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Sermon #81 — Ephesians Sermons
Title: “Girt About with Truth”
Text: Ephesians 6:14
Subject: The Girdle of Truth
Date: Tuesday Evening — October 17, 2017
Readings: Allen Kibby and Larry Brown
In the 6th chapter of the Book of Ephesians the Apostle Paul gives us a rousing call to war. The old soldier knew that the battle would soon be over for him. He knew that he would shortly join the ranks of the triumphant. For himself, it was delightful to anticipate the future. He wrote to Timothy, “The time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
But this mighty leader in the army of heaven was concerned for those soldiers who must be left behind, into whose hands the battle would now fall. Therefore, he calls us to courage.
Š He identifies the enemy (v. 12).
Š And he assures us that, though the battle may be long and hard, victory is sure (Romans 16:20).
Š Then he tells us that we must be properly prepared for our warfare. We must take unto ourselves “the whole armour of God.” — Let’s read verses 10-16.
(Ephesians 6:10-16) “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (11) Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (12) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (13) Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (14) Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; (15) And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; (16) Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
Paul here enumerates the various pieces of armor God has prepared for us. Those who go to war under the banner of the Lord of Hosts dare not do so in any armor, except that which God has forged. Human strength, human wisdom, and human devices are not suitable for our holy warfare.
“The arm of flesh will fail you,
You dare not trust your own.”
Therefore, Paul carefully shows us what the armor of God is, describing it piece by piece. This armor makes up a complete suit, furnishing the believer with everything he needs to take the field against his spiritual enemies.
In our text the Apostle tells us that we must take the field, wearing the girdle of truth. — “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.” The soldier’s girdle was a very important part of his suit of armor. The girdle was a wide, heavy belt used to join the upper and lower pieces of armor. No part of the body was exposed. It was also a beautifully crafted part of his suit. It was an ornament, as well as a weapon. The girdle was designed to give strength to the rest of the body.
The soldier’s girdle was not really a weapon at all; but it is here listed first because the girdle (the belt) kept all the other pieces of armor together and gave the soldier in the field of battle both support and agility. It braces him up for conflict.
Proposition: Paul’s doctrine here is obvious. — It is our responsibility to stand against the wiles of the devil, and the only way to do so is by having our loins girt about with the truth of God.
Divisions: Let me show you three things in this message.
1. It is our responsibility to stand against Satan, resisting his temptations.
2. Our only strength and authority against Satan is the truth of God.
3. Let me give you some directions for putting on the girdle of truth.
May God the Holy Spirit graciously gird us about with the truth, day by day and hour by hour, moment by moment, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
1st — I want to show you that it is our responsibility to stand against Satan, resisting his temptations. Specifically, he tells us that we must “stand against the wiles of the devil” (v. 11). — Do not be so foolish as to think lightly of this.
Š Satan is real.
Š His temptations are crafted with hellish skill.
Š His influence is unrelenting and unrelentingly subtle.
Š His power is beyond our imagination.
Š His wiles, his methods, his strategy of assault is crafty, subtle, and hidden.
“Stand therefore.” — In verse 13 this word “stand” has the idea of “standing triumphant and victorious when the war is over.” But, here it speaks of our position in the field of war. This is a military expression. It is a word of command, implying the duty that is required of us. Plant your feet upon the Rock of God and stand.
It is our responsibility to manfully stand against the wiles of the devil. Let there be no cowardly retreat or treacherous yielding to the methods of evil by which Satan seeks to devour. When a captain sees his men beginning to shrink in battle, or thinks that they might be ready to flee, he charges them to stand. “Stand like men, hold your ground, repel the enemy.” That is the sense of Paul’s words here. Children of God, Satan must be stoutly resisted and never yielded to.
For this we have the express command of God in Holy Scripture. — “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). — ‘Whom resist, steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9). To stand against Satan takes courage. That is what the girdle of truth gives, courage to stand in the heat of battle.
Sometimes resisting Satan may cost us dear. The Apostle says, “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:4). And he implies by those words that such may be the case.
