After many years of diverse career experience, I was excitedly counting down the days until my retirement. I eagerly anticipated being in control of my schedule and time while enjoying a slower pace of life. I envisioned more days devoted to serving in ministry at my church and deepening relationships...
Who or what has the final say in your life?
Your answer to this question will reveal what in your life determines truth and, ultimately, what you believe about Jesus Christ. In the last blog post, we discussed the meaning behind the belt of truth in Ephesians 6:10-14, and why this piece of armor is so important to us as Christians. We learned that the belt must be fastened on before all the other armor, and that the “truth” in “belt of truth” is Christ, Himself.
And so with that, I want to keep pushing farther and deeper, I pray, into the practical application of all of this: How do we make sure Christ has the final say in our lives?
The Word of God
It would be simple to say that Christ has the final say in our lives, but I’ve seen that there’s a temptation to use this kind of language as an excuse to keep living by our feelings and desires. Sadly, because we’re sinners who can deceive ourselves, but also because of the schemes of the devil, I’ve found that Christians will often rationalize sinful behaviors and beliefs because somehow we’ve been able to tack on the phrase “Jesus wants me to.”
You see, tacking the name of Jesus onto something doesn’t automatically make it right! So how do we know what Jesus wants us to do? How do we make sure it is truly Christ having the final say in our lives and not our own emotions, rationale, and desires?
The one place we know for sure that Christ has spoken is in His Word. Christ has taught us what we are to believe, how we are to live, through His Word. And so friend, if you ever say that “Jesus told me” to do this or that – it better stand up to the Word.
To make sure we’ve got the belt of truth on – we look to the Word of God. Secondly, let me suggest this – and this is particularly helpful when you don’t feel like your specific situation is “addressed” by the Word: To make sure Christ has the final say in your life, use the “Gospel test”.
The Gospel Test
If we’re living in a way that Christ has the final say in our lives, then Christ and His Gospel become the light by which we will be able to see what is true and right in any circumstance. That’s why I say there’s a “Gospel test” we can use for all we think or say or do. Ask yourself these four Gospel-questions about any thought or word or action:
- Does it honor Christ as Lord? Take suffering, for example. If Christ is the Lord of the universe – and He is – we know that because of Christ, any suffering is only temporary. Jesus is truly preparing an eternal weight of glory for us that far outweighs our sufferings (Rom 8:18) because He is the Lord over sin and death and hell. He is Lord over suffering! This truth protects us from the despair and hopelessness that the evil one seeks to thrust upon us. Instead, it gives us confidence in Christ.
- Does it increase my fight against sin? Take, for example here, the spouse in a strained marriage. The easiest thing to do in that circumstance is to focus on the other person’s sin. But the Gospel message of Christ reminds us that we are all sinners who are in need of a Savior. It helps us to see that we are not perfect people who have been sinned against – we are sinners who must humbly confess and fight against our own sin if our relationship is to be restored. Friends, the belt of truth is a blessing – it will lead to restored relationships!
- Does it increase my love and praise for my Savior? Take that area you find so “gray” and not very “black & white” in your life. Could be your approach to money. Could be your approach to movies and TV. Could be your approach to purity. Can it survive this question? I think the other way of asking this question is: “Will others love and praise my Savior through what I’m saying or doing?”
- Does it strengthen my faith? Let me give a personal example here. Particularly when I’m feeling weary, I strive to be as comfortable as possible. With that comes the temptation to ignore the things that would strengthen my faith – namely, spending time in God’s Word. Instead, I become convinced that picking television over reading the Word will rejuvenate me. But that never happens. Pursuing my own comfort only makes me want more comfort. It never strengthens my faith and refreshes me like I think it will. So asking this question sheds the light of Christ on our situations so that we can see them truly.
Friend, if you put anything – any thought or word or deed – through the Gospel test of these four questions and it passes – you can stand in good confidence that you are giving Christ the final say in your life. You are wearing the belt of truth!
For some of you, this whole concept feels foreign because you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior. Friend, I firmly believe that there’s only one divine warrior who is true and who is worthy of you staking your life upon – Jesus Christ. He is the One who defeated sin and Satan and death when He went to the cross, shed His blood, and rose again from the dead – all for you and for me.
If you put on the belt, you are readying yourself for salvation: to receive Christ by faith, to gain eternal life, and to have victory and power over sin and death and the evil one forever. Will you fasten on the belt of truth today?