November 17, 2019

Truth

Pastor:
Passage: Ephesians 6:10-14
Service Type:

If you dismissed the reality of spiritual warfare before we began our study of the book of Daniel and of the whole armor of God, it wouldn't surprise me that your thinking has changed over the past few weeks. Nor would it surprise me to hear that perhaps the intensity of the spiritual battles and spiritual conflicts that you have faced have also increased over the past few weeks. I say that because several of you have said those exact words to me. One person even said to me, I think they were joking, "can you move on to something else?" Well, no, not yet. There's still more for us to learn if we are to glorify God by obeying His instruction to stand firm. Now in every battle there are two opposing sides. In every conflict there are two opposing strategies. In every conflict there are two opposing set of tactics. But each side shares a common goal. And that common goal is to defeat the opposition. So in our text here, the apostle Paul details God's strategy for the spiritual conflict of which you as a believer are a part. Now I want you to know this right off the bat: it is a winning strategy. It comes with proven, tested tactics that when they are implemented, they cannot, they will not fail. And as I've said week after week after week, do you believe that? 

Well, the great apostle here having addressed the armor as a whole, he now begins to address the various parts of the whole armor of God. Which you as a believer are, as Paul says to put on as well as to take up. Now before we look at the first piece of armor, I want to remind you of some of the realities of the Christian life. First, we are only Christians because of the work of God in our lives. God loves us. God chose us. God removed our hearts of stone and replaced them with hearts of flesh. God replaced our state of spiritual death with a state of spiritual life. God has redeemed us. God has adopted us. God has justified us. And God is sanctifing us. And one of the means, one of the tools, one of the vehicles that God uses to sanctify us is spiritual conflict. It is on the spiritual battlefield and it is in the midst of the spiritual conflicts that we learn how to use the resources that God has given to us to help move us forward in our sanctification. It's in the midst of a spiritual struggle that we learn to use the resources that God provides for us to make us like Christ. That may be totally new thinking to you. That God uses spiritual battles, God uses spiritual conflict as a means of your sanctification. And frankly, it could it could be its own message in and of itself, but not today. I'm going to let you go home and think that through that's your homework for the week. 

A second reality is that God provides you with everything that you need. Christ lives in you, which means that his victory is your victory. His armor is your armor. His strength is your strength. And his strength is at work in you whether or not you realize it or recognize it. And I've come to firmly believe that each one of us need daily frequent reminders of these truths. And to help you fix in your heart and your mind the reality that Christ lives in you and that is power is always at work in you, I would encourage you, this will be the third time this morning I've said this, that every time that you pray to thank the Lord for making you strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. It will take you 10 seconds to pray that prayer, that part of your prayer. But every time you pray that guess what? You're going to fix that truth in your heart and your mind. And everytime you pray that prayer you're going to come to believe that even more and more and more. And I want you to pray this prayer so frequently that it just becomes second nature to you. You no longer doubt that Christ lives in you and that you are currently right now, right here in whatever state that you feel that you're in, that you are strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Just as you have that glucose running through your veins, powering you right now, the strength of Christ is in you. Christ lives in you right now. Do you believe it? Do you believe it? 

Now, I asked myself this question: why doesn't Paul tell us how to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might? Paul makes the statement, right? "Be strong in the Lord and the strength of his might," that's verse 10. But he doesn't tell us how to do that. Well, he doesn't tell us right here how to do that. Could it be that he doesn't tell us because he assumes that we understand, or that we should understand, that because we are in Christ we are already strong in the Lord. I think sometimes we make too many divisions of the same truth. Paul says be strong where? In the Lord. Paul loves to say, he uses this phrase to describe those who are Christians. What is it? In Christ. I think we confuse ourselves when we try and separate all these things out. Say well, is this different from being in Christ? I don't believe that it is. As I said, I think it was last week, if you are in Christ, Christ is in you. If Christ is in you, you are strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. You cannot separate these things. 

