The Bible tells us we’re not fighting against flesh and blood. Our enemy isn’t our next-door neighbor. The problem isn’t our spouse or that person who hurt us. Our fight is against the greatest enemy: Satan and his demons. In this series, we will be looking at how to fight against these “stranger things” by studying the armor of God. In this sermon, Pastor Tim Azevedo goes through the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness.
How many of you have watched some, if not all, of Stranger Things? I decided to name this series Stranger Things because our real enemy isn’t other human beings. It’s the spiritual forces of evil in the spiritual realms, or the upside-down, if you will. I’ve entitled today’s message: Friend’s Don’t Lie
Last week, Pastor Norman started us off by explaining to us a little bit about Satan and his fallen angels. I’m not sure if you believe in all of this or not but I hope you can keep an open mind to all of it. The Bible says that Satan was created by God and was an angel of light named Lucifer. He used to worship God but then he wanted to be god. His pride corrupted him and eventually, God kicked him out of heaven. Lucifer took one-third of the angels with him and these fallen angels are what we now call demons.
Today, Satan’s goal is to make us fall as he fell. His goal is to kill, steal, and destroy us. So how do we fight against this enemy? We must put on the whole armor of God.
The Apostle Paul tries to illustrate this by using the pieces of armor from a Roman soldier back in his day. He mentions 6 pieces or armor so for the next 3 weeks, we’ll look at two of them at a time. Pastor Tony Evans does a beautiful job explaining the armor of God. So a lot of what I say today stems from his sermons but also from my research on the subject. So let’s dive in.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firmEphesians 6:10-13
Paul repeats himself. Since we are up against these spiritual forces of evil, these stranger things, put on the WHOLE armor of God! We do this so we can withstand in the evil day. What’s the evil day? The day the enemy comes for you.
“Sounds scary”. It is…unless you put on the whole armor of God. Paul says, once you have put on the whole armor of God, STAND FIRM!
What does it mean to stand firm?
I love Tony Evan’s illustration on this. When you’re outside, and it’s raining, hopefully, you are equipped with an umbrella. This umbrella will provide you with cover. It will keep you dry, and if you got this umbrella, it will make you look really cool. In life, the rain is all the chaos happening in the world. The evil things, the things that tempt you. But as long as you’re under the umbrella, you’re good! You’re untouched. You’re dry!
What Satan tries to do is move you away from that cover. He wants you to ditch the umbrella. He wants you to move away from God’s covering over your life. Paul is saying stand firm!
Here’s a Truth we often forget. Satan has already been defeated. Jesus defeated Him on the cross. Today we sang Romans 8:37, “…we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” So we can stand firm because we know that Jesus already won! So what’s the first piece of armor?
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth.Ephesians 6:14a
The first piece of armor Paul lists is this:
1. Put on the belt of truth.
The way Paul says this gives us the notion that we must always have this belt on.
There are some things that you never leave the house without right? For women, it might be their purse, chapstick, mirror. For men, it might be their wallet. We each have our own thing. But I think for most of us, it’s our cell phones right? For me, at least, when I leave the house, I could have my wallet, everything I need for the day, but if I forget my cell phone, the car seems to ignore all traffic laws and turns itself around. Paul is saying: This belt of truth is worth turning around for. You must ALWAYS have it on! Why? Because…
Satan is a liar.
Jesus says this in John.
. . . He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.John 8:44
In the show Stranger Things, the group of friends live by a code. “Friends don’t lie.” And guess what…the devil is NOT your friend. The devil’s power comes from his deception. He only knows how to lie so the only power he has is the power you give him. He lies so that we can doubt the Truth about who God is, who we are, what the purpose of life is.
But why a belt?
A belt holds everything in place right? It helps when you need to tuck in your shirt. It holds your pants up. Sometimes a girl can wear a dress, but when she adds the belt, it’s the final touch. It brings the entire outfit together. When you’re married, you learn this stuff. But back then, they wore long tunics. They didn’t have pants back then. So many times, they would grab their tunic and tuck it into their belt to prepare themselves for work, or to run, or do whatever was necessary.
