Ephesians – Wayne Barber/Part 79
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2000|
|Dr. Barber explains why wearing the proper garment—particularly truth and righteousness—is so important to the Christian’s life.|
Spiritual Warfare – Part 3
I want us to look at the armored threads of the garment. You see, the garment is our armor. Where are the armored threads to the lifestyle that we now live as believers? Paul begins in verse 14 of chapter 6. I am skipping verses 12 and 13, but I am coming back. We are going to look at those two verses during the last part of this series. Why do we need to be armed like we are armed? Since we have just said, “Put on the whole armor of God,” let’s look and see what the whole armor of God is. What is the full armor of God? Beginning in verse 14, we are going to see two things. First of all he says, “Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth.”
We need to start by understanding what the word truth is. It is aletheia. It is used several times in the book of Ephesians. Let me give you the basic understanding of that word. The basic, simple understanding of that word is a manifestation of a hidden reality. When you go into a courtroom and you are going to be a witness in a trial, they say, “Raise your right hand. Do you swear that you will tell the truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?” You say, “I do” and you sit down. What are they saying by using the term “truth”? They are asking, “Are you willing to come into this courtroom and manifest something that is hidden to us that only you know so that you will bear evidence to that?” You will manifest a hidden reality. That is what the word “truth” means. It is something that is manifested of a hidden reality.
In the book of Ephesians we find out what we are talking about. There are many things that you could say are true. If a pilot goes to school and learns how to fly a plane, what he has learned is true. It is the true way to fly a plane. When I get on a plane and he is flying it, I am not so much worried about whether or not he is saved. I am worried about whether or not he knows the true way to fly that plane and to land it. That is what I am concerned with. Yes, I want him to know my Christ, but I will be honest with you, in the midst of a storm, I am more interested in whether he knows how to fly the plane. Now a lot of things in life can be said to be true. But what we are seeing in Ephesians is the essence of all truth, The Truth. You see, we are to be affected by what truth really is, and Ephesians tells us what it is.
First of all, it is what God has done. In 1:13 it is what God has done. Verse 13 says, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” The word “truth” there is associated with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now what is that? Well, it is not only what He has said but what He has done. The gospel is the good news of what Jesus Christ did for you and me. What did Jesus do? He manifested the very essence of the love of God, a hidden reality that has now been brought forth and manifested by the Lord Jesus Christ. What we know as the gospel is the essence of what truth is all about. It is what God has done. It is what God has said. That is the source of all truth. Do you want to know what real truth, eternal truth is? Go back to its source. Its source is God Himself.
So, when we are to have our loins girded about with the belt of truth, part of it refers to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, what God has done and what God has said. In 4:21 we see the source of it very clearly. It is who God is: “if indeed you have heard Him [Jesus] and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus.” John said God is truth, but truth is also in Him. If you want the source of truth, it is God Himself. God has manifested who He is. The hidden reality is God is truth. It has been made manifested by the Lord Jesus Christ. His gospel is what we call the truth.
Look at 4:24. This is one of the main armored threads of the garment of the new man: “and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” The very essence, the very thread that I have to have is this truth. I’ve got to be influenced by it. It is a part of the new man. It is Christ being who He is in my life.
Verse 25 says, “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” This truth that we are talking about is made manifest by the way we speak and by the way that we live.
In 5:9, speaking of truth again, it says, “for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth.” Therefore it is the fruit of the light. Truth is everything God is. It is what God has done. It is what God has said. It is everything related to God. If you want to find the source of all truth, go back to God.
We then are to gird our loins with the belt of truth. We see that truth then is pure. There is no deception in it. It is something that manifests a hidden reality. To be clothed with truth, as we are talking about in chapter 6, means to be sincerely committed to truth. In other words, I am totally sold out to who God is. I am totally sold out to what God has done. I am totally sold out to what God has said. I am yielded to Him. It is the truth, and I am now completely surrendered to Him.
Paul says, “having girded your loins with truth.” The aorist middle participle is used there. Here is what it means. It means I can’t put it on for you. A lot of people come to our church, and they feel like when they walk in the door, everybody is just going to love Jesus. The problem is, you can preach the truth but an individual has to make up his own mind as to whether or not to adhere to that truth. Do you understand what I am saying? I can’t make it happen. You can’t make it happen with me. It is a choice that we make constantly, constantly choosing to be affected, to be totally committed to that which God says, to what He is, and that which He has done.
