Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth…
I have always wondered why Jesus silenced the demons in the Gospels. Consider this text, for example:
And just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, “What do we have to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice, and came out of him (Mark 1:23-26).
Why wouldn’t Jesus allow the demons to speak here. It would be one thing if what they said was not true, but He was the Holy One of God who had come to destroy them. Why, then, would He not allow them to bear witness to His identity? There may be more than one answer, but I think that one reason was this: Jesus did not want the testimony of a liar. Jesus had sufficient witnesses to His identity, including the Father, the Old Testament Scriptures, John the Baptist, His own works, and eventually His followers. But who would want the witness of those who character was that of a liar. Jesus said this of Satan, their leader:
“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
When we come to the specific elements of the Christian’s spiritual armor, it is not surprising that truth is the first of the defenses identified by Paul. Satan is a liar, and his attack on Christians is by means of his deceptive and devious “schemes” (Ephesians 6:11). The truth is God’s protective armor so that his lies can be recognized and resisted, so that we might stand firm in our faith. Let us give careful heed to Paul’s words about truth, for this is vitally important to our spiritual well-being.
We all dress in a certain order. We put on our “foundation garments” first, because we put other clothing over them. I put my shoes on last, because I hate to try to put my pants on with my shoes already on. The armor is also put on in a certain sequence. The girding of the loins is the first step in the Christian’s preparation for spiritual warfare. In the Bible, the girding of the loins is a preparatory step, it prepares us for further action.
As you know, the clothing of the Israelites of old was not like our own. The men did not wear pants, sport coats, or suits. They wore garments which were much less form-fitting. Their garments not only were draped over their bodies, they went almost to the ground. If a man were going to run, he would first have to gather up his garment and tuck it into his belt or sash, so that he would not stumble and fall. Girding the loins were therefore the first step in preparing for vigorous activity, which involved the feet.
As the Israelites were about to partake of the Passover Meal, it was in preparation for their exodus from Egyptian bondage and their entrance into the promised land. Thus, God instructed the people of Israel to eat the meal with their loins girded, ready for what was to follow:
“‘Now you shall eat it in this manner: 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 Lord’s Passover” (Exodus 12:11).
So also, Peter spoke of the girding of the loins to the saints of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia:
Therefore, gird your minds [lit. the loins of your mind] for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were your in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:13-16).147
I believe that when Paul speaks of the girding of our loins in Ephesians chapter 6, he, like Peter, was speaking of the girding of the loins of our minds. The truth is that which gathers up the loose ends of information and by which it may be judged regarding its conformity to truth and goodness. Truth is the grid through which all information can be filtered.
The Scriptures tell us why the truth is so vitally important to the Christian. Let us briefly review the role of the truth in the life of the Christian.
(1) It is by the truth that we are saved:
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:13-14).
In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures (James 1:18).
For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God (1 Peter 1:23).
(2) It is by the truth that we are sanctified, and brought to Christian maturity:
“Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth” (John 17:17).
11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love (Ephesians 4:11-16).
(3) The truth is the means by which our minds are renewed and transformed, from the ignorance and deception of our unsaved condition, to the renewed mind which thinks in accordance with God’s Word and His ways:
17 This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Ephesians 4:17-24).
1 I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1-2).
(4) The truth is the basis for Christian unity (see Ephesians 4:5, 13).
(5) It is the truth which edifies and builds up the church (Ephesians 4:15, 25, 29).
(6) The truth is essential for true worship:
“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).
(7) The church is God’s divinely ordained means of declaring and displaying the truth:
I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth (1 Timothy 3:14-15).
8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; 10 in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places (Ephesians 3:8-10).
