“Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth.”
The call to stand firm is not a call to dig in your heels against your spouse and stand your ground. This is often the posture of a spouse who feels trapped in marital conflict. They think if the make a concession or admit a wrong that they will give up ground, so they dig in, even if they know they are wrong. This is the wrong way to dig in. The call is to stand firm in the spiritual battle, to dig in against my spiritual enemy. We are not to give up ground to him. As he attempts to advance in my marriage, I need to resist that advance! I need to dig in my heels against his strategies. Digging ours heels in against my spouse may be giving ground to the enemy.
The next thing, what helps us stand, is to put on the belt of truth. The ESV puts it like this, “having fastened on the belt of truth.” Briefly, the belt of truth is the source of core strength. Think of a thick leather weight-lifting belt. The belt was also the center of the armor in that it was the “attachment center.” The belt of truth is vital. But what is the truth? The truth of which this belt consists can be two perspectives on the truth. The first is an objective perspective, “the belt of objective truth,” that is, the truth, the truth of God’s Word. At the core of our being, we need to have the Word of God as our strength. If we don’t, we will be thinking our own thoughts and allowing our emotions to run unrestrained. Both our thoughts and emotions can be clouded by what Dave Harvey called “the fog of war.” One of the critical things I need to maintain in marriage is a biblical perspective. Too often we lean on our own understanding, we lose biblical priorities on the nature of marriage, the nature of holiness and happiness, the nature of serving one another. Without the belt of God’s Word wrapped around my core I might start thinking that this marriage is all about me, about my feelings, my happiness. I will start concluding my spouse is always the problem, disaffection sets in, and I lose sight of God and the Gospel.
But the belt of truth also refers to the important idea of an internal truthfulness. In Psalm 51, God says, “I desire truth in the innermost being” (Psa. 51:6). This means honesty with oneself about oneself. By the way, the only way there can be truth in our innermost being is if we are committed to the truth of God in the Word of God. The Word is that two-edged sword that judges my thoughts and motives (Heb. 4:12). This personal, internal sense of truth demands that I look at things the way God sees them. For instance, do I see the log in my eye (Matt. 7:3-5)? This is a belt of truth issue. Do I see the source the conflict often being my unmet desires (James 4:1-3)? Our hearts are deceitful (Jer. 17:9). We can easily convince ourselves that we are right. We can easily convince ourselves that our spouse is the villain. We can easily see our unmet needs as an intentional act of war. We can easily be offended. We can fail to see our spouses and ourselves as sinners in need of grace and forgiveness every day. All of which is antithetical to Christian love (1 Cor. 13:4-7).
When we fail to have a biblical perspective at our core, and when we fail to put on “truth in innermost being” our sins are hidden from us (Psa. 19:12). Those hidden faults, as Derek Kidner reminds us, “may be hidden not because it is too small to see, but because it is too characteristic to register.” Truth in the innermost being asks God to search our hearts and expose our sin (Psa. 19:12-13; 139:23-24).
Maybe I am the problem. Maybe my thinking has become so clouded by my flesh and my pride that I don’t see things as they really are. Maybe my avoidance of biblical analysis of my heart and my actions is simply a carnal way for me to keep the pressure and blame on my spouse. Maybe I refuse counsel, under the guise that nobody understands me; but the truth is I am protecting myself from scrutiny. Maybe I am a complainer, a blame-shifter, hyper-critical. Maybe I am cold and distant and punish by silence. If we are guilty of any of these things, it is a clear indication that we have lost a biblical perspective and are not trafficking in truth in the innermost being.
The enemy can take these things, magnify them, pour fuel on them, exacerbate them. Fasten on that belt of truth! Put the enemy to flight by wanting truth and honesty in your marriage. It is hard. It is painful. It requires confession, repentance, and death blows to pride. But it is worth it. If we do not fasten on the belt of truth, the father of lies (John 8:44) has us in his grip. Break that grip by grabbing the Word, and praying to your Savior, pleading with Him to deflate pride, crush the flesh, and open your eyes to see yourself and your sin for what it really is. Learn to live this way.
“But what if my spouse doesn’t follow suit? What if my spouse still holds to unbiblical perspectives and never takes responsibility for the dishonesty in his or her heart?” Always remember, in spiritual warfare, you do right even if everyone else is doing wrong. God can use the belt of truth in your life to change your spouse, but that is in God’s timing.
Stand firm, not against your spouse, but against the devil. Stand firm by putting on the belt of truth. Put the father of lies to flight and put your own lies to flight, as you seek the truth of God for your life!
Brian Borgman (BA, Biola University; MDiv, Western Conservative Baptist Seminary; DMin, Westminster Seminary; ThM, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary) is a pastor at Grace Community Church in Minden, NV. He is husband to Ariel and father of three.
Note: The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of other contributors on this site.