There is an enemy of Christ who is out to destroy the Lord’s Kingdom and to silence His subjects. And that means you and I are in spiritual danger. The Satanic attack against us may be physical or it may be entirely spiritual. Probably most often it is a combination of the two. And they are designed to keep us from serving and bringing glory to the Lord. Satan cannot take the child of God from the Saviour, but he can destroy our service.
And because of these assaults Paul reminds us to “put on the whole armor of God” – the Spiritual panoply. Each piece protects us against some aspect of the wiles of the Wicked One. And if we omit any aspect of our protection we are in danger of joining Achilles. In the “Iliad” the Greek writer, Homer, described a man named Achilles. According to the story Achilles’ mother so loved her son that she would do anything to protect him. Thetis had been told that the water of the river Styx would make her child immortal. So she carried him to the river and holding him by one heel she baptized him. She tried to “immerse” her baby in the water of the river but she failed in her purpose. By holding that heel the water couldn’t touch that small portion of her baby’s foot. Later during the Trojan war the heel of poor Achilles was hit by an arrow, and he died. Every Christian has an Achilles’ heel, but it may not be on his foot.
The Bible teaches, and Bible believers know, that Satan is a very real spirit being. He is not God, or even a god. He is not omnipotent, nor omnipresent. He may never personally assault any of us, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have his minions to carry out his plans against us. There are thousands of Wormwoods and Screwtapes to implement the plans of the Wicked One. Thus, we need the panoply of the Lord.
The FIRST PART of the armor which Paul describes for us is the Girdle of Truth.
I wonder if the order indicates that this Girdle of Truth is more important than other aspects of the armor? Certainly, Truth among the primary interests of Satan. That is consistent with what we read elsewhere in the Word. He wants to destroy the Truth and silence Wisdom and her maidens. The Lord Jesus has told us that Satan “abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” Satan uttered the first lie and taught his human students to twist the truth to deceive others. ‘Ye shall not surely die; ye shall be as gods.” Those lies touched on two of mankind’s highest desires – immortality and deity. But both of these were only half-truths and therefore completely deceptive.
As I hope that you know, the Lord is crystal clear about lying and liars: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood. An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” When we lie, we definitely put ourselves into the wrong company.
But the Satanic attack upon truth, isn’t so much against OUR truthfulness as it is Truth itself. As terrible as the sins of deception and lying might be, there is a more pernicious problem. It’s the hearing and receiving Satan’s attacks upon the Truth of God. The Devil told Eve, “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” That is a lie, for man shall never really be as God. And when Satan hints that man’s righteousness is divine or that it will render him invincible it is akin to thinking that the river Styx can give us immortality. Then he lies about the person of Christ, the nature of Hell, and the means of the atonement. He lies about the nature and the veracity of the Word of God. These things are infinitely more horrible than merely encouraging someone to lie on their tax return.
One day the Roman Governor, Pilate, was put on trial. He sat before the Judge of heaven and earth, and he asked the question: “What is truth?” That was a very important question – one which needs to be asked over and over again. In that particular case the Truth stood before him, but he failed to recognize it. Christ Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life.” Not only is it impossible for the Lord to deceive, but all reality and truth is linked to Christ as its Creator. And He isn’t any less the Truth today even though He has passed through death and sits enthroned in the Heaven of Heavens.
And the written Word of God is Truth as much as is the Living Word of God – Christ. In a sense Truth cannot be touched, smelled, tasted or eye-balled, but yet it is tangible and real. And then in another sense it can be touched, smelled, tasted and bitten. For over 40 years, Judy and I have had the practice of giving to the new-born babies in our churches, the gift of a little New Testament. Some of those New Testaments have stayed in their boxes, hardly ever seeing the light of day. But others have found their way into the hands of their owners – and their mouths. Some of them have been used to help teethe those children. In that sense the truth can be touched, tasted and even bitten, because God’s Word is Truth.
But here is a curious fact about the panoply of God: every part of it is, in fact, the person of God.
When Paul says, “Put on the whole armor of God,” he might have said “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.” In fact that is exactly what He has said in another place – Romans 13:14. We put on the panoply of God through our intimate fellowship with Christ. This is essentially the same thing as “abiding in the vine.” Jesus is the only Being ever to have clearly defeated the Devil, and the only way that we will ever be victorious over the wicked one is to put on Christ.
