Jun 29, 2014
Ephesians 6:12-14

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Ephesians 6:12-14, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness 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. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth…”

Knowing the battle rests in the spiritual realm the Apostle Paul encourages us to first “girded your waist with truth” before putting on the rest of our spiritual armor. By listing this first it would appear this particular act is essential for every Christian. 

This phrase “gird your waist” is interesting for it has two relevant meanings: 

On one aspect Paul is telling us to “surround or bound” ourselves with “truth.” 

When it came to ancient armor the belt was important not for what it protected (no belt could stay off the sharp edge of a sword), but mainly for what it allowed. You see a warrior’s belt served to kept the rest of his garments secured enabling him to engage in the battle. A belt allowed mobility, speed, and agility. Imagine how ineffective you’d be in hand to hand combat with sagging britches?

Because these benefits were not necessary during times of inactivity around the camp a warrior could loosen his belt for ease and comfort. However, in commanding us to “gird our waist with truth” Paul is saying the time for action is at hand.

And while this image is undoubtedly true, the phrase “gird your waist” can also imply that Paul is telling us to “prepare, get ready, or gear up” with “truth.”

Do you realize that you actually have two brains? While one is found in your head the other is located in your digestive tracts (we often refer to this as our gut). 

For example… Have you ever had “butterflies in your stomach” or had a strong “gut feeling” about something? You know even when your brain is telling you everything is ok some unexplainable force is telling you it isn’t! When this happens it’s actually your second brain at work. 

The “Enteric Nervous System” or ENS is a rich and complicated network of neurons and neurochemicals (serotonin and dopamine) housed between the muscular layers of the esophagus, the stomach, and the small and large intestines that operate in almost an identical way as your brain. 

It’s weird to think, but the ENS contains over 100 million neurons which is more than the number of nerve cells in the spinal chord. Incredibly, there is actually a greater flow of neural traffic from the ENS to the brain than from the brain to the ENS. 

Because the ENS is lined with specialized cells that produce and receive endorphins the gut also contributes to an array of sensations including joy, satisfaction, and pain relief. This makes the gut a perfect barometer of our emotional states and stresses. 

For example… When we say we can’t “stomach” a situation, or something makes us want to “gag,” or we have “a knot” in our stomach, we’re actually expressing the real-life physiological sensations that arise from the ENS – not our brain.

In the East the gut is viewed as the seat of human emotions. In Japan, it is the midsection not the head that is considered the seat of wisdom and the physical and spiritual center of gravity. When Americans say, “I know,” we’ll point to our heads; however, when the Japanese say, “I know,” they’ll point to their bellies. Isn’t it ironic when we see someone do something daring we say, “You’ve got guts?”

This adds a new wrinkle to what Paul is saying when he tells us to “gird your waist.” You see in the battle a warrior doesn’t have time to act solely upon his cognitive ability. He must trust his instincts and react accordingly. He can’t afford to second guess himself or get mired in fear. A warrior must have “nerves of steel.” He must have confidence. 

When Paul tells us to “gird your waist” it’s as though he’s not only telling us the battle is at hand, but that it’s time for a “gut check!” Before we gear up and engage the enemy we need to first check our emotions and steady our resolve. And how do we do this? Paul exhorts us to “gird your waist” or literally prepare yourself “with truth!” 

Please understand “girding your waist with truth” before you enter the spiritual battle is more important now than it’s ever been before. Let me explain… 

It is undeniable that in just 10 years America has experienced a radical transformation. Cultural trends have reversed and things that have always been social norms are being challenged like never before. Let me give you three quick examples…

Society is redefining Marriage. In the 80’s and 90’s homosexuality was taboo, but today this lifestyle has moved from the shadows into mainstream American. Beyond the impact of shows like Modern Family and Scandal, this reality was none truer than this years Grammy performance of Macklemore’s his hit song “Same Love”.

And while homosexual activity has existed forever, marriage has been viewed by virtually every culture and world religion as a covenant between a man and a women. However, over the last decade things have quickly changed.

In 2004, 55% of American’s opposed gay marriage, but today, 54% support it (almost a 10 point swing). Of those aged 18-29 75% support gay marriage with a majority of those 65 and older still in opposition. Amazingly, in this 18-29 age bracket 45% of young Christian evangelicals support this redefining of marriage.

