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ARMOUR OF GOD – The Belt of Truth

After a few days of introductory comments on the armour of God passage we finally start with the list of the various pieces of armour to be employed against the devil. The first on the list is the ‘Belt of Truth’ (Ephesians 6:14).

To a solider at the time the belt was one of the most critical pieces of armour, because it held a few of the other pieces together. The breastplate could only be fitted with the belt in place, and of course the sword was kept on the belt.

In the metaphor of spiritual warfare this makes sense: truth is essential when standing strong against the devil! Through the Bible the devil is described as “…a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Indeed his first move in the war against mankind was a deception! (Genesis 3:1)

This makes truth essential when combatting the devil at all times, but especially in these times. In fact it may be fair to say that today more than ever before, truth matters. Especially for the Christian, truth matters.

I say that because more than ever before:

  • Our search for truth is being shaped in ways we may not realise. 
  • There is an abundance of falsity.

If you want to find out the answer to a question, where would you go? No doubt to Google, or perhaps if it’s a more academic question, then to Wikipedia.

I don’t have any issues personally with these platforms, but it is important to be aware of the mechanisms being used in providing us the information we’re seeking.

For Google, the genius of the search engine lies in its ability to provide you with the most relevant answer to your search. With the millions of pages of information pertaining to your search available, Google will return the ones most relevant to you, based on your searching history, profile etc. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, it’s really smart and helpful! However, relevance is hardly a criteria for establishing truth!

I tested this once, and googled ‘Islam’. Of the first 10 page results, 7 of the pages were Christian pages commenting on Islam from a Christian perspective! Of course that is relevant from my standpoint, but it’s hardly objective!

For Wikipedia it’s the principle of consensus. The principle is simply that the more people collaborating and corroborating information on an article, the closer it must be to being true. Again, not a bad way of organising a community-based encyclopedia, but for the Christian ‘narrow is the way that leads to life, and few will walk in it’ (Matthew 7:14).

Ultimately ours is a truth that is :

…folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 1:18

This means that there is a profound, life-changing, eternity-shaping truth that will not be found by consensus or relevance!


Again, this is not to say that technology, or these platforms, are evil or based on evil, rather simply to say that for a Christian our pursuit of truth is being shaped in ways we need to be aware of. Put even more simply: you can’t believe anything you see online! We have to dig deeper to find truth these days, which makes the belt of truth an absolutely critical weapon in the armour of God!

The second reason the ‘belt of truth’ is more necessary today than ever before is because of the abundance of falsehood. There is a mass of information available to us in this information age, a lot of which is false!

We have seen the power of fake news to shape modern society, and for the Christian truth matters.

Researchers from MIT did a ground-breaking study in 2018 of the articles posted on Twitter since it’s inception, and the reach it had in people seeing them and re-tweeting them. They analyzed every major contested news story in English across the span of Twitter’s existence—some 126,000 stories, tweeted by 3 million users, over more than 10 years.

They wanted to see if the fake news, or the real news, had a greater reach. What they found is that a false story is much more likely to go viral than a real story. In fact a false story reaches 1,500 people six times quicker, on average, than a true story does. In addition a false story is 70 percent more likely to get retweeted than accurate news.

What that says is that we love fake news! Why? For the same reason we love gossip: the novelty, intrigue and sensation it produces.


For Christians, truth matters. Particularly in our online world.

Imagine, if Christians fall for every fake news story out there, what credibility would that give about our belief in the unlikely story of the Gospel of Jesus?

Ultimately, truth matters because God the Father is truth:

And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God” (John 17: 3).

And Jesus declared Himself truth:

I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14: 6)

And not to be missed out, the Holy Spirit is:

the Spirit of truth” (John 16: 13)

Truth is therefore not an attribute of God, God is truth, and thus truth is at the very heart of the divine nature of God!

God calls us to truth, and away from falsehood. Truth matters!


Activity for kids

(Click on the bold, underlined text in the activities below to go to the online link.)

1.       Is it in the Bible, family quiz:

Host a family quiz, where the aim is to say whether various phrases can be found in the Bible (True) or not (False). You can use these ideas for the ‘False’ phrases or come up with your own. Talk about how important it is to know God’s Word and to tell the difference between what he says is true and what isn’t.  