Let’s go back to the definition of Truth as found in the Book of Ephesians. Ephesians 1:3-14 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” The gospel of our salvation is the word of truth. “Put on the whole armor of God including the girdle of the Word of truth.”
Ephesians 4:11-15 – “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ; From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love..” Truth marks the foundation and the stability of our doctrine. Put on the whole armor of God including the girdle of the Word of truth.
Ephesians 4:17-24 – “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” True truth cannot be severed from true holiness. Put on the whole armor of God including the girdle of the Word of truth.
The fruit of the Spirit is a part of the girdle that we are called to wear.
Now, let’s see if we can put things back together and summarize things.
Live seeking daily and definitely to bring your life under the Truth of God. Paul had it right, “For me to live is Christ.” Recognize the supreme example and standard of Truth in the Person of the Lord Jesus. The Lord gives us the goal.
Do you remember Nathaniel Hawthorn’s short story “The Great Stone Face?” It is about a little boy, named Earnest who lived in a valley over which was a mountain on whose perpendicular side could be seen the features of a human face. Ernest’s mother told him of the legend that promised one day a man with exactly that face would come and visit their village, and that this man would be a blessing to everyone in the valley. Ernest longed for the fulfillment of the legend. At the end of each day he would sit and gaze at the face for many hours, studying its contours. In many ways the face became his teacher as his thoughts and life centered on the blessing the person with the Great Stone Face would someday be. Through the years, rumors would circulate that someone with the Great Stone Face had come. Ernest would rush to meet that person, only to realize quickly that the rumors were false. As he aged, Ernest became well known in his region for his wisdom and care. Then one day, as an old man, a poet came to Ernest’s village. Ernest had earlier read this man’s works with delight and knew he must be the one who resembled The Great Stone Face! And yet, just as in times past, when Ernest met the poet, by his own admission he was not the man. Ernest and the poet became friends, however. And one evening, they took a walk together and stopped, as was Ernest’s custom, at a particular place where Ernest would chat with some of the inhabitants of the valley. As Ernest spoke of what was on his heart and mind, the poet was able to view both Ernest and The Great Stone Face in the background. Suddenly, with an irresistible impulse, he threw his arms in the air and shouted, “Behold! Behold! Ernest is himself the likeness of The Great Stone Face!” He had become what he had looked at for so many years. And the fact was, he had been a blessing to everyone in the valley.
This is precisely the sort of thing that Paul is teaching us here.
Put on the girdle of truth, the One who is the Truth. Let truth be the habitual attitude and desire of the Christian soldier. The Christian is supposed to be different from the rest of the world. He should be sincere, honest and a mirror of the throne-room of God. “Stand therefore having your loins girt about with truth.”
Is there anything special about the fact this is a GIRDLE? Paul is talking about the wide belt that went around the soldier’s torso. It acted as a stabilizing force, holding everything together Soldiers can’t afford to have their clothes flopping all over. It made the man free to use his sword or other weapons.. It was like a modern back brace. It reminds us of Jesus words in John. 8:32 – “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Paul says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” This was the place from which the soldier hung his sword – his weapon. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind.”
I will close with this: In Acts 21 Paul was on his way back to Jerusalem after several years of absence. He carried with him offerings of blessing collected in dozens of Gentile churches of Asia and Greece. But the Lord had been revealing to Paul that he would have problems once he got to Jerusalem. When Paul and his company arrived at Caesarea and had spent some time with Philip, a prophet named Agabus came up and took off Paul’s girdle, and then bound his own hands and feet, telling everyone that the man who owned that girdle would be similarly bound when he got to Jerusalem.
Perhaps we can look at this as a kind of parable. Like it or not, we are bound by the truth. We shall be judged according to the truth by the One who is the Truth. It behooves us to deliberately bind up ourselves to and in the truth.
We are under spiritual assault, and we need the defense that comes with the unassailable Truth. We are under spiritual assault, and we desperately need the Lord’s blessing and protection. But if we are wishy-washy when it comes to the Truth, it’s hard to expect the Lord to bless.
“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.”