(8) The truth is that knowledge which is essential to us, and yet that which we would never have known on our own, apart from divine initiative and enablement. Given all eternity, men would never come to the knowledge of the truth unless God revealed it to them supernaturally. The truth of Ephesians includes the eternal plan of God, which includes our election to salvation and spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3-14). It includes the final destruction of Satan and his forces (6:10-20), and the summing up of all things in Christ (1:10). It includes the mystery of the church, in which God reconciles both Jews and Gentiles to Himself through the blood of Christ (chapters 2 and 3), and through which He displays His manifold wisdom to the celestial beings (3:1-10). The truth gives Christians a whole new way of thinking and behaving, which is dramatically different from the way we were as unbelievers (4:1–6:9).
The truth is something which we would never have imagined, because it is the manifestation of divine, not human, wisdom, a wisdom vastly superior to our own, which we would not have expected, and which we cannot even believe apart from divine revelation and the enablement of the Holy Spirit:
33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen (Romans 11:33-36).
6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 9 but just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:6-16).
(9) Jesus Christ is the truth, and thus turning from the truth is to turn away from Him:
31 Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me (John 14:6).
1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf, and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I say this in order that no one may delude you with persuasive argument. 5 For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.
6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.…
16 Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God (Colossians 2:1-8, 16-19).148
(10) The truth informs us of Satan’s schemes and deception and exposes error and deception.
Satan is a liar by nature. We can safely say that Satan is a pathological liar (John 8:44). He would lie even when he didn’t have to. He is both self-deceived and a deceiver (Revelation 12:9). From the beginning of time, Satan has sought to oppose God and His people by opposing the truth. Consider some of Satan’s tactics throughout history, as exposed in the Scriptures.
(1) Satan works to keep men from the truth, or to keep the truth from men.
“And these are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them (Mark 4:15 15).
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).150
(2) Satan denies the truth, usually declaring a “new truth” in its place.
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.’ “ 4 And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! 5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings (Genesis 3:1-7).
In the temptation and fall of Adam and Eve, Satan flatly denied the truth of God. God said that Adam and Eve would surely die if they ate of the forbidden fruit. Satan boldly denied this and assured them that they would most certainly not die. Imagine it, Satan called God a liar! Denying the truth which God had revealed to them, Satan convinced this couple that eating the forbidden fruit would be a most beneficial act.
(3) Satan seeks to deceive men about the truth by disseminating his false teaching and doctrines as the truth.
1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; 5 for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer (1 Timothy 4:1-5).
This passage is most interesting, for it tells us something which we might not expect. Satan’s schemes often lead to sin indirectly. Satan’s schemes are so subtle, they look good, they even look righteous. Satan does promote sin, but he does in a way that causes us to be blindsided by sin. Through false teachers, Satan advocates abstinence from marriage (and likely from sex, for those who are married) and from eating certain foods. God gave these for our pleasure and enrichment, and so Satan seeks to keep us from their benefit. But, even more, by convincing us to avoid them, he sets a net beneath our feet. The following texts tell us how this works:
3 Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:3-5).
14 Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; 15 for some have already turned aside to follow Satan (1 Timothy 5:14-15).
A man and his wife decide to abstain from sex, so that they can be more spiritual. They do not do this for a short time, as Paul instructs, but for a long period of time. Satan knows that sooner or later this will lead to immorality, due to man’s lack of self-control. Paul advocates sex, not only because it is something good, to be enjoyed (which it is within the context of marriage—see Hebrews 13:4), but because it helps to prevent immorality (1 Corinthians 7:2-5).
In the case of young widows, some might think that it is more spiritual for them to remain single. Singleness can provide the occasion for undistracted service to God (1 Corinthians 7:25-35), but for those widows who lack the commitment and self-control to remain single, failing to re-marry sets them up for a fall; it causes some to turn aside to follow Satan by falling into idleness, gossip, and even immorality.151
(4) Satan distorts the truth. He adds to it or takes from it, or applies it in a way that misses the whole point. In the temptation of our Lord (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13), Satan quoted Scripture, but he employed Scripture in a way that suited his purposes, rather than to produce godly conduct. Satan sought to twist the Scriptures by “proof-texting,” but Jesus corrected him by pointing out the broader principles of the Scriptures. Satan sought to “strain gnats,” but Jesus pointed out the “camels” (see Matthew 23:23-24). Satan seeks to distort the doctrines of Scripture, so as to produce sinful conduct. And so we see the grace of God perverted into an excuse or even a mandate for sin.
