately, we first must recognize the definer and provider of the armor, which is Jesus. It is in Christ that we see the fullness of each piece of armor on display, and it is to Him that we must look so we may live in each piece of armor.
Truth To Battle Lies
Verse 14 offers two pieces of armor to put on. We are first presented with the belt of truth, and in many ways, this is fitting. The belt is what keeps each piece of armor in place. It is what holds other pieces together. It is the thing we are called to put on before anything else. Truth as our belt is the foundation on which everything else can be dressed. Jesus defines Himself as the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). He also says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32).
So simply, Jesus is the truth, and He promises when we live in the truth by following His way, we will be set free. So why are we called to put on this belt of truth for ourselves? It largely has to do with our enemy, the Devil. Jesus, in His clearest teaching on the Devil, defines him this way, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44). So if our enemy’s main tactic to destroy us is by speaking lies to us, how important is it that we are fitted with the belt of truth? The belt holds every piece of armor together. If we aren’t armed with truth, everything else will fall apart. We will be naked and defenseless to our enemy’s attacks, but if truth is what holds all things together, we can be confident in what our Lord says and be guarded by the truth.
Shielding Our Vitals
Having tightened our belt, we are called to put on the breastplate of righteousness. This is the largest piece of armor a soldier would have to cover their vital organs. Specifically, the breastplate guards the heart from arrows or a sword striking the body. Similarly, righteousness protects us against major attacks from the enemy. When he tries to strike our hearts, it is Christ’s righteousness that shields us.
In Isaiah 59, there is this picture of God Himself coming to achieve salvation for His oppressed, faithful people. With nobody else able to do it, God comes down, and “He put on righteousness as his breastplate” (Isaiah 59:17). This image foreshadows what Christ does for us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Through Jesus, we can be justified by His righteousness, but it doesn't stop there.
Jesus empowers us to take on this breastplate for ourselves by the power of the Spirit. To live with righteousness is to live with integrity and sincerity. It is God’s grace that justifies us, and it is God’s grace that continually transforms us. “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:11-12). So God’s grace and His empowering presence within us offer salvation and teach us to live in obedience to Jesus. It teaches us to live with righteousness.
These first two pieces of armor set the stage for everything else to come. Truth and righteousness together hold major parts of our battle against the enemy. Look to Jesus, the one who perfectly embodies truth and righteousness, and draw near to Him in order to put these pieces of armor on fully. Ultimately, we “put on the Lord Jesus and His righteousness,” making no provision for the flesh (Romans 8:29).
Written by Ben Hesch
Send a text to a trusted friend or mentor who knows you well and ask them if they see you as a person who walks in righteousness and truth. Ask, “If there was one step I could take toward looking more like Jesus today, what would that be?”