Sunday, September 25, 2016

Firmly Fastened in the Truth which is Christ (Ephesians 6:14a)

“Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth….” (Ephesians 6:14a, NASB95)

Repeatedly we are instructed in these verses that as Christians we are to stand firm in the face of spiritual attack. Our goal in these times is not necessarily to move forward or gain new ground for Christ, but to withstand the onslaught or attack that might be most pressing. This may come in a variety of forms, whether it is through other individuals, circumstances that are unfavorable to our desires, or internal questions, conflicts, or even depression. All of these are things that come at us and are intended by the evil one to cause us to live defeated, knowing all the time that in Christ we are more than conquerors. These are the battles for the heart and mind that give rise to responses in accordance to how we stand at that moment. It is for this reason that we are told to stand firm “therefore.” We know they will happen, and they may happen over and over and over again with the same root issue which might even be our most regular struggle of faith or hope.

As we looked at in the last few posts, which I apologize for the distance between them, our enemy is about deception. He is about getting us to take our eyes off of Christ and to see whatever stands before us as bigger than Him or maybe outside of His interest or desire to handle. In light of this it is very important for us to remember exactly who we are in Christ and what He has promised for us. This means that our starting place is knowing the truth of His presence and His power.

We read in this verse, “having girded your loins with truth.” “Having girded [NAS],” “having fastened [ESV]” or “with … buckled.” Here we read that we are to already have wrapped around ourselves or to have fastened onto ourselves an object, which in this case is truth. This truth is not new truth or truth that varies with the situation, but it is enduring truth that preexisted the current circumstance. It is a truth that we are to live with a constant awareness of, and in that sense be continually girded with.

The picture here is of the Roman soldier who constantly wore a tunic which was held into place by a heavy belt upon which things could be fastened and into which his tunic could be tucked to move quickly into battle. In the same way that many men would not conceive of walking out the front door without their belt being fastened, so it is that the Roman soldier would not dress without his belt also being in place. In contrast, as I write this the picture in my head is not the Roman soldier, but a current trend among many young men who think it right to have their pants hanging below their tail end. I find it hard to imagine how they could move quickly should the need arise, and it find it very easy to imagine them stumbling instead. With the belt of truth on we are to wrap ourselves into it. We are to immerse ourselves in it, and it is the foundation of our being dressed for spiritual warfare.

Just as a soldier is to have his mind on the battle before him, being fully committed and ready to fight, so are we to be constantly on the alert. Looking elsewhere in Scripture we find similar instructions. In Luke 12:35 we read, “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit.” (Luke 12:35, NASB95) We see here that we are to be in a constant state of readiness. Peter wrote, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13, NASB95) The truth exists. It has been given to us, but we also have a responsibility to hide it in our hearts and consider it actively so that we might be prepared to respond appropriately in accordance with it. We are to let nothing cause us to lose sight of the great hope that we have in Jesus Christ. There is no issue, no enemy, no disappointment, or no loss greater than our Savior who holds us firmly in His hands and who will bring us safely to the other side.

To this point we have looked at the truth of God generally, but a look at Scripture tells us that this truth is much more than Scripture itself. We read in Hebrews 4:12 that the Word of God is living and active and more powerful than a two-edged Sword. It is not a collection of words from men who have died and gone on to eternity. No, it is the living powerful Word of God. And more than that it is the accurate representation of who God is verbally given for our benefit. It is literally God-breathed as we read in 2 Timothy 3:16. It is absolutely trustworthy.

But more than that we know that the truth spoke of is more than our Bibles. The truth is Jesus Christ. Jesus told us this Himself. In a verse known to many of us we read, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6, NASB95) He is the living truth, and just as we were saved in Him, we read that we also are to live in Him. This is the primary message of Ephesians—our being in Christ, and the belt spoken of here is the constant reminder of Him as the truth being our foundation.

Jesus will not lie to us about anything. Our enemy on the other hand, will lie about everything. When the attacks come, the question we are to be prepared in advance to answer is to who we are going to listen. Without the foundation of truth, the rest of the armor quickly becomes clouded and ineffective. Without it we are not ready to fight, and we might easily become like the unstable man of James 1:5-8.

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5–8, NASB95)

It is this being carried away that Paul said we as mature believers would be protected from just two chapters earlier in this letter. “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;” (Ephesians 4:14, NASB95) As we grow in Him we grow in His defense. And as we do this we can practice the words of 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, “for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:4–5, NASB95)

The old hymn has it right when it states, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” Whatever Jesus says is true about you and life. You can believe it. It’s the truth.

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