How We Can Stand Firm in the Lord

René Malgo

Warren Wiersbe once said, “The Christian life is not a playground; it is a battlefield.” It’s a struggle to hold the position that God has given us. And so the apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved” (Phil 4:1).

The “therefore” at the beginning of the sentence indicates that there is a definite reason why we should be established in the Lord: because our citizenship is “in heaven” (Phil 3:20). Therefore, we shouldn’t live like the citizens of this world, as “enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” (Phil 3:18-19). Rather, we should live as citizens of heaven, “filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:11); “as it becometh the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27); in the humble mind “which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5). We should work out our “own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12); live blamelessly and harmlessly as “the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation”; in which we “shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life” (Phil 2:15-16). In short, Christ should be our life (Phil 1:21). That is standing firm in the Lord.

And we can stand firm in the Lord because of what He has already given us: because He, who has “begun a good work” in us, “will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6); because it was “given in the behalf of Christ” to “believe on him,” even “to suffer for his sake” (Phil 1:29); because “it is God” who works in us, “both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13); because we have “the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil 3:9); because we “know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings” (Phil 3:10); because “our conversation” is in the heavens (Phil 3:20).

“Therefore” we stand firm in the Lord, and “therefore” Paul also calls the readers “beloved.” They are “in Christ” or “in the Lord” (Phil 1:1, 13, 26; 2:1, 19, 24, 29; 3:1, 14; 4:1, 4, 10, 19, 21). They are “beloved” because they have their citizenship in heaven.

Certainly, Paul does not love the Philippians only because of their position in Christ. He also loves them personally. In Philippians 4:1, he calls them his “brethren dearly beloved and longed for,” his “joy and crown.” He refers to them as such because he walked with and worked for them (Phil 2:16). To him, they are to be glorious for “the day of Christ” (Phil 2:16), because they are the fruit of his work for the gospel. One day, when Paul stands before the judgment seat of the Lord Jesus, on the “day of Christ,” he can point to the Philippians as his “joy and crown,” as his “glory.” They are proof of his efforts for the gospel.

Obviously, it isn’t wrong to work for the Lord with the reward of the “day of Christ” in mind, to evangelize, to “sweat.” Paul did this. He always had the “mark” and the “prize” in mind (Phil 3:14).

Paul loves the Philippians as “brethren” (and sisters) and “beloved” in the Lord. In Philippians 1:1, he calls them the “saints in Christ Jesus.” The Philippians are not beloved because they are all such great people. “Beloved” also includes the two quarrelsome women Euodias and Syntyche, whom Paul admonishes in the next verse (Phil 4:2). The Philippians are beloved brothers and sisters because they are in Christ. You and I are beloved because of what Christ has done for us, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:6-8).

In Him, we are sons and daughters of God. In Him, we may call God “Father.” In Him, we are no longer fallen sinners, but redeemed heavenly citizens. In Him, we are brothers and sisters. In Him, we are saints and beloved. “Therefore,” the apostle’s call to stand firm in the Lord is also feasible. According to Ephesians 1:3, we are blessed “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” We do not have to conquer, fight, or work for God’s blessing. We only have to defend what has already been given to us. Paul says it in Ephesians 6:10: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Our power is in Him, and if we abide in Him, we can stand firm. In Ephesians 6:10-13, Paul invites us twice to put on the whole armor of God, so that we can resist and stand in the fight against the forces of wickedness. Christ has already conquered everything for us. He has completely won the victory on the cross of Calvary and in His resurrection. If we remain in Him and stand our ground, we will win.

That sounds easy. The task isn’t complicated or difficult to understand. We don’t have to do anything that we aren’t equipped for. And yet, it’s very difficult. Holding a position can, and will be, very, very hard work. Paul doesn’t compare the spiritual life to a fight for nothing.

We don’t have to seek out the principalities and spiritual forces of wickedness; they will attack us on their own. In Christ, we have the best defense against evil, but “unfortunately,” we too are in the besieged fortress. There is still our sinful body. That is why we must constantly “[cast] down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and [bring] into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:4-5).

It is always necessary to take hold of Christ (Phil 3:13). As human beings, we do not tend to stand firmly in the Lord, but to digress, to let go, to forget, to become comfortable and drowsy. That is why Paul must also call for a firm stand. Paul explains in Philippians 4:4-9 how it is practically possible to stand firm and remain in the Lord. It comes down to three points:

1) Communion with Christ: pray for everything (Phil 4:6). 2) Thinking about Christ: mold your thought life after the right one (Phil 4:8). 3) Obedience to Christ: put the apostolic commands into action (Phil 4:9). The result: “And the God of peace will be with you” (Phil 4:9).

Midnight Call - 10/2018

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