There are many people who wonder how the world got into the mess it is, but I think you can trace it all back to one place: the day we began to reject truth.
There was once a day when we divided ideas into two categories: true and false. If something was true, it was true for all people, in all places, at all times. If it was false the same conditions applied. Any discussion or argument forced you to accept what’s true, and reject what’s false.
But slowly we’ve rejected the idea of truth. Today people don’t talk so much about true and false—they talk about what works, or what’s true for you and what’s true for me, as if truth were a preference, like choosing your favorite kind of ice cream. Doubt and uncertainty are virtues, and anybody who claims to possess truth is labeled intolerant or bigoted.
In the same sense, honest people were once people who, as a habit, told the truth; people who habitually didn’t tell the truth were recognized as liars. But today you have CBS anchorman Dan Rather, who once said in an interview,” I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things.” In other words, truthful people are also habitual liars.
In the last half of the 20th century to the present there is a systematic assault on truth. And for the most part it’s been successful. That’s why you have Christians who don’t believe the Bible, why we no longer expect politicians to be honest, why people don’t believe abortion or divorce or homosexuality are wrong. It’s wrong for me, but it may not be wrong for you.
This, in my humble opinion, is a big reason why our world is in such a mess. And it’s not accidental. The war with truth didn’t begin in the 20th century—it began in the heart of Satan.
John 8:44 …He …does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
Deceit and lies are two of the devil’s most powerful weapons. Most of our problems and defeats in our life have not been just because we’re weak or ignorant, but because we believe a lie instead of believing the truth, because we chose to lie instead of telling the truth.
It’s also the reason truth is one of the most important pieces of the armor of God. Tonight we’re going to talk about this first line of defense we need to stand against the devil: the belt of truth, described in Ephesians 6:14a.
The apostle Paul sees his share of Roman soldiers. Ever since the riot at the Temple, the Romans have kept him under heavy guard, more for his own safety than anything else. As he writes these words to the church in Ephesus it seems natural he uses the image of a Roman soldier’s armor to teach us how to defend ourselves against spiritual attack.
He begins not with the sword or the shield or the breastplate, but with the belt—the belt of truth. The belt is a very important piece of protection for at least 3 reasons.
1. The belt of truth holds everything together.
There’s a very important reason I wear my belt when I go out in public—it holds my pants up. If I didn’t wear a belt things would get ugly very quickly. My belt also keeps my shirt tucked in, so I keep the slob factor to a minimum. And of course, I need my belt for this handy dandy phone clip. My belt holds everything in place.
The Roman soldier’s belt was a six inch wide strip of leather that holds the breastplate in place and provides a sheath for the sword. It holds everything together.
In much the same way, truth holds everything together for us in 2 basic ways:
• It holds together who you ought to be and who you are. The word we use is integrity =
wholeness. A person who wears the belt of truth is an honest person who doesn’t pretend to be one thing while he’s really another. He not only doesn’t tell lies, he doesn’t live a lie. She is not sinless, but blameless, consistent, faithful, and truthful.
• It holds your soul together with the truth of the Scriptures. Wearing the belt of truth is not
just being honest, but knowing and believing the truth of the Word of God. God’s Word is the standard by which all truth is measured. Scripture tells us that knowing the truth means knowing Christ as the Source of truth, from which all other truth flows.
That doesn’t mean every truth is found in Scripture. If you’re a student working on an algebra problem, you need a textbook to help you learn mathematical truth.
George MacDonald, “Truth is truth, whether it’s spoken by the lips of Jesus or Balaam’s donkey.”
There are a lot of donkeys in who speak the truth in spite of themselves, like a broken clock that tells the right time twice a day.
But anything which contradicts or disagrees with the truths of the Bible is not true; it’s false. Apart from the truth of God’s Word, you cannot distinguish truth from falsehood.
If you don’t wear the belt of truth, the devil will make sure you get caught with your pants down.
If you don’t pursue a life of integrity, he’ll defeat you by exposing you. He’ll expose your hypocrisy so people lose faith not only in you, but in God. Look at the preachers and Christian celebrities who say one thing and do another, who end up a laughingstock to the world and a stumbling block to the weak.
He’ll expose your lies so nobody trusts you. Lying always backfires, it always ends up making things worse, not better. The devil is an expert not just in telling lies, but in using lies to do as much damage as possible. How many marriages or friendships or churches have been destroyed by lies?
Put on the belt of truth and never take it off. Pursue integrity, live what you preach, tell the truth, even when it’s inconvenient or painful. This is how you stand against the devil.
A second reason we need this piece of spiritual armor is
2. The belt of truth strengthens your backbone.
If you’ve ever been around somebody that does a lot of heavy lifting, you’ve probably seen them wearing those wide stylish black belts. They don’t have anything to do with karate—they strengthen the person’s back and prevent injuries.
A Roman soldier’s belt served much the same purpose. It not only held everything together, it reinforced his backbone, helping him stand not only taller, but stronger against the attacks of his enemy.
The belt of truth gives you courage to stand against the attacks of the devil.
• Truth emboldens you with the courage of a clean conscience. Liars are cowards.
They‘re always afraid of being found out, always afraid the truth will come back to haunt them, always afraid the truth will end up hurting them.
But when you wear the belt of truth, you’re bold because there is no chink in your armor, no fear of being found out. You have a confidence that comes with integrity, that as long as you tell the truth and live the truth, you have nothing to fear.
