“Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armour of God’s righteousness.”
Ephesians 6:14 NLT
Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty of how Paul advised devil resistance. For the third time in this short section, he exhorted his readers to “stand“. “Stand your ground“, “stand firm“, “standing firm” all appear between verses 11 and 14. In the face of an onslaught, when the fight or flight emotions flood in, just to stand seems a bit counter-intuitive. But Paul, writing under the Holy Spirit’s direction and influence, knew what he was talking about. There he was in his prison cell, probably chained between two Roman soldiers, suddenly struck by how he could use the armour they were wearing as an illustration of the spiritual armour his friends in Ephesus would need.
The first item that caught his eye was the soldiers’ belts, which he straight away associated with the “belt of truth“. He could see immediately that truth was an important defensive weapon to be used against the devil’s attacks. The devil is very good at telling lies. In fact, Jesus warned us of his propensity for lying, as we read in John 8:44, “For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies“. But we have access to the absolute truth, because it is contained within God’s Word. Perhaps the devil is whispering things in your ear this morning, like “you’re rubbish”, or “you really messed up yesterday”, or he prevails on someone else to malign you on social media. All such comments can be distilled as lies, because the absolute truth is that you are a child of God. And so am I. I’m conscious as I write this blog today, that the devil is not happy with the words I’m using. He’s telling me I’m running out of time and need to be doing something else. But I’m determined to write down the truth about God’s love for His children. About how He created us, planned for us before the world was even created, put us together in our mother’s wombs. About how we are so wonderful to Him that we are the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8) and have our names written on the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16). These things are the truth about us. Not the lies the devil is using. So we stand firm in the truth about who God is and His relationship with each one of us.
The second item Paul noticed that his soldier-jailors were wearing, was their body armour. Their breastplates, protecting their hearts and vital organs from attack. And he associated this with righteousness. You see, it is our hearts that are the place where our relationship with God resides. Not our physical hearts, but that part of our spirit that softens when we think of God and His people, where the love for Him flows, where we feel the whisper of His love-breath, sweet and always there if we listen for it. Unfortunately, the sin and hassles of life will harden the walls of our hearts. But we have the truth before us that He will always forgive, always be loving, always be there for us. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary, when He died for us and exchanged His righteousness for our sins, we always can claim, and have access to, God’s righteousness. We confess and repent, He forgives. So the next time the devil accuses us of sin and tries to drive us down the tubes, we can stand because before God we are righteous. And there is nothing the devil can do about that. He was defeated by Jesus at the Cross. Keep Romans 8:1-2 in mind, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death“. The devil will try to condemn us because of our sins. Jesus says otherwise – I know who I want to listen to!
So we have an effigy of a Roman Soldier. And the belt and breastplate are glowing there like burnished gold, inducing a wobble into the devil’s tactics. Amazingly, there’s more – next thrilling instalment tomorrow.