Presented, January 10, 2010 pm


Tonight I want to begin a two part study of a disposition every Christian needs to develop AND that we need together as the Lord’s Church in this community.  I want to talk about the need to stand fast.  In our lesson tonight we are going to identify the term and examine its use in the New Testament.  Next week we want to examine one passage, Ephesians 6:11-18 which gives greater detail on how to stand fast.

 I.                    What it means to stand fast

a.        The phrase, “stand fast”, used in most of our texts tonight, is actually one word which means to be stationary or to persevere.  (Strong’s)  I am reminded of a strong wall that is impenetrable.  No matter what assaults it (whether it be the elements, the enemy or some other force, it will not move).  That ought to describe the life of a Christian.

b.       When I see this word, I think of one who does not quit.  Christian’s are continually called upon to endure (1 Corinthians 15:58, Galatians 6:9).  But in this expression, we find even greater strength – one that does not even buckle or bend.  I am reminded of the soldier, who stands for his cause and will not back down, even to his death.  Ephesians 6 in describing the spiritual soldier uses the word stand 3 times (11, 13 & 14).  We will address this in our next lesson.

c.        Also implied in the word is acceptability.  Romans 14:4 says, “Who are you to judge another’s servant?  To his own master he stands or falls.  Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.”  This text is dealing with the Christian’s liberty (matters about which God is indifferent) and how we need to allow one another to exercise their personal liberties, even if we don’t agree with them or like them.  Paul notes that in such matters, God is able to accept one regardless of which way one approaches some action.  NOTE: This passage is NOT an open invitation to compromise and disregard doctrinal and moral differences.  Such is an oft abused use of this chapter.

 II.                  The call to stand fast

a.        1 Cor. 16:13, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” 
The faith addressed in this verse is not your personal faith (though that is certainly involved). It is a reference to everything that comprises the Christian belief system (Cf. Rom. 1:16-17, 2 Timothy 4:7).  Consider 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you – unless you believed in vain.”
Paul’s admonition here is that these brethren not give up on God’s word!  Believe it, live it and defend it.  How much do you really believe God?  How much do you really believe what He says?  How much are you willing to defend ALL of it?

b.       2 Corinthians 1:24 – “For by faith you stand”.  The faith here IS your personal faith.  And the way the word “stand” is used points toward acceptability.  Paul’s point to these struggling brethren was that their ability to stand before God with hope AND before others was