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Faith Bible Church, NY
February 23, 1997
Spritual Warfare, Part 5
Girded With Truth, Part 3
This morning we come again to the 6th chapter of Ephesians as we discuss Spiritual Warfare and more specifically the armor God has given to us so that we stand firm against the schemes of our adversary, the devil. We have only gotten as far as the first piece of armor and we will be examining it again this morning for it is so foundational in our defense against the evil one and his followers.
Please keep in mind that though we are in the midst of a great conflict we need not fear our enemies. We are to be strong in the Lord and His strength and He is greater than our foes and His perfect love to us will cast our all fear. We also need to keep in mind that other humans are not our enemies regardless of what they may try to do to us. Instead our struggle is against the spiritual forces that use people and also confront us directly. If we are not careful here we can easily be sidetracked from the main conflict to the minor skirmishes.
In verse 14 Paul tells us to “stand firm therefore having girded your loins with truth.” The belt of Truth is foundational if we are to be prepared for battle. Without truth we would be like a Roman soldier that forgets his belt and gets tangled up in his clothing. Without truth we will stumble and fall becoming easy targets for Satan. We must be girded with truth.
Pilate rhetorically asked, “What is truth?” Truth was standing before him in Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus Himself declared that God’s Word is truth. The devil on the other hand is a liar and the father of lies, yet he has been very successful in getting people to believe his lies as the truth. Ultimately, all his lies are against the character, nature and declarations of God.
In the past two weeks we have covered some of the great lies Satan has made in his effort to usurp God. He lies about God’s existence, eternality, sovereignty, omnipotence, truthfulness and wisdom. These lies keep non-Christians from Christ and Christians from serving Christ.
This morning I want us to consider a few more of Satan’s lies against God – Lies against God’s Holiness, righteousness, anger and justice.
LIES AGAINST GOD’S HOLINESS & RIGHTEOUSNESS
I mentioned this last week, but it bears repeating. One of the reasons Satan can be so successful in getting us to believe his lies is that we tend to project on God our own characteristics. We are inclined to think of God in human terms – as reflections of us rather than us as dim reflections of Him.
We must come to grips with the fact that God is not like us even in those areas where we do reflect some of His characteristics. When we think of God’s holiness and righteousness we dare not think of those characteristics in relative terms as we do for ourselves. We compare ourselves with others to gain a relative sense of holiness or righteousness. God is completely, totally, absolutely, utterly, positively holy and righteous.
God declares Himself to be holy; (Lev. 19:2; 20:26) as the holy one (Isa. 43) whose very name is holy (Ezek. 36 & 39). In both Isaiah and John’s visions of God on His throne in heaven they both see the Seraphim calling out “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord…”. All of God’s other moral attributes are marked by holiness. His love is a holy love. His goodness is a holy goodness. His anger is a holy anger. His justice is a holy justice. His mercy is a holy mercy. His grace is a holy grace.
The root idea in the word “holy” is to “be set apart,” “to be separated unto.” God is holy because all his perfections set Him apart from his created works. His perfection in righteousness sets him apart from all sin and sinners. His perfection in knowledge and wisdom separates Him from all angels. Things are made holy when they are set apart for the service of God. We are holy only to the degree that we are set apart to God and His service.
Satan often lies concerning God’s holiness – this resulting in an improper familiarity, a non-chalance, even a cavalier approach to God. Nadab and Abihu, the oldest two sons of Aaron, believed this lie and Leviticus 10 records the result. “Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, It is what the Lord spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.'”
2 Samuel 6 records another similar incidence. David wanted to move the Ark of God to Jerusalem, but he was not moving it in the proper manner. Instead of having the Levites carrying it, he had it in a cart pulled by Oxen. Vs. 6 goes on, “But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset [it.] 7 And the anger of the Lord burned against Uzzah , and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God.” Both of these are dramatic stories, but the point it clear. You can be in big trouble if you believe the devil’s lies and do not treat God as holy.
Non-Christians and even some professed Christians routinely profane God’s name by using it as a cuss word or using it as an exclamation – both of which are taking His name in vain. That cannot be done without believing the devil’s lies that either God is not holy or He can or will not do anything about the irreverence. But God is holy and He can and will do something about those who blaspheme, but it will be done in His timing.
