“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness” Eph. 6. 14 NKJV Michael Jordan may be one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball. Yet, as great as he was, it wasn’t until his seventh professional season in the NBA that he finally led the Chicago Bulls to one of many championships. Some have claimed it was because of a new trainer who helped Jordan focus on his core strength. The ‘core’ is the group of muscles in our midsection that help support the spine when we move. Just about every movement we make somehow involves core strength, even our breathing. It is the basis of physical ability.
Roman soldiers knew about core strength too. It’s no secret in the Bible that physical movement is directly related to the core muscles. The old English idiom, ‘gird up the loins’ was like saying ‘dress for action’. It’s not a coincidence that when deciding which piece of armour to describe first, Paul began with the soldier’s core. The belt came before everything else. Other pieces of armour were attached to it, and it gave the soldier freedom and strength to move quickly. And for us, before anything else, and underneath everything else, a Christian prepared for the devil’s attacks will have the ‘core strength’ of his mind supported by truth.
When the enemy comes, he will use different methods to assault us, but those different schemes all involve lies. His roaring and his angelic messages are lies. Please don’t underestimate him, or overestimate yourself!
Notice what he did with the truth when he approached Eve in Genesis chapter 3. The first thing he did was to distort it. ‘Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden”?’ It’s so close to the truth that it’s almost impossible to spot the lie. He spoke true words, but he twisted the emphasis just enough to distort their view of God. He tweaked their theology to make it look as though God was holding something back from them.
Then Eve followed suit and took another step to attack truth. She added to it. She explained to the serpent what God had really said, and she told the serpent that God didn’t just tell them not to ‘eat’ of the tree, but also not to ‘touch’ it. But God did not say that. She did. And ever since, we have continued to add to God’s words and commands with our own self-righteous rules and traditions.
The third blow to truth was denial. The serpent had set her up for his outright affront to what God had said. This time, there is no twisting or distortion involved. ‘You will not surely die'. What started as a subtle distortion and addition had developed into a full-blown rejection of God’s unbreakable word. But he is not finished with his attack on truth just yet.
With one final swoop he takes aim, and this time, he replaces it with his own alternative. ‘For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil'. The serpent doesn’t merely destroy truth; he replaces it with ‘another gospel’.
What the enemy did in the beginning with his lies, he is doing in your life as you read this. He continues to offer you alternatives to the true gospel of living by the power of Christ alone. He distorts your view of your heavenly Father. He sows his seeds of doubt in your mind. He openly confronts your understanding of scripture and your gospel-centred worldview. He sets up counterfeits with promises of happiness, and security, and meaning. He has no intention of delivering on those promises. He doesn’t need to. He is a thief who has come only to steal and kill and destroy.
But here’s the good news: truth cannot be destroyed! Do you remember the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel? Do you remember all the frantic, pathetic actions of those 450 prophets of Baal? How they danced, and chanted, and disgraced themselves? Do you also remember the confident actions of Elijah as he drenched his altar before praying for fire with simple words? If there’s one lesson we take as we leave Mount Carmel, it’s that a lie cannot be made true, and truth cannot be destroyed. No matter how hard you try to drench the truth or scream for the lie to come to life, the truth will always be true. We didn’t invent it, and we cannot destroy it. It is not defined by our emotions. It stands separate from us. It is what it is, and that’s good news!
But truth is more personal than just hard realities and facts. All truth is only true because it finds its source in a Person. Jesus told His disciples, ‘I am the truth … no one comes to the Father except through me'. And when the religious leaders were crucifying Jesus, they were not merely trying to destroy Him, they were trying to erase the truth. But Mount Carmel and Mount Calvary are very similar – truth cannot be destroyed, and the Author of all truth cannot be held in a grave. To bow to Jesus Christ is to submit to what is true. To embrace truth is to be truly free.
If only Eve had been looking to the One who must always be trusted. Don’t repeat her tragedy. Look at the world and all of life through the lens of scripture. Test everything, and don’t trust in feelings or emotions. Make sure your knowledge of God is anchored to truth as defined by the Source of life. He Himself must be your ‘core strength’ against the enemy of your soul.