Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Loin Belt of Truth

The battle we are in is raging. The war has already been won but Satan refuses to surrender, and many believers refuse to get involved and so we continue to do battle with him and his principalities, powers and forces of evil and darkness.

Paul commands us to stand firm in Gods strength and to put on the whole armor of God. We will now look at that armor.
Many people love fashion shows. Project runway is a very popular cable show and every year designers show us their new creations during fashion week in New York City.

If we were to describe these fashions we would tell people about the dresses, or sports jackets and pants. Shoes are a big deal with many people. Just ask my wife. Some like hats and jewelry.
I doubt anyone would describe or spend a lot of time describing a man’s belt. I mean - it’s just a belt. But Paul says

14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, 6:14 (NASB)

In military terms the words stand firm, mean to stand bravely or courageously in the face of the enemy. A more literal translation would be to stand up straight or erect, shoulders back and heels dug in. And so here is how you do that.

Make sure you have your belt.

You may be asking Really? A belt? Of all the pieces of armor why would Paul make the belt the first piece he tells us to put on?
Well if I were to remove my belt (and I won’t) there are a few things that could happen. My pants might fall down. My shirt would come untucked, and I would have no place to hang my cell phone.

But as important as I consider my belt, the Roman soldier even more so. This seemingly insignificant piece of the armor held so many of the other pieces in their proper place.

Literally this verse reads “having your loins girded around with truth”.
Have you ever considered this Roman Soldier? It is estimated, that the average Roman soldier carried 100 pounds or more of equipment. A Helmet, shield, spear, sword, dagger, breastplate, leather and metal shoes and even metal shin guards. Try standing upright with all of that on your body.

When I was a younger Christian I always thought this belt must be some ornamental piece with little to do with actual battle. Some have even called it a girdle. But if that were the case Paul would not have given it such prominence.

Just as my belt holds up my pants, keeps my shirt tucked in, carries my cell phone and more. So too this loin belt is more than decoration.
For example when the shield was not being used, it hung on a hook on this belt. The sword was attached to this belt. There was a ring that he rested his spear on. Most importantly it held the breastplate Paul calls righteousness together and in its proper place. This belt held it all together.

Without this belt the soldier could have no confidence in the battle. With it he was assured everything was held tightly together and would stay that way even in the fiercest battle.

But Paul links this belt to what he calls the truth. In all of scripture there is only one thing we are told to rely on as truth. GODS WORD!
Now I know some of you may have jumped ahead to the sword and are saying, but the sword of the Spirit is the word of God, and you would be correct. But slow down so we don’t miss something here.

The Greek word for word there in verse 17 concerning the sword, is the word “rhema”. It means a newly revealed look, an inspiration, a commentary or word of explanation. It has more to do with our thinking then what we can see with our eyes.

But the truth is always associated with Gods written or revealed word. In the upper room prayer Jesus said this 17 "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. John 17:17 (NASB)

The word Jesus uses there, and I believe is implied here, is the word “logos”. The logos reveals, in a visible way, who and what God is, as he revealed it in His Son to be sure, but also in his written word, scripture, and that is our belt. That is what holds the whole armor together.

You may not always receive a rhema from God, but you can always have the logos with you.
When you ignore or forget the written word of God, the rest of your armor is in jeopardy of failing. No wonder this piece fits in the middle or the center of the man

Now, having a bible may not sound as exciting as receiving a supernatural revelation from God, but keep in mind that Paul says this is what holds everything together.
The loin belt was not exactly pretty, in fact it looked rather drab and extremely ordinary or commonplace. Every soldier had one of those old things.

Sadly this is how many people feel about the bible. They have so many bibles around the house, that they have lost their appreciation for it. They toss it on the book shelf with all those other books and often forget it’s even there. I have already read all of that, even more than once, and so that should be enough.

But if you lay your bible aside, your loin belt of truth, in time you will begin to lose your sense of righteousness. Toss it aside and you find your peace slipping away. Lay it aside and you will feel the joy of your salvation being depleted. Lay aside that bible, that loin belt of truth, that holds it all together and you begin to doubt God, it becomes harder to believe him and to walk in faith.

You absolutely cannot function as a believer in this battle without the word of God having an active and central role in your life. You may run for a while on what little steam you already have, but you won’t run very far before everything begins to come loose and fall apart.

If you remove or forget your loin belt – the word of God – it will only be a matter of time before you begin to fall to pieces spiritually. Those demonic forces will break through without its protection and chaos will take over your life.

I talk every week with a lot of pastors and ministers. Many have tried to build strong churches on praise and worship. Praise and worship are wonderful but a person cannot build a strong church on these alone. Praise and worship are not the loin belt.

Some have tried to build their churches on music and even elaborate musical and multimedia productions. Music is a great way of praising God but music is not the loin belt.

Others have tried to build strong churches on social gatherings. Times of fellowship are great and are needed in the local church, but you cannot build a strong church on social gatherings. Fellowship is not the loin belt.
Still others have tried to build strong churches entirely on prayer. Of course prayer is vital. We desperately need a new emphasis on prayer in our day. But prayer is not the loin belt.

Only Gods word, God’s truth, is the loin belt. Both for the individual believer, and the corporate body. It is the only piece of this spiritual armor that is visible with the eye and tangible to the touch. This is the most important piece of our armor. Think about it, we can actually hold something in our hand that God has given us.

In 2 Timothy 3:17, Paul writes his young protégé that this loin belt, Gods inspired word, can actually make a man perfect, thoroughly furnished for every good work.

So what is your goal in this battle? Do you want to succeed and come out on the other side? Do you want to be spiritually equipped? If you want to wear the proper clothing for your spiritual walk, you will take up your bible and make it your own.

