I every once in a while preach from the same passage for a whole series. In this case , as I move from armor piece to armor, I simply add the next line that adds the piece of armor I am talking about to what we have already covered. From my perspective as a preacher it is a good review tool and offers the opportunity to go over (briefly) previous points. If there is a downside to preaching this way is some people by the end of it get tired of the passage. This is pretty true though of preaching in series in general so it is rare for me to take more than a few months on one.
It is notable to me that the Apostle Paul is invoking the image of the Roman soldier. It is something that all his readers would have understood and had reference to in their minds. He has already drawn a distinction that the warfare we are engaged in is spiritual not physical. But the image he is drawing up would have still been one of the Roman soldier putting on his armor and it has a lot of correlations to what he is talking about in spiritual warfare. I suppose also I am drawing on my experience from wearing armor for my Easter plays and watching reenactments.
The Roman Belt is not designed to protect much. It is basically a leather belt with leather strips that hang down in the front center. For many legionaries this was it, other than a cloth skirt that covered their upper legs. The issue is not protection. Most of a Roman soldier’s protection came from his shield. The issue of keeping the legs free from armor was mostly about freedom of movement. The belt still had a utility value in that it held the soldiers scabbard for his sword and it did offer some slight protection for the front middle. mostly though the idea was to keep the legs free and thus highly mobile. When I wear Roman armor for my play I have the least problems with my upper legs and movement is pretty simple. It is the rest of the armor that impedes movement or forces you to move a certain way but not the belt.
My question then is why would Paul equate the belt of a Roman soldier to truth? Well, there is a correlation between truth and freedom for one. “You shall no the truth and the truth will set you free.” Also however there are numerous references to truth being a foundation and where we should stand. Standing in the truth is presented right in this passage where Paul tells us to do all to stand then talks about us standing with our belt of truth around our waist. Anyone who has played sport involving strength of stance knows that our feet have little to do with a strong stance. That involves our whole leg and having a good foundation in the way we stand to get the best results. For the Roman soldier it was imperative to have freedom of movement to exercise the complicate maneuvers the Roman army formations did and also have the ability to get a good base to fend off attacks. Their belt allowed for this and truth allows the same for the believer.
The truth that we talk about is not a concept nor is it an ideology, it is a person – Jesus Christ. What give us our freedom? – Christ. Who is our foundation that we stand on and stand in? – Christ. The fact is without Christ we are neither free from our sins nor are we capable of standing against the enemy. It is our commitment to Jesus Christ as the truth that allows us to do both. It should also be noted that part of the reason the Roman belt was the way it was is so that soldiers could work together and fight together against the enemy. This belt is not all that helpful if one stands alone against the enemy. The same is true for The Truth that we move and stand in as Christians. Jesus as Truth is not exclusive ot any one of us, we all live and move and have our being in him.
The question for us is do we really stand firm in this truth or has the world of relative truth gotten ahold of our hearts? Soldiers do not fight for relative concepts. They fight for concrete ideas like honor, duty, freedom and liberty. This should be true of the Christian Soldier as well who move because the truth compels him to move and stands firm because his foundation is in the truth. We fight for The Truth. Christ is our king and we march and stand for Him.
Have you put on your Belt?