Š Those who name the name of Christ carry his honor into the field with them. “For Christ’s sake” we must resist our adversary.
Š Let us be like Job, who when Satan dared to say to God that Job served him for personal gain, was sorely tempted in his family, his health, his wealth, in his honor, and by his friends. Yet, Job stood firm, resisting Satan’s assaults. He worshipped God. And God gloried over Job before Satan saying, “Still he holdeth fast his integrity” (Job 2:3).
It is our safety to stand against and resist Satan at all times. All the armor that is described here is for fighting. Yet, all the armor here described is defensive, except for the sword of the Spirit. As long as we are opposing Satan, we are safe. But, if we yield to him, we have no armor to secure us.
Š Those who enlist under the banner of the cross must burn their bridges behind them.
Š This standing against Satan is but a part of our perseverance. — “The just shall live by his faith, but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:38). The meaning of that text is just this: He that stands to his faith comes off with his life. But he that recoils and runs from his colors, God will have no pleasure in him, except in the just execution of his wrath upon him.
Satan is such an enemy that the only way to deal with him is by resisting him.
Š Though he roars like a lion, he is a coward at heart. Believe this, Satan trembles in the presence of the faith of God’s elect.
Š Satan is an enemy that encroaches little by little. The Apostle says, “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath, neither give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27). By that he implies that Satan gets the advantage of us little by little. Give to one temptation and you open the door to others. Therefore, we must resist the devil at all times and in all things.
Š Satan is an accusing enemy. When the devil accuses us, we must resist him by continually laying hold of Christ our Righteousness.
Not only must we stand against Satan, resisting his temptations, we must stand in our place. It is the soldier’s responsibility to hold his station. Some have been executed for leaving their station, though they were successful. MacArthur was a very successful soldier. But he was relieved of his duties because he refused to follow his commander’s order. It is the believer’s duty to stand in the particular place where God has set him. — “Let everyone wherein he is called, therein abide with God” (1 Corinthians 7:24).
Š We can do nothing acceptable to God, except in the place of our calling. I am sure Uzza had good intentions of keeping the ark of God, but God had not required it of him.
Š If a man leaves his post without God’s bidding, he also leaves the promise of God’s protection. — “As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place” (Proverbs 27:8).
Š We shall never be charged for not doing another man’s work. — “Give account of thy stewardship” (Luke 16:2).
God has a place for every man, woman, and child in his kingdom to serve him. But no man has the leave to choose his own place.
Š Korah was punished in wrath for trying to usurp Moses’ place in Israel.
Š Saul’s sacrifice was an abomination to God, because he tried to take the place of the priest.
Š Peter was rebuked for his care about John’s place.
Š God requires no more of us than faithfulness in our place.
Let us, therefore, stand against Satan, resisting his temptations, standing faithfully at our post, standing faithfully in our work. But how shall we stand? Paul tells us, “Having your loins girt about with truth.”
2nd — I want to show you in the second place that our only strength against Satan is the truth of God. Our Lord said to Pilate, “For this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” And Pilate said, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38) Now you and I might ask a similar question concerning our text. What does Paul mean by “truth?” But let us seek the answer from God, rather than going away in ignorance as Pilate did.
Three things are certainly implied in our text by this word “truth.” Christ himself is the truth. The inspired volume of Sacred Scripture is the truth. And the sincerity of heart is truth. It is not enough to have truth on our side, if we do not have truth in our hearts. Jehu was a great stickler against idolatry, but he was a hypocrite at heart. We must have all three. We must have Christ to enlighten us in truth. We must have the Word of God to guide us in truth. And we must have a new heart of sincerity to govern us in the truth.
Christ is the truth of God, and we must have him and trust him as such. — “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6). — “The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). The Lord Jesus Christ is the truth of God. All truth is in him and comes from him. In order to have truth, we must have Christ.
Christ is the truth of all the types and shadows of the law. Those things that have now vanished away were but “figures of the true” (Hebrews 9:24).
Š Christ is the true bread, the true manna from heaven.
Š He is the true brazen serpent, to whom we look for healing from all our sins.
Š He is the true rock of Israel, the foundation that supplies all our needs.