For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (Jude 1:4).152
(5) Satan works to produce disobedience to the truth. Satan knows that to keep men from obedience to the truth is as good as keeping them from the truth.
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. 25 “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. 26 “And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. 27 “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall” (Matt. 7:24-27).
4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked (1 John 2:4-6).153
(6) Satan seeks to fan the flames of man’s curiosity and of his ego, so that he will forsake God’s truth in the pursuit of “higher” truth. In the center of the Garden of Eden, God placed the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” The fruit of this one tree was forbidden to Adam and Eve. Of the fruit of all the other trees they could eat freely. Satan not only focused Adam and Eve’s attention on this forbidden tree, but on the “knowledge” which he promised it held for them. We know that this “knowledge” was not the good thing Satan represented it to be. We can now see why God forbade it. But Adam and Eve would have had to obey God on the basis of faith in Him, rather than on the basis of the knowledge Satan promised. It was their pursuit of this forbidden knowledge that got all of mankind into trouble.
The same kind of activity goes on today, with Satan fanning the flames of man’s ego and curiosity. God has given us the truth in Christ. Satan seeks to turn our attention away from the truth and away from Christ, by enticing us to seek a knowledge which is not only beyond Christ, but which is beyond the revelation of Scripture. Over and over again in Scripture Christians are warned against the pursuit of this forbidden knowledge:
6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other (1 Corinthians 4:6).
20 O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”—21 which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. Grace be with you (1 Timothy 6:20-21).154
Just how does Satan get away with his opposition to the truth? As I read through the account of the fall of man in Genesis chapter 3, my mind is boggled by the fact that Satan was able to convince Adam and Eve that God was a liar, and that he was telling the truth. How could a snake convince his keepers that the One who created all of them was not telling the truth, nor was He worthy of being obeyed? Let me suggest how Satan is able to be so effective in his opposition to the truth.
(1) Throughout the Scriptures, Satan’s deception is closely related to the arrogance and dogmatism with which he proposes his errors. It has taken me a long time to recognize this relationship, but now that I am alert to it, I see it frequently. Why, I have asked myself, would Adam and Eve believe a snake, rather than God? In the account of Satan’s temptation and their fall in Genesis chapter 3, we can see the arrogant boldness with which he tempts this couple. He dared to contradict God and to tell Eve that God’s words were false. He dared to imply that God was the liar, and not he.
The same arrogance is evident in the way in which Satan responded to God in the first two chapters of Job. In both the New Testament accounts of the temptation of our Lord Satan dares to urge our Lord to act independently of God, and to claim that he not only possesses all the kingdoms of the earth and to give them to whomever he chooses. He dares to quote Scripture to the Son of God and to tell Him how it should apply to His life and ministry. He further dares to ask Jesus to bow down to him in worship! He is so arrogant, so confident, that even today we are inclined to believe that he is speaking the truth, to grant that the kingdoms of the world are his to bestow.
These false teachers may even appear to be opposed to Satan, speaking arrogantly of angelic beings: “And especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties” (2 Peter 2:10). It is this same dogmatism which causes many to heed the teachings of those false teachers who disseminate falsehood, sometimes identified as the “doctrine of demons:”
17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God (2 Corinthians 2:17).
6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions (1 Timothy 1:6-7).
1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; …10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, 11 whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, (2 Peter 2:1-2, 10-12).155
Sometimes Satan even presents himself as “Christ”:
23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. 24 “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect (Matthew 24:23-24).
