Stand Therefore With Truth
Imagine there is a bracket surgically attached to the back of your head. Connected to that bracket is a thick metal wire that extends up and forward, over the top of your head. It then curves downward inches in front of your forehead. There it secures in place a frame. This frame holds a window. Through this window you see the world. No matter where you turn, the window is always in front of your view. It’s your Belief Window.
You can’t actually see your belief window because it’s invisible. But it’s there. We all have one. Your belief window is always with you–shaping, coloring and filtering what you see and sense. Each day, oceans of data and information pass through your window, helping you make sense of the world. Through it you interpret relationships, meaning and feelings about yourself and others.
The tricky thing about your belief window is that over time you’ve placed perceptions on your window that you believe are true whether they reflect reality or not. Through your experiences and interpretation of social feedback, you’ve fashioned hundreds of perceptions of yourself: “I’m smart or stupid, beautiful or ugly, creative or dull.” Regardless of whether these perceptions are false, they guide your thinking. Because you believe and perceive it, you act accordingly.
The danger is that erroneous perceptions on our belief window can cause great harm and confusion. Unless our belief window truly reflects reality—things as they are, not as we wish they were or think they should be—we can fool ourselves and damage our chances for growth in any activity or relationship we undertake.
Remember, if you like, you can take out your belief window and replace it with another. You can replace your view with a view that aligns with truth as you come to understand it. This is why knowing truth and keeping truth around us is so important.
Belief windows are incredibly powerful. They’ve shaped history. They’ve toppled dictators and elected presidents. They have fostered families, and raised productive and good children. If we could understand how to create and sustain truth in the beliefs on our belief window, imagine the power we could harness for good in our lives and the lives of those around us.
Not long ago I had a conversation with my college-age daughter. I suggested she take an accounting class. To which she immediately replied, “I don’t think so, Dad, I’m not good at accounting.” I asked, “How do you know? You’ve never taken an accounting class?” She said, “I just know Dad.”
I wondered “What conclusion had she formed that caused her to have the belief on her belief window that she wasn’t good at accounting?” As we talked, I learned she had struggled to easily understand concepts in her math class. She had concluded that since she struggled grasping math concepts, she would not be good at accounting because accounting had something to do with numbers.
But reality was drastically different than her beliefs. First, most people, almost all people struggle with new math concepts. It takes time, repetition and experience until math concepts make sense or seem easy to grasp.
The truth is: accounting is a language. Accounting is more about learning the structure and language of business, and less to do with math.
So as a sophomore in college, she took her first accounting class. The class was difficult as it is for almost all students. But she did exceptionally well. As a result, her belief window changed.
It is incredibly easy to go through life with erroneous beliefs on our belief window. This is why truth is so important. When we know truth, we can act, and the lens on our belief window can be replaced with what is good and right.
In D&C 27, the Lord asks us to put on the whole armor of God and in verse 16 says, “Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.”
The metaphor here is worth consideration. The flowing garments worn in Jesus’ day often included a belt and when preparing for work, the wearer would tuck the hem of the garment in the belt or use a knot to wrap the bottom portion of the garment around the waist and upper legs. The result looks very much like long baggy shorts.
The wearer was then ready to work, to run if necessary and prepared to act. Likewise, we can put on truth, preparing us to see with the right perspective and act in the right way.
With truth on our belief window, we act differently. When we gain a testimony, for example, of the truth of prayer as a means to gain spiritual power, we look to God more and that looking influences your actions.
The opposite is also true. Satan is the great deceiver, accuser and father of lies. He spreads seeds of doubt. He would like nothing more than to use lies to keep us from placing truth at the forefront of our life. Instead, he would place falsehoods on our belief window that keep us imprisoned and unhappy.
If we think we cannot repent or overcome we act accordingly. If we believe the truth that by coming to Christ he can enable us to eventually prevail, we act accordingly. Truth matters.
