Begins with Truth
By Anthony Casperson

In the card game Magic: The Gathering, there’s an official variant of the game—though if I understand it correctly, it began as a fan-made variant—called Commander. Differences in the playstyle include an increase in number of players, a higher staring health for each participant, and a deck built with a larger number of cards. But more than this, the core concept of the variant is that there is a specific card of the deck that always remains ready to be played, if possible.

This is the Commander.

What makes this card unique compared to the rest of the cards is that it defines much of what the player will add to their deck. First and foremost, the player can only use the colors of five types of land/mana that the commander shows on its card. If the Commander shows red and white, you can’t use a blue card. It defines the general direction that the deck must be built with.

But secondly, the specific mechanics that the Commander card is capable of doing will often limit the direction even more. Players want greater synergy between their commander and the other card effects in the deck. If the Commander cares about the number of Soldiers on the battlefield, then you’ll probably want to include cards that give you more of that type of creature. It defines the specific tactic that the deck will most often take.

When building a deck for this variant of the game, you want to start with the Commander. Because everything else is going to be built off of it. It provides the structure for the deck build. To do anything else will degrade the effectiveness of the deck.

As we really get to the heart of this blog series about spiritual warfare—that I began to explain last week—this idea about a specific piece of the whole that defines the structure of that totality comes into play.

The first piece of the armor of God found in Ephesians 6 is often called the “belt of truth.” But that doesn’t really get the connotation this specific part of the armor. The text actually calls it “girding your loins in truth.”

This is the first thing that you wrap yourself in. The base, the foundation, upon which everything else hangs. In the image of a Roman guard—which Paul would know well from literally being chained to one amidst the writing of the letter to the Ephesians—this “belt” that girded their body’s trunk was actually the part of the armor that other pieces rested on, or was held by. If you didn’t have your “belt” of right, then the support of much of the armor was faulty. And would be dangerous for the one wearing it as their vital parts are now exposed to weaponry.

We can see the importance of truth as the foundation on which the rest of our spiritual life rests as followers of Jesus earlier in the letter to the Ephesians. In chapter 4, the Apostle speaks to the role of truth as something important in the growth of the church. And how the putting on of our new self—that’s shown as true righteousness—is part of that growth. All the while disrobing of the old self that’s filled with deceit, and putting away the falsehood that comes along with it.

In verses 11-13 of that chapter, Paul writes of specific roles gifted to the church—apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers—and how they’re given for the equipping of the saints. These leaders help guide the rest of the church to perform the ministering service that we all should be doing. And in many other words, they help the church mature into the fully-grown faithful of God.

Then verse 14 gives us the same idea but from the other perspective. Our maturity moves us beyond the immaturity of children who are taken whatever way the wind blows because they don’t know better. Teachings that lead them one direction one day and then the opposite the next. Crafty trickery that plays with dice weighted in the favor of the schemer.

And what is it that we need before we even begin to grow into godly maturity? The truth. Speaking in agreement with the truth given to us by the love of God. It is only the truth that can direct us into maturity away from the lies of the world. Not just us individually, either. No, the body of Christ—the Church—is knit and built together as we are equipped to build the whole body up in this loving truth.

Paul again looks to what we’re not supposed to be like in verse 17-19. We’re not to be like the ungodly who walk in step with the fleeting thoughts of the moment. Those who blind themselves to the truth, alienate themselves from God because of ignorance, or harden themselves to the truth.

No, the way for we followers of Jesus, for we who are taught the truth of him, we should take off the old self that was corrupted by those deceitful desires. And instead put on the new self, gird ourselves with the righteousness that is defined by truth. Then, after putting falsehood away, we should speak the truth.

It’s only when we gird ourselves with truth, when we put on the new self, that we can begin to grow so that we can speak the things that we have learned are true. Everything about becoming a follower of Jesus who’s capable of stepping up into the life that we’re called to, who’s able to take part in the army of God for this spiritual war, begins with truth.

If we take truth away, if we don’t gird ourselves with it, we’ll be blown off the battlefield before it even begins. Don’t even ask about being dressed for the combat. And if we don’t plan the entirety of our strategy around the truth, if we don’t consider it first, then our whole build has been degraded in effectiveness before we ever face our adversary.

We must wrap ourselves in truth before we can even think of joining the battle.