Š Christ is the true ladder of Jacob by which God comes to us and we come to God.
Š Christ is the true ram that is sacrificed for us.
Š Christ is the true Passover Lamb, by whose blood we are redeemed.
Š Christ is the true High Priest over the house of God, who makes us accepted before God.
The Lord Jesus Christ taught the truth while he was here upon the earth.
Š He taught us God’s purpose of grace in redemption.
Š He taught us the moral depravity and spiritual impotence of human nature.
Š He taught us the necessity of regeneration.
Š He taught us the necessity of spiritual worship.
Š He taught us the certainty of resurrection and eternal judgment.
Š He taught us the bliss of eternal glory.
In the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have the full, final, and complete revelation of the truth of God.
Š He revealed the power of God.
Š He revealed the goodness of God.
Š He revealed the righteousness of God.
Š He revealed the justice of God.
Š He revealed the mercy of God.
Š He revealed the love of God.
Š He revealed the faithfulness of God.
The glory of God is revealed in the face of Jesus Christ by the gospel. Christ is the Word of God, the express image of his person, and the brightness of his glory. There is no knowledge of the God of truth except in his Son. Jesus Christ is the only Mediator, by whom the God of glory is revealed to sinful men. If you have Christ, you have the truth. If you do not have Christ, there is no truth in you. The Lord Jesus Christ is a girdle for our loins to protect and defend us, and to strengthen us at all times.
Our minds must also be strengthened by the Word of God, which is truth. — “Wherefore, gird up the loins of your minds.” Gird them up with the Word of God. This blessed Book is the Book of God. It is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. — “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Š The Holy Spirit was given upon the ascension of Christ to guide the apostles, infallibly, into all truth.
Š The very words of Scripture are inspired.
The Word of God is profitable for us in all its purposes.
Š The Bible is our only source of doctrine.
Š The Bible is our only rule for reproof.
Š The Bible is our only book of discipline.
Š The Bible is our only source of instruction in righteousness.
Š And the Word of God thoroughly supplies us with all that we need for our spiritual warfare.
It seems to me that by “truth” the apostle is here speaking of the doctrine of Christ in the Scriptures, the doctrine of the gospel. The truth of God is Substitution. The doctrine of God is the girdle of truth (Ephesians 1:13; Isaiah 5:27).
(Ephesians 1:13) “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.”
(Isaiah 5:27) “None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken.”
Š The doctrine of God is the doctrine of man’s utter ruin in sin.
Š It is the doctrine of God’s glorious sovereignty in salvation.
Š It is the doctrine of Christ’s substitutionary redemption (1 Corinthians 15:1-3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13-14).
Š It is the doctrine of Christ’s sovereign Lordship by virtue of his death and resurrection.
We must have our hearts and minds strengthened with the girdle of truth. It is only by being men and women of understanding in the Scripture that we are established, strengthened, and settled; so that we may earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. And only as we know the Word of God, do we have strength to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Š When men know the truth of Christ, they are armed against false doctrine (Ephesians 4:8-24).
Į Religious Fables
Į Doctrines of Men
Į Vain Philosophy
Į Every Wind of Doctrine
It is only those who are settled in the truth that are free to serve God. When you are established in the truth, you will be bold to profess it, regardless of the consequences.
The saints of God must have their hearts girded about with sincerity, or truth in the heart. David said, “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts” (Psalm 51:6). This sincerity of heart is the exact opposite of hypocrisy. — “Let us draw near with a true heart” (Hebrews 10:22). — “Fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and truth” (Joshua 24:14). — We are to serve the Lord with the “unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:8).
Sincerity itself is nothing. We must have a godly sincerity. So that with our hearts we desire the will and glory of God. True worshippers worship God in the Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). We must have truth of heart, if we would withstand the evil day.
Š Truth of heart makes us willing to serve God.
Š Truth of heart makes us free before God.
Š Truth of heart gives us strength to serve God. The person who loves God in truth, serves him, not for fear or reward, but because he loves him.
