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Faith Bible Church, NY
February 16, 1997
Spiritual Warfare, Part 4
Girded With Truth, Part 2
We continue this morning in our study of Eph. 6 and the subject of spiritual warfare. We are in a fight with a very cunning spiritual being and if we are to gain the victory, but we must do it in God’s way and not our own. The great tragedy is that Satan continues to gain the upper hand even among Christians because there is so much nonsense believed about how to do battle with Satan.
There are those that want to relegate the activity of the demonic to mythology through exciting, but untrue stories. However, Satan and demons are real and they can cause a wide variety of physical, mental and emotional problems. They can influence people to great degrees and even give people super human strength, psychic abilities and healing powers. To ignore these things is to fall into one of Satan’s traps.
At the same time we must be very careful of the opposite extreme that gives more credit to Satan than he is due. There are many that end up blaming the demonic for all troubles and ills. Those involved in these so called “deliverance” services are the most obvious. The claim is that it is demons that cause you to lie, cheat, steal, swear, look at or pornography, commit fornication, or any other sin. Demons are said to be responsible for all your ills too – not having enough money, bad business ventures, all your health problems, etc. There was even one man that was trying to cast out the demon of halitosis! People end up believing that their sin and their problems are because of demons, and if they are delivered from the demons, their lives will be wonderful.
Certainly the demonic realm is powerful, and demons can do many, many things. Satan can entice you in ways that make you feel like you have no choice but to sin, however, he cannot make you do anything. When you sin it is because you have chosen to do so. Man is quite capable of sin and causing problems without demonic assistance, and even when there are demons present and overtly active they are a secondary issue. God wants us to be mindful of Him, not demons. Our battle with Satan is fought by first submitting to God. Without that we are open targets for the adversary. Second, we resist the devil and he will flee from us (James 4:7). We do not have to fear the evil spiritual entities that seek our woe. The Holy Spirit within us is greater than they are (1 Jn 4:4) and they are limited by God in what they can do (Job).
God has given to us everything we need pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) including the means to be victorious in our spiritual battle. God has given us a whole set of armor to be put on daily so that we are ready and able for the spiritual conflict around us. Paul tells us here in Ephesians 6 that we are to 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. Last week we began our discussion of the first of the six pieces that make up our armor – vs. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth.
The belt is an essential piece of equipment. The Roman soldier needed to be able to move quickly and with agility. The belt held his tunic in place so that it would not encumber his legs and cause him to stumble. It also gave him a place to hang his other equipment. Typically the soldier, or anyone else for that matter, would not have their belt fastened when they were sitting around. As soon as they were called to go somewhere the first thing they would do would be to put the belt on and cinch it up. To “gird your loins” is the first step in preparing yourself for action.
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. It is truth that the devil attacks in his efforts to lead us astray.
As I pointed out last week, the devil is a liar and the father of lies (Jn 8:44), and ultimately those lies are against the nature and character of God. When we are thoroughly grounded in the truth we can easily resist his lies. If we are not, then we easily succumb to them.
Last week we dealt with his lies against God’s existence, eternality, omnipotence, omnipresence and sovereignty. All of these are primarily aimed at keeping people from Christ, but they can affect the Christian too if they are not careful.
LIES AGAINST GOD’S TRUTHFULNESS & WISDOM
Because are tendency is to project our own characteristics upon God, it is easy for us to fall prey to Satan’s lie against God’s truthfulness and wisdom. This was the lie that deceived Eve and led to the fall of man into sin in the first place.
Satan could not have attacked God’s existence because Eve already knew God. Satan could not attack God’s sovereignty or omnipotence because Eve was well aware of how God formed her as well as everything else. But Satan could cause Eve to start questioning God’s truthfulness to her and Adam and the wisdom of his ways.
Satan’s first statement to Eve in Genesis 3:1 questioned what God had commanded, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the Garden’?” This was a not an innocent question but one carefully crafted to suggest that God command was not so wise. Satan knew what God had commanded. Eve clarified that God had restricted them from the fruit of one tree and added that if they touched or ate of that tree they would die. Satan then contradicted God and said, “You will not surely die.” This is a direct attack on God’s truthfulness. He is telling Eve that God has not told her the truth. Note that God had not put a restriction on touching the fruit in 2:17. This is a bit speculative, but possibly Adam added this idea. After telling Eve that God had commanded them not to eat of the fruit or they would die, Adam said something to the effect, “so don’t even touch it.” Eve took it that this was an additional command of God. If this is true, then it shows that communication between humans was difficult even before the fall – how much more difficult they are after.
