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Faith Bible Church, NY
February 9, 1997
Spiritual Warefare, Part 3
Girded With Truth
Some of you may remember the story of the Thracian slave named Spartacus who led a very successful uprising of slaves against ancient Rome. Spartacus defeated the Roman army seven times before he was defeated by the great Roman General Marcus Licinius Crassus in 71 B.C. Spartacus started with a small band of slaves that were being trained as gladiators. At first, little attention was given to him because it was thought that even a small force of Roman soldiers would easily defeat him. Yet with a smaller force, Spartacus was consistently able to defeat larger forces – why? Spartacus learned to attack late at night or early in the morning – when the enemy was not prepared to do battle and they did not have their armor on.
The same is true with us in Spiritual Warfare. Certainly there is more power available to us than to our enemy because Jesus Christ in us is greater than Sata (1 John 4:4). It is also clearly stated in James 4:7 that if we submit to God and resist the devil, he will flee from us. Yet, our adversary, Satan, and his forces are able to be victorious over us time and again and we fall back into sin. Why? Because Satan, like Spartacus, will seek to attack when we are most vulnerable – when we do not have our armor on!
This morning we come in our study of Spiritual Warfare to the armor God has provided to us. We will carefully examine each piece and see what it is for and how God wants us to use it that we may stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
Turn to Ephesians 6:10.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual [forces] of wickedness in the heavenly [places.] 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil [one.] 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Understand first the picture that Paul is painting here. All the symbolism used is military in nature. Appropriate symbolism to describe warfare. The various pieces of armor are those that were actually worn by the Greek hoplite, or the Roman foot soldier. In all likelihood there was a soldier either chained to Paul, or at least standing guard over him while he was writing. Paul could simply look at each piece of equipment the soldier had and use that to illustrate what as needed to be prepared for spiritual warfare.
There is the belt which ties and holds everything together. There is the breastplate that protects the vital organs. There are the shoes which are specially designed to give good firm footing so that the soldier would not slip and fall. There is the shield which was used to defend against the blows of the enemy. There is the helmet which protects the head, which is critical to the body’s ability to function. And finally, the sword which was used as both a defensive weapon to parry the strikes of the enemy as well as an offensive weapon to make strikes of your own.
Now note again what verse 13 states. “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” This is the second time he as said to put on our armor so that we can stand firm. The stress here again that we have to be prepared. The word here translated as “put on” or “take up” is the general military word for taking up your arms. The battle is about to begin, get ready, put all your armor on! Don’t be caught off guard as the Romans were when Spartacus attacked. They were only able to grab what was handy. We have to make sure we have every piece of our armor on.
Why? The purpose is so that we may be able to stand against the enemy in the evil day. What evil day? Today! Back in 5:16 Paul says to, “redeem the time because the days are evil.” Until Jesus Christ returns to set up His millennial kingdom we will live in an evil time. This is why Satan is also refereed to as the “god of this age” (αἰῶνος – 2 Cor. 4:4). That is why the idea of man being able to bring about any type of utopia is ludicrous. Man cannot do that by political or religious means, because as long as Satan is active among men, there will be conflict, corruption and chaos.
However, though we may suffer because of the evil in the world, we do not have to be partakers of it. We do not have to fall into Satan’s traps and stumble into sin. We are, after having done everything, that is, having put our armor on, “stand firm.” We are to hold our ground.
In verse 14 Paul says again, “Stand firm therefore…”. This is the fourth time in this section that he has called us to resist the devil and hold our ground. The picture here is not so much that we are attacking as that we are being attacked. Our objective is to hold our position, to not fall back tow here we were before. And where is that? In sin. Do not give up ground in your pursuit of righteousness. Jesus died to break the bondage of sin in your life, to cleanse you and make you holy that you might have a relationship with God. Your salvation from hell is simply a side benefit.
For the rest of this morning we are going to look at the first piece of equipment mentioned here in verse 14. Paul says we are to “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth.” We might call this piece of equipment a girdle or more likely a belt, though a special kind of belt.
What was this belt for? The typical clothing of the time was a sort of long gown or robe often called a “tunic.” It was usually made of a square piece of cloth with holes out for the head and arms. It would hang down from the shoulders. This was great for most activities, but it would tangle you if you had to move fast or agilely. The girdle or belt would be used to hold the clothing up off the legs so that the person could move quickly. That is what the phrase, “gird up your loins,” means. Arrange your clothing so that you can move quickly without being hindered. The Roman Soldier would also typically wear what would in essence be a skirt – often with leather pleats. The girdle or belt would secure the tunic in place, hold this outer “skirt” on and provide a place to hold the sheath for the sword. It was an essential piece of equipment that tied everything together.
Notice that Paul refers to this belt as truth. It is truth that ties everything together securing us and giving us the ability to move quickly and decisively. It is truth that holds the sheath for the sword of the Spirit, the Bible. Truth is foundational to the Christian and I find that when we are attacked by the devil or one of his cohorts, that attack is almost always against the truth.
