Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free- John 8:32 NIV
I am not a Bible translator.
I do know enough about the Bible and Bible translation to know there are words and phrases frequently misunderstood by readers due to an awkward translation from the original language (Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic) into English. It’s also true that Bible translators occasionally take liberties when translating Bible words in an effort to make difficult concepts clearer or less weird to the average reader. Sometimes translation issues arise because there is not a truly suitable English word to use in place of the Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek. Other times the translator really is simply attempting to make a difficult concept easier to understand.
Ephesians 6:15 is (in my opinion) an example of this.
In Ephesians 6:14 Christians are told to “put on the full armor of God”. The purpose of doing so is to prepare ourselves spiritually to stand our ground against the devil and the various schemes he plots against us. In verse fifteen most contemporary translations tell us the very first step in the “putting on” process is to have:
“the belt of truth buckled around your waist”.
Here’s the thing
I do not like to Monday morning quarterback in a field I am not an expert in. Mostly because it me makes look like a prideful, dumb jerk. Nonetheless. In my opinion using the word “waist” here lacks accuracy and has led to some confusion as to what the passage is actually saying.
In the original Greek, the NASB and a few older translations, it simply says:
“Gird up your loins with truth”.
There are some really good reasons translators would choose waist over loins. Loins is a weird word. It just is. It makes people uncomfortable and it begs all sorts of questions, such as:
Does the word loins mean what I think it means?
How does truth protect my “southern regions”??
What does that have to do with any of this?
The Greek word used in this passage is osphus and it means exactly what you think it means. It means loins, as in loins. As in our inner thighs or to put it more bluntly (and accurately) the part of our bodies that we use to make babies.
Here’s some facts we know about our physical loins:
Our loins are the most personal, private place on our physical bodies. No one (except a few weirdos) shows their loins to complete strangers. Having our loin area exposed is humiliating, so we keep them hidden. Nor, do folks discuss their loins. It’s just too weird and personal. If our loin area gets punched or kicked, it hurts. Really bad. It does not matter if the person is male or female— a blow to the loin area devastates a person’s ability to function, sometimes for a good while.
Here’s the thing.
We all have emotional and psychological places that are every bit as vulnerable and sensitive as our physical loins. We all have areas of shame and regret. We have all had experiences we don’t like to talk about—or even think about. When one of those places is exposed or hit in some way (triggered), it hurts like the dickens and we feel broken and shattered.
These are the places Satan likes to hit the hardest (1st Peter 5:8).
Satan kicks at our metaphorical loins by reminding us of all the stupid sinful things we have done or have had done to us. He tells us the trauma we have experienced left us damaged beyond repair. He tells us our past or present sin has disqualified us from ever being used by God in a significant way. Satan tells we are defined by what do and if we don’t do enough or do things the “right” way we are failures. He tells us we are worthless and completely lacking in value.
All Lies. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Straight from the literal pit of hell.
The first verse in this formative passage on spiritual warfare tells us that the very first thing we must do to defend ourselves against the enemy is to protect our most sensitive emotional places WITH THE TRUTH OF GOD’S WORD (John 8:32). Satan attacks us with lies about ourselves, about God and about other people and what those people think about us (John 8:44)
If we do not know the truth about who we are in Christ, where our true value comes from and what God really thinks of us those lies will shake our confidence in the goodness and forgiveness of God, and make us want to quit Christianity altogether. It will leave us unable to function spiritually. When that happens, we’re done for emotionally and rendered useless for the good works we were created for (Ephesians 4:10)
The secret to protecting our spiritual loins is to know who God is and who we are in Christ. We have to know deep down in our knower that God is good and kind (Psalm 84:11, Isaiah 63:7, Acts 14:16-17) We have to realize that when we put our faith in Jesus and His resurrection we were at that moment made clean by Him (Hebrews 9:14, Acts 13:38, 1st Corinthians 6:9-11, Ephesians 1:4). We have to believe that when Jesus forgives us it’s a done deal. God does not go back and relitigate our sin every time we mess up or make a mistake. We have to accept that God’s love for us is real, unchanging and endless (James 4:7)
We have to believe God is who He says He is.