The source of truth is the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is a revelator. He is the Comforter, who teaches us “the truth of all things; … [who] knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.”[i]
The Holy Ghost can, overtime, help us put truth on our belief window. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” The truth is: as we strive to keep the commandments and seek truth, we move closer to Christ grace by grace or in other words glory by glory. Little by little changing the lens, or glass, on our belief window until our view is Christ’s view and we behold as with a truthful lens the glory of the Lord and who we can become.
Satan would have us believe we can’t change. But the truth is we can change. As stated in 2 Nephi 1:23, “Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust.”
Breastplate of Righteousness
Putting on the whole armor of God includes the breastplate of righteousness. Just as a breastplate gives you a sense of security, so does righteous living.
Elder William Bradford taught, “In a world where transgression, corruption, and terrorism strike fear into men and women, where can we turn for safety and security? There is no safety and security except in righteousness. There is no place to hide. There are no walls to keep out the adversary and his campaign of opposition. There is no defense against the uncertain and unknown except righteousness. Fear in the hearts and minds of men and women can be turned to peace only by replacing that fear with an understanding of God’s plan of happiness and the knowledge that they are doing all they can to become righteous and worthy to qualify for eternal salvation.”[ii]
Think of the security that comes through pure thoughts or honesty. In such things you don’t have to worry, you never have to hide, and you can feel joy and congruence in your life. There is a balance that exists between what we know and value inside, and what we do or what we externalize in our behavior.
Congruent people live in a way that the inside and the outside are aligned. This way of living produces peace. It also produces a strong sense of authenticity
“But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.”14
Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace
When I am in turmoil and confused, I feel paralyzed and unable to act on my own. I feel bound by my habits and weaknesses. I feel inadequate because of my fears. In this state, I am unable to move forward. I can’t walk freely.
Walking with God is to be in harmony with God’s teachings and to be receptive and obedient to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. To Shod means to bind under one’s feet, to be in bonds, to tie, to wind, to knit or be at one with. It also has to do with your walk, or how you walk in your life from day-to-day.
In Moses 5:27, the Lord calls Enoch to his work, “And he heard a voice from heaven, saying: Enoch, my son, prophesy to this people, and say unto them—Repent, for thus saith the Lord….” “And when Enoch had heard these words, he bowed himself to the earth, before the Lord, and spake before the Lord, saying: Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?
“And the Lord said unto Enoch: Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee. Open thy mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance, for all flesh is in my hands, and I will do as seemeth me good…. Behold my Spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will I justify; and the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course; and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me.”
Later in Moses 7:13, we read Enoch had transformed from the timid man slow of speech to a man of power, “And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God… he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him.”
What gave Enoch this power? Moses 6:39 tells us, “he walked with God.”
With our feet shod with the gospel of faith, repentance, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, our life becomes a walk with God. And when we walk with God, we can do what we otherwise do not think we can do.
Shield of faith
D&C 27 says, “Taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
How does faith enable us to quench the fiery darts of the wicked?
Believe it or not, it works like a pinewood derby car! Have you ever wondered why some pinewood derby cars always seem to win? It’s because they know the secret. Here is the secret…
A pinewood derby car rolls down the track with its wheels on either side of a bumper rail. As the car travels, it may go slightly off course but the wheels hit the edges of the bumper rail keeping it straight.
However, each time the car hits the railing it creates friction. And friction slows the car down. So, the secret to winning a pinewood derby race is to minimize friction.
Here’s how you do it… First, extend the wheel axles as far apart as possible placing them at the front-most and the back-most of the car. This results in the wheels coming in contact with the bumper fewer times during the race and thereby reducing significant friction. Then, bend one wheel up, entirely off the track. This results in less friction with the track.
These two modifications will result in a winning car.
Faith works similarly in our life. It reduces the number of times we have spiritual friction. Spiritual friction can best be described as times during our day when a temptation comes our way and we have to pause to decide. Each time we have to decide we experience friction. It slows us down, causes us to deviate and we risk taking the wrong turn.