Society is redefining Gender. While gender distinctions have always been determined by biological factors with any contrary position viewed as being perverse, todays transgender movement in America is front and center seeking to redefine what it means to be male or female. 

In addition to a barrage of transgender characters and TV shows on the horizon, the cover story for the June addition of Time Magazine that featured a transgender character on the Netflix hit show “Orange is the New Black” declared, “A year after the Supreme Court legalized ‘gay marriage,’ another social movement is poised to challenge deeply held cultural beliefs.” Time claims “the transgender transformation will be the next great civil rights battlefield in America.”

Society is embracing the Pot Culture! According to Gallup, 35 years ago only 12% of the population supported the legalization of Mary Jane, but today that number has risen to 58% with Colorado becoming the first to legalize. What was once seen as the activity of losers and drop outs, spoking weed has lost most of this negative stigma. 

A few weeks ago during a concert in London Miley Cyrus told her audience to “quit smoking cigarettes because they make you look old and no one wants to make out with you.” Then she added “smoke weed instead because its never killed anyone, will keep you looking young, and get you laid.”

Understand, these cultural trends are happening for one basic reason… Because God has been removed from society so has our basis for truth. Note: You can see this slow development over the course of history by looking at the progression of art!

Since the beginning of time humanity has held to the belief that there existed a god/gods who presided over the affairs of man. God was over Man! From ancient Egypt to classical Greek, art focused on the many depictions of these various gods.

During the Renaissance and with the dawn of humanism, man began to surpass God as the measure of all things. Man became equal with God! While depictions of art still included god there was a clear inclusion of humanity.

During the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution to follow philosophers consciously began to exalt man's reason above God's revelation. With the incredible scientific advancements of this period man believed that he, rather than God, had the answers for this broken planet. Man was over God! Art no longer focused on god, but glorified man!

Then came Darwin and Modernism. With the Theory of Evolution God became unnecessary even as an explanation of our origins. Man no longer needed God! Rationality became the final arbiter of truth, human intellect sought to improve the world, and any idea which could not be tested by the scientific method was labeled as relative.

While it takes time for these kind of trends to fully develop, following two generations indoctrinated with the Theory of Evolution not to mention 60 years of nothing but global conflict, Modernism (1890-1950) gave way to Post-Modernism (1960’s).

While Modernist still held to an objective and analytical view of the world believing truth could be found apart from God, today’s postmodern movement has taken godlessness to it’s logical end. If there is no God then there is no universal truth meaning our entire existence is abstract and completely subjective. Man over Man!

In 2003, 66% of Americans held to an absolute certainty that there was a God. Today, that number has decreased 12 points to only 54%.

Is there any surprise this godless mindset has produced the most self-consumed generation in human history. One might say that the ultimate art form from this postmodern time period would be the selfie! 

Because America has removed God as the basis for truth and all matters of morality have become relative, we now live in a society where all points of view are seen as being equally valid and all truth depends solely on the perspective of each individual. 

Though he lived during Modernism, Friedrich Nietzsche recognized the silliness of still pursuing truth if there was no God to determine truth. He said, “You have your way, I have my way. As for the right way, it does not exist.”

We’ve all sang along with Pharrell’s hit song “Happy” but have you ever taken a moment to consider the words? (Play Audio) “Because I'm happy… Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof… Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth… Clap along if you know what happiness is to you… Clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna do.”

And don’t think Postmodernism hasn’t effected the church.

For our parent’s generation the question was asked, “What does this verse say to you?” The truth of Scripture was considered absolute and it was only the application of truth that was left to the individual’s perspective. 

And yet, today’s generation asks, “What does this verse mean to you?” The definition of truth and its application are now left to an individual’s perspective. In many ways personal interpretation of Scripture has usurped its literal meaning.

Here’s the Reality of Relativism: If there is no God and man is the final authority, then modernism is stupid, our parents and grandparents were foolish, and there really is no basis for anyone to place any of their own moral standards upon anyone else. 

Let me play you the anthem of Postmodernism. Miley Cyrus “We Can’t Stop” - “And we can't stop. And we won't stop. We run things, things don't run we. Don’t take nothing from nobody. It's our party we can do what we want. It’s our party we can say what we want. It’s our party we can love who we want. We can kiss who we want. We can sing what we want. It's our party we can do what we want to. It’s our house we can love who we want to. It’s our song we can sing if we want to. It’s my mouth I can say what I want to.”