To be girded with truth means that I am sincerely, totally, wholly committed to truth. Obviously that involves God’s Word. Paul says, “Having girded your loins with truth, you must choose to allow truth to influence your life.” You say, “Where are you going with all this? Why is it armor? Why is it so important in warfare?” Listen, we live in a darkened world. Do you realize that we live in a deceptive world? The Bible says the devil deceives the whole world. It is in the present tense. He is constantly deceiving the whole world. This whole world is under the deception of darkness. Now we have been made light in the midst of that darkness. That is what Ephesians has taught us. If we are going to stand firm and wear the garment, part of that garment has a thread and it is armored. That armored thread is that we are totally committed to truth, who God is, what God has said and what God has done.
The word “loins” here refers to the lower back. Now I don’t know if you understand what Paul is saying here but the analogy is beautiful. If you don’t know it yet, you are not old enough to find out that your lower back is what really helps you to stand. If you have trouble in your lower back, friend, you are going to start bending and bowing and falling.
Years ago I bought a little car to save gas. One day I came to the church, got out of the car and when I did, I swung my body the wrong way. Something went out in my lower back and I fell on my hands and knees. I could not get up. I could not stand. Something happened in my lower back that brought me down.
The word refers to the five lower vertebra of the back. The Apostle Paul is identifying a Roman soldier. They wore big wide belts. They carried their weapons on it. But also it would protect their abdomen and lower back. When they went into combat, they were hand to hand and face to face. They were constantly digging in and standing up. Something had to gird them. Something had to strengthen them. The apostle Paul says, “Listen, you are in a dark world. You are in a deceived world. When you get up on Monday morning and walk out you face it.” Even on Sundays folks, we face it right in the church. It is brought in. It is everywhere. It is all around us. People who are not surrendered to Jesus Christ and to His Word don’t understand how sincerely wrong they can be because the mind is the key.
Someone asked me, “Do you mean if you don’t wear that belt, the whole garment falls off?” I am not sure we can biblically say that, but that is pretty good to remember. If you don’t have the belt of truth on, forget the rest of the armor. Truth means I am totally sold out, loving who God is, what God has said. I am not going to listen to what the world says. I am going to listen to what God says. Now this is an armored thread in that garment. It protects me because the one thing the devil wants to do is to deceive my life.
What we don’t understand is, if we are not putting the Word of God into our minds, balancing out the error and deception we are being pounded with every day, we already are misled and don’t know it. This is the thing. I feel sometimes that I am out in a field by myself trying to shout to people. Listen, just because you think it doesn’t make it right. Examine it. Look at what God says. Folks, we are living in an upside down world and only the Word can put it right side up.
Now Paul is not specifically talking about just the Word. There is no definite article. But he is talking about truth and all of its essence—who God is, what God has done, what God has said. It is all wrapped up in that. Friend, if I am not going to be surrendered, if I am going to do stupid things, fill my mind with things of the world, then what happens next is my own fault. I wake up with the most negative, critical and discouraged feeling that just overwhelms me. Have you ever done that? I walk around thinking, “What is wrong?” What happens is, you start being suspicious. You start being critical. You start being bitter. Why? This is where we live every day folks. Now listen to what I am saying. The way you are thinking right now is determined by some standard in your life. If it is not the standard of truth, you have already lost your garment, you are already led astray and you don’t even know it. That is what Paul is saying. It is urgent. The Word has to be in your life.
Folks, listen, they are telling us on the news that we are not going to have enough room for everybody in the world in a few years. I was watching CNN the other night and they said Social Security is going to go bankrupt. Who cares! God is not bankrupt! What does God say compared to what the world is saying? We talk about truth, and we will defend truth, but how many people are living in it? Folks, until you are adhering to it, you have no strength. No wonder you have grown weak in the back. No wonder you are trying to cower down. No wonder you have been knocked down. Only truth can gird your loins and cause you to be able to stand.
Jesus said the devil is a liar and there is no ounce of truth in him. If I can’t do anything else in this series to convince you of anything, let me convince you of one thing. It is not a power struggle. If you put Satan up next to Jesus, I am telling you folks, he doesn’t even show up on the scale. But where his power comes in is his power to deceive and what he is doing is deceiving us if we are not living according to the Word of God. It scares me how much deception is already in my mind because I have not examined everything by the counsel of the Word of God.