2.       Make your own belt of truth:

Let your child decorate a belt or make their own out of paper, and add verses about God’s truth (for example, Psalm 145:18, Psalm 119:160, Psalm 25:5, John 17:17). Talk to your child about today’s devotion, and encourage them to fight the lies of the enemy with the truth from God’s Word. 

3.       Is this truth:

Download and print these pages for 5-7 year-olds, or 8-11 year-olds. Let your children colour in the truth statements and scribble out the lies. Talk to your child about the lies they might be believing, and perhaps share with them a lie that you sometimes believe. Memorise a truth from God’s Word to fight that lie together and repeat it daily this week. 


    

ARMOUR OF GOD – Stand firm

Welcome again to our Lockup and look-up devotional series. Thank you for tracking with us in this series of devotionals, focusing on the Spiritual Armoury – perhaps it would be fitting to ask you: how are you doing in the war zone?   You see, the Christian life is a battlefield, but the beautiful thing is that the battle is already won, ours is to do the mopping work.

But still, the enemy is not relenting nor giving up, we must still wage the war and the engage him in every turn; we must still remain vigilant and attentive. What we have learned so far is that there are 3 imperatives found in this passage and Richard shared with us two of these, namely:

  • Be strong 
  • and  Put on

Today I will talk about the third one, but before I do that, please let’s turn to Ephesians 6:13-14a and this is what Paul says to the Ephesian believers: 

Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm…

Ephesians 6:13-14a

Imperative no 3 is simply: Stand or as some translation states – Withstand

To stand seems to suggest a determined state of readiness to do battle.  It means you’re aware and alert of your enemy and you’re attuned to the realities of the warfare you’re engaged in.

The business of the enemy is to attack, therefore we need to be ready at all times and be prepared to fight back. To stand means there is no thought of retreating, negotiating, and no thought of looking back.

Interestingly, the exhortation to stand, is repeated 3 times to show the importance of standing your ground in the midst of the enemy’s attack. The idea behind the word “stand” is holding in to a position, in other words, maintaining your ground even before you launch an offence. The devil is a master of ingenious schemes and strategies and his tactics must not be allowed to catch unawares.

What does taking a stand really mean for us today:

Here are three things I hope you will find time to reflect on and apply in your walk of faith as you do spiritual battle.

The first is, we have to know what we are standing on.

As believers we stand on the sure foundation of our faith and the source of newness of life – that foundation, my friends, is the Lord Jesus. Remember, in the earlier chapters of Ephesians, Paul reminds us of this reality:

….that at one time we were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Gods community and treated as foreigners to the covenants of the promise, we were without hope and we were without God in the world. But in Christ were made alive and now were are to take our stand in him and his finished work on the cross (2:12)

We also are stand on God’s word – the Bible is more than a book, the Bible is more than just a guide or a road map, for a believer. The Bible is the inspired word of God – it has the authority to determine how we live and behave.

I love what Martin Luther’s teaches us about taking a stand when it comes to believing in the authority of word of God and its teachings.  When Luther was confronted by the Pope and the rulers of the day, to recant his stance on what he believed the Bible taught, he boldly uttered the following famous statement:

Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise.  God help me”.

Martin Luther

Luther took his stand, and suffered the consequences we too must take our stand!

Secondly, to take a stand means we will have to resist the devil and his lies

When we are struggling with our faith, Satan will whisper words contrary to God’s Word. We have to choose to cast down those thoughts by demolishing arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5).

As soon as we recognise thoughts of fear, doubt, discouragement, anxiety, or temptation, we have to CHOOSE to guard our minds against the deception of the enemy and choose to think God’s thoughts instead.

God has given us spiritual armour to help us stand. When we feel the challenges to our faith, we can remember to suit up and then take our stand.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians 6:13

You know what stands out to me in that verse? After YOU have DONE everything. In other words, we have to do our part. We have to put on the armor. We have to actively choose to protect our minds from wrong thoughts, our hearts from pride, and our gut from lies. We have to take up the full armour.

We have to be self-controlled and alert and on guard. But when we have done our part, God does the rest.