Most Christians will accept the theological truth that God is holy, but in practical terms it does not affect how they approach Him. Here in the late 20th century America, we tend to be casual in our relationship with God. True, as believers we have an intimate relationship with Him and can call Him, “Abba, father” – “daddy” (Rom. 8:15), but there is reverence in this. He is not “the old man upstairs” or the “great whatever in the sky.” And yes, we can count Jesus as our closest friend (John 15:14,15), but too often we want to treat him as a “good buddy” and we toss away the decorum and respect that is due Him.
Consider the detail given in Exodus and Leviticus alone to the manner in which the Israelites would approach God to worship. The people made careful preparation before they would approach God. Their celebrations of worship were done in the beauty of holiness (Ps. 29:2; 96:9). When the glory of God filled the Tabernacle (Ex. 40) and later the Temple (1 Kings 8:10), the people and priests were forced away by that glory of His majesty – the glory of His holiness – and could only look on in awe.
Jesus Christ has enabled us by His atoning sacrifice of Himself to come directly into the presence of God the Father at His throne of grace (Heb. 4:16). Do you really think this is to be done in a casual manner? Too many churches are promoting their celebrations of worship as a party to attend so that you will leave feeling good and the people come with that attitude. But true worship will be done in the beauty of holiness and should have you leaving with a sense of awe of God, who He is and what He has done. Think about it for a minute. How do you prepare yourself and approach worship of God – both private and corporate? Is it mindful of the holiness of God?
And what about personal prayer? Because we can come before God at anytime with anything on our hearts we also tend to take Him for granted and forget who we are praying too. We begin to think that God is there as a servant waiting to fulfill our desires rather then ourselves as His servants seeking to fulfill His will. One reason our prayer lives can descend into a wish list is because we forget who we are praying too. We treat God more like a clerk at the catalog desk than the majestic creator of the universe whom we are entreating with our supplications. We forget that He is holy and we come with a nonchalant attitude.
You might think this is distant from the topic of spiritual warfare, but it is right at the heart of it. The devil’s desire is to usurp God and if his lies can keep people from worshipping God properly, then he is accomplishing his purposes.
Satan’s lies against God’s holiness are aimed to keep us from becoming serious about our own sin and walking in holiness. I am sure you have run into a lot of people like I have who think they are good enough to be accepted by God just the way they are. They catalog sins according to their own list of what is really bad and what is can be over looked and they think God’s list is the same as their own. And since the list will excuse their sins, they think God will accept them. That is Satan’s lie.
The Roman Catholic church made up its list of sins classifying some as mortal and some as venal. What does Scripture say? Well, there are some specific lists, but they do not make a distinction between what is forgivable and what is not. In Romans 1 Paul points out idolatry, homosexuality and atheism as sins and then in vs 29-31 he adds, “being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; [they are] gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful…”. In 1 Cor. 6:9-10 Paul says, Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor [the] covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
In these lists are both mortal and venal sins according to Catholicisms dictates yet as we read further in vs. 11 we find the mortal sins are forgiven on the same basis as the venal sins. 11 “And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.”
We also find in the Bible that the venal sins are just as deadly for it only takes one sin to be guilty and all are guilty – for all have sinned (Rom. 3:23). No man loves God with all his heart, soul and mind as God commands. No man loves his neighbor as himself as God commands. James 2:10 adds, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one [point,] he has become guilty of all.” So it really does not matter how you divide your list. Sin is sin and the wages of all sin is death (Rom. 6:23).
Again we find that when the non-Christian falls for one of Satan’s lies, he does so at the cost of his soul. God is holy and no man will see the Lord without holiness (Heb. 12:14). Man is sinful and therefore not holy and so is separated from the Holy God by that sin. Apart from Jesus Christ there is no means by which a man can be made righteous before God.
The Christian must take his sin seriously because his/her daily fellowship with God is dependent on seeking to be sanctified and living in practical holiness. If you do not live in holiness then you grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:29). If you hide your sins in your heart then the Lord will not hear your prayers (Ps 66). If you continue in sin, the Lord, though loving, will have His chastening hand upon you. You will be like David in Psalm 32 where he describes his condition before confessing his sins. “3 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.” Don’t fall for Satan’s lies against God’s holiness and righteousness. Every Christian is commanded to be holy because God Himself is holy (1 Peter 1:18). 1 John 3:7-10 is directly to the point that personal holiness is to mark the believer. Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
Related to Satan’s sins against God’s holiness and righteousness are his lies against God’s anger and justice.