God’s written word has the power, as Paul tells Timothy, “to furnish you for every good work”. The word furnish there is “ex art zidzo”. It means to completely outfit or fully supply what is needed. It was a word used to describe a wagon or ship that carried a complete outfit of supplies, fully loaded.

When you affix the loin belt of truth, to the center of your life and faithfully ensure it stays there in place, everything else comes together. For instance, do you want to learn how to enjoy your God given righteousness? The writer of Hebrews says this
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Heb 5:12-14 (NASB)

According to the writer of Hebrews, some have deliberately chosen not to develop their understanding of righteousness when they ignore the word. On the other hand you can reverse this by spending more time in the word of God.

For those who ignore the word of God, it is only a matter of time before they feel condemned in nearly every area of their life. Although declared righteous by God when they were first saved, these weak Christians are not conscience of their God given righteousness, because they haven’t made His word a priority in their lives.

So if you want to enjoy walking through life with the breast plate of righteousness, you must first put on the loin belt of truth so you will have something to hang it on or fasten it to. The word will furnish you with that confidence and assurance.

Would you like to experience more peace in your life?

Paul again tells us how to accomplish this in Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts

Naturally speaking, very few of us experience God’s peace ruling in our hearts. Because of our hectic schedules and the rushed pace of this modern era, the vast number of us experience inner turmoil, frustration and a host of flip flop emotions.

Emotions mislead, but Gods peace will always keep us on an even keel.
The word rule here, is taken from the word “bra-beuo” and it is used to paint the picture of an umpire or a judge, one who called the shots in the Greek games. The umpire was the governor of those games, the one who decided the winner. So by employing this word, Paul is actually saying “let the peace of God be the umpire that calls the shots in your life”
So how do we come to this place where peace rules in our life. This place where your mind, emotions, fears and frustrations cease to control you? Paul tells us in the next verse in Colossians 3:16 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you…

There are two key words in this passage, dwell and richly.
The word dwell is taken from the Greek “en oi keo” and literally means to take up residence. It has the idea of settling into a house or making yourself feel at home.

The word richly is “plou sios”. It carries the idea of extreme extravagance and luxurious living.

So to paraphrase Paul, “let the word of Christ take up residence in your life and come to feel comfortable and at home in you. Give it the warmest, most extravagant and luxurious reception possible”
When the loin belt of truth is the center of your armor, Gods peace will begin to rule, umpire and call the shots in your daily life.
Do you want to walk in strong, believing faith? How does this shield of faith become a daily reality in your life? Again Paul tells us in Romans 10:17 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Do you want to walk in faith? Then get in God’s word and stay there. Give it the most important place or priority in your life. Only the word of God, the loin belt of truth, can produce consistent, ongoing and legitimate faith.

While the helmet of salvation is not directly attached to this loin belt while in battle, some do believe that many soldiers hung their helmets on this belt when at rest, it cannot be ignored for its relation to Gods word. The word salvation is the Greek word “sodzo” which means deliverance, safety, preservation, soundness of mind and healing.

How many of us would not like to walk habitually in Christ purchased deliverance, safety, soundness of mind and healing? If so - then we must put on this helmet.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:8 and here in Ephesians 6:17 the helmet is associated with salvation. We are commanded to put it on, to take it as our own. So what is the connection between the concepts of the mind and salvation?
Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:15 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation

God’s word has the power to make us mentally alert and receptive and wise unto salvation.

As we give our minds, and the things we think about, over to the scriptures, the word itself begins to build a measure of deliverance, safety, preservation, soundness of mind and healing in our lives on every level.

This tells us that it is scripture, God’s word, that puts this salvation helmet on our heads. As you renew your mind to the word of God, the truth contained in that word becomes your spiritual helmet.

We then are told to take up a mighty and powerful sword called the sword of the spirit. How many of us would love to wield this sword of the spirit at some of our demons on a more consistent basis? But how can it be developed and where do I find it?

Well where did the Roman soldier find his sword when he needed it? It was hanging in a scabbard on his side, attached to a clip that hung from his YOU GUESSED IT loin belt of truth.

And so he had to keep his loin belt on in order to keep his sword nearby.
If the loin belt of truth represents the logos, the written word of God, then this sword of the spirit which is the word of God must be the rhema or revelation from God.

What this tells us is that the rhema sword, the whispered word of God spoken to us in times of need, will come directly out of the logos, the written word of God, already given to us to be carried always in our person.
How many times have we heard people pray, “lord I need a word”. God, I need you to talk to me in some special way. I am facing this crisis and I need a word from you about it.

These folks spend all their time hoping to have a dream or a vision from God or trying to find someone who will prophecy their answer to them. When they go to church they are always hoping someone will give them some special answer that will direct them in the way they should go.
There is, according to Paul, something far more dependable then someone’s word of knowledge, or a word of wisdom or some message of prophecy from men. As the apostle Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

So do you need a special word from the Lord? Do you need a rhema? Well here is how you get it. Reach to the loin belt of truth, the written word of God and there God will reveal what is needed or what must be done.
What you need to know is right there and has been all along, but at times of need, God underlines or highlights certain passage for us to see more clearly.

These rhema words then become our powerful sword of the moment. The author of Hebrews tells us 12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

When you carry the word of God centrally in your life, it is far easier for God to reveal the sharp parts needed in the battle of the day.
So why is this the most important piece of armor? Try battling without it.
Soon you will reach for your sword and it won’t be there. Your shield of faith will get heavy and you will have no place to rest it and the temptation will be to just let it go. Your breastplate of righteousness will begin flapping in the wind and leave you exposed.

There will be nothing to hold you spiritually together. The written word of God, our scriptures, the bible, supports everything else in our walk with God.

Next time we will look at the Breast plate of righteousness

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