(2) Satan appeals to our sinful and rebellious nature, offering us the lies we would rather believe than the truth. In Romans chapter 1, Paul speaks of the sin of men who choose to “exchange the truth of God for a lie” (see Romans 1:18-25, especially verse 25). False teachers may offer an even better excuse for ungodliness, and even more convincing “lie” to believe, in place of the truth:
19 And while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him” (Matthew 27:19).
False teachers do not force their falsehood on others, they skillfully adapt their teaching to supply men with the falsehood they prefer to believe. Satan is successful because fallen men want what he has to offer.
(3) Satan preys on the weak and on their weaknesses. Satan targets those who are guilt-laden with sin as some of his prime targets:
For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:6-7).
(4) Satan enhances his effectiveness by offering a message which appeals to the flesh. It is not the intellectual prowess of the diabolical disseminators of falsehood which compels the hearer to accept their teachings, it is the fact that their teaching provides a rationale for ungodly conduct and self-indulgence:
For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved (2 Peter 2:18-19).
(5) Satan enhances his effectiveness by employing methods which appeal to the flesh. Not only does Satan’s message appeal to fallen and fleshly lusts of men, but his methods are also those which rest on the power of persuasion, rather than on the power of the truth. Note the contrast between Paul’s methods of teaching the truth and the “Madison Avenue” slick sales talk of the false teachers:
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, that the cross of Christ should not be made void (1 Corinthians 1:17).
1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. 4 And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
14 If any man’s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are (1 Corinthians 3:14-17).
1 Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy (1 Corinthians 4:1-2).
It becomes quite apparent why truth is a valuable piece of our spiritual armor. Satan deals in deception and lies, and the truth is a part of our defense. If we are to “put on the full armor of God” then we must not only know what the truth is, we must also know how we put it on. That is the principle focus of this portion of our study—to define what truth is, and to explore the ways in which we put it on.
Pilate said it long ago: “What is truth?” (John 18:38). His words are certainly reflect a kind of cynicism about ever knowing what the truth is. In our own times, some despair of the truth ever being known. In this election year, political candidates exchange charges against one another daily, and we wonder if we can ever learn the truth. The Bible assures us that we can know the truth, and that the truth will set us free (John 8:32).
Centuries ago, the prophet Isaiah described the miserable state into which Israel had fallen. Among its many maladies, Israel had become a nation where truth was not only scarce, it seemed not to exist. There was no man who could save this nation from its sin, and so the Lord Himself came to bring both truth and justice to those who would trust and obey:
1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not so short That it cannot save; Neither is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood, And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken falsehood, Your tongue mutters wickedness. 4 No one sues righteously and no one pleads honestly. They trust in confusion, and speak lies; They conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity. 5 They hatch adders’ eggs and weave the spider’s web; He who eats of their eggs dies, And from that which is crushed a snake breaks forth. 6 Their webs will not become clothing, Nor will they cover themselves with their works; Their works are works of iniquity, And an act of violence is in their hands. 7 Their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; Devastation and destruction are in their highways. 8 They do not know the way of peace, And there is no justice in their tracks; They have made their paths crooked; Whoever treads on them does not know peace.
9 Therefore, justice is far from us, And righteousness does not overtake us; We hope for light, but behold, darkness; For brightness, but we walk in gloom. 10 We grope along the wall like blind men, We grope like those who have no eyes; We stumble at midday as in the twilight, Among those who are vigorous we are like dead men. 11 All of us growl like bears, And moan sadly like doves; We hope for justice, but there is none, For salvation, but it is far from us. 12 For our transgressions are multiplied before Thee, And our sins testify against us; For our transgressions are with us, And we know our iniquities: 13 Transgressing and denying the LORD, And turning away from our God, Speaking oppression and revolt, Conceiving in and uttering from the heart lying words. 14 And justice is turned back, And righteousness stands far away; For truth has stumbled in the street, And uprightness cannot enter. 15 Yes, truth is lacking; And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the LORD saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. 16 And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede; Then His own arm brought salvation to Him; And His righteousness upheld Him. 17 And He put on righteousness like a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing, And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle. 18 According to their deeds, so He will repay, Wrath to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; To the coastlands He will make recompense. 19 So they will fear the name of the LORD from the west And His glory from the rising of the sun, For He will come like a rushing stream, Which the wind of the LORD drives. 20 “And a Redeemer will come to Zion, And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” declares the LORD. 21 “And as for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from now and forever” (Isaiah 59:1-21).
