Summary: Discover the six things that we must do in order to stand our ground on the spiritual battlefielf of life.
STANDING FIRM IN THE LORD
October 6, 2002
Too many Christians are failing to stand their ground on the spiritual battlefield of life. We want our Christianity to be soft and easy. We want our spiritual development to be quick and painless. And so when difficulties or challenges come our way rather than standing our ground we simply slide along with the popular current.
Paul addresses this very issue with the Philippians in 4:1 which forms a bridge between his discussion in chapter 3 and his exhortations in chapter 4. Here Paul writes: “that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!” (4:1). The Greek word for “stand firm” is a military term referring to a soldier standing his ground in battle. The Philippian church is in a spiritual battle not only for their souls, but also for the souls of mankind. And so when they face opposition they dare not back down, but must stand their ground.
The tide of popular culture today is flowing against the truth taught by the historic Christian faith. Unless we stand firm in the Lord we will ultimately be swept away by it. Swimming against the current is no easy task to be sure, but overcoming difficult obstacles can only make us better and stronger. William M. Batten said: “When I hear my friends say they hope their children don’t have to experience the hardships they went through -- I don’t agree. Those hardships made us what we are. You can be disadvantaged in many ways, and one way may be not having had to struggle” (Fortune). I believe that our Heavenly Father would agree with Mr. Batten. God does not allow trials to come our way because He likes to watch us suffer or struggle, but because He knows it is the only way to grow us into strong, productive Christians.
Please follow along in your Bibles as I read Philippians 4:1-9 and we will discover six things that we must do if our church is going to stand firm in the Lord.
1. Enter into a Partnership. (vv. 2-3)
In verse 2 Paul writes: “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.” In verse three we see that these ladies once worked side by side with the apostle Paul in the work of spreading the gospel. We are not told what their specific role was, but that is beside the point. Something has occurred that has caused they to disagree with one another so much so that they are no longer working together. Once again we are not told any of the details of this disagreement because that is also beside the point. The point is they need to come to an agreement so that they can once again be partners in the work of the gospel.
In the CEV this verse reads: “I beg you to stop arguing with each other.” We can’t take a stand against the enemy when we are too busy arguing or fighting with each other. Many times in the Old Testament we read of occasions when God defeated Israel’s enemies in just this manner -- He caused them to fight against one another. When they did that they killed themselves off and all the Israelites had to do was collect the plunder and celebrate the victory. Satan is no fool and he is trying to do the same thing with the church today. If he can get us fighting against one another then he doesn’t have to defeat us because we will defeat ourselves. In fact this is the only way that Satan can hope to defeat the church because he can never win an out right battle because greater is He who is within us that he who is in the world. And Jesus said the gates of hell would never be able to prevail against the church. Since Satan knows he can’t destroy the church, he will try to get the church to destroy the church. It is his only hope.
How many times have we unwittingly partnered with Satan in his plot to destroy the church? Every time we have gossiped about someone else in the church. Every time we have held a grudge against someone in the church rather than forgiving them. Every time we argue over disagreements about things that are nonessential to Christian doctrine. Paul says we need to “agree with each other in the Lord”, we need to partner with each other in the Lord.
The word for ‘agree’ refers to a way of thinking or a disposition. Christians should be predisposed to agreeing with one another. This type of agreement can only come “in the Lord.” God is the glue that holds us together. He is the tie that binds us together in love. Anytime Christians begin to drift apart and break partnership with one another, we know that it is because they first began to drift away from the Lord. We need to partner with the Lord so that we can partner with one another. Back in 2:2 Paul wrote: “Then make me truly happy by agreeing whole heartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose” (NLT). Working together with one heart and purpose is the perfect definition of Christian partnership.