Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ephesians 6:14 comments: to stand against the Devil

14  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

Jesus Christ is the only certain truth. There are different kinds of truth in the world. We know things in different ways. One is by the evidence of our senses. We experience something and think that how we have interpreted what we’ve experienced is true. But, everyone here knows how easily we can be fooled by our senses misinterpreting something. You think you smell something but find out that what you smelled wasn’t what you thought it was. You see optical illusions and are deceived by them.

We think we know truth by the evidence we find. A scientist looks at a fossil or a measurement  on a machine and thinks he knows the truth. But, what he thinks he knows is determined more by his own worldview and preconceived assumptions than by the evidence alone. All of those things work together to give the scientist what he thinks is truth.

We think we know something as true because someone we view as an authority says it is so. It may be a textbook, a teacher, a pastor, or some other person’s ideas. But we assume it is true because they said so. Still, in your heart you know the possibility remains that the person could be lying, deceived themselves, or just mixing truth with their own prejudices and cultural assumptions.

But there is truth we know by faith also. This is the truth that God values as we cannot know by experience or reason everything in the spiritual world. I imagine we’d go mad if we did. We must trust Him. We have a Bible, firsthand accounts, a primary source, a term historians use where God related history to Moses and others who wrote of what they experienced, heard, and saw. We can’t trust our conscience. It can be seared by sin. We can’t trust our reasoning ability. It can be twisted by our own assumptions and bigotry. But, we are called to trust the Bible’s own clear testimony as true. We are to believe the Bible as written to whom it is written and regarding the specific subjects it is written about and then apply them as we can to our own lives in order to live pleasing to God. What the Bible says literally and to whom it is said is its meaning. How we apply it to prophecy, as in future events, and to our own lives is its significance. There are at least three applications of every verse; historical or to whom was it written and when and why, doctrinal or what are the commands given for those people at that particular time and are those rules for us to obey, and spiritual (and practical) or how exactly does a verse apply to you.

As Bible Believers we look at the Bible as written in dispensational order. A dispensation is a way of managing a household. It is how God deals with His people at certain times although dispensations can run through all times. Our hinge point of understanding are the letters that begin with the name, “Paul.” Anything, anywhere in the Bible that does not contradict what is said in those letters is doctrine for the Christian today. But, every single verse has meaning and significance to us in some way. It is all truth but truth applied in a way it was not intended can be turned into a lie.

For instance, a person who sees suffering on a massive scale will look at these verses and watch their faith crumble.

Jeremiah 29:11  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

God is talking to the Jews about returning to their land from Babylon hundreds of years before Christ. He is not talking to a Navy medical doctor operating on soldiers and marines with limbs blown off in Iraq in 2010. Applying this verse the wrong way, the way it was not intended, doesn’t help you, it hurts you, and it can hurt others.

Taking one verse on a controversial subject to prove a point when the passage it’s found in isn’t specifically about that subject rather than looking at all the verses on a particular topic is confusing. One verse on divorce can make you think a woman is never permitted to escape the clutches of an adulterous, violent drunkard.

Mark 10:12  And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

Take all of the verses on divorce to understand the subject. A person reading just this one verse might think that women cannot even offer a testimony or sing in the church meeting.

1Corinthians 14:35  And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

A text without a context is a pretext. Don’t hold the truth in unrighteousness.

An historian approaches any document with two questions; why was it written, one, and why was it preserved, two. We know why the Bible was written, for God to reveal Himself to mankind, His will for our life and for the future. We know why it was preserved, for it to have value to us as a means by which God speaks to our hearts through the words but not always specifically about the words. He may speak to your heart about a completely unrelated subject to what you are reading.

We believe by faith that the Bible we have is true. We believe that God’s words are true. Therefore, because Jesus said it is so, we believe that Jesus Christ is the Truth, the only truth we can depend on that no matter what your interpretation of a verse is or what someone else believes about the Bible He is the Truth.

John 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 1:17  For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

We must gird ourselves up in the truth of the Bible, trusting in Christ and Christ alone. This is the first part of our armor of offense and defense.

The context of the first part of the second verse being quoted here from Isaiah is putting on the Lord’s righteousness, not our own.

Isaiah 59: 16 ¶  And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. 17a  For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head…..

You cannot succeed in this battle if you think you are a righteous person and you trust in that righteousness. Put on Christ’s righteousness as a breastplate of defense. A breastplate of faith and love is referred to in 1Thessalonians 5:8.

1Thessalonians 5:8  But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

Trust, not that you are a good and righteous person but that the Lord Jesus Christ was God in the flesh, the physical image of God, without sin, living and dying in perfect obedience to God the Father, the soul of God, seat of will and self-identity. If you trust in your own goodness you won’t permit Him to save you and you will fall morally. People who trust in their own goodness will take all sorts of risks with sin thinking they can handle the temptations and the moral dangers. They can’t. Many a pastor, teacher, and evangelist has fallen into sexual sin by thinking he was “all that and a bag of chips,” when it came to temptation and doing the right thing. We must all guard against the demands of our flesh, the world system, and the Devil himself.

To stand against him successfully we need the truth of Christ fortifying our core and Christ’s righteousness as armor protecting our heart. There are many, many places in the Bible that talk about our spiritual heart referring to emotions and behavior. We need Christ’s righteousness as a breastplate. A breastplate based on our righteousness would be paper-thin and crumble at the first assault of the enemy. You will not stand long in your own righteousness in the day of battle.

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