E47: Armor of God series: The belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness
PODCAST: How do we use the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness in our lives?
Over the next 4 episodes, “Living the Gospel” is going to tackle the topic “the armor of God.” We all likely know about things like “the belt of truth” and “the sword of the Spirit,” but what do they mean for us in our everyday disciple lives? What is the significance of each? How do we actually use them? In the first episode of this series, Kathy and Julia discuss the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness and the difference they make to our lives.
Transcript: “Living the Gospel” podcast, Episode 47: Armor of God series: The belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness
Welcome to ActiveChristianity’s “Living the Gospel” podcast. Join us as we talk about how we can “live the gospel” every day, no matter who we are, where we live, and what our circumstances are.
Kathy: Hello podcast listeners, and welcome back to a brand-new season of “Living the Gospel.”
Kathy: I’m Kathy.
Julia: And I’m Julia. And we’re excited to kick off season 2 of “Living the Gospel” with all of our listeners.
Kathy: So, it’s been a few weeks since you heard from us. And I hope you guys are all enjoying a nice summer …
Julia: Or winter, wherever you are.
Kathy: Wherever you are, yup. It’s been a bit of a different summer this year, of course, because of travel restrictions and so on. Usually we spend a bunch of time in the summer travelling around and going different places. But this summer it’s been a lot of staying at home, actually.
Julia: It’s been a bit quieter, for sure.
Kathy: Yeah. But it’s been kind of nice, because we’ve had a really, really nice summer here where we are. And, I actually feel like I’m enjoying the summer, like, really experiencing the summer, for the first time in a while.
Julia: I do too. I feel like for the first time, it’s not going by in the blink of an eye, kind of thing.
Kathy: Yeah, so it’s been kind of nice in that way.
Julia: So, we are doing something a little different to kick off season 2. And we’re going to start out, actually, by covering kind of a theme. We probably all know the verses in Ephesians 6 that talk about putting on the whole armor of God. So, over the course of a few episodes we are going to look at a few pieces of that armor and see what maybe they mean for us, as Christians.
Kathy: So today we are going to start with “the belt of truth” and “the breastplate of righteousness.” So, let’s just start by reading these verses in Ephesians 6:10-11. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” I was kind of thinking about a suit of armor, right, and back in the day – I don’t know much about this, but – I know that …
Julia: Nice disclaimer.
Kathy: Back in the day, I think combat was much more person-to-person, sort of hand-to-hand, right. Like, they didn’t have guns, right. And everything was very up close.
Julia: And where they lived there in Ephesus, there was Roman occupation at the time that Paul wrote this letter, right?
Kathy: Right, right.
Julia: So, everybody would have been familiar with what a Roman suit of armor looks like.
Julia: And that made it, I think, a very good metaphor for what Paul was trying to say.
Kathy: Right. And why do we need to put on an armor? Why did Paul even use that as a metaphor?
Julia: Right. So actually, Paul answers that in Ephesians 6:16. He says, “In order to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” So, Satan and his hosts, they have a lot of tricks up their sleeve, and they know that it’s not so easy to get someone to deliberately live according to their lusts. So, they try to fool us, they come to us with alternatives to make things look like they’re kind of not so bad, get us to give in to our lusts in some way or another. Because it’s written there again, in the same chapter, that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12. So, we have to be prepared for those battles that we know will be coming.
Kathy: Right, and because we are Christians, and we do have this mind that we want to serve God, and we want to do the good, right? And we have that mind, and Satan knows that. So, then he tries to find little ways through, kind of, right? So that’s why it’s so important that we have the right tools to fight against him.
Julia: And that it’s the whole armor, like he writes.
Kathy: It’s the whole armor. So, let’s start with what he writes in Ephesians 6:14: “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth …” And what is the truth that he’s talking about there?
Julia: Well, Jesus actually speaks about the Spirit of truth. And so, what that is for us, is that it’s the Holy Spirit showing us the truth about sin in our own lives. It’s the truth about how we are as natural people. But not only that, it’s also the truth about how mighty God is, and what He can do in our lives. And I think too, that the truth is a firm foundation to build on.