Š It is the truth of the heart that God approves of, not the outward services. God looks on the heart. Man looks on the outward appearance.
The knowledge and belief of the truth is the first and indispensable qualification for a Christian soldier. To enter on this spiritual conflict ignorant or doubting, would be to enter battle blind and lame. As the girdle gives strength and freedom of action, and therefore confidence, so does the truth when spiritually apprehended and believed. Let no one imagine that he is prepared to withstand the assaults of the powers of darkness, if his mind is stored with his own theories or with the speculations of others.
Š Nothing but the truth of God clearly understood and cordially embraced will enable us to keep our feet for a moment, before the principalities and powers of spiritual wickedness in high places.
Š Reason, tradition, speculative notions of religion, dead orthodoxy, are a girdle of spider webs!
Š Truth alone, abiding in the mind in the form of God given knowledge, can give strength and confidence even in the ordinary conflicts of the Christian life, much more in any really “evil day.”
Putting on the Girdle
3rd — The words “having your loins girt about with truth” might better be translated “gird yourselves with truth.” The Spirit of God here tells us that we must gird ourselves with truth. It is much the same as Paul’s frequently given admonition to “put on Christ.” I know that we can do so only as God the Holy Ghost gives us grace to do so. But this is something we are commanded to do. So, let me give you some directions for putting on the girdle of truth.
Christ is the truth of God which we must put on.
Š We must buy the truth and sell it not. Christ the truth is the rare jewel of heaven for which a man must give all things.
Š We must receive Christ as the truth of God.
Š We must rejoice in Christ the truth of God.
Š We must love Christ, who is the truth.
Š We must worship God in truth in Christ alone.
Š We must walk in the truth, that is walk in Christ, by his power and after his example.
Š Any doctrine that detracts from Christ, turns your attention away from Christ, or puts anything in the place of Christ is false doctrine.
The Word of God is the truth of God by which our hearts are established. Be like the Bereans, who “searched the Scriptures daily whether these things were so.”
Š Do not receive anything by the mere persuasion of men. Search the Scriptures. — “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.”
Š Do not enslave yourself to the judgment of any man, or any denomination, or any system, or any creed, except “Thus saith the Lord!”
Š Be careful in your attendance upon the ministry of the Word.
Š Beware of curiosity for novel or mysterious doctrines.
Š Do not rest with a mere head knowledge of divine truth. Let your heart be established in truth. Seek to know the truth by experience.
Š Ask God to establish your heart in the truth by the instruction of the Holy Spirit.
Š Be willing to put aside all prejudices and learn the truth. — “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”
Š And live upon the truth you profess.
Do you profess to believe in blood redemption? Then trust the blood alone to cover your sins. Do you say you believe in forgiveness? Then forgive others. Do you say that Christ is all? Then love Christ above all. Do you say you believe in God’s sovereignty? Then trust him in all things.
Sincerity is the truth of God in the heart.
Š This is the gift of God in regeneration.
Š If we would be sincere, let us have our hearts fixed upon God our Savior. Have eyes for none but “Jesus only!”
Š Trust his providence.
Š Rely upon his grace.
Š Rest in his care.
Š Seek his glory.
Š Meditate upon his own sincerity and faithfulness to you.
In this day when many turn aside to the right hand and to the left, let us stand as men.
Š Stand against the wiles of the devil.
Š Stand for the truth.
Š Stand for the honor of Christ.
Š Stand in the place of your calling. — “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised)” (Hebrews 10:23).
In ourselves we are weak, nothing but weakness, but God provides us with the girdle of truth.
Š Christ is our only strength.
Š Truth is our only weapon.
Š Sincerity is our only beauty.
And when we have stood to the end of the battle, we will find that we stood only because Christ stood with us (2 Timothy 4:16-18).
(2 Timothy 4:5-18) “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. (6) For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. (7) I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: (8) Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (9) Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: (10) For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. (11) Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. (12) And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. (13) The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. (14) Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: (15) Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. (16) At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. (17) Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. (18) And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Š The battle is the Lord’s.
Š The weapons are his.
Š The method of warfare is his.
Š The victory is his.
Š The glory is his.