The English language is filled with hundreds of phrases that people use in everyday conversation without ever giving a thought to their origin. Phrases such as handwriting on the wall, wolf in sheep’s clothing, and charity begins at home are colloquial expressions that are widely utilized and understood.
If asked, most people would probably say that the phrase, stand firm, was initially uttered by a great ruler or leader, quite possibly a military leader, as an encouragement to his subjects or troops. But as with the previous phrases, stand firm also has its genesis in the Bible. In fact, depending on which version you consult, stand firm (or a variation thereof) occurs at least 34 times in Scripture. Christians should be very familiar with the well-known usage of stand firm as it appears in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints – and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel … — Ephesians 6:10-19
This passage of Scripture is very timely. In the same way that Paul exhorted the Ephesians, we must stand firm today. Christians have a responsibility to stand for what is right in regards to our culture. This responsibility is even more crucial in a nation whose government is “of the people, by the people, for the people.” It used to be easier for Americans to exercise their responsibility to stand for what is right; however, it is now increasingly difficult to take that stand.
Daniel Webster wisely remarked, “Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.” If we are true followers of Christ, we should also be the best citizens in the United States because we will stand unashamedly for what is right. Even when the world attempts to tell us we are wrong, we will continue to stand firm for what we know is right and true.
When the apostles were warned not to preach in Jesus’ name, they ignored the warning. They were dragged before the magistrates and rebuked, “Didn’t we tell you? You can no longer preach in Jesus’ name!” Acts 4:19-20 records Peter and John’s response: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” In other words, Peter and John were saying, we cannot help it, no matter how much you warn or threaten, we must obey God. These disciples of Christ did not retreat and they did not compromise; they firmly stood their ground.
We need to gird ourselves and do likewise — stand boldly for the truth of God, His Word, and the principles found therein. As Christians we must engage the culture. Though the 2014 elections are behind us, we cannot make the mistake of relaxing or letting our guard down for the 12-18 months until the next election cycle comes around. Opportunities to engage the culture — opportunities to stand firm against the prevailing, politically-correct winds — constantly surround us NOW.
If what I’m describing sounds as if we are heading into battle, we are. Consider the equipment Paul tells us to pick up and put on: breastplate, shield, helmet, and sword — armor! We must be suited up and prepared to “fight the good fight of faith” that Paul writes about in 1 Timothy 6:12.
While Paul isn’t referring to a fight involving guns, bullets, and bombs, he is describing a fight to defend a set of core principles that impel us, despite the incredible odds against us, to stand firm against wickedness and the lies of Satan. Fighting the good fight requires us to stand up and say, NO! This is wrong!
Sadly, we live in a day when the Church has become spineless and cowardly. We’ve allowed political correctness to silence her message and dilute her effectiveness because we are afraid of how the godless will label us and we are afraid of what taking a stand will cost. Because we fear the enemies of God more than we fear God Himself, the Church has ceased to be a courageous example of how to stand firm against encroaching wickedness.
It is imperative that the Church remember that Jesus tells us He did not come to bring peace on earth, but a sword:
Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. — Matthew 10:34-37
It is clear in this passage, if we believe what God says and if we are willing to stand up for it, we will not have much peace. Our life will be taken up in battle and we will need to put on the armor of God that is required to stand firm and fight the good fight.
Please do not misunderstand me — I am not issuing a call to enforce Biblical principles at the edge of a sword as if waging a sort of Christian jihad. But standing firm for what is right will almost certainly cost us friendships, family relationships, employment opportunities and more.
The Bible describes many actual battles that resulted in death and destruction, and the battle we are called to fight and the stand we must take will also result in real and painful losses and casualties. Still, the cost of trying to fly under the radar, attempting to remain neutral, and ignoring the evil that permeates the culture is even higher.
Scripture is clear. The Lord is AGAINST those who do evil. Our God does not have a moderate or undecided position in regard to sin and evildoers. Yet today, too many Christians are searching for a middle ground compromise that says we are for God, but not totally against evil. We have only to look at the Church of 1930’s Nazi Germany to see the horrific results of a strategy of compromise.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul instructs the believers how they ought to fight against the evil that surrounded them. Two thousand years later, his words apply to us as well.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God . . . — 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
So, what should our response be to the evil days in which we live? Should we go along in order to get along? NO! Should we ignore the rapid decline of the culture and remain silent? NO! Our responsibility and calling are to stand firm and fight the good fight. We must engage the culture in order to be involved in the debate.
Therefore, in order to pull down strongholds and cast down arguments, we can do nothing less than take an unwavering stand for righteousness. The Church, the body of Christ, cannot afford to hide behind the doors of her houses of worship. We must prepare and pray mightily as we put on the armor of God, step onto the battlefield, and stand firm in the fight for what is right.
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