That’s what the belt of truth does. It holds together all of the other pieces of armor. Without it, we begin to wander and believe the lies from Satan, and then we don’t even know what truth really is. We begin to doubt.
But the question is: What is Truth?
Tony Evans defines truth this way.
Truth is an objective standard by which reality is measured.Tony Evans
In other words, God is the originator of ALL things. NOTHING came before God. So reality always points back to God. He is the fixed standard.
It’s kind of like in London. In London, you can find a big clock tower they call Big Ben. Big Ben’s time is the fixed standard. Everyone in England knows that if their watch doesn’t show the same time as Big Ben’s time, they are wrong. Big Ben is never wrong. Someone can walk around with their watch 5 minutes late, and they can say “I have the correct time. This is my watch. I bought it. I set it. In fact, my other friends have the same time. I feel that my time is the correct time. This is MY truth!”
Guess what? Big Ben doesn’t care how you feel.
He doesn’t care how expensive your watch was, how long you’ve had your watch, or if your watch was given to you by your grandmother. If your watch doesn’t match Big Ben, then your watch is wrong! If EVERYBODY in England had your time, then EVERYBODY in England would be WRONG!
This is why it’s so important to put on the belt of truth. When we put on the belt of truth, Satan will lie to us and tell us “Everything is alright! Keep doing what you’re doing! You have your truth. That’s all that matters.” But with the belt of truth on, you say, “Nah-uh! That’s not the Truth. God’s Word says the opposite. So get behind me Satan. You can’t fool me!”
Jesus said in John 8 that the Truth will set you free. So it doesn’t matter if we don’t like it. Doesn’t matter if people are voting against it or if we prefer our own truth. The only thing that keeps demons away is the truth. Satan will do whatever He can to BLOCK God’s Truth.
So how do we put on the belt of Truth?
One way is to meditate on God’s Word. But how do we meditate on God’s Word? Here’s the thing: If you know how to worry…then you know how to meditate. Worrying is meditating on negative things.
Did you ever do that? You worry when you get up, you worry as you get ready for work. You begin to worry about work on your way to work. Then on your way home, you start to worry about whatever is waiting for you at home. Then you can’t sleep because your mind is filled with worries. Then you begin to worry about the fact that you keep on worrying. Now do that…but with God’s Word.
Read God’s Word, learn it, study it, memorize it, teach it, discuss it with other people. Read God’s Word when you wake up. Listen to God’s Word on your way to work. Listen to worship music on your way home. Discuss God’s Word with your children and friends. Do that for a week and talk to me afterward and let me know if you see a difference in your life. Put on the belt of truth!
What’s the second piece of armor?
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousnessEphesians 6:14
2. The Belt of Righteousness
So we put on truth and then we put on righteousness. What is righteousness?
Righteousness is the standard that God requires for people to become acceptable to Him.Tony Evans
This standard comes from the Truth. So the belt and the breastplate work together. We know the Truth but then we have to APPLY the Truth. That’s righteousness.
It’s kind of like in basketball. The standard height of the rim is exactly 10 feet off the ground. I remember as a kid watching Space Jam. The first scene is of Michael Jordan when he was a child. He looks at the net and starts to run towards it and jumps up as if to dunk it! So as a child, I thought: I know I’m Brazilian, but if he can do it, I can do it! So I tried to reenact the scene with the basketball hoop in my backyard and I used all the strength I had with my tiny Brazilian legs, and failed, miserably…every single time. But then there were other times when I played basketball with a rim that could be dropped several feet down. Then I was able to dunk like Jordan. Tongue out and everything!
Many people lower the standard, make the shot, and think they’re doing alright. So we settle for less than the standard. Instead of shooting for righteousness, we come up short. In the Bible, that’s called sin. Something we ALL have experience with. Sin is the opposite of righteousness.
When we sin it attracts the enemy. They feed off our sin and our temptation. But when we live in righteousness, it keeps them away.
But here’s the problem: God doesn’t lower the standard.
It doesn’t matter how good we think we are, the rim is at 10 feet and we can’t dunk the ball. So what are we supposed to do? If righteousness keeps the enemy away, but God doesn’t lower the standard, what can we do? No one is perfect.