Kathy: Well, and I thought about, Jesus actually said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” right? So, the truth is to live as Jesus. And Jesus Himself is also known as the Word, so the Word is the truth. If we live our lives according to God’s word, and we keep the commandments that Jesus gave us, that’s the truth, right?
Julia: God’s word is true, from front to back; everything about it is true. And if you think about putting on this armor, every bit of it actually connects. So, when I think of this belt of truth then, you can almost say that this is the word of God. That you need to have the word of God as your armor, you need to be ready with it when the battles come. And even, for example, when we’ll talk later about the shield of faith, they say faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word. So, it all comes down to the word of God.
Kathy: That the word is everything to us, and we’re reading it and we’re finding the truth in it, and we’re living according to what we read there, right?
Julia: Right. So maybe then you’ve already answered the question a little bit, but how do we put on the belt of truth?
Kathy: Right. And I thought about that. It’s that we love it. We love the truth, right. Like we practice consciously making it our own. So, when we read there in the word to love your neighbor as yourself, for example, right. So, we consciously practice doing that. And then we also come to see the truth about ourselves, which is that by nature, I don’t love my neighbor as myself.
Julia: Well, I think for every truth that we see about ourselves, there is, you can almost say, an equal and opposite truth, and that is that I can become just like Jesus in that area. For example, if I see how much I lack love when I deal with other people, then I was thinking, that’s the truth about myself. And that can seem bleak if that’s the only truth you have. But then the other day I was thinking about those words where Jesus said, that He was talking about Jerusalem, the city where they crucified Him for no good reason, and He said, “How I wish that I could gather you under My wings, like a mother hen gathers her chicks.” That these people that were horrible and spiteful towards Him, that was the love and the care that He had for them. So, then that equal and opposite truth for me, is that I can be just like that. So, if I have both those truths, then I know what I have to work with, and I know what my goal is. And I think that in itself, having that goal, is actually a very powerful tool.
Kathy: Right. And it’s when we embrace the truth about ourselves that we can change, right? So if I love the truth – and that doesn’t mean that I love the fact that I don’t have love – but I love that I get to see the truth. And I love that this is revealed in me and God gives me light about that, because it’s when I see it that I can be transformed from it, right? Like, I can’t go from being a selfish and self-seeking person, to being a loving person who loves to bless and give for the others, unless first I see that I’m saturated with egotism, right? And then when I see this egotism, this self-seeking in myself, and then I compare it to, for example, what’s written in God’s word about love, that love does not seek its own, is not puffed up, and all the other things we read there about love, and I acknowledge that I do have a battle ahead of me to get to that point. But if I love the truth, it’s an armor for me when Satan tries to come with his darts in that battle. I have to battle against those selfish thoughts, all that egotism, I have to battle. And Satan is going to come, and he’s going to try and tell me, “You can’t do it,” and, “This person doesn’t deserve it,” or whatever, right? But if I love the truth – and part of the truth being that I know that it is possible for me to be transformed – then that protects me. The truth protects me from those darts, right?
Julia: It’s written that Satan is the father of lies, so actually the belt of truth is – or the Spirit of truth – is a completely opposite Spirit to him. At church recently we’ve been hearing a lot about Satan as the accuser, and how he comes to us and wants to accuse us. But that he can come with these little things that are half-truth and make it look like you’re so bad. But he doesn’t come with any hope in it. And when God comes with the whole truth, it’s that yes, this lies in my flesh, but also there is complete hope and power to be transformed. It’s a totally different spirit. It’s 100% truth, whereas Satan always mixes in a lie.
Kathy: Right. I actually also looked up what Johan Oscar Smith writes about the armor of God. He writes, “A lie, no matter how little, gives the powers of darkness an opening for attack, but the truth chases them far away.”1 So, I thought about, you know, for example, how easy it is for me to want to tell a little “white lie,” as we call them, to save my own reputation, or to save face kind of, right?
