Wednesday, November 27, 2013

THE ARMOR THAT HOLD'S UP:(The Belt of Truth)

            The manufacturer, Second Chance Body Armor Inc., has notified hundreds of police departments that it has stopped selling two widely used models of vests after random tests showed that the core material was degrading before their five-year warranties expired. This disclosure came after a law suite. When you're dealing with something as serious as bulletproof vests what margin of error is acceptable? When you got someone shooting at you, you want to know that the armor you're wearing is actually going to work, right?”[1]

Last week we learned that whether we know it or not; like it or not all believers from the moment of salvation are engaged in spiritual war. The enemy has a plan to destroy lives. He never takes a break. He works round the clock. The enemy is busy round the clock aiming at believers with his deceptive schemes. The bible calls them “the flaming missiles.” How can we protect ourselves from the enemy’s attacks?
            Let’s read Ephesians 6:10-17.Today we are going to explore the full armor of God. One thing we can be absolutely assured of -- this armor will hold up in the heat of all spiritual battles. What is the significance of the armor? What defensive and offensive weapons will aid us in the fight? What assurance do we have in the battle?
            In the passage we read the apostle Paul training the believers, to recognize that the nature of the war is not earthly but spiritual. The battle lines are drawn in the spiritual realm. Vs 12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
            Some times we mistake people as our enemies, no doubt they could be used as the agents of the devil but our real enemy is not people but the devil and his fallen angels. Since most of our fight does not happen on earth, we can not win this battle fighting in worldly ways, such as “Tit for Tat” or taking revenge, and paying back evil for evil or insult for insult, on the contrary spiritual war is waged by different principles, practices and weapons. II Corinthians 10:3-4, explains the nature of those weapons, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
            The strongholds here mean arguments, opinions against the knowledge of God and the plan of salvation through His Son. The divine weapons are powerful to demolish them. In other words nothing that sets itself against God can survive.
In any physical war soldiers know the importance of the armor. They never put themselves in combating situations without the armor because their life or death depends on the armor. Therefore they spend a great deal in studying and understanding the defensive and the offensives weapons, and go through rigorous training with the armor before they ever engage in combat.
            It works the same way in a spiritual war.  Similarly, provision is made in the Word of God for the assaults of Satan from all directions. Let’s explore the weapons in our combat gear?

            Using the Roman Soldier's armor as a visual example, (power point) the Apostle Paul describes the Armor of God in the book of Ephesians as both a defense and an offensive weapon. The full armor of God consist of six weapons: three were considered defensive: breast plate, shield and helmet. Two are considered offensive: sword and shoes. One is neutral: loin belt (girdle). We will study them one by one in depth. Today we will talk about the “Belt of Truth.”

            Vs 14a, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.. in the literal translation, it reads, “having girded your loins” After all, when we think of the armor of a soldier, we immediately think of the breastplate, that covered their vital organs, the helmet that protected their head, the shield which helped fend off the attacks of the enemy. Maybe we think of the sword, a vital part of the armor for defense and counter-attacks. But few of us ever think much about the belt. How important is that?

            Interestingly, Paul puts it very first on the list! This means it is one of the most important pieces. Why the belt?  What purpose did the belt serve for a Roman soldier? What purpose does the belt of truth serve for us? A Roman soldier’s belt was a multi purpose one, the belt held everything in place. It held the tunics they wore under their armor. It kept the breastplate tight and secure around the soldier, and kept it from banging against his chest when in battle, and the belt also held a sheath for his sword or dagger.
            A soldier without a belt amounts to nothing in the battle field in the same way believers can not hold the armor together without the belt of truth. Satan is a master deceiver, after deceiving Eve into committing sin he has cleverly deceived so many people through his lies.
The world we live in teaches that truth is what we make of it, that good and bad are relative and that there are no absolutes, only equally valid opinions.  
            Ravi Zacharias shares the story of a man who used to go to work at a factory and every day would stop outside a clockmaker’s store to synchronize his watch with the clock outside? At the end of several days the clockmaker stopped him and said, “Excuse me, sir, I do have a question for you. I see that every day you stop and adjust your watch with my clock. What kind of work do you do?”
            The man said, “I’m embarrassed to tell you this; I keep the time at the factory nearby, and I have to ring the bell at four o clock every afternoon when it is time for the people to go home. My watch doesn’t work very well, so I synchronize it with your clock.” The clockmaker says, “I’ve got bad news for you. My clock doesn’t work very well either, so I synchronize it with the bell that I hear from the factory at 4:00 every afternoon.” If you’ll pardon the grammar, what happens when two wrong watches correct themselves by each other? They will get wronger and wronger all the time."[2]
            In this world of conflicting opinions how do we know what the absolute truth is so that we could hold on to it?  Well that begs another question, “What is truth?” Pilate asked Jesus the same question; and turned away from him and handed him over to be crucified. Many people have asked the same question but when they are presented with the answer they turn away from it. In order to answer the question what is truth we must turn to scriptures.  Jesus said "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."' (John 8:31-32) and '"Your word is truth."' (John 17:17).
            The truth is revealed in The Bible as the person and character of Jesus Christ, and His teachings, and the reality of God's promises. Jesus Christ is the truth; He is the absolute standard and embodiment of truth. The Holy Spirit of God gives the revelation of the truth to individual children, men, and women. Anything that does not agree with the revelation of this truth is falsehood, error, heresy, or deception. The Bible does not provide every answer to every question of life, but it does provide us the truth that God wants us to know about Himself, His Son, His Spirit, His purpose and man’s eternal destiny. The Bible provides standards and morals for living; separates truth from error, truth from deception, and right from wrong.
             Putting on the belt of truth means embracing Jesus Christ; accepting his forgiveness and abiding in His word. That is why it is so important that we regularly study truth from God’s word the Bible and try to live accordingly. Interesting thing is that the devil too knows God’s word but he twists it where by deceives many. But when we accurately use God’s word against Satan like Jesus did we can over come him. Rev 12:11, “they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony.” May be keeping these words in the background the great Reformer Martin Luther wrote, “The prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure for lo, his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him.” It is only God’s word the truth, defeats the enemy, not our vain efforts.

