In part 2 of the Armor of God serie Emmanuel explains how we can put on the belt of truth.
1. Introduction – summary of last week
We read from a letter of the apostle Paul who says there is a war going, not a war against other humans beings, but a spiritual war.
Therefore, he says, we should be ready and prepared: take up your spiritual armor and put it on!
Last week we saw that the war is not fought with guns and cannons, but with ideas. It is a battle for the mind.
Paul urges us to put on the armor of God. He uses the image of different armor parts of a Roman soldier.
Interestingly all of these spiritual armor parts have something to do with the mind and with understanding, intelligence and ideas
E.g The shield of faith, Gospel shoes, helmet of salvation: all cognitive concepts.
2. Today we are going to look at the Belt of Truth
Paul uses image of Roman soldier. Roman soldier would have a belt around his waist.
The belt was used to carry important equipment, such as knives and sword, darts, etc.
The belt was a very important item for the soldiers safety and readiness in battle
If the belt was out of place, other things, like his sword, would be out of place
Therefore the belt was firmly attached to his armor at several points so it would always be “in place”, no matter how he would move.
For us as “spiritual soldiers” truth is equally important. If our other equipment is not firmly supported by truth, we are in danger!
Our Faith, the Gospel, Righteousness, Salvation, The word of God, the Bible all depend on “Truth”.
E.g. if the Bible is not true, it maybe a interesting literature, but for real life it is useless…
Truth according to the dictionary: “that which corresponds with reality. That which is factual – facts. That which is true”.
If anything is under attack in our time it is “truth”.
Most of us grew up in the so called post-modern era that started somewhere in the 2nd half of the 20th century and continues more or less today.
Characterized by doubt, skepticism, suspicion. We cannot be sure of anything, we can’t know anything.
We can’t even know reality. Life is ultimately meaningless and purposeless…
We can see this in art: visual art & music.
Postmodern music sounds like “random sound”, because it is!
3. Relativism: “The ONLY ABSOLUTE TRUTH is that there are NO ABSOLUTE TRUTHS” (Feyerabend)
You probably won’t hear many people put it as bluntly as this, but you may have heard, or even have said it yourself! – “that maybe true for you but it is not for me”
Morals: Who are you to tell me what is true, or good?
Everything is relative…
The funny thing about relativism is that is contradicting itself!
1. The statement “There are no absolute truths” is an absolute statement which is supposed to be true. Therefore it is an absolute truth and “There are no absolute truths” is false.
2. If there are no absolute truths, then you cannot believe anything absolutely at all, including that there are no absolute truths. Therefore, nothing could be really true for you
All truth is relative…
1. If what is true for me is that “relativism is false”, then is it true that relativism is false?
2. If you say no, then what is true for me is not true and relativism is false. If you say yes, then relativism is false.
Ultimately relativism is illogical and self-defeating
We don’t know everything, and as Christians we even believe we cannot know everything. Somethings are beyond our comprehension.
But that does not mean we don’t know anything!
We know for example that gravity is a real and true.
It does not matter if you do not believe in gravity or think it is relative…try jumping of a skyscraper and you will soon find out that it’s true!
So ultimately, relativism is not only absurd, but also dangerous!
Relativism leads to Subjectivism
Subjectivism: “Reality is dependent on human consciousness /…/ as a result, subjectivists hold that a man need not concern himself with the facts of reality; instead, to arrive at knowledge or truth, he need merely turn his attention inward, consulting the appropriate contents of consciousness /…/ subjectivism is the doctrine that feelings are the creator of facts, and therefore men’s primary tool of cognition. If men feel it, declares the subjectivist, that makes it so.” (http://aynrandlexicon.com/book/intro.html)
Relativism leads to Experientalism: “if it feels good, just do it” (original Nike slogan)
There is no greater purpose or meaning to life, instead you go from one experience to another experience.
We can not be sure about the past nor the future, so let’s enjoy “now”. Carpe diem, cease the day, or YOLO!
Experience can be anything from simply getting drunk to a sophisticated 7 course wine diner, from a occasional one night stand to organized orgies,
Anything, just as long as it feels good!
Relativism leads to consumerism & materialism
Descartes, the French philosopher said: I think, therefore I am. Consumerism says: I shop, therefore I am!
We buy stuff, not because we need it like our grandparents used to do, but because it makes us feel good.
We don’t buy an actual thing, a TV for example, we buy an audio-visual experience.
Even Jesus and His church can become become victims of these aforementioned “-isms”!
“Jesus is is there to fulfill all your needs”. “Jesus died especially for you so you can become the person you were meant to be”
Instead of singing about Jesus, we sing songs about ourselves!
Laid behind a stone
You lived to die
Rejected and alone
Like a rose
Trampled on the ground
You took the fall
And thought of me
Instead of worshiping and serving the God who created us after His own image, we create a god after our own image who is there to worship and serve us!
Jesus of the Bible is the very opposite of all these ideas:
“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34) Meaning “giving his life as a sacrifice to reconcile God and men by dying on a cross”.
When the hour had come Jesus said: “Father, if you can, take this cup [=dying on the cross] from me. But not my will be done, but your will”
If Jesus was thinking about anyone “above all” it was His Father!
“the Son of Man came not to be served [fullfill his own needs, feelings] but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mat. 20:28)
4. Bible is deeply concerned about truth and therefore with reality
Psalm 51: You [God] delight in truth!
Psalm 86 Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth
Proverbs 23:23 Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.
Proverbs 14:25 A truthful witness saves lives, but one who breathes out lies is deceitful.
Zechariah 8 These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace /…/ Love truth and peace
Just do a Bible search on the word “truth” and look how many times Jesus uses this word!
The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus is full of grace and Truth.
Book of Revelation: [Jesus] the one whose name is Faithful and True
We are to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4)
Holy Spirit is called the spirit of Truth
1 Cor. 13 [Love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Phil. 4:8 whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
-> Truth has got a lot to do with integrity, purity, honesty, worthiness, justice, peace. All found in the character of God.
Bible is brutally honest about truth: it does not even leave out bad looking details of Bible heroes!
Noah, Mozes, David, St. Peter who denied Jesus 3 times, St. Paul who persecuted the church!
5. Reality check –
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deut. 6:5) = with everything we are and do.
The Biblical meaning of the word heart is not as sometimes is preached in modern times “mind/rational” vs. “heart/emotions”, but heart actually is “understanding”.
We are to love God with our emotions, feelings, passion, etc. with everything, also our mind and our intellectual capacities!
God never asks of us to turn of our brains.
The things we believe should be true and worthy of believing.
1 Cor 15:12 … Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead,
1 Cor. 15: 2 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sinsin accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
Truth about yourself
Jesus: I am the truth – not a set of ideas, but a person – truth is a personal relationship = trust