Satan has, in effect, called God a liar and now he also challenges God’s wisdom saying, “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.” Satan is telling Eve that God was holding out on them and that his plan for them was not wise. Eve believed the lies and gave the fruit to Adam, and all mankind fell with him.
SATAN’S ATTACKS AGAINST THE BIBLE
Satan continues to make such accusations against God. His greatest attacks are against God’s Word – both direct and indirect.
In direct attacks Satan claims that the Bible is not the word of God, but that of men. It is of no more value than other great religious works and simply presents a system of ethics that may or may not be helpful to modern man. This lie is popular among philosophers and the “intelligentsia” who think themselves smart. God simply says that in professing to be wise, they became fools (Rom. 1) and that we are to “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Col. 2:8).
Not quite as direct are the lies that uphold the Scriptures to be from God, but that they are not the final Word. Instead there are other books that give more and better revelation. Islam respects the Bible, but holds the Koran to be the final authority. The Latter Day Saints – the Mormons – hold to the Book of Mormon and other writings as superior. Most cult groups will not go as far as to say their further revelation replaces the Bible, but rather the Bible cannot be understood apart from their writings. This is the case for the Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Science, The Way International, The Children of God, and yes, Roman Catholicism, which holds that you cannot understand the Bible for yourself, but the Church and its teachings must interpret it for you.
Satan has used source, form and higher criticism as another means to depreciate the Bible. Generally these things are used by those who have already rejected the Bible as God’s Word, but there are many others, even evangelicals, that fall prey to these lies. Satan uses these to call into question the authorship of the scriptures. “Moses did not write the pentateuch, but rather a series of editors over hundreds of years.” “Daniel was written by someone living in the second century B.C. after the events predicted in that book had already taken place.” “The gospels were written by later editors who used the names of Matthew, Mark and Luke in order to give more prestige to their work.” This makes the writers of Scripture liars and we cannot know what is true and what is not.
This kind of work culminated a couple of years ago in a confused Bible that had red, pink, gray and black lettering. A group of these scholars gathered periodically over the years and voted on whether quotes from Jesus were spoken by him or not. If they did not believe He said it, it was printed in black. If it was doubtful Jesus said it, but maybe He did, it got gray. If Jesus may have said it, but there was some doubt it got pink, and if they all thought Jesus did say it, it was printed in red – very little was printed in red.
What is the truth about the Bible? It claims to be true and either it is or it is not. If it is not true, then it is a lie and worthless as a revelation of truth. It would fail even as a system of ethics because it would be self contradictory violating its own ethical system. If the Bible is not true then only another system of moral absolutes could give guidance to pick and choose what was true from it, in which case the other system would be superior anyway.
The Bible claims to be God’s Word. In the Old Testament alone there are 1,130 times the phrasing “Lord said / God said / Lord spoke / God spoke /”, “thus says the Lord” or the “word of the Lord,” occurs. The Old Testament is confirmed by Jesus and the New Testament writers. Jesus Himself stated that “Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17) and directly referenced Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Isaiah, Daniel, Hosea, Jonah, Zechariah and Malachi and indirectly referenced the rest by citing the whole OT Canon as Scripture in Luke 11:51 and 12:44. The apostles referenced most of the other OT books in their writings.
In the New Testament we find that Jesus and the apostles present the word of the Lord. Hebrews 1:1,2 “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in [His] Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” 2 Peter 3:1,2 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.
Jesus claims to directly be giving revelation from God in many places. A couple of examples: John 14:10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works”: John 12:48-50, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. 49 “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak. 50 “And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”
The apostles also claim to be speaking what God had revealed to them. Paul says in Gal. 1:11,12 – 1 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but [I received it] through a revelation of Jesus Christ. John says his writings came directly from a revelation to Him (Rev. 1:1) Peter cites Paul’s writings as scripture (2 Peter 3:15,16) and cites his own writings as from God in verse 1,2 of that chapter.
Paul explains in 2 Timothy 3:15 that 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. Peter further explains in 2 Peter 1:19-21, “And [so] we have the prophetic word [made] more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is [a matter] of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
Satan even attacks the Bible both by duplicating it and lying about what would otherwise be something good. There is a host of English translations available and some of them are extremely bad. They poorly translate and sometimes even mistranslate in order to have a Bible that will back up their preconceive theological positions. The New World Version is such an example. Others freely paraphrase so you end up with more of a Bible interpretation than translation. The CEV, NEV, Living Bible, and The Message, are examples of this – the NIV even slopes into this in some places. This type of translation can mislead people about what God has revealed about himself.
Some have viewed all modern translations as threats to the Scriptures and claimed that only one English Bible is the true word of God, the King James, sometimes referred to as the “authorized version”. In doing this they actually detract from the Bible by both hindering people’s ability to understand the scriptures and producing a mentality that ignores historical fact – which is a very poor basis for proper interpretation.