            Coming back to our passage before advising the believers to put on the full armor of God the apostle encourages them with these assuring words. Vs 10-11Paul exhorts the believers, finally, “Be strong in the LORD, and in the strength of His might.” Put on the full armor of God that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”

            As we conclude, I want us to leave with this advice. We are to never fight the spiritual battle alone. We must count on God. Stand strong in your faith in the Lord. Appropriate His mighty strength because the enemy you are facing is far more crafty, powerful and highly deceptive. But remember one thing, greater is he that is in us than the one who is in the world and through Christ we are more than conquerors. Amen


Sunday, November 24, 2013


Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, a familiar saying in our country. We remember from Pearl Harbor what it's like to get caught off guard. The enemy can be so deceptive: Japan's peace envoys were seated at the negotiating table at the very moment the attack was launched. Our country depends on a strong defense, on being watchful and on strong offense, so we are not surprised by a sneak attack we are prepared to fight when we have to.

On April 28, 1944, during World War II, Allied soldiers were engaged in Operation Tiger, a training exercise in amphibious beach landings in preparation for the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Suddenly, enemy gunboats appeared and killed over 700 American servicemen in a surprise attack. Today, a monument stands on Slapton Sands to commemorate the sacrifice of those young men who died while training for battle but were never able to enter the conflict.[1]

That tragedy is a picture that warns the believer in Christ. For many of us war is not a new concept. Since 3600 B.C., the world has known only 292 years of peace! During this period there have been 14,351 wars large and small, in which 3.64 billion people have been killed.  Perhaps what many Christians are not aware of is that there is another kind of war that has been waging since the creation of the world which is spiritual in nature.  

During my years in Christian ministry I met many Christians who were either ignorant or caught off guard by the schemes of the enemy as a result they shipwrecked their faith, lost their testimony, brought grief to themselves, to their loved ones, to everyone else and especially to the name and cause of Christ.

Spiritual war calls us to be vigilant. We combat with an enemy who is powerful and deceptive. If we are caught off guard and ignorant of the tactics of the enemy we too can be overcome and die spiritually and possibly physically too. That is why the apostle Peter warned: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9).(NKJV) Here Peter warned believers to  be self-controlled and to be alert by exposing the nature and intent of the Devil and finally he arms the believers how to fight the Devil. Let’s look at: Be Sober, Be vigilant.

I BE SOBER: (Vs 8)

First let’s look at what it means to “Be Sober”In the book “Addict Nation,” Jane-Velez-Mitchell highlights the top five addictions that the Americans are dealing with, namely: Prescription pill addiction, Food addiction, Crime and punishment, addiction to shopping and addiction to technology.”[2] For anyone struggling with any kind of addiction the final step in recovery is maintaining sober living as an individual.
Once out of sober living, it will be easy to fall into the same habits that led to the problem in the first place. To avoid this, avoid the situations. It may mean suggesting other options for activities with friends.

Coming back to the Apostle Peter’s letter, while advising believers regarding spiritual warfare, he uses similar recovery language. I  Peter 3:13-14 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. (NIV) In the NASB it reads, “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. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,”

In other words what Peter saying here is that, “you used to live in addiction to sin and bondage to the Devil your former master. You did that out of ignorance, you couldn’t help it; but now you have come to know Christ as your savior, the light has dawned upon you; the truth has set you free from your former addictions therefore be ready for action; be sober completely; obey your new master and Lord; do not go back to your old way of living.