Now this week, when you are going through some bad times, examine your moods. Examine what you are going through. Examine your critical spirit. Examine your sarcastic attitude. Examine it. Where is it coming from? Something is a standard that is promoting the behavior in your life. Somebody said to me the other day, “You had better behave.” I said, “Hey, everybody behaves. But how you behave depends on the standard you adhere to.” And the apostle Paul said if you want to stand against the wiles of the devil, you had better adhere to God’s Word and nothing else. I don’t care how sincere it sounds. I don’t care how reasonable it is, in God’s reasoning, man’s reasoning falls to the sideline. Two plus two equals four to us. Jesus said, “Give me some fish and some loaves and I will feed the 5,000.” So you see, you’ve got to understand what does God say. For years I have been trying to say that. Stick to what God says. I don’t care what works. What does God say? And the more I am willing and the more you are willing to adhere to that, our loins girded with truth, not only the truth of the Word, but the truth of who God is, the truth of what He has done. Listen, the gospel means the good news. Why do you think it is such truth? It is good news. God loves us. Respond to that love. Live in that love and watch the difference in your lifestyle. You see, that is the armored thread that runs through the fabric of the brand new lifestyle. Well, when that is on, the rest of the garment will be on. You can’t put one on at a time.
Watch what it says in the same verse: “having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness.” Now what is righteousness? Righteousness is anything that conforms to a standard. Something is righteous if it conforms to a right standard. The world has its standard, and when people try to conform to that standard, they call it righteousness. It is deeds. It is what you do. In Isaiah God said our righteousness, conforming to the standard of man, is filthy rags in His eyes. So when you determine righteousness, you’ve got to find the standard. The standard is the truth and the truth is God. When you go back to the truth, then He determines the standard. When we start living lives, conforming to His rights over us and to His standards, then righteousness results. Righteousness is not what I do for God. Righteousness is a result of my surrender to Him and my adherence to His truth. It is the deeds that come from that. Regardless of what they are, they come out with His touch upon them. That is what righteousness is.
Now, one affects the other. Adhering to truth affects the breastplate of righteousness. The term “breastplate” there is the term that was used of a Roman soldier. He would wear a breastplate of metal that would cover him from the shoulders down to his loins. It covered the vital organs. Paul is saying, “It is like that Roman soldier. He wouldn’t go into battle without his loins girded. But secondly, he wouldn’t go into battle without that breastplate on, because that breastplate is what protects the vital things of his life.”
Folks, when we live righteously, which refers to the conduct of a believer, their speaking or living that comes as a result from his adherence to truth, which is who God is, what God is saying and what God has done, that becomes a breastplate to protect our motives, to protect our heart, to protect all that is valuable about us as we stand in the spiritual war zone that we live in every day of our life. In this battle with the trickery of Satan, we need to make sure that we have our loins girded about with truth. If we do then we will have on the breastplate of righteousness.
So many believers have fallen into the trap of Satan. If you want to know where warfare starts, it is the battlefield of your mind. That is your battlefield. Proverbs says, “As a man thinks so is he.” Romans 12:2 says, “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing [the total renovation] of your mind.” Rebuild it with what God says. Adhere to Him. Adhere to His truth. As a result, righteousness will flow out. It is like a Roman soldier protecting his vital parts because it becomes like a shield to protect your heart and to protect all that is valuable in the Christian walk.
Diana is such a good wife to me. She is everything that I am not, thank God. She has really been a help to me. She was going to a wedding shower, and she said, “Wayne, everybody is buying new dresses and everything. I don’t have that. What about me wearing this? Could I wear this?” She pulled out something that I thought really looked nice and it looked comfortable. I said, “I’ll tell you what. You will be the envy of the whole group. Every one of them will be sitting there sweating and trying to impress everybody but you will just be comfortable and cool.”
You know, I got to thinking about it after she left. That is a good quality. She didn’t want to be there and be out of place. That is important, folks. When you get into the Christian community, you’re out of place if you have the wrong garment on. When we walk out of church we don’t just represent our church. They are all going to burn one day. The building is going to burn. We represent the living Lord Jesus Christ. The way we honor who He is and what He says has to do with the motivation in our heart of never wanting to bring attention to ourselves, but only wanting to bring attention to Him. You see the new garment is Jesus being Jesus in our life. When I honor His truth, the armor against the devil is not me and does not draw attention to me. It is Jesus who draws attention to Him. Friend, if you want to frustrate the devil, put on the garment. Love His Word, love Jesus and you are not going to give the devil an opportunity as 4:27 told us.