1. Introduction ()
Suit Up – series in the Armour of God. Read Ephesians 6:10-14. This morning we are going to look at the first piece of armour that Paul mentions.
Satan is called a ‘murderer from the beginning’.
John 8:44b He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
What was he doing “from the beginning”? In Genesis he sought to undermine the trust that Adam and Eve had in God and his goodness and enticed them to trust themselves. And he knew if he could do that he would strike a death blow to human kind. In John 10 Jesus say Satan comes to ‘steal, kill and destroy’. So, if I were to tell you that tonight I have inside intel that says a sinister and evil criminal is going to be prowling the streets of your neighbourhood with the intention of plundering, burning, breaking, taking lives – what would you do? Take some kind of offensive and/or defensive action; ready yourself; call the cops; hide your kids hide, your wife.
This is a life and death battle. Satan will be very happy to take your physical life, but more particularly he wants to prevent us from enjoying the full, abundant, overflowing-with-the-goodness-peace-and-joy-of-God life. His main method is deceit, lies, half-truths, though many different schemes and cunning plots. It is a battle that we cannot dodge or avoid – all creation is caught up in it. For that reason, Paul not only alerts us to the battle and gives us six pieces of armour from God that will enable us to stand.
2. Gird your loins
A more literal translation says, ‘gird your loins around with truth’. This is physical picture on a Roman solider to help us perceive the spiritual truth.
A. Be prepared
The undergarment was for the Roman soldier was a tunic. The tunic was a long piece of rectangular cloth sewed to an identical piece, with holes for the arms and head simply left unsewn. The purpose of the belt was twofold: (a) to gather up the looseness of the tunic so that the soldier was ready for vigorous movement, prepared for service and action. You would tuck up all the flowing pieces so that you were ready for battle; (b) it was also the first piece of battle kit that you put on because.
We can get the sense of this phrase from 2Kiings when Elisha sends his servant Gehazi on an urgent mission he says to him, “Gird up your loins and take my staff in your hand, and go your way; if you meet any man, do not salute him, and if anyone salutes you, do not answer him…”(2Kings 4:29) – action, agility, readiness
Again, in the last couple of chapter of Job, after Job and his advisors have finished their human fumbling and bundling, God says to Job, “Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!” (Job 38:3). God says, “get ready” and then peppers him with questions beyond his ability to answer. Job 38:4-5 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. 5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?”
The point is: get ready for action, prepare yourself, get ready to for vital and vigorous movement, activate your spiritual core. The question is: what would activate our spiritual life so that we are prepare for action?
3. …with truth
Truth is first piece of armour you put on, it is foundational in that it is how we prepare for the wrestle, but also in as much as the other piece of armour hang on is (breastplate and sword). So, what is the ‘truth’ that we are meant to wrap around our core in preparation?
Firstly, it must in some sense be different from the ‘sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God’ mentioned in verse 17.
1. Commitment to the foundation of truth
I believe that this part of the armour refers to embracing and believing the fact that God is a truth revealing God and that he has supernaturally injected truth into our earthly existence through the Bible and his Son – the written and living Word. The miracle of the incarnation is the mingling of natural and supernatural (human and divine) to bring truth and light to earth – right?
In the same way the Bible is the mingling of natural and supernatural (men carried along by the HS) to bring truth and light to earth. The point: God has given us truth on which we can build our lives that will not fail – truth that has come to us through the Bible and Christ.
If we are going to stand firm and put on the rest of the armour it is imperative that we have put on this foundational piece on first. What does that mean? We believe that the Bible is the inspired and authoritative revelation of God; that we settle matter faith and life in this court (Bible) not in the court of human opinion. Does that sound narrow? Does that make you feel uncomfortable? Let me give some helpful pointers about what inspiration and authority does NOT mean:
- that the English Bibles that we use today and without error. They are translations of the manuscripts that were written in Greek and Hebrew. Translator of Bibles like the NIV, ESV, CSB strive to be as accurate to the original as possible.
- that any particular church or a cabal of people control the interpretation of Scripture. Everyone can and should wrestle with the meaning of the texts. And when we interpret texts to do it with humility: that despite our best efforts we could be wrong. I am completely convinced of the way that I understand the truths of the Bible, but I always want to be open to what others say – because I am not authoritative or inspired.
- that within our interpretation of scripture there are open handed and closed handed issues. Open handed = teachings in scripture over which true Christians will differ: role of women in church, baptism, order of church service, understanding of communion, way of engaging culture, Spiritual gifts, age of the earth – there is a way that we do it at ECCC, or we even leave these things open for personal conviction. Closed handed = core beliefs of Christianity without which we no longer have Christianity or the God of the Bible: the Trinity, the virgin birth, the atoning work of Christ, the bodily resurrection, the authority and inspiration of the Bible, salvation in Christ alone.
So, I don’t want you to hear something I am not actually saying when I say, “believe the Bible”.
And argument for authority
Unless you are convinced that the Bible is inspired and authoritative you are going to be inclines to say, “I believe this part and this part, but THAT part – no, I can’t accept that”, “there are mistakes, human error, historically conditioned statements. But then how can you put on the belt with any confidence? How do you differentiate between what was human error and which parts to believe?
The natural outcome of the “we can’t really trust the authority of the Bible” is that every person becomes their own authority. And then the question is: what is the basis for making any judgement in life? The easiest way to see it is when the when you consider how culture see things differently. For example, what if you could go back to the Biblical time when the Canaanite God Molech was worshipped with child sacrifices. I don’t know of many people today who would endorse that as right and proper. On what basis? The value of human life. But that is a religious commitment – you don’t learn about the value of human life from science of evolution. Where do you get the authority to say, “That culture is wrong”? At least Christians are consistent: we are here to convert you, to teach you about the value of human life and get you to stop. Why: conviction that the truth from God in the Bible is above culture and it speaks to every culture including our culture which is fraught with pornography, greed and lawlessness.
People do judge other cultures but they have no right unless they believe in the authoritative revelation of God that judges all cultures (others and my own).
2. Commitment to take it to the core
The loins can represent your private parts or the area that we would call our ‘core’. Either way Paul is saying: you need to take this truth to the core of your being, into the ‘private parts’, the intimate parts, the inner parts, the core of who you are, the depths of your heart.
You aren’t meant to read the Bible, the Bible is meant to read you. Don’t page through the Bible and decide what you like and don’t like. Let the Bible page through your life and decide what it likes and doesn’t like. When was the last time the Bible cut you? Wounded you?
In the end the commitment we make to the revelation of truth form God in the Bible will prepare us for battle. Until you make this commitment you will be tripping over the fold of your garments, over your own feet before you even engage in combat. The Word of God gathers and holds together your life because it gives us a clear framework on which to hang our lives.
How thoroughly are you studying the Word? How much time are you giving to the Word? But more importantly: how thoroughly is the scripture studying you?
- Read Job 38:1-7, 2Kings 4:29, 1Peter 1:13, Ex 12:11 (context of the Passover and fleeing Egypt) –
1Pe 1:13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind,
Job 38:3, 40:7 Now gird up your loins like a man, for I will question you; and you teach Me.
2Ki 4:29 And he said to Gehazi, Gird up your loins and take my staff in your hand,
Exo 12:11 And you shall eat it this way: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Passover to Jehovah.
- What does the call to ‘gird up your loins’ mean I the context of the armour of God?
- What does it mean to gird your loins with truth?
- What truth is he referring to here?
- Are you comfortable with the idea of authoritative, inspired truth in the Bible?
- Discuss the illustration that Grant offered about going as a missionary to the Molech worshippers who sacrifice babies.
- What does it mean for you to take truth to your private parts / core?
- Do you read the bible or does the bible read you?
- When last did the Bible cut you?
- How does the bible shine a light into our blind spots?
- How has it done this for you?