This is the position for every born again child of God. When we have accepted Christ; in fact when Christ has accepted us; we have made a transfer from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Our loyalties have changed therefore our current way of living must also change. We can not afford to continue to live in sin because grace abounds where sin abounds. When we do not maintain sober living, it is easy for us to fall back into the Devils trap and continue to live like the way we used to live.

What does being sober minded mean?  It means: being steadfast to the truth of God’s word; self control; clarity of mind; living in fellowship with Christians who pursue godly values. The sober Christian is correctly in charge of his priorities and not intoxicated with the various allurements of the world.  In other words we have to rid ourselves from certain debilitating habits and friendships and cultivate Christian disciplines and seek out godly friendships that enrich and strengthen our faith.

I have talked and prayed with several people who once had a vibrant relationship with God but now have almost given up of their faith. During those talks to my dismay I have discovered that these individuals slowly but surely have stopped living sober lives. Like the one that the Apostle Peter was talking about.  

They began to take things into their own hands and started to crave for what they had given up, or compromised in other ways; they let their spiritual guard down if you will. As a result they have plunged back into the same bondage or struggle where Christ has set them free from. What a sad proposition that is. It could happen to any one of us. I am concerned about a number of people who are struggling because they have ignored the warning signs. That brings us to talk about; being vigilant.

II. BE VIGILANT: (Vs 8)   
            Being sober minded calls for individual responsibility for the way we live our Christian lives, but being vigilant takes our focus away from us to our enemy, on the one who is about to strike us any moment when we are off guard. The Roman system of military communication provides an early example of how they used signals to alert the troops and the public about the threat of the enemy. In modern military terminology we call it “Human Intelligence” or abbreviated as “HUMINT” It is "a category of intelligence derived from information collected and provided by human sources, which involves interrogations and conversations with persons having access to information.[3]  
Similarly, God has an inbuilt intelligence in His word which is based on His dealings with the devil, his angels and their impact on the cream of his creation called the “Humans” God’s word is his intelligence for us which alerts us against the devil who is our arch enemy. While we can not blame the devil for all the evil that happens to us and in the world, certainly he has a lion’s share for which he is responsible and rightly so needs to be blamed for. We need to keep this tension in balance. With that in mind let’s look at what the scriptures say about the devil and his schemes against humanity even more so against believers so that we are not only informed but also can be vigilant. How can we recognize our enemy?

Satan has been so clever that he has almost totally disguised himself from fallen humanity, so that not one in ten thousand recognizes that he is inwardly motivated by another spirit. We just think it is we ourselves running our own lives! Satan has even managed to get himself smeared and laughed at as a ridiculous creature with horns and tail, so that none recognize the truth of his awful subtlety. Here are a few pointers that scriptures provide which exposes the true nature, purpose and the destructive plan of our enemy.

I Peter 5: 8 “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” This scripture shows that: the devil is not our friend but our enemy. He has a deceptive nature; he pretends to be like a lion but not an actual lion. He is constantly, 24/7 and 52 weeks of the year making his rounds and looking for someone to devour. The scriptures call him a murderer and a father of lies, he is known as the “accuser” He accuses God to men and men to God. In other words he spreads lies about God to men and about men to God.

Jesus has exposed Satan’s true nature when he said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That is what Satan is doing in the world today. He is stealing our true joy, health, peace, he is killing lives through crime, and violence and he is destroying marriage, and families through lies and misunderstandings. Next time when you are faced with relational, and financial challenges, or debilitating addictive behaviors pause and think; could it be that your adversary is after you to destroy your life completely?  If that is the case then how can we overcome the onslaught of the devil? How can we live fulfilled and victorious lives? 

What hope are you and I given in the Scriptures?  Vs 9 “Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” James 4:7, “Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
The key to victory here is not just resisting the devil but submitting to God first and then resisting the devil and he will free from us. So summing it all up; we talked about being sober, we have to come to terms with the fact that life is not a cruise but that we are involved in warfare.  Not only are we to be sober but also vigilant or in other words, aware and alert about the schemes of the enemy.  Being sober and alert is half of the battle.  In order to effectively fight the devil and win God has equipped believers with defensive and offensive weapons for spiritual warfare which we will look at next week.  For now as we close, remember you are more than a conqueror through Christ who loved you. Amen

[1] (From a sermon by Larry Wise, Facing the Roaring Lion, 8/1/2010)

[2] Jane-Velez-Mitchell, “Addict Nation”