************ Sermon on Ephesians 6:14 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on February 11, 2018
"The Belt of Truth"
We are in a battle, dear people. We are in a battle against the forces of darkness. We are in a battle against Satan and his host of demons. This enemy is mighty, persistent, and patient. This enemy rebelled against God in heaven itself. This enemy tempted an innocent man and woman in the Garden of Eden. This enemy tried repeatedly to wipe out the children of Israel. This enemy fought the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This enemy resists the rule of Jesus at every turn. This enemy tries to destroy the church. This enemy opposes the proclamation of the Gospel. This enemy doesn't want Jesus to return to judge the living and the dead.
What are we to do? Listen to what Paul says to us in the first verse of our Bible reading:
(Eph 6:10) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.Do you know how much strength and power is available to us who believe? The same strength and power God shows at the time of Creation. The same strength and power God shows at the resurrection of Jesus. This strength and power is available to those who believe.
How do you tap into this limitless power? How do you end up using it? What you need do is "put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes" (Eph 6:11). By putting on the armor we tap into the strength of Jesus so we can stand against the attacks of the devil. By putting on the armor we are able to stand firm against the devil's attacks.
Today, we look at the first piece of the Christian's armor: the Belt of Truth. "Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist" (Eph 6:14a).
I The Devil's Lies
A Why does Paul start with the "belt of truth"? Because lies are the primary tool of the devil. Jesus describes the devil this way:
(Jn 8:44) ... there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.I want to mention seven ways in which the devil lies.
First, the devil lies about God's Word and God's character. He did that with Eve in the Garden of Eden:
(Gen 3:1) He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"Satan didn't need to ask. He knew what God said. He asked simply so he could undermine God. He asked so man would begin to question God. And then he lied about God's motive:
(Gen 3:5) God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.Satan makes God sound selfish and insecure. Satan pretends that God cannot stand the competition.
Satan lies about God's Word and God's character because he wants to discredit God. He wants you to doubt God and question God. Especially he wants you to doubt and question what God says in the Gospel.
Do you fall for this lie of the enemy? Do you doubt and question what God says about grace and forgiveness and the promise of salvation? Our spouse, children, parents, siblings, or friends turn on us and we begin to doubt God's love too. That's the devil speaking, dear friends. Or, you think your sin is too big for God's grace. That's the lie of the devil. Or, you think you are unlovable. That's the lie of the devil. Satan pushes you to doubt the love of the Father.
B The second way Satan lies: he says it is easy to live as a Christian. He wants you to think you can believe with no commitment, no sacrifice, no change. You can have justification without sanctification; you can have forgiveness without a life of service; you can have faith without obedience; you can look and act just like your worldly neighbors. Speaking of this, did you know the rate of divorce and abortion among Christians is the same as in the world?
Do you fall for this lie of the enemy? Do you think you can believe in Jesus without taking up the cross and following Him? That's the devil talking. Do you find it easy to be a Christian? That's the devil making your Christian life a lie.
C Third, Satan loves false doctrine. And, wow, is there ever a lot of it. Let me list some of the false doctrine Satan has succeeded in spreading:
-God is not Triune
-Jesus is not the eternal Son of God
-Jesus is not fully man
-the Spirit is not God
-evolution, not creation
-bread and wine turn into the literal body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ
-the pope is infallible
-pray to the saints
-the good you do helps to save you
-name it and claim it; that is, belief in Jesus makes you healthy and wealthy, your marriage a joy, your children successful, your business prosper
-there is extra-biblical revelation
Literally, there are thousands of false doctrines out there. All of this, all of this, comes from the devil to confuse the people of God. Do you know what Satan wants? He wants us to be infants. He want us to be tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming (cf Eph 4:14).
And, because of Satan's lies even true Christians end up supporting false doctrine. For instance, there are many Christians sending millions of dollars to the wrong causes. Christian young people are signing up for mission trips with organizations that are false. Christian students let down their guard and are led astray because they are attending colleges that falsely claim to be Christian. Satan is behind all of this.
D Four, Satan uses lies to promote disunity and division in the church. He loves controversy. He loves gossip, slander, twisting of words, lying, deceit. He loves it when matters are not established by two or three witnesses. He loves it when people are condemned without a hearing. He loves it when stuff is said against pastors and elders. He loves it when due process is not followed. He promotes all of this to cause turmoil in the life of the church and her leaders.
E Five, Satan convinces us to rely on ourselves. This lie makes our prayers half-hearted because we don't really need God. This lie makes us rely on our works rather than on the finished work of Jesus Christ. There is a song we sing with the line, "Not by our weapons, nor by our power, but by your Spirit we are led." Satan convinces us we don't need the Word and the Spirit and can go off on our own.
We see an example of this in life of King David. Listen to what is written:
(1 Chr 21:1) Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.Why did David do this? David was looking for safety and security in his army, generals, swords and spears and chariots, rather than in the Lord God Almighty. The size of David's army was reduced when 70,000 fighting men died from the plague that God sent as punishment.