The Bible was written in Hebrew, Greek and little bit of Aramaic. All English versions are at best translations of the original languages and at worse paraphrases of other English versions. All translations are made for the purpose of allowing people to read and understand the Bible in their own language. When the language of a translation becomes archaic, as the KJV has, then new translations are in order so that people can easily understand the Bible again.
Another problem with the KJV only mentality is that it ignores historical fact. The Bible they carry is not a copy of the 1611 KJV as so many of them think, but the 1769 update. Some argue that basis for the KJV is the “Textus Receptus” (The received text) and it is superior, but the fact is that the this Greek text was not even complied until 1633 – 22 years after the KJV was translated. The 1769 versions takes into account all the Greek texts found to that point in history.
I use the New American Standard and advocate its use for three very simple reasons. 1) Accuracy to the original languages. 2) Relatively easy to understand 3) It footnotes any textual questions so you can study the issues for yourself.
Satan seeks to turn people away from God by lying about God’s truthfulness and in particular about the Bible. Those who believe the devils lies do so at the risk of their souls. More indirect than these are lies are those against God’s wisdom.
ATTACKS AGAINST GOD’S WISDOM
Many people readily accept the Bible as God’s Word, they just doubt that what He says either applies to them and/or is the best thing to actually do. They put themselves in the position of deciding for themselves what is best. This lie affects Christians and non-Christians alike and is a major reason so many believers live in defeat.
We saw earlier that this was used by Satan to entice Eve to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He called into question the wisdom of God’s commandment.
This same lie is applied to almost every situation. All Satan has to do is find your area of weakness or your area of desire and then stroke your sense of pride to make you think you know better than God. This can be most subtle and destructive. Let me give you just a few examples since we are growing short on time.
The Gospel: 1 Cor. 1:21-25 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not [come to] know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
The wisdom of man rejects the gospel message. I have met many very intelligent people that reject the gospel because they find it foolish. Whether it is out of pride that they could not figure it out themselves or pride that finds the message of salvation through the substitutionary atonement of Christ too simple, in both cases they reject the truth of God’s revelation for the lies of Satan. The result will be eternal punishment for their rejection.
Lying: Eph. 4:25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one [of you,] with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. The command is clear, yet how many of us do let lies slip out even if it is simply answering the phone and saying someone isn’t there when they are sitting right there because you think it will avoid hurting their feelings. We lie to get what we want. We lie to avoid problems. We lie to try and keep other people from becoming upset. But a lie is a lie and God says it is sin – don’t do it.
The classic case from situational ethics is what if it were WWII and you were hiding Jews in your house and a Nazi came to you door. What would you say? God does not say you have to answer every question put to you, but neither are you to lie. What would you do? Would you trust God’s wisdom or rely on your own? Would you lie and say there were no Jews there or tell them they could look around if they wanted and trust the Lord for the future.
The Purpose of Life: Matthew 6:19f and 6:33 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:33 – Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then all these things shall be added to you.
Yet how many of us will subject our life goals to God’s wisdom. Too many Christians set their aspirations on what the world offers rather than Christ. Too many place greater dependency in their physical possessions rather than God’s promises. What sacrifices will you make to gain a larger salary or a larger house or a nicer car? What would you do if you were offered a better paying job, but it would require you to spend an additional 10-15 hours per week away from your family? What would you do if buying that house would be in your reach if only you both work – would it matter to you if that meant the kids would have to be in daycare?
What service to the Lord are you currently neglecting because it is more important for you to “enjoy yourself,” to be “entertained.” Let me put it to you directly, while I am truly grateful to everyone that helps in the various ministries carried out by this church, there is a great lack. Too many of you have your relationship with God and serving Him way down on your list of what is important. He is to be your number one priority. He is to be at the center of your life, not the edge. God is true. Satan is a liar. Yet, many are those that have followed the lies instead of the truth. The results have left non-Christians separated from God for eternity and Christians wasting their lives. What about you? Are you following the God’s truth or Satan’s lies? Are you walking in submission to the Lord’s wisdom or trying to succeed by your own?
LIES AGAINST GOD’S HOLINESS
LIES AGAINST GOD’S GOODNESS
LIES AGAINST GOD’S LOVE
LIES AGAINST GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS & JUSTICE
LIES AGAINST GOD’S MERCY & GRACE
LIES AGAINST GOD’S UNITY
LIES AGAINST GOD’S ANGER & JEALOUSY
LIES AGAINST GOD’S PATIENCE/LONGSUFFERING
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