Jesus said in 8:31,32 “to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’.” What would the truth make us free from? From bondage to sin; from Satan as our master; from a self-centered life; from a life lived for the here and now that would end in the tragedy of an eternity separated from God. I am always encouraged when I meet someone seeking the truth, no matter how far away from it they may be at the present time, because the truth invariably leads to Jesus Christ, as He Himself said, He is “the way, the truth, the life.” Everyone who is an actual truth seeker will find Jesus Christ at the end of their quest. They will invariably come to the Scriptures, for Jesus declared the word of God to be truth (Jn. 17:17).
Contrast this with what Jesus said in John 8:44 about the devil… He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own [nature;] for he is a liar, and the father of lies. Some of Satan’s lies are in direct opposition to what God has declared and so are easy to spot. Other lies are subtle, some to extreme that they are difficult to discern. Satan can twist the Scriptures themselves to put people on a path almost parallel to the truth, but since it is not the truth it is a road that eventually leads to hell.
Jesus said “the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it” (Mt. 7:14). Satan’s goal, as we pointed out last week, is to usurp God’s position. The ramifications of this to people is that he will try to keep people to coming to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin and to keep Christians from living for Christ. He will use any means available to him to accomplish these goals, and lies are a major means.
Satan’s uses lies to keep mankind from salvation. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except by Me.” Satan has many different falsehoods and distortions to use against this truth, and he will use which ever one he can get a person to believe. Some will fall to a direct contradiction, so he will use atheism or its more tactful cousin, agnosticism, to claim that God is a myth and Jesus was just a man. Against those bold enough to deny creation’s proclamation of God’s glory and handiwork, the devil can use one of many other tactics. He might use false religion to say that Jesus is not the way, but rather another religion, or he might say that Jesus is only a way instead of the way, because all roads lead to heaven. This lie is increasingly popular in our society that now espouses tolerance and acceptance as greater virtues than truth, which is not tolerated or accepted. If these are not effective, Satan can agree Jesus is the only way, but then reinterpret who Jesus is. This is characteristic of all cults and why 1 John 4:1 warns, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out in to the world.” The Lord Jesus Christ as presented in the Bible is not a way, but the way; not a truth, but the truth; not a life, but the life, and no man, woman or child will ever see God the Father except through Him. We tolerate other religions in the sense that we are not seeking to do away with the people in them, but we do seek to annihilate those religions by converting the people in them to the truth. We do not accept non-Biblical faiths or perversions of Biblical faith as valid because they are based on the lies of the devil. They are roads to hell and they are leading billions of deceived people there. Certainly we need to be civil – we are to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), but lets also make sure we are not deceived about the reality of the situation and the destination of false religions and cults
Satan’s lies to mankind started in the garden of Eden when he deceived Eve into sin. How did he do it? Through lies. His first statement questioned what God had commanded, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the Garden’?” Eve corrected the serpent that God had only restricted them from the fruit of one tree. Satan then contradicted what God had said about what the consequences would be. “You will not surely die.” Then Satan then attacked God’s character by accusing Him of holding out on Eve. “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
All of Satan’s lies are ultimately against the character and nature of God. It is God that the devil is seeking to usurp, and his lies to us seek to turn us away from the Lord in the same way he turned Adam and Eve away. The rest of this morning and probably into next week as well I want to expose some of his major lies and show you some of their ramifications. In doing so I think you will see the importance of the belt of truth.
LIES AGAINST GOD’S EXISTENCE
Satan’s most bold lie is that God does not exist. Atheism states this directly while agnosticism denies all evidence so that they can claim they do not know. The truth is they do know, as does the atheist, but they deny it. Rom. 1:18-20 is one of the most direct passages on this subject. 18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools.”
The agnostic is just a more tactful atheist, and both are willingly ignorant. It is hard to believe that anyone would fall for such a lie with all creation shouting the truth, yet several philosophies including communism have ensnared many people. This lie has many ramifications because once the idea of a creator God who will hold you accountable for your actions is removed, then the door opens to any evil man can dream us. Man becomes just the highest form of animal life and men can become very inhumane to one another.
The atrocities committed under communism can scarcely be recounted with millions upon millions slaughtered under it and countless more having suffered and many continuing to suffer under it. The blood of Christian martyrs still flows in China, mixed with the cries of anguish from our persecuted brethren there. Atheism has also paved the way for the worse forms of racism imaginable. And atheistic philosophies have destroyed the moral foundations of the western societies and laid the foundation for the pervasive materialism found in them.
Psalm 14:1 and 53:1 both state it clearly, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’.” When you meet people who are caught in this lie remember that they have willingly rejected the truth God placed in their hearts at birth. Do not expect them to believe you or even give you a fair hearing. But pray, and as you have opportunity, confront them, head on with the truth. If you are prepared and they are willing to actually listen, challenge them on the premise and assumptions of their beliefs. “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.” Ask them if they or anyone they know were present when the world was formed. Ask them to explain why man is innately religious, why people become atheists only when they are taught to be so, and why so many atheists are angry at a being they do not believe exists. Ask them if they really believe all the intricacies and complexities of nature including their hands and eyes are just the product of chance. If they are still willing to listen, there are a host of books available to challenge them even further.