LIES AGAINST GOD’S ANGER & JEALOUSY
The devil will lie against God’s anger in one of two opposite ways. Either he will magnify God’s anger and use it as a basis to claim God is not worthy of our worship or he will go to the opposite extreme and claim that God does not or should not get angry. These are also lies against His holiness, for God’s anger is a holy anger. God is always worthy of our worship and His holiness requires consequences to sin.
The claim that God does not get angry is opposite the Scriptures. Moses and the writer of Hebrews both described God as a “consuming fire.” Throughout the Old Testament the anger of the Lord is described as burning against those that sin against Him. It is demonstrated in the New Testament too, though not as frequently. It is seen in Jesus driving out the money changers from the temple and in His pronouncement of woes upon the scribes and pharisees. Paul refers to it in Romans 1:18 stating that the “wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” It is seen in Revelation as the wrath of God comes against mankind and Satan in His various judgements.
God has anger and He does display it, but we must be careful about putting too much emphasis on it. A lot of the devil’s lies are based in over emphasis on one attribute of God to the exclusion of other attributes and this is a case in point. God is also marked by love, goodness, mercy, grace, longsuffering, forgiveness, etc.
The claim that God should not get angry is based in the lie that God’s anger is like our anger. Our anger is generally born out of our selfishness and responds in sin. God’s anger is born out of His holiness and responds against sin. The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God (James 1:20). In our anger we seek to usurp proper authority, place ourselves as the judge and gain revenge for what we suffer. God is the proper authority and His judgements are always just. Our anger is usually improper both in origin and its display. God’s anger is always proper because it is marked by holiness.
LIES AGAINST GOD’S JUSTICE
Also related to Satan’s lies against God’s holiness and righteousness are his lies against God’s justice. To claim that God is not just in all His dealings is also to claim that God is not holy and righteous.
The most common claim against God’s justice is that He is so indiscriminate and it is not fair for God so save some and not save others. The result is people that either reject God or reject what God has declared concerning eternal punishment in hell. Correlations to this lie change the basis of salvation from hell to whatever the individual wants it to be. Again Satan’s lies lead to man putting himself in the position of judging God and what is right and wrong.
Some people believe God is fair and just only if He saves all people. The result is universalism in which by some means all people will eventually be saved. Others believe that God should save all people who meet a certain criteria of behavior, but they want to be the ones that establish that criteria. Because they cannot meet the criteria God has already setup – a lifetime of moral perfection as defined by God’s laws – they have rejected as unfair and set up their own standards.
That, in a nutshell, is the basis of all religious systems. Man trying to earn his way to heaven according to his own standards of conduct. Paul says in Romans 2 that even this brings condemnation because they fail at their own standards.
For all the claim such people make they really do not want God to be fair and just. They do not want Him to be impartial and conforming to the established rules and judging according to what is merited. They want Him to judge according to a standard changed to fit their own circumstances and for Him to show partiality by considering their effort and then overlooking their own transgressions.
But there is no partiality with God (Rom. 2:11) and He judges according to what each person merits. 1 Peter. 1:17 tells us He is the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work. Colo 3:25 says the same thing. Revelation 20:12f describes the final judgment. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one [of them] according to their deeds. 14 And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
If God’s Justice stood alone it would demand that all people be condemned to the lake of fire for a judgment based solely on our deeds would reveal our sin and the wages of sin – any sin – is death. God is just in all His ways (Dt. 32:4), but He is also loving, merciful and gracious and out of these came His plan by which His justice could be satisfied and we would be made holy and thus able to stand before Him. That plan was Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ satisfied God’s justice by paying the penalty of our sin in Himself. He was our substitute. 1 Peter 1:18 states it, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God…”. Jesus Christ also made us holy by transferring to us His righteousness. 2 Cor. 5:21 “He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Beware – Satan’s lies are deadly. You must be girded with truth to withstand. Is your belt on?
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