And really what Paul is telling you to do is to live out your identity. Yeah, there's a great push in our society today to "just be who you are". Right? Well, legitimately as Christians I can say to you be who you are. Live out your identity. You are in Christ. Live it out. And you as a Christian are not only to fasten on this belt of truth, you are to live out the truth. Therefore, it's imperative to know who you are in Christ. And I know we have Zach and Mariah here today, and they're probably thinking "he's still in Ephesians?" Yes. In our opening studies of Ephesians we went into great detail about who you are in Christ and if you need a refresher on that, go back and listen to those sermons. It's so important that you understand who you are in Christ, you have to live out of that identity as a Christian. Remember, you are more than a conqueror through Christ. Why? Because Jesus is more than a conqueror. And part of the reason that Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians was to remind them of who they were in Christ. To remind them and us of the realities of the Christian life. 

Back when I started this series I said this repeatedly, being a Christian includes the blessing of forgiveness, but that's not all that it includes. There's so much more to our salvation than the forgiveness of our sins. Thank God that we have our sins have been forgiven, amen. But that's not all there is to our salvation. I thought this morning and I was thinking, you know, that Paul's letter to the Ephesians, it's only six chapters long. Normal reading speed, I would say you could read it between 15 and 20 or 25 minutes. What would happen if you would read the book of Ephesians every day? What if you would take 20 or 25 minutes? Let's say it takes you 30 minutes, but every day you read you read the book of Ephesians and every day you filled yourself with all these wonderful truths of who you are in Christ and all that God has done for you in Christ would it change your life? Absolutely it would. Read it frequently, memorize it, meditate on it, listen to it. My pastor used to say "don't tell me you're too busy if you own a TV." Say I don't have an extra 25 minutes to do this every day. Really? Can I come follow you around for a day? 

Well, again, having introduced the whole armor, the apostle now turns his attention to the various pieces of the armor and he begins with the belt of truth. Now, when we think about a belt, frankly, we probably don't think much about belts. Some people wear a belt more for its design than its function. Some don't wear a belt that should because they need its function. Amen. But that's a point for another day. If I wear a dark colored suit such as this morning I'll wear a black belt. If I'm feeling wild and crazy, I have a lighter color suit on, Todd and I have about same color suit there and when I wear that, I wear a black belt. I'm living on the edge. Ladies probably have a closet full of belts, like the lady that I know, a closert full of belts full of different colors, different style, sizes and shapes and widths and all that kind of stuff. But that's not the kind of belt that the apostle Paul has in mind here. 

I've no doubt that Paul drew on the visual that he saw from the Roman guards that he was chained to at points in his life. And he drew on this to describe the various parts of the whole armor of God. Now the belt worn by the Roman soldier obviously served a very important purpose. The belt was used to gather up any loose bits of clothing that presented a tripping hazard or held him back or impeded his ability to fight and to properly protect himself. So to prepare himself for battle, he would put on the belt as a means of preparation. And that's how you as a Christian should understand putting on the belt of truth. You put on the belt of truth in order to properly prepare yourself for spiritual conflict. It's an item of clothing, if you will, of preparation. You prepare yourself for spiritual conflict with God's truth and nothing else. You don't have to go looking anywhere else for any other source of truth to help you with spiritual conflict. No, you put on the belt of God's truth. 

The belt that you put on again, I want to emphasize, it is no ordinary belt, it's not any old belt, it's a very specific belt. You as God's child, you as God's soldier, are to put on God's belt of truth. Truth. And I don't think it's any accident that the apostle Paul starts with truth, do you? Because everything flows from truth. Everything's true or it's false. If you don't believe God's truth, you'll never put on the armor. You'll never have any confidence in the armor. So he begins with truth, but he's referring to a specific kind of truth. Jesus said in John 17 "sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth." What was the context in which he said those words? It was in his prayer to his father. So whose Word is truth? God's Word is truth. So Paul is referring to the truth, the objective truth of the Christian faith. Okay. So when you read put on, or having fastened on the belt of truth, he's referring to God's truth. The objective truth of God. The objective truth of the gospel. 