You see when it comes to the topic of truth you would be wise to consider two fundamental questions: Does God exist? And if so, does He have the authority to tell you what to do? 

Let me explain why God has the authority to determine human behavior.

In Mark 12:14-17 Jesus is challenged with a similar question. “When they had come, they said to Him, "Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? "Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?" But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why do you test Me? Bring Me a denarius that I may see it.” So they brought it. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 

Jesus responds by asking them to observe “whose image and inscription” was on the coin they handed Him. Then after answering that the coin had “Caesar” image on it, Jesus tells them to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” This word “render” means “give back to the one who gave out.”

(1). Identify the objects giver by looking for the giver’s image. 

(2). Then give back to the giver in accordance to the wishes of the giver.

This is what Jesus is saying… If it’s only responsible to give back to Caesar what has his stamped image upon it in accordance to his wishes, then we should give back to God what has His image stamped upon it in accordance to His wishes!

So the logical question: What has God’s image stamped upon? The answer is found in Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created Him; male and female He created them.”

Since you’ve been created in the likeness of God and His image has been stamped upon you, God has the authority to tell you how you should live your life. Contrary to what Miley believes, if God created you… You better stop doing what you want for you don’t run things. It’s not your party and the house doesn’t belong to you. This means God should determine the song you sing, the words you say, the people you love, and those you kiss! Sure you can do what you want, but one day you’ll stand before God and give an account for the life He gave you to live! Will you render to God the very life He has stamped His image upon?

This is why this act of “girding ourselves with truth” is so essential. When you tighten up this belt you are acknowledging that there is a God who is by definition true and has established what is true for you (the basis for right and wrong) through His Word

Since Jesus is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” what is morally permissible is no longer a matter of your perspective, but is instead a matter of what He has to say about such things. Understand… If you are not willing to surrender your will to His, then don’t gear up!

In conclusion I’d also like to give you another warning… Before you “gird your waist with truth” you need ask yourself… Do you really want to be in the battle in the first place?

Understand, truth is the battle cry of Light when it invades the darkness.

Though our society was founded on the freedom of speech and religion, there is clearly a growing tide of opposition to the freedom of religious speech. It’s a fact that since we live in a culture growing increasingly intolerant of truth, we live in a culture growing increasingly intolerant of the Christians who stand for those truths.

The core problem with our society is that tolerance is no longer seen as simply providing a person the freedom to believe whatever they want. Today, tolerance is viewed as the acceptance of every position as being equal. Ravi Zacharias adds, “These days its not just that the line between right and wrong has been made unclear, today Christians are being asked by our culture to erase the lines and move the fences, and if that were not enough, we are being asked to join in the celebration cry by those who have thrown off the restraints religion had imposed upon them. It is not just that they ask we accept a behavior, but they now demand we celebrate it too.”

Since truth is the one position that refuses to accept all other positions as being equal (God overrides human perspective), if you “gird your waist with truth” expect to be branded by the world as being offensive, intolerant, even hateful. 

Here’s the other thing to keep in mind, if truth is indeed the battle cry of Light when it invades the darkness… Then truth provokes a counterattack.

Have you ever wondered why it seems that Christians are the only ones targeted? There is an easy explanation for this… You see a human resisting God will always be tolerant of a lie and will admittedly reject the truth. Opposition is unavoidable!

When a person is offended by truth it is often a clear indicator that person is resisting some internal effect they didn’t like. Isn’t it typically true that shinny people aren’t the ones offended by fat jokes and tall people aren’t often offended by short jokes?

I have discovered that how people respond to truth directly determines how they respond to the person speaking truth. It’s the general lesson presented in the way the world treated Jesus. If a person accepts truth, they’ll accept the truth speaker; but if a person rejects truth, go ahead and expect to be rejected. 

Before you wear the belt of truth, please count the costs for “girding your waist with truth” will cost you something! Jesus warned us in John 15:20, “Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” Paul warned in 2 Timothy 3:12, “All who desire to live godly in Christ will suffer persecution.”

Understand, when you take a stand against immoral behavior on the basis of the Truth of the Bible and people accuse you of being intolerant and judgmental - whether they realize it or not, their issue isn’t really with you, but in actuality their issue is with God. 

Here’s the irony: Though incredibly loving, God is actually intolerant of sinful, unrepentant, human behavior; and there will come a day when He’ll judge human beings on the basis of whether or not they’ve accepted or rejected His Truth!