Satan tried a variation on this lie some years back when some liberal theologians proclaimed that God was dead. That lie never made much of an impact because of the innate foolishness of the statement. This is a lie against God’s eternality, which He is by definition. He is the same yesterday, today and forever; from everlasting to everlasting (Ps 90:2; Heb 13:8). Those that will not acknowledge God do not need this lie and those that do acknowledge God reject the idea He could die.
LIES AGAINST GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY, OMNIPOTENCE AND OMNIPRESENCE.
Satan has many lies against God being sovereign, omnipotent and omnipresent. Those involved in some form of direct Satan worship, witchcraft, voodoo and such admit their reliance on the demonic. Other forms of the occult that occur in the New Age Movement, paganism and animism also rely on demonic forces, though they do not necessarily recognize that fact. The common lie given to both groups is that the God of the Bible, creator of heaven and earth, is not sovereign /in supreme control; omnipotent/all powerful; or omnipresent /everywhere present. Therefore there is someone or something that is powerful or sneaky enough to get you what you want in life.
Those who believe these lies think they are gaining freedom because they can now do what they want rather than submit to God. Through various forms of divination and casting spells these people seek to assert themselves as captains of their own ships, masters of their own fates. They think themselves either unaccountable to the God of the universe or masters at manipulating Him to their own ends. Regardless of whether they recognize the power they tap into as demonic our think it to be some unexplained natural phenomena they enter greater bondage instead of freedom. What occult books will not tell you about is the fear inherent in all these practices – fear of Satan, fear of demons, fear of the evil people you are involved with, fear of the power that has been tapped into, fear that someone may use that same power against you. Those who get involved in the occult must also spend much time trying to protect themselves from spells and curses against them.
Those involved in Satan worship believe that Satan will someday triumph over God – or at worst will rule his own kingdom, and they want to be important in that infernal kingdom. The truth is that Satan is already restricted by God and can do nothing beyond the restrictions God has placed upon him. He and his demonic forces are destined for eternal punishment in hell as prisoners, not rulers there (Rev. 20). Those who follow Satan’s lies will also follow him to hell.
What a contrast this is to the true Christian who doesn’t need to fear because the perfect love of Christ casts away the fear of punishment (1 Jn 4:18), and every other fear and anxiety can also be cast on the Lord because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). The true Christian will have tribulation in this world because those who hate God will also hate them, but he will also have a perfect peace in the midst of it when trusting in the Lord (Isa. 26:3), because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Our eternal destiny is to be with our sovereign, omnipotent, omnipresent Lord in heaven. This is the difference between living according to Satan’s lies about God and embracing the truth about Him.
False religions are also based on these same lies against the Lord God. They often tend to be occultic in nature because many of their practices are the same and the power behind them are also demons. Paul points out in 1 Cor. 10:19,20 that when the gentiles made their sacrifices to their idols they were actually sacrificing to demons. Moses said the same thing in Deut. 32:17. Idolatry in all its forms is occultic whether it involves animal sacrifice, as in voodoo and many animistic religions, or the more simple leaving of fruit and other foods, or the burning of incense before an idol or picture as is common in the Eastern religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism or ancestor worship.
Most of these false religions would not deny that the God of the Bible exists, but they do deny that He alone is the sovereign omnipotent creator. They would hold that the Lord God was like their false gods, powerful in some areas, but not others. This was what the ancient people surrounding Israel thought. They believed He was limited and might even be defeated by some other god. 1 Kings 20:23 records this mentality, “Now the servants of the king of Aram said to him, ‘Their gods are gods of the mountains, therefore they were stronger than we; but rather let us fight against them in the plain, [and] surely we shall be stronger than they.‘” 2 Kings 18 records that the Assyrian King Sennacherib thought the God of Israel would fall before his god, but in both cases the armies relying on the false gods were wiped out.
In conclusion, we need to understand that though these lies against God are primarily aimed at keeping people from Christ, we too can stumble over them. How often do we act like practical atheists in what we do? Would you do the things you do or allow your mind to dwell on the things you think if Jesus were standing next to you and all your thoughts were printed in a book. The truth is Jesus is with you every moment of your life (Mt. 28:20), and your thoughts are an open book to Him for He searches your heart and knows it better than even you do (Jer. 17:9,10).
Pilate asked, “What is truth?” Truth is that which is in conformity to reality. Jesus is truth. Scripture is truth. Everything else is only a perception of reality, not reality itself. In our battle against the forces of evil, we must make sure that we are living according to the truth, not false perceptions of reality. Truth must be as a belt around us, holding the rest of our armor in place. Are you a truth seeker? Are you living according to the truth? We will continue our study in this subject next week.
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