• Truth emboldens you with the courage of certainty. When you know the truth, you have
something to believe in, something that defeats your doubts, conquers your fear, something worth living for and dying for, something that stands the tests and trials of time, an anchor that helps you stand strong no matter how everything else crumbles around you.
When the Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn dared to defy the communist leaders of the USSR, he showed this kind of courage. When he concluded his Nobel lecture on literature, he closed by quoting a Russian proverb: “One word of truth outweighs the whole world.”
Here is a man with the courage to know the truth, tell the truth and live the truth no matter.
The only truth we can be absolutely certain about is the truth of God’s Word.
This is courage born in the certainty of our faith in God and His Word, the courage that fills the heart of Moses standing before Pharaoh, the courage that fills the heart of David running toward Goliath, the courage that strengthens our Lord as prays in the Garden and hangs on the Cross.
Wearing the belt of truth means having a backbone!
If there is one thing upon earth that mankind loves and admires better than another, it is a brave man--a man who dares look the devil in the face and tell him he is the devil.--James Garfield
Some Christians are afraid of standing for the truth. In the name of tolerance, they stay silent when they should speak up, sit down when they should stand up, back down when they should hold their ground.
The folks who know the truth aren't talking…. The ones who don't have a clue, you can't shut them up!”- Tom Waits
I know it can be hard to tell the difference sometimes, but when the line in the sand is drawn, I think it’s better to fall on the side of courage than on the side of fear.
Knowing and living the truth, being certain of the truth of God’s Word, makes you bold as lion, brave enough to stand against the lies of the devil.
The belt of truth holds everything together, strengthens your backbone, and finally.
3. The belt of truth prepares you for action.
The Roman soldier didn’t wear pants—they wore kind of a leather skirt that hung a little
lower than their knees. When they were off duty, this skirt hung down, but when they went into action, they girded the skirt by pulling it up between their legs and stuffing it into their belt. This is what the old KJV called girding your loins=preparing for action.
The belt of truth is not just about what we think and believe—it spurs us into action. That involves two very important areas:
• Application. Before you go into action you have to be sure of what you are doing. It is
much wiser to think through what you need to do instead of going into acting without thinking.
2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
There are Christians whose love for the truth spurs them into action without thinking, and they end up making a mess that both God and they are ashamed of.
The Bible says to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. So a young man or woman walks out into the streets and does what I call Kamikaze evangelism: walk up to the first stranger and tell them do you know you’re on your way to hell if you don’t repent! Get on your knees right now before it’s too late! Right now! Don’t you walk away from me! Come back here and get right with Jesus!
I can’t say God won’t use that, but I think it’s pretty clear bashing somebody with the truth is not the best way to do it.
Other Christians are often guilty of claiming promises God never made to them, or employing the truth of God’s Word to back up whatever they want to do. That’s not using the truth—that is abusing the truth.
A few years ago a psychiatrist was sitting on a coast-to-coast flight when the man sitting beside him blurted out, "You know, I used to be deathly afraid of flying.
I could never get it out of my mind that someone on board might be carrying a bomb."
The other asked, "Well, what did you do about it?"
He replied, "Well, I went to one of those special schools for people who are afraid of flying. They told me there was only one chance in 10,000 somebody would be on board my flight with a bomb. So I thought if there was only 1 chance in 10,000 one bomb would be on the plane, there’s only 1 chance in 100 million that 2 bombs would be on board" So he asked, "But what good would that do?"
"Well,” he whispered,” ever since then, I carry one bomb on board myself just to improve the odds."
I’ve heard some people’s interpretation of Scripture that wasn’t much better than this man’s logic. A better way is to take time to pray and think through how the truth is meant to be applied in your life. Rightly dividing the truth can keep us from wrongly applying the truth.
• Action. The truth always calls for action.
James 1:22 …be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
The truth of God is put into action through thoughtful, humble obedience. Truth that’s never put into action doesn’t do much good. It tends to feed your pride, to make you smug and self-righteous. But the only way you and I stand against the lies of the devil is by doing something with the truth God reveals to us. Standing against the devil requires not only believing the truth, but practicing the truth---living your whole life in light of the truth.
You cannot stand still and stand against the devil. You must wear the belt of truth by applying it and acting on it.
If you don’t accurately apply the truth, you end up a pawn of the devil in the name of God. You confuse the truth with your own prejudices and preferences, too stubborn to admit you might be wrong. You argue about things on which the Bible says nothing, or you speak up for yourself more than they speak up for the truth. I know because I’ve been guilty of this myself—and suffered for it.
Humble, thoughtful obedience will protect you from being defeated by the devil.
In 2004, Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary wrote: The great conflict of the 21st century will not be between the West and terrorism…The true battle will be…between those who believe in the primacy of the individual and those who believe that human beings owe their allegiance and identity to a higher authority; between those who give priority to life in this world and those who believe that human life is mere preparation for an existence beyond life; between those who believe in science, reason and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through Scripture and religious dogma…
With all due respect, Mr. Reich is a little. This war has been going on a lot longer than just a century or two. It’s been going on ever since Satan rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven. It’s been going on since Adam and Eve believed a lie in the Garden. The war between truth and lies is a war that is raging right now not just in society, but in each of our own lives.
You must choose your side. You can let the devil deceive you and defeat you. You can swallow his lies like a fish swallows the bait on the hook, and in the end, you will die.
Or you can stand against the devil by wearing the belt of truth, the belt that holds everything together, that strengthens your backbone, that spurs you into action. The lies of Satan and this world and your own heart will put you chains and make you a slave. But Jesus’ promise is still just as true right now as it was when He first said it.
John 8:32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.