But with faith, you’ve already decided. When temptation comes your way, you simply dismiss it out of hand, because you have faith in what you have learned or decided.
For example, if you’ve decided to have faith in the lesson you heard on Sunday about gratitude, you keep your thoughts focused on things for which you are grateful. When you are tempted during the day to give way in your thoughts to what went wrong or what somebody did to you, you let those thoughts go because you’ve decided to be grateful.
Faith reduces spiritual friction and quenches or swallows up Satan’s purpose in your own.
Helmet of salvation
What does it mean to put on the helmet of salvation? A helmet protects the vulnerable part of your body. It protects your thinking, sight, and other senses.
Our spiritual senses are strengthened when we worship fully, and seek a personal relationship with Christ. We do that by getting acquainted with his teachings and fill our heart with feelings for him. We can make more room for him in our day and in our hearts.
In speaking of the helmet of salvation, Lavell Edwards said, “Can you imagine how it would be to play a game of football without a helmet? It is the same as trying to live in this world of turmoil without the plan of salvation…. Think of the amazing sacrifice the Lord made for each of us that we might have salvation from Adam’s transgression and from our own sins. Think of the intense suffering He bore in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross to fulfill His mission on this earth. Think of the overwhelming love He must have for us to have completed the earthly part of His ministry in such a way. It is the greatest gift that will ever be given, and we must use it daily to repent, to make wise choices, to always have that eternal perspective, and to work toward exaltation.”[iii]
Of all the quotes that would describe someone who wears the helmet of salvation, perhaps this quote from the Prophet Joseph Smith says it best: “We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker, and is caught up to dwell with Him.”[iv]
Sword of God’s Spirit
In speaking of the word of God and the voice of His spirit, the Lord says they are “quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow.”
A two-edged sword can penetrate hearts that have been hardened by the world. “Through the Spirit, God reveals things ‘to our spirits precisely as though we had no bodies at all’ (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 475). His word can also cut through culture, habits, biases, preconceptions, and doubts to speak to the innermost part of us, whether we are righteous or wicked.”[v]
A two-edge sword divides quickly and makes clear to us the separation between the cunning of the devil and the truth of Jesus Christ. A two-edge sword can cut in any direction allowing us to quickly and powerfully act overcoming obstacles that might be in our way.
God’s spirit can pierce through anything, anger, disappointment, discouragement, depression, stress, and can prevail. It penetrates deep, with feeling and you have likely felt the deep feelings of the spirit at quiet moments in your life.
“In ancient days, swords were made in many styles. Each nation fashioned its own swords; some were short, others long, some two-edged and others single-edged. The Aramaic term for ‘edge’ is poma, ‘mouth.’ A ‘two edged sword’ literally means, ‘a sword with two mouths.’ This type of sword is still found in Arabia .
“A sword is symbolical of speech, sharpness and decision. We often say, ‘His tongue is like a sword,’ which means that his words are well chosen, or that he is a good speaker. Sharpness is a symbol of prompt decision. The two-edged sword symbolizes justice. The two-edged blade cuts forward and backward, just as justice, when thoroughly executed, cuts both ways. A single-edged sword, when used in war, may be caught by the adversary and taken away from its holder, just as justice can be perverted and purchased. But no warrior would dare to seize a two-edged sword with bare hands. Divine justice cannot be perverted, prevented or purchased.”[vi]
Put on the whole armor of God. With truth on your belief window, grow in righteousness, walk the Lord’s path, use faith to reduce the friction that comes our way each day, and let the Spirit cut through the world’s clutter to direct you in the right way.
[i] Moses 6:61
[ii] William R. Bradford, Righteousness, Oct. 1999 General Conference.
[iii] Lavell Edwards, Take upon Yourself the Whole Armor of God, BYU Speeches.
[iv] Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 2:8.
[v] A two-edged sword, LDS.org.
[vi] George M. Lamsa, New Testament Commentary, p. 599)