One can hardly doubt that Paul’s imagery of the Christian’s armor comes from Isaiah (see also Isaiah 11:5). The Christian’s armor is the armor which Christ Himself put on when He set out to save fallen men from their sins. From Romans chapter 13 we learn that “putting on our armor” is simply “putting on Christ:”
11 And this do, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts (Romans 13:11-14).
God is the “God of truth” who cannot lie (Psalm 31:5; Isaiah 65:16; Titus 1:2). He sent His Son to the earth to communicate, once and for all, His truth to men (see Hebrews 1:1-2; 2:1-4). The Lord Jesus not only came to communicate God’s truth (John 8:40), He was the Truth, the Truth that would set men free:
And the Word become flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him, and creed out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” For of His fulness we have all received, and grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him (John 1:14-18).
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6).
“ … and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
The truth was that Jesus was God’s promised Messiah. He was the Lamb of God who was sent to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). He died on the cross of Calvary, bearing our sins and its punishment. He was buried and rose from the dead, proving that God was satisfied with His saving work. It is by faith in Jesus Christ that men come not only to salvation, but to the truth. As Paul puts it, “But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus” (Ephesians 4:20-21).
He who is the truth has sent the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of Truth” (John 15:26; 16:13) and has given us the Bible, the “word of truth” (2 Corinthians 6:7; 2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:18), so that we may know all truth that is necessary for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4; see also 2 Timothy 3:14-17).
Putting on the truth begins with trusting in Him who is the truth, the Lord Jesus Christ. From this point, we enter into the life-long process of being sanctified in the truth (John 17:17, 19). This happens as we put off our former way of thinking and are transformed and renewed in our minds through the Word of God (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:17-24). It happens as Christians put off falsehood and speak the truth to one another in love, to their edification (Ephesians 4:15, 25, 29). This also involves guarding our minds from anything which is not true (Philippians 4:8), and avoiding all forms of “knowledge” which turn us from Christ (Colossians 2). It means turning from gossip, rumor, speculation, myths, and the traditions of men, and turning to Christ and His Word. It means learning to look at the world as it really is (Proverbs). It means putting the truth into practice, and not just making it a profession (Hebrews 5:11-14; 1 John 2:4; 2 John 1:1-4). It means clinging only to those truths which the Bible clearly and emphatically reveal as such, and holding much more tentatively those “truths” which are regarded as such by mere men. It means learning the truth for ourselves, and not depending on others to tell us what is true (Acts 17:10ff.; 1 John 2:26-27).
Centuries ago, the prophet Amos spoke of a famine: “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD” (Amos 8:11).
I fear that we live in a time of great famine. It is not because the Bible is inaccessible to us, or that we are forbidden to study it. It is not for lack of many good books and study helps. It is for lack of a love of the truth, and ultimately for our Lord Himself. Let us put on the truth as our armor. Let us, like David, yearn for a deeper knowledge of God through His word (Psalm 119). Let us meditate upon His truth day and night. Let us pray in accordance with His truth. And let us walk in the truth, to His glory and our good.
151 A friend of mine pointed out to me that Satan is indeed subtle in disseminating his doctrine of “no marriage” and “forbidden foods.” For those who are not pre-disposed to the “spiritual” side of life, Satan seeks to deceive them by taking a different tack. Our ungodly culture is now more and more inclined to look upon marriage as undesirable. And so the practice of living together is the “better way.” Certain foods are prohibited, not because God has called them unclean, but because of environmental or animal rights issues. Satan is more than willing to let us “have it our way” so long as we end up thinking and acting his way.
155 See also 18; 3:3-4; 1 John 2:26-27.