Julia: I remember, many years ago, we heard one time at church, we got the exhortation, “Never lie in order to save your own honor.” And on the surface that can sound a little bit like, “well, obviously we know we’re never going to lie, why do we have to specify to save your own honor?” But actually, for me, when I started to work with that, I realized how close it lies to just twist things and fabricate a little bit to save your own butt, in situations!
Kathy: And you can sometimes not even realize you’re doing it, almost.
Julia: No. But it’s so good to have your eyes open, because like you said, these lies give the powers of darkness an opening for attack.
Kathy: OK, and so we’re going to go over one more of these pieces of the armor, today. And that is the second part of what he writes in Ephesians 6:14. He says: “… having put on the breastplate of righteousness.” Righteousness is actually everything done in the perfect way, right? So true righteousness, full righteousness, is divine nature. And it’s done in the way that God would do it. It’s like His laws of life, which is, if everyone would live according to the way that He’s set up the universe, then everything would happen in exactly the right way, right? Do you know what I mean?
Julia: Oh, yeah.
Kathy: So, that’s what true righteousness is. But of course, we’re not born righteous.
Julia: No, right.
Kathy: So, when we first get converted, or give our lives to Jesus, as we say, then we get our sins forgiven, and we start with this clean slate, right? Because of that sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf, because He died for our sins, then His righteousness is actually reckoned to us. But we can’t just kind of like, sit back and ride on that for the rest of our lives. And His righteousness is reckoned to us, as long as we are pursuing righteousness, as Paul said. What that is, is grace because, like we said, we don’t see everything at once. And there are areas where we just don’t have light. And things are coming from our flesh and coming out of us, actually, that we don’t see before we do them, and we don’t even know that we’re doing unrighteousness, consciously, we don’t know that. So, in that case, then that righteousness of Jesus actually covers us, because God sees that our heart is to do righteousness …
Julia: Is to do good, yeah.
Kathy: … and our whole longing and desire is to be righteous. And He sees that because in those areas that we do have light, we are doing as we should, and we are faithfully obeying what we know to be right.
Julia: And then His grace is so great that He won’t condemn us for the things that we do wrong that we don’t yet know to be wrong.
Kathy: No. And we’re born very, very human, and that’s what we are. But, righteousness is not unattainable to us. Because Peter says, “… you have been given exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature,” right? He writes that in 2 Peter 1:4. In other words, it is promised to us that we can have divine nature. In other words, we can become righteous. It is something to pursue; Paul writes to Timothy, “Pursue righteousness.” (1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22.) It’s something we have to fight for and something we have to chase after, but in the meantime, we can be righteous as far as God has given us understanding about what that means for us, and what we have to do. And as far as He has given us light and revelation about the sin in our flesh, and how to overcome that, right?
Kathy: So, for me, in my day to day life, to have this breastplate of righteousness on, is to practice righteousness; it’s doing the will of God as He works in me, right? It’s being obedient to what I know to be right.
Julia: Right, because God is righteousness, so the Spirit of God will only prompt me to righteousness, so it’s just simply obeying the Spirit in large and small things.
Kathy: And I don’t have light over everything at one time, so I’m not, like, I can’t say that I’m perfect; that’s not what we’re trying to say here. But we are righteous, and we can live righteously as far as God has given us light and understanding. And of course that protects us, because then Satan has nothing on us. He can’t say, “Well, look at you, you did this, and you knew better and …”
Julia: And not to mention that righteousness is, in a way, another word for victory over sin. To be righteous is to overcome temptations large and small. And there is tremendous power in victory over sin. There is a powerful spirit from God in that. And as you get victory over sin, that spirit in you becomes stronger. So of course, that’s an effective piece of armor against the darts of Satan. And any acts of unrighteousness, things that … For example, if God prompts me to give something up, and I don’t, that is an act of unrighteousness, and that drives a wedge in between me and Christ. And that’s an attacking point for Satan.
Kathy: Right. That’s a giant hole in the armor right there.
Julia: Yeah, for sure. Whereas, if I’m working to be righteous as Christ was righteous, then in our spirit we’re in unity. And where in there can Satan get in? There’s no way for him to get in there.
