Stand Firm in the Lord

By Scarlett Stough

(The following is based on a talk given at the 2017 Christian Women’s Retreat.)

If we want to stand firm in the faith of Christ in this world, we have to be transformed rather than conform to cultural standards.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2

We get our first clue as to how this transformation can take place in this verse: "by the renewing of your mind." How is our mind made new?

…the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.
Romans 8:6-10

We are given a new way of thinking; a new heart submissive to God's will; and a new purpose which is to be remade into the likeness of Christ. We are admonished to "let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5 KJV). We aren't puppets; we are the children of God being taught and guided by our heavenly Father.

How do we let Jesus' mind be in us?

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.
Hebrews 2:18-3:1

Everybody is tempted to "go along to get along." This doesn't mean we have to argue or pick fights. In the adult world, an employer might ask you to do something you know is wrong. An example from my youth: One summer I took a job substituting for a household maid who took a summer vacation. My employer told me one day: "When you answer the phone, tell the person calling that I'm not here." I said, "I can't do that. You are here." Then she said, "Well, say I'm not available." I was okay with that; it wasn't a lie. She had made herself unavailable to take calls. I was taught the Ten Commandments in my childhood. I didn't have to think about it. It was a lie; so don't do it.

Our minds should go to Jesus who spoke the truth and did his Father's will; then make our decision to follow him whatever the cost.

In the world of young people, a friend might suggest: "Hey this pill will really make you feel good, try it!" Our minds need to look to Christ so we can be filled with the Spirit and not rely on some drug, or alcohol to make us feel good (so called "recreational use"). Genuine, lasting joy and happiness come from the Spirit of God. Weeping and sorrow are appropriate emotions in a world of tragedy; our joy can come from knowing these will cease and there is hope here and now as well as in the future.

If we are to stand firm in the Lord, we need to remember the words written to the church at Philippi:

…our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
Philippians 3:20-4:1

By eagerly waiting for Jesus to return and establish his forever kingdom, we have the hope which will motivate us to stand firm.

Everything in this world is passing away. God's kingdom is the only kingdom that will never end. No empire, no matter how great, will last forever. Egypt is not the power she once was; the Aztec and Incan’s rule of the Americas ended; Britain's power in the world has diminished. Rome once ruled and policed the known world; not today.

If we are to stand firm in the faith, we need to know what that faith is. The Bible is the source of the knowledge of our faith. We need to read it to know what faith is and who to have faith in. Knowing isn't enough. From the book of James we are told to do what the word says. We need to know what it says before we can do it. We need to do it before it really renews our minds.

I've been taking piano lessons for years. I have worked through theory books which explain the rules of music; but all the reading in the world won't make me a piano player; I have to practice. I have to put my fingers to the keys and make the effort over and over again to play the right notes in the right rhythm in the right order and in the right tempo. I know more and I can play more complex music than I could when I first started because I practice regularly.

The same is true in our spiritual life. The more intentional and consistent we can be, the better we can know God's will for our lives and how to discern between his way and the world's way.

Roman soldiers were stationed everywhere in the time of Paul. They were equipped to stand firm against those who were rebelling against Rome and its Emperor. Paul looked at their equipment which everyone had seen, and he used its pieces to illustrate how we are to be equipped to stand firm against pressure to conform to a world hostile to God and to those who love Christ. A Christian in that time who said, "Christ is Lord" was committing an act of treason in the sight of the state because Caesar considered himself "lord." But instead of taking up swords and guns to overthrow the state, our defenses and weapons are of a different sort as Paul explained to the Ephesian church:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Ephesians 6:10-20

God has equipped each of us with all the equipment we need to hold the line against the enemy. We may be afraid, but we don't have to let fear rule over us and take us captive. As it is written, our enemy is not the flesh and blood person who has insulted you or our God; the enemy is the devil who has deceived the whole world. The enemy is within, a selfish ego that wants its way at the expense of everyone else. The enemy is the pressure exerted on us by a society which does not know God. The One who is with us is greater than those against us. We stand firm in the Lord in his strength.

Volume 16 Issue 03 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation| Book Review |

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