We must put on the breastplate of righteousness.
Why a breastplate?
For a Roman soldier, the breastplate is what protected their vital organs. What is the most vital organ in your body? The heart! We know that life is in the blood right? But the heart is what pumps the blood throughout the body. If the heart isn’t pumping blood, then the rest of the body starts to shut down. But there’s a spiritual aspect to this. Paul is so intelligent!
The heart is your spiritual pump. God uses your heart to pump HIS life into you. Here’s the thing about being a Christian. When someone becomes a Christian, snd I don’t mean just because your parents are Christians or because you go to church once in a while, or because when you were a kid you were baptized or confirmed, or had a pastor pray over you. I’m saying when you drop everything and commit to following Jesus and He saves you, something AMAZING happens!
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT
That is Good News for all of us! Here’s what happened on the cross. When Jesus was on the cross, He became sin. All of our trash and our mess and our sin were pinned with Him to the cross. Then Jesus made a trade. He took our sin, and He gave us His righteousness. Jesus took upon Himself the wrath of God so that we could be set free. So this breastplate of righteousness only really works when we have the righteousness of Christ in us. When we surrender everything and commit to Jesus, He puts His perfection in us! So let me just emphasize that Satan doesn’t want you to know this. He wants you to think that religion will save you. That doing your best to be good enough will save you. No! Even when we do all of that, we’re still 4 feet tall, trying to dunk the ball 10 feet in the air. But when we surrender to God and finally admit that we are imperfect, that we can’t save ourselves and we tell Jesus that we need Him, then He saves us by transforming our spirit.
But even after our spirit is transformed, our soul is still broken. This gets a little deep but try to track with me. Even after being saved, we still have our struggles, our sin, our failures. We don’t completely change overnight. Your spirit is what connects you to God. That’s how God saves you. But your soul is made up of your emotions, your mind, your personality. This is what makes you you. But unfortunately, our soul is broken. That is when the Spirit of God begins to change your soul, we call it “sanctification”. We start to become more and more like Jesus.
Think of it like layers. Picture three circles. You have your physical body. Inside of your body is your soul. Inside of your soul is your spirit. So the change starts in the spirit. Then God works through your spirit to change your soul. Then when your soul changes, your exterior changes. Change happens from the inside out.
So the Truth of God has to go through three layers to really hold root in your life. Some people can hear today’s message and it will only enter their ears or maybe even their soul. You might be interested, but it doesn’t take root. But for some of you, today’s message will enter your spirit, and you know when it happens because you can’t ignore it. That’s when your spirit hears Jesus calling out to you and He leaves you with a choice: Follow me or reject me.
When you decide to follow Jesus and make HIM Lord of your life, and accept HIS Truth, then He takes your sin and gives you His righteousness. You become a completely new person. That’s why we call it being born again.
This makes Satan very angry! So he will continually throw lies at you so that your heart can be divided. So that you can ditch the umbrella. So that you can lower the standard. So that you can live life according to your own time, and not Big Ben’s time.
So how do we protect ourselves from Satan’s attacks?
First, we must put on the belt of Truth. Friends don’t lie and Satan is not our friend. He’s the enemy! Meditate on the Truth. It’s not enough to hear it once a week on a Sunday. Make the Truth part of your everyday life. Don’t leave the house without it.
And then we put on the breastplate of righteousness. We must let go of your own efforts and allow God to change you. Accept the righteousness of Christ.
If you’ve already made a commitment to follow Jesus, know that you’re already saved but the enemy wants to do whatever he can to make you ineffective on the battlefield. Trust in the Truth of God’s Word, no matter which way our society is going. Ask God to keep changing you. Ask God to give you a hunger for His Word. Ask God to make you bold to tell others about Jesus.
But maybe you’ve never had a relationship with Jesus. It’s always been just a religion for you. It’s always been just about the exterior. Let me tell you that if there was another way to save you God would have done it. But there wasn’t. The only way was for God to become a man and defeat death on a cross so that we could enter into a relationship with Him.