*** double click video to view full screen***
Description: Grasping God’s Truth
Grasping God’s Truth
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
We will be talking a little about Ephesians 6:14 today. The verse before says, “Therefore take on
the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to
stand.” That’s what we have been talking about and now we get into the details of the armor of God.
In verse 14, “Stand therefore having girded your loins with truth….” The Father is saying in this
present world what we need is to be girded ourselves with truth and be clear about it.
Barth [Karl Barth, Swiss Reformed theologian, 1886-1968] wrote a little about Christian Science. He
says Christian Scientists believe God is the only reality and everything else; sin, sickness, evil
and death are just appearances and not realities. That leads to the shallowness of the Christian
Science doctrine which is change your thinking and you’ll experience the life that you should
experience. So they tackle sickness in the same way saying sickness is not a reality, it is just an
appearance. If you see it as that — just a lie — you’re on the way to healing and can hold onto
that no matter what happens. Barth makes the point that God is the reality but sin, sickness, evil
and death are all realities. When God set before us the tree of knowledge and the tree of life and
we chose the tree of knowledge it brought real consequences in this present world that are
I don’t if any of you have come across the term — it always baffled me when I first did — they are
the realities of the left hand of God. The realities of sin, sickness and death are not his ideal
realities or ideals for us at all. They are not the ones he has for us in his right hand. They are
the ones he has in his left hand for a purpose. Those are very real things and the blood which
flowed from Jesus’ side was real blood. He bore that reality. He bore our sins in himself. They
were real sins and he felt the pain of them and experienced the death that they brought. So sin,
sickness, evil and death are very real things.
The world, of course, in which we live, tries to pretend they are not real and they aren’t so
important. The world is full of its own truth and we ourselves are fighting against the flesh and
blood issues. They aren’t the important thing. The important thing is to fight against the rulers of
this present darkness who misinterpret the whole situation. We pretend we can tackle them on our
own. You know we have often talked about why we are here. We were created in Jesus so that in him or
he in us could bring this world under God’s will. That’s the whole purpose of our lives.
But we are surrounded by the rulers of this darkness and with the principalities and powers that are
constantly feeding to us lies. One of those lies is that we must tackle these rulers by our own
strength and effort. Most of our brothers and sisters are caught up in that and we are also from
time to time. We think this is our job to bring this world into order under God’s will. Wherever we
find chaos our job is to bring it to order.
Of course because we believe that lie we often find ourselves in situations where we get impatient
with ourselves and depressed with ourselves and disappointed with ourselves, where we fail to do
something that we know we should do. Or we fail to bring into order something that we know needs it.
We get irritated, down and depressed. Of course it is because our loins are not girt with truth.
They are girt with the lies of the principalities and powers. They are girt with the attitudes that
are normal here in humanity. We are girt with the idea that it is our job to bring this about.
Of course it is not our job to bring it about. It is Christ within us that will give us the power to
bring this about. That’s his job. But we so often think no that’s our job. That’s part of the reason
we get so disappointed with ourselves, so irritated with ourselves and so worried and anxious. Our
only job is to let Christ do what he has planned to do in this present situation. We feel it is our
job to look at the whole situation, size it all up and bring it into order. It’s not. That’s his
job. Our job is to simply do what he guides us to do. Sometimes it will involve God’s will of death
as he did for Jesus. Sometimes it will result in a glorious healing of some man or some woman.
Sometimes the results will seem to the world like failure but to God they are victory, the victory
he has in his Son.
So that’s part of what it means to gird our loins with truth. It is to begin to reject the lies that
the principalities and powers have made normal in our societies and to begin to see the thing as it
really is. You know it so clearly with the celebrity cult. You know with the poor little guy or girl
in school now — none of them have any doubt what success is. Success to them is being on TV or
known by everybody or to be famous in some way.
Of course it is a lie that brings a small percentage of the world into depression and disappointment
and a sense of failure. So part of the way to gird ourselves is to see things as they really are —
the way God sees them. It is seeing that it is his Son through us that will bring the world into his
Father’s will. It isn’t even what state we think it should be at the moment. But it is bringing it
into the state that his Father has in mind in that situation.
Irene was telling me a funny story about the Falklands about how the person who was governing used
to be a fighter pilot in the war, eventually went to Oxford, became an ambassador, member of the
Foreign Service and then ended up being the king of Falklands, our man in the Falklands. The story
goes there were 300 sheep to one person. It was a nothing sort of place. But he ended up dressed in
a huge, tall hat, sword and so forth. The Argentinean general attacked the Falklands and there is a
funny incident where the governor knew he had to surrender because he didn’t want any more killing.
The general accepted it and wanted to shake his hand. But the governor didn’t want to. The general
then said it isn’t very gentlemanly to not accept the offered hand. The governor said, “Well, it is
not very civilized to invade my country.” So the governor left in a London Taxi to await his
transport off the island, as it was the only vehicle that would accommodate his tall hat. He later
flew to Uruguay and Margaret Thatcher took over the negotiations. So it was like a soap opera on
TV. It was the man’s obituary that Irene was reading to me. It is so easy to say, “Oh, a letdown.”
That was God’s will for his life.
To us, for the guy to end up in a little place like the Falklands in a surreal soap opera seems a
failure. But it was God’s will. We have to take seriously that truth is not what we normally talk
about as the truth of the Bible but it is truth as they are here and to see them clearly and with
open eyes. Certainly I can see we are utterly off balance on this attitude on what we are here to
do. We are here to do it. We are here to bring this order about. So we set about it, almost pushing
God to the side, saying it is obvious this is what we have to do with poor people or people who are
hungry. This is what we have to do with this kind of money. This is what we have to do with these
books in our library. Really we have to gird our loins with truth and seek God to see how he views
things; how he views things need to be brought into order. It can conceivably be a completely
different order to what we have in mind. He can do things before we want to do things.
So it is vital that we gird our loins with truth. Otherwise we will find ourselves in the situation
where we feel we are not what we should be — we are not getting done the things I should get done.
If we see what God has for us to do and do that, there will be peace there.
The other way to gird our loins with truth is in regard to the world itself. It’s very easy for us
to take the attitude that the rulers of the present darkness take. It is that this world is here for
us to make it what God wants it to be. This world is here for us to build heaven on earth. That’s
our purpose and that’s what we must strive for. God’s truth is utterly different. This world is
here to show us what he is not like and guide us how to size things up and how to understand certain
situations. If we do that, his ways are ways of pleasantness and all his paths are peace. In fact,
our life will flow on in endless song above earth’s lamentations. I think that is his will for us.
Let us pray.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you
now and forever. Amen.