The Bible is clear that truth matters. I think MacArthur just had a conference like that, didn't he, truth matters? The Bible is clear that what you believe has eternal consequences. But what has our culture decided today? Well it's decided that in many areas it doesn't really matter what you believe. There are those who repeatedly and vehemently try and convince us that there is no absolute truth, which I find to be so ironic because when you say there is no absolute truth, that's a statement of absolute truth. They're very argument betrays them. They shoot down their very argument by their statements. But the Bible would completely disagree that their is no such thing as absolute truth. In fact, how did Jesus identify himself? John 14:6 Jesus said "I am the way..." a truth? One truth among many truths? A truth that you can take it or leave it? No. He said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." To say that truth doesn't matter is to say that Jesus doesn't matter. Right? If Jesus is the truth, when you say, well, truth really doesn't matter, then you're saying the truth that Jesus doesn't matter. 

See, but what you believe about Jesus matters because it's a matter of life or death. It's a matter of eternal life or eternal death. Peter declared in Acts 4:12 "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Who's Peter referring to there? The Lord Jesus. See, it matters what you believe about the nature of God. It matters what you believe about the existence of God. It matters what you believe about the holiness of God. It matters what you believe about the grace of God. It matters what you believe about the mercy of God. It matters what you believe about yourself. It matters what you believe about Jesus. All of those things matter. Truth truly does matter. The church is described in Scripture as what? The foundation, the ground and pillar foundation of what? Truth. Truth. So truth matters. 

But why does it matter? Well, one reason is we have to know what is true because the devil is a liar. He's a liar. In fact, the Bible says that he is the father of lies. Jesus said in John 8:44 "When he," referring to Satan, referring to the devil, "When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies." Therefore, part of his cunningly device schemes that we looked at a couple of weeks ago is to do whatever he can, in whatever way he can to attack the truth. And whose truth do you think that he attacks? God's truth, God's truth. He will try and distort the truth. He will try and deny the truth. He will try and destroy the truth. And just as he did with Adam and Eve in the garden, he will try and get you to doubt the truth. What did he say to Eve? Has God really said? Oh, come on. You think God was serious about that? He will twist God's truth into a lie. That's what he's doing in our culture today. It's what he's always done.

The devil wants to persuade you to believe a lie. And as a result, he will go to extraordinary lengths to limit, get this, your contact with God's word. Why? Because God's Word is truth. He will try and keep you from reading the Scriptures. This is probably been your experience at some point in your life. You sit down to read the Bible and and all the sudden you think of 30 things that you could be doing or you convince yourself you should be doing rather than reading the Scriptures. What's going on here? Trying to get you to believe a lie that there's something more important for you to be doing at that moment rather than reading the Scriptures. He will try and keep you from memorizing and meditating on The Scriptures. He will try and keep you away from church so that you don't hear the Scriptures preached, explained, and applied. And once he separates you from God's word, you know what he does? He begins to expose you to his lies. 

For instance, let's go back to what he did with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. What did he try and convince them? What did he successfully convince them of? Well, it was this, that God doesn't have your best interests at heart. He will try and convince you that God's nothing more than just a killjoy and he doesn't want you to have any fun. He just wants you to live a miserable life. God doesn't want you to have pleasure in anything. He just wants to make you miserable. But what do we know? Those are all lies. How do you answer a lie? With truth, with truth. And by the way, all of us will have to answer these lies. All of us will have to deal with these lies at some point in our lives, maybe many points throughout our lives. We must make a choice: will we believe the lies of the devil or will we believe God? Will we believe God's Word? 

