As Paul is sitting in a rental house in Rome with a Roman Centurion guarding him, he notices that this big strong, rough and ready Centurion is very careful to put on his belt, with its protective piece in front of his most vulnerable area.
So when Paul tells us to, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist …” he is warning us truth is our most vulnerable area, and we need spiritual armor there, “so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
Jesus also warns us about Satan’s lying and spinning schemes: “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)
Satan first spun the truth masterfully with Adam and Eve, when he planted just a seed of doubt about God’s integrity and his intentions: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?’”
“Did God really say …?” and Satan has been at it ever since. He now has the culture on cruise control as we spiral further and further away from any sense of absolute truth, and into the abyss of “everything is relative” truth, and “truth is a fluid and evolving concept.”
No it is not.
Jesus counters this cultural nonsense with his promise to set us free, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Jesus’ truth, the truth, is absolute, and it is absolutely freeing. When we focus on Jesus we are set free from the illusions of this culture. For men, the primary illusion is, “You are what you do and your worth is what you earn.” For many women the primary illusion might be, “You are how you look,” or perhaps, “You are how your children look and perform.”
Oh sure, Satan has many more illusions, and they are all about distracting you and discouraging you: “Look at that, him, her! You need that to be happy.” Or “Look at you. You’re so fabulous.” Or “You’re such a failure and a fake.”
The glitter and clutter of Satan and of our culture is a jungle of illusions, and it is extraordinarily difficult to see the way through this morass to the truth. A missionary to the Amazon once told me about moving through the Amazon jungle with a group of fellow missionaries, when they got word there was a renegade tribe coming to kill them. They moved well off the path and deep into the surrounding jungle. As he explained the experience to me he said it was a miracle in itself the warriors missed them.
But now, even though safe, they were hopelessly lost. One man cried out, “How will we ever find our way out of this?” The guide pulled out his machete and, hacking away at the underbrush, said, “Get behind me and follow me, I am the way out.”
Jesus promises freedom from all the confusion of the culture when he says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) Jesus is saying to you and to me, “I am the way through the glitter and the clutter and the confusion of Satan’s schemes, and I am the only and absolute truth. When you hold to this truth and use it as armor to protect you, you will be set free to live the life that is truly life.” (John 8:14 / 1 Timothy 6:19paraphrased)
Each morning before you get out of bed, say to the Lord, “Father, today I need the Holy Spirit power to see the truth, know the truth, and filter out the nonsense all around me so I can live the truth.”
With this power you can then see the truth to make the right choices.
Next week: “The Breastplate of Righteousness – of right choices.”