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Summary: We can stand firm in the faith: Joyful and free from worry, with contentment in whatever state we are in, knowing our needs will be met, able to do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

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Standing Firm in the Faith

03/09/08

Reading: Philippians 1:21-28

Introduction

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul expresses his desire that they “stand firm” in working together for the faith. Philippians 1:27 “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”

Standing firm translates the single Greek verb stēkō, which refers to steadfastly holding one’s ground regardless of danger or opposition. The word was used of a soldier who defended his position at all costs, even to the point of sacrificing their own life. Figuratively, it refers to holding fast to a belief, conviction, or principle without compromise, regardless of personal cost. Being firmly fixed in matters of biblical truth and holy living is included in this injunction.

Standing firm is both positive and negative. It is to stand for God and against Satan, to stand for truth and against falsehood, to stand for righteousness and against sin. Using an imperative form of the same verb, Paul makes a similar exhortation later in the letter:

Philippians 4:1 “Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.

In the verses which follow, Paul provides the manner in which we may stand firm in the faith of the gospel.

I.Caring Support (4:1-2)

A.Standing firm includes support from within.

1.Little is known about Euodia and Syntyche, but we are told and can deduce some keys facts.

a.First, they were church members, not troublemakers from outside the congregation. Paul identifies them as fellow workers.

Second, their dispute was evidently not over a doctrinal issue. If it had been, Paul would have resolved it by siding with the one that was correct and rebuking the one who was in error.

b.Paul calls upon the church to support them in settling their dispute.

2.The fellowship and support of the body of Christ is an important factor in developing and maintaining spiritual stability.

a.The general strength of the fellowship becomes the strength of each individual. The more isolated a believer is from other Christians, the more spiritually unstable they are likely to be.

The church should be a place where people support each other, hold each other accountable, and care for each other.

It should be a communion of life in which believers restore those who have fallen into sin (Galatians 6:1) and bear each other’s burdens (v. 2). The church is to “admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

[The loving support of our Christian family provides a strong foundation for our striving to stand firm. Paul next adds to this outer support an inner requirement to standing firm in the faith…]

II.Constant Rejoicing (4:3-5)

A.Joy is such a vitally important factor in believers’ spiritual stability that Paul repeats his command for emphasis: “again I will say, rejoice!”

1.This repetition presupposes the reality that it was not easy to be joyful. The Philippians faced the same challenges to their faith as we do today, persecutions without, divisions within but Paul challenges all to rise above their circumstances and rejoice!

It is true that believers often cannot find reason to rejoice in their specific circumstances. Certainly the general wickedness, sorrow, misery, and death in the world evoke no joy. Nor are people a reliable source of joy, since they can change, hurt, and disappoint. The only sure, reliable, unwavering, unchanging source of joy is God. That is why Paul commands believers to rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 3:1.)

Don’t presume that Paul’s command to rejoice is intended to produce mere emotional joy. The joy we are to experience is not merely a feeling; it is the deep-down confidence that God is in control of everything for our own good and His own glory, and knowing all is well no matter what the circumstances.

B.Knowledge of God is the key to rejoicing.

1.Those who know the great truths about God find it easy to rejoice; those with little knowledge of Him find it difficult to rejoice.

a.God gave the Psalms to Israel in poetic form so they could be easily memorized and set to music. The first three verses of the book of Psalms promise blessings to those who meditate on Scripture:

Psalm 1:1–3 “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”

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