F The sixth lie of Satan: as long as you go to church everything is well with your soul. Every church has people whose faith is not real. Satan wants you to believe that as long as you go through the motions, as long as you pray and worship, as long as you give your children Christian schooling, as long as you put money in the collection plate, then things are okay with you and your soul even if you don't have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
G Lie number seven: it is okay to sin. A little bit of sin doesn't hurt. Satan wants us to be immoral. Satan wants us to commit adultery, get an abortion, steal, lie, have pre-marital sex, skip Sunday worship. Satan wants us to break every one of the Ten Commandments. He wants us to think it is no big deal. But every sin is an offense to God and His holiness.
II Put on the Belt of Truth
A These are some of the ways the devil lies to us. I am sure you can think of ways I have missed. I am sure Satan is going to come at you, at us, in ways I haven't even thought of. So how do we respond? What are we to do? Listen to what our text says:
(Eph 6:14) Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist ...Jesus wants us to stand against the devil. He wants us to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. He wants us to stand firm against Satan's lies. So, have the Belt of Truth buckled around your waist.
Let me explain the image Paul has in mind. In Paul's day everyone wore a tunic: a big square piece of material with a hole for your head and two holes for your arms. It just kind of flopped around. It certainly wasn't designed with style in mind.
Those who traveled and those who went into war, couldn't afford to have this tunic flopping around and getting in the way. It gets in the way when you are trying to draw your sword or fighting the enemy. It gets caught in a wagon wheel or the horn of a saddle when you are traveling. So they would put a belt around the waist. They would take the four corners of the tunic and pull it up through the belt.
Now also on the belt the Roman soldier would have a strap. He would attach his sword to that strap.
This is the image Paul wants us to have in mind with this first piece of the Christian's armor.
B So, what is the Belt of Truth? How are we to understand it? Paul has two things in mind.
First, it is helpful to realize another of the pieces of the Christian's armor is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Just like the Roman soldier has his sword attached to his belt, so the Sword of the Spirit is attached to the Belt of Truth. Telling us what? Telling us that the lies of Satan can only be countered by the truth of God's Word.
Don't forget, Satan comes with schemes. He is the great schemer. He is crafty and cunning. He comes at us with his lies and false doctrines. So we need the Belt of Truth.
It starts with the Bible. As we were reminded this morning, it requires true preaching. It requires everything we do in this church to pass on the truths of the faith to the next generation: Sunday School, Catechism Class, Youth Group, GEMS, Cadets, Bible Study, the promotion of Christian schooling. We need teaching. We need to teach and teach and teach some more.
Do you know what else it requires? It requires Creeds and Confessions and Catechism preaching. Each week the essentials of the faith are laid before us. Each week sound doctrine is put before us because it is so easy to forget or to get confused by false doctrine. We need doctrine. That's the only way to stand firm against the devil's lies.
Everything needs to be tied down by the truth of God's Word. Our faith and our practice needs to be determined by the Word of God.
I know you have knowledge; but we always need more. I know you have discernment; but we always need more so we know whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (cf Phil 4:9). I know you have doctrine; but we can always grow in our understanding of God. I know you have wisdom; but wisdom needs to be guarded.
This is the first thing Paul has in mind when he tells us to have the Belt of Truth buckled around our waist so we stand firm against the lies of the devil.
C Second, the Belt of Truth means an attitude and life of sincerity, non-hypocrisy, honesty, integrity when it comes to the Christian faith and its practice. To use an old phrase: we are to practice what we preach.
So many Christians are like fish out of water: they just kind of flip and flop around. They are a like a flag blowing in the breeze. There is little or no commitment. They have no involvement in the life of the church. They walk or waddle instead of run the Christian race.
We are in a war. We are facing a battle. And we need to get serious. We are supposed to be soldiers of the cross.
Am I a soldier of the cross,We are in a war, but many Christians act like they are in a pillow fight instead. Their religion is the religion of the comfortable pew -- with no challenges, no commitment, no changes, nothing asked and nothing required. They are content with mediocrity, lethargy, sluggishness. The same old routine. No excitement for the Lord and the things of the Lord. They are happy with warming the pew.
A foll'wer of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own His cause
Or blush to speak His name?
Must I be carried to the skies
On flow'ry beds of ease
While others fought to win the prize
And sailed thro' bloody seas?
The true Christian loves the Lord so much that he or she stands up and fights for the Lord, the Kingdom, the truth, the church, the Gospel. Nothing lazy or undemanding about their faith.
We are in a war. We are facing a battle. So we discipline ourselves. We tighten our belt and prepare to fight.
The devil loves lies. The devil uses lies. With his lies the devil fights against God, Christ, the Kingdom, the Church, the Gospel.
(Eph 6:10-11,14) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (11) Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes ... (14) Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist ...
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