Kathy: Right. And the thing is, we really have to make sure that it’s understood that I’m not doing this because I have some great strength in me to be righteous, and because … It’s not a self-righteousness of, “Oh, look at me, I’m doing everything right.” But it is when I really want to live this righteous life, and that’s the desire of my heart, I find out very quickly that that is not something that comes naturally to me, right. And I find out that I need power and I need strength that is not my own, to do that. And it’s written that it is God who works in you both to will – so He gives you that will, that desire to do righteousness – and to do. (Philippians 2:13.) So, He gives you the power to do that as well. So, it’s not unattainable, because it is from God that we get this power to do it.
And I think I’ve quoted this before, this is one of my favorite verses, actually, if I can say that, what Paul writes in Philippians 3: 12, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” So, I’m constantly in this “pressing on.” I want more of the life of Christ, I want more of His virtue, and I want more of the fruit of the Spirit in me, right?
Julia: Yeah, and God loves that. Like, when you have that attitude, then God is for you. And then we read in that verse, I think it’s in Hebrews, that if God is for us, who can be against us? Satan’s got nothing then.
Kathy: Exactly. And then of course righteousness is a protection for us, right, because Satan can’t come with all of these wiles, and whatever it is he tries to use against us to get us to give up, to give in to sin and to be discouraged, he can’t come with all of that when we know that we have a good conscience before God. Because we are – regardless of the fact that we are human, and we have sin – we are pressing in to the life of Christ, right?
Julia: You can see how these pieces of armor work together to create a whole suit of armor, because say, for example, you have fallen, then Satan’s quick to come to you with an accusation. Then you have the belt of truth. Even though the righteousness wasn’t there, you fell, you have that belt of truth, that no, no, no, Satan, you can accuse me with this, but I have these verses that say I’ll become perfect, just like Jesus is perfect. So, you actually can see how the different pieces work together to make the whole armor so that you’re actually impenetrable in any way.
Kathy: Right. And you know, sometimes I think I’ve heard the argument, people say, they quote the verse in Romans 3:10 that says, “There is none righteous, no not one.” And that’s true, we’re not righteous, like we said, we are not born righteous, and there’s none of us who are fully righteous. But that does not mean that that is how it has to remain. That means we have something to work towards. Like, it says that in Christ we become a new creation, right? So that’s the hope that we have. That we don’t have to remain the same. And we can, as we live on this earth, we go to just greater and greater degrees of this life in Christ. Where His life actually becomes my own, right? So, it’s actually an incredibly hopeful thing. We have something to reach forward for. And we can look joyfully towards the future. Where those things that plague me today have no hold over my life anymore.
Julia: Oh, it’ll be amazing. I can’t imagine what even my life … what hope I’d even have for my life if all the things that I saw in my nature I just had to live with that for the rest of my life. It would be hell for me and everyone around me. But that’s not how it has to be.
Kathy: Not at all.
Julia: And by God’s grace there’s already been some progress. There maybe could have been quicker progress, but there’s been some, and there’ll be more, and that’s so hopeful.
So anyway, there’s other pieces of the armor, the whole armor of God. What are they? When do we get to hear about them?
Kathy: Yes! And next week Eunice and Milenko are actually going to be back, I’m sure you guys have missed them and are looking forward to hearing from them again. And they are going to talk about the next two pieces of the armor of God, which we can read in Ephesians 6:15-16, “… and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”
Julia: That should be really good.
Kathy: So that should be really interesting. Especially, I think, like … having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace?
Julia: What does it mean?
Kathy: Yeah, exactly. So, you can look forward to hearing Milenko and Eunice talk about that one.
So, we do have a couple of articles on activechristianity.org about the whole armor of God, so we’ll include some links in today’s episode description for those. So, you can go and read some more, if you want.
Julia: So, thank you all for joining us today, and we’ll see you again soon!
Kathy: Take care guys.
1 Smith, Johan Oscar. Ephesians. Stiftelsen Skjulte Skatters Forlag, 1920.