By: Mr. B. A. Ramsbottom
It seems remarkable that when the Lord describes the Heavenly armour, He mentions the girdle before anything else. “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth” (Eph. 6:14). Why should this be so?
The purpose of the girdle was to fasten up long-flowing garments. Before anything of effort or importance (e.g. Israel on the Passover night), it was necessary to “gird up the loins” – otherwise you might trip, or stumble, or fall, certainly not stand. Hence the exhortation before breastplate, shield, sword, to “bind the golden girdle round thee” (as Hart expresses it).
So this expression of “girding up the loins” is often used in a figurative way in Scripture. For instance:
“Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning. And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately” (Luke 12:35,36).
“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13).
The golden girdle is truth. Apart from this there can be no “girding up the loins” and no “standing.” There must be a vital, personal acquaintance with the truth.
1. The Truth “as in Jesus” (Eph. 4:21). The Holy Spirit reveals the truth of our lost, fallen condition and our need of a Saviour, and then the glorious truths of the Gospel: the Trinity; the Person of the Lord Jesus, God and Man; the covenant ordered in all things and sure; the riches of free grace; eternal election; the preciousness of atoning love and blood; the security of God’s people; the Person and work of the Holy Ghost – and a personal interest.
Apart from this golden girdle there can be no standing.
2. Truth in the heart and life through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Scripture speaks of truth being received “in the love of it” (2 Thess. 2:10), of walking in the truth (2 John 4). We cannot stand without this. There are those things about us by nature which, like the long-flowing garments, would trail in the mire unless girt up by the golden girdle.
Only having our loins “girt about with truth” can the Church of God, or the individual believer, stand today in this world of wickedness. The great need today in the Church of God is what Luther called “Amen men;” men who will stand whatever the cost.
“Stand therefore.” We live in a day of compromise. People do not wish to stand – unless they personally are affected, their ease, their reputation. When England was guilty of the infamous slave trade, John Newton said no professing Christian really liked it or really approved of it – but they did not stand against it because it did not affect them personally. When taxes were raised, they were only too willing to stand!
So often today, when vital issues arise, the position taken is: “It is not my business”; “It is nothing to do with me”; “I feel it is right to keep out of it.” May the Lord give us singleness of eye for His glory, the spirit of Elijah: “the Lord God of Israel before whom I stand.” May we not be like Ephraim: “The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle” (Ps. 78:9).
In all this we need a right spirit. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit.” “Lord, help us by Thy grace to stand.” Stormy petrels, who love contention and conflict, are no help to the Church of God.
“Stand therefore.” We need to stand for “the present truth” (2 Pet. 1:12). Luther said that if we stand firmly for every truth except the one at present being assailed, God counts us unfaithful. Some are wonderfully faithful in standing against the errors of the Pope and Archbishop, writing about them, denouncing them, but they do not stand firmly in the local Church against any deviation in faith or practice. This is not “standing.”
Some say they do not like trouble. No one does. Some seek to please both sides. Some (who should know better) say they do not understand. Some compromise. Some “look over their shoulder” to see what others think. Some say they do not wish to offend. “Stand therefore.”
But above all, the need to stand personally in the conflict. Satan is a mighty foe, too strong for us. So is the world, either opposing, persecuting or alluring. But what of indwelling sin, the conflict with self – evil self, proud self, self-righteous self? We can only stand as we are upheld. We do need the golden girdle. We do need to pray:
“Lord, help us by Thy grace to stand, And every trial firm endure; Preserved by Thy sovereign hand, And by Thy oath and covenant sure.” “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.”
THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
By: J. C. Philpot
We cannot take a walk by night or day without seeing the handiwork of God, and when we look at what we are in providence, we see that the same God has been our bountiful preserver in bestowing upon us innumerable favours; but we cannot know anything of the God of heaven and earth – the true God – except He is pleased to shine upon His holy Word, and God has provided that Word to give unto us some acquaintance with Himself.
We do not know God by any vision or ecstasy of enthusiastic rapture, but by what is revealed in the Scriptures. There He has made Himself known to the sons of men, but we need a divine light and faith in our soul to believe the Scriptures and we need that childlike temper and spirit given to us whereby we can receive the kingdom of God as a little child, so that though everything is opened up in the Scriptures, until the Holy Spirit, who wrote the Scriptures, is pleased to bring life and power into our soul, we may read them, but we read in vain.
But when the Holy Ghost is pleased to put life and power into the Scripture and to quicken our souls, thereby begetting us by the Word of truth, then we believe what God has said in the Scriptures and, thus we come to a right knowledge of the only true God. You will find, if you search and examine, that your knowledge of God and your feelings are in harmony with God’s Word, having been formed from the Scriptures being opened up with a divine power in your conscience.
You know from the Scriptures that there is a God – you could have known that from creation – but when He speaks in the Scriptures His voice is powerful and He gives you an ear to hear what He says in the Scriptures and then you come to know God as He has made Himself known – how just and holy He is. And you begin to know and see it in His banishing man from Paradise, in the flood, in the destruction of the cities of the plain and in the destruction of Pharaoh’s host in the Red Sea, and this justice is reflected in our heart, so that we find what a holy God He is. For we see holiness in every line in the Scriptures, and we feel that we have to deal with a holy God, which makes the soul tremble before Him; it sees how unholy it is before the omniscient God, who knows all hearts and says, “I search the heart and try the reins.”
Again and again are we made to feel that God knows everything before it comes to pass. He has predicted man’s thoughts again and again as the prophet predicted what lay so deep in the heart of Hazael (2 Kings 8:10-15). He reads our hearts. Everything is naked and open before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. He is also omnipotent; His name is Almighty. All things are not only made and preserved by Him, but He worketh all things. And we are made to feel that He is able to kill and heal. We stand before Him as grasshoppers, as the dust in the balance, as a drop in a bucket. We feel that He is God Almighty.
But as the Lord is pleased to lead us more and more into His blessed truth we begin to see Him in another character – we begin to see that He is not only just, holy, omnipotent and omniscient, but we begin to see also that He is the God and Father of Jesus Christ, not merely the God of infinite justice and holiness, but of mercy, compassion, goodness and love. When He is pleased to drop a sense of His goodness and mercy into our heart and give us some intimation of His favour towards us, we view Him not merely as a God holy and just, but as a God gracious and merciful.
We see the scheme of salvation originating in His love, we see Him sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to die for us, and we begin to believe in Him, to hope in His mercy and love His name with a pure heart fervently; for we see that He can rescue us out of the lion’s mouth. We have been tried perhaps in providence and God has appeared for us, and thus we see that He is not only a God of grace but of providence. Or if He has restored us again and again, we see that He is a God that healeth backslidings, and that His love endureth for ever, and as the Spirit give us hope and love we see not only what God is in the Scriptures, but we come to a spiritual knowledge of the only true God.