(The following is an excerpt from the message that was preached on September 27, 2020.)
Text: Ephesians 6:14
"Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist"
A couple of weeks ago, a super typhoon swept through Japan. It started in the ocean south of Japan, and then came up through the East China Sea. There were some very serious warnings on the TV news for days before it hit. Experts were saying that this would be the worst typhoon in living memory, and that the winds were incredibly powerful, and there would be torrential rain and rising sea levels. They said that people had to, they must, take extreme caution to protect themselves. So, old and young people were evacuated by the military from islands, sandbags were piled up in front of buildings, tape was applied to windows, everything outside was tied down with ropes, and so on
And all of this was entirely appropriate. It was a terrible storm. There was a very real and a very serious danger. And when a person is faced with a real and serious danger like that, taking effort to protect yourself is a completely rational and sensible thing to do. The only people who don’t take effort to protect themselves are people who are either crazy or ignorant.
The crazy people say, “It’s not such a bad storm. I’ll be fine. I’m not going to let a storm like that disrupt my daily life. I think I’ll go outside and do some work in my vegetable garden.”
The ignorant people don’t protect themselves because they have no idea the storm is coming. They don’t watch TV or read the paper, they don’t hear anything from their friends, so they’re blissfully ignorant that there is any danger at all.
Now, the Lord does not want any of us to be crazy or ignorant. That’s why we have the bible. And when you read the pages of scripture, it is very clear: in the world today, there is a very serious and a very real danger.
We read about that in Ephesians, chapter 6.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (v.10-11)
The Lord has provided us with spiritual armor for our protection. There are many pieces to this armor, but today I’d like us to think about first piece mentioned: The Belt of Truth.
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist” (Ephesians 6:14)
The Romans called this a “cingulum” or “balteus”. This was perhaps the most important piece of equipment that a soldier possessed. It is important because it holds all the other pieces together. It held the scabbard for the sword, it kept the breastplate in position, and it also had strips of armor hanging off it to protect the soldier’s lower body. The belt also held equipment, ropes and food.
Just like for a soldier the belt holds all the other pieces of equipment together, for us Christians, it is the truth that has central importance for fighting in this spiritual conflict. If we don’t know truth, the rest of this armor is useless.
Let’s think of it like this: We’re in a spiritual conflict. Our enemy is the devil, with all his demons and spiritual forces of evil. What is the devil’s goal? He wants to kill you. Spiritually. God wants you to have life, and the devil wants to lead you to death. Now, how is he going to do that? Well, he’s going to try and get you to sin. Sin leads to death. And how is he going to get you to sin? Through temptation.
Pastor Michael read this exact thing last week, from James:
"Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."
You see, the devil can attack you in all sorts of ways. He can make you sick, he can cause you to lose your job, he can make your daily life unpleasant and uncomfortable in many different ways. But none of that will actually hurt you. None of that will cause you to lose your salvation, and none of that will cause you to be separated from God.
But, when these things happen to you, you will be tempted. And it is the temptation that is dangerous. You’ll be tempted to think, “Right, I have this problem right now. I need to solve this problem myself. I can do this in my own strength. If I work harder and get some more money, if I study harder and improve my education, if I do this or that, then I’ll be able to fix this problem myself.” And so, you rely on your own strength and you don’t look to God.
But then you discover that all your efforts come to nothing. And so, then there is another temptation, which is the temptation to think, “God’s not looking after me. God is not there. God is not listening to me. God has forgotten me.” And it is these kinds of ideas that will really hurt you.
This is why we need the belt of truth. You see, all temptation is the temptation to believe a lie. That’s what temptation is, in its essence. The temptation to believe a lie.
Here’s what I mean. When a person is faced with a temptation to sin – it could be a temptation to lie, or cheat, or commit adultery, or steal something, or even just say something nasty – there is the temptation, and the thinking goes like this: “If I do this thing (lie, steal, be nasty), if I do this, then there will be a good result. I will be better off. I’ll be richer, or I’ll be more popular, more people will like me... Whatever. Something good will come if I do this.”
That is the essence of temptation. To believe that not following God and not trusting God is going to work out better for you.
And so, you can see how truth totally destroys that. The truth completely destroys the power of temptation. The truth says, “Whoa. Hang on a minute. What are you doing!? Why are you even thinking about this? If you do this thing, which is clearly not God’s will, nothing good will come from it. Doing this thing will not give you what you want.”
The belt of truth totally destroys the devil’s power of temptation.
Let’s put on the belt of truth every day, by reading His word, meditating on it, memorizing it, and living it every day of the week.