Think of the Berea College students. There's going to be a point in time somewhere during those four years where you're going to be confronted with a lie of the devil. And at that point, you're going to have to make a decision: Who am I going to believe, Dr. Hootenanny or the Word of God? Who are you going to believe? Do not be intimidated by his title. His title is nothing in the sight of God. And let me talk to the young people here for just a second. I believe young people need to be on guard, particularly those who have been raised in a church where mom and dad brought them to church faithfully. Because part of the devils lie for you all is this: hey, there's a whole other world out there and there's a whole lot more for you to experience and you don't even know it. Your mom and dad, they pulled the wool over your eyes. You've got blinders on. They're trying to rob you of a good time. There's a whole lot more out there than you're aware of. Now, there is truth in that lie. Say what's the truth? There is a whole other world out there. And there is truth that your mom and dad are trying to protect you from it. So what do we do? Who are we going to believe? Believe your mom and dad who have your best interests at heart and have sadly been exposed to that whole other world. Okay. So that's the devil's liners. There's several in this room, many in this room who could tell you you're not missing anything. And they would passionately plead with you and beg with you do not give in to the siren song of sin. 

So let's ask ourselves this question: will obedience to God make your life miserable? No, it may make your life hard. Let's be realistic here. It's not easy to be a Christian in this world, it's never have been easy to be a Christian in this world. But God is not out to make your life miserable. Obedience to God will not bring you misery. At least that's what the Psalmist says. Psalm 19 "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean; enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous all together. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great..." misery? Is that what it says? No, "there is great reward." There's great reward. See, the devil is the liar God is not the liar. God is, God's Word is truth. 

Now notice what Paul says here "having fastened on the belt of truth." What's Paul saying there? Well, Paul is saying that you are the one who fastens on the belt of truth. God provides it for you, but it is your responsibility to fasten it on. Say, well, how do I fasten on the belt of truth? You fasten on the belt of truth when you read the Scriptures, when you memorize Scripture, when you meditate Scripture, when you teach Scriptures, perhaps in a setting such as family devotions, or you do a Bible study, or discipleship. And all those times you're fastening on the belt of truth when you're using the Scriptures. 

But you need to go beyond simply putting on the belt of truth, you need to learn how to use the truth in life. There's a great disconnect in the lives of many Christians between what they know and what they practice. It's not enough just to put the belt of truth on, you have to know how to use that belt. You have to know how to use that truth. You need to become skilled at connecting the Bible to your life. James 1 "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing." Not simply blessed in the hearing part but the doing. 

Again, we have got too many Christians who have a head full of knowledge and empty hearts. They've never been able or they've never made the effort to connect the truth of Scripture to life. They live as a practical atheist. They have a knowledge of God but it doesn't really affect the way that they live. We all know people like this, right? Have you ever wondered why guys like me get up here and bang away on "you need to read the Bible every day"? Well, you need to read the Bible every day because it's not just a good way, it's a great way of grabbing hold of truth. When we read the Bible, and then in prayer we wrestle with how to apply that truth to our lives, guess what happens? We're strengthened. We grow. We learn how to apply that particular truth to our lives. 

I'm reading repeatedly through the book of Romans at the moment. And this is just you know, just it's just chock full of stuff. But you know, one of the most practical exhortations that Paul has in this great book of doctrine is hey, you're a believer now don't yield your bodies as instruments of unrighteousness. Say what's that mean? Your outward conduct matters. You can either use your body in ways that are sinful and detract from God's glory or you can use your body in ways that do what? Are pleasing to God and bring glory to Him. That's practical. That's a truth. And so many times, people, they gauge the success of their quiet time, if you will, as to how it made them feel. Did it leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling, can I get up in the mirror and look and see am I glowing? And if I'm not glowing, if I don't have a warm fuzzy feeling, then I guess that was wasted time. No, no, no, no, no, no. The test of your quiet time is this: did it equip you with truth? And it will if you approach it that way. I'm all for reading plans. I kind of follow one myself. But listen, if your reading plan is keeping you from letting scripture equip you with a truth, chuck the reading plan. If you have to spend one day, a whole week, a whole month, maybe a whole year in a book or a verse until you equip yourself with the truth that's there, do it.

Now Jesus wore the belt of truth first. Jesus had belted on the word of truth ahead of time so that when Satan assaulted him with his lies, you know what Satan discovered? Jesus was more than equipped to handle his assaults. I want you to think about this and see how you can apply this to your life. Jesus used the truth of Scripture as a weapon. As a weapon. For instance, Satan tempted Jesus that his father wouldn't provide for his needs. So hey, Jesus, you better turn these rocks in the bread. How did Jesus respond to that? How did Jesus defend himself? He defended himself with the Word of God. But he answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Satan next takes Jesus up to the pinnacle of the temple and says, hey, God's promised to take care of you. Let's see if that's really true. Throw yourself down. Let's see if the angels show up and scoop you up. Jesus never walked to the edge and looked over. You know what he said? Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'" Satan says well, I got one more shot. I'm really going to up my game here. He told Jesus, he said you see all these kingdoms of the world? You see everything they have all the pleasures all the wealth. Hey, (at this point, the devil really shows his ignorance) this can all be yours if you'll fall down and worship me. I love this last response of Jesus. Jesus said to him, "Be gone Satan!" In other words, shut up. Enough, enough of this. "For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'" 

Have you ever wished you were more like Jesus when it came to dealing with temptation? I have. Aren't you simultaneously dismayed and amazed at how quickly Satan can turn your head when he puts this shiny new bauble in front of you? Seemingly without resistance, what do we do, we we go for it. We grab for it. So how can we be like Jesus in the face of temptation? Do you need a spiritual boot camp? No. You need to fasten on the belt of truth by using Scripture as your weapon. A weapon that cannot be defeated. A weapon that will not fail, cannot fail. A weapon that when it is used, will send the devil scurrying away. Resist the devil and God promises what? He will flee. As I said, a couple weeks ago, MacArthur said that the armor of God needs to be the Christian's constant companion. So that means you need to put on the belt of truth and keep it on. 

Now let me show you how you can begin to put this into practice in your life. Many people have things in their past that the devil uses against them. It could be the lifestyle that you lived prior to coming to Christ and receive forgiveness and salvation and he tries to use that against you day, after day, after day. Or perhaps your past includes the sinful actions of others that had a direct, real, and profound impact on your life. The devil, as you well know will try and use that against you. In either of those cases, are you powerless to defend yourself? Do you as a Christian, have to continue to be the punching bag of the devil? Do you have to let him use your past to control your present? Absolutely not. If you are in Christ, if you love and follow Jesus Christ then Christ lives in you. His strength is your strength, his armor is your armor, his truth is your truth. Use the truth of who you are in Christ to resist the devil and again, he will flee. 

I believe as Christians, we are far too passive. When we are assaulted, we need to attack him and his lies with the truth. When he accuses you, when he brings up your past, when he accuses you of still being the person that you used to be, when he tries to paralyze you with reminders of what has happened to you, you need to hit back and you need to hit back hard with the weapon of truth. You need to tell him the person you're describing is not the person I am right now. That's not my identity. I am in Christ, Christ lives in me. I am forgiven. I am loved. My past is just that, it's my past. It is not my present reality. I am a new creation in Christ. Everything about me changed in my salvation. My heavenly Father is daily at work in me changing me, conforming me to the image of a son that he loves beyond measure. My father is making me like my brother, he is making me like Christ and all God's people said, Amen. I gotta quit.

 Father help us to believe these truths. Father, it wouldn't surprise me if we, many of us leave here today and we begin thinking about these things. But yet those old lies start to come in again. You remember what you did before you are in Christ, you're still that person. You know, you know what you did last week? Who do you think you are? Father help us to use truth as a weapon like Jesus did. We are not Satan's punching bag. Help us to believe that greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. Thank you, Father. This is all available to us because of what Christ has done. Father, you love us more than we can comprehend. Jesus, you love us more than we can comprehend. Holy Spirit you're providing everything for us beyond our wildest dreams. Thank you.

Father, help us to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Help us to put on the whole armor of God so that we can stand firm and bring glory to you. That's the goal. To bring glory to you. You're not glorified by defeated Christians. Father, I pray that it is our driving desire to bring glory to you. Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Thank you, Father. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Thank you Holy Spirit. We ask these things in Christ's name, amen.