The third thing is this, we can’t waiver between faith and doubt

We have to know what we believe and why we believe, so that when the challenges come, we are firm in our faith. Why did you decide to follow Jesus? Why do you choose to serve Him? What do you believe about God and His Word?

I think sometimes we still waver between wanting to follow God and wanting to follow the world. If that is the case, we will definitely struggle with our faith. The Lord is asking you today, “How long will you waver between two opinions?” If you know that God is God and God is good, there’s no question. Don’t let the devil make you think Satan has something better to offer you in the world.

Only God is God and He alone knows what is best for us. He alone is the path to life, love, and victory. Consider Abraham and his faith. He was a man, a real person, just like you and me. God gave him a great promise with little evidence that he could actually see.

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Romans 4:20

I love that verse! Abraham made mistakes. He wasn’t perfect. But he was “fully persuaded.” Are you fully persuaded today that God is able to do what He has promised?

If you are still struggling to believe God because of trials, tribulations, or temptations that you are going through right now, let me encourage you that the Lord of all can set you free. He can lead you out of that miry place of doubt and confusion and pain, and give you a firm place to stand.

Open your arms wide to the love of Jesus and let Him lift you up. Trust that He is good and He loves you perfectly. He will make a way for you and keep you in His love and in His truth.

So, I urge you stand firm!  And God bless you.


Activity for kids

1.       Draw a Roman soldier:

Follow this link to watch a tutorial on how to draw a Roman soldier – have a go at it as a family! Discuss with your child how Paul uses the picture of a Roman soldier’s armour to explain how we are to fight the battle against God’s enemy. How is our battle different from a Roman soldier’s battle (See Eph 6:12)? Why is it important to put on the full armour of God?   


    

ARMOUR OF GOD – Put on

Our passage in Ephesians has three specific commands (imperatives) to inform our ability to withstand the opposition that comes from the devil:

  • ‘Be Strong’ (v10)
  • ‘Put on’ (v11)
  • ‘Stand’ (v14)

Yesterday we looked at the first imperative, which is to ‘Be Strong in the Lord’. Today we’ll look at the second one, which is to ‘Put on’ or ‘Take up’, referring to the classic list of the pieces of armour.

Lets see it again in context:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Ephesians 6:10-14

Before we look at the various pieces of armour that we are supposed to be ‘putting on’ or ‘taking up’, it’s important to note the relationship between these first two imperatives.

To understand that relationship, think about what would happen if we lost one of these imperatives.

Firstly, what would our impression be if the Bible stopped at ‘Be strong’, and didn’t include ‘Put on’? Well we would certainly be encouraged as to the truth of the power for this battle belonging to God! However we may be left in a rather passive state, and ‘Let go and let God’. However, when it comes to this subject of withstanding the opposition from the devil, the Bible doesn’t leave us there! It says things like this:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

James 4:7

Be sober- minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith...

1Peter 5:8-9

The emphasis on ‘resist’ the devil means that there is certainly an active part to withstanding evil!

Now, think about what our impression would be if the Bible stopped at ‘Put on’ and didn’t first include ‘Be strong’?

In this error we may be tempted to think that the battle is all up to us, and we carry the burden of victory! If we had to compare errors this would certainly be the more dangerous one, which is why I believe the command to ‘Be strong’ comes first!

The truth in understanding this battle is to keep these imperatives together, and in the right order: Be strong + Put on! Those two will lead us to the final imperative which is ‘Stand.’


Activity for kids

1.       Dress up day:

Make an ‘Armour of God snack’ with your child, dressing up carrot sticks or crackers with the full armour of God. Let your child name and try to memorise all 6 pieces of the armour of God. They can also dress up a paper doll, or dress up themselves! Talk to your child about today’s devotion, explaining what it means to ‘put on the full armour of God’ and why it is important     


2.       What outfit would we wear for…

Cut out or show your child various pictures of different outfits (spacesuits, doctor’s white jacket and scrubs, suits, fireman’s uniform etc.) and discuss what we would use each outfit for. Next, talk about how Paul uses the picture of a Roman soldier’s outfit to explain what we need to ‘put on’ to fight against God’s enemy. Point out the importance of it being the armour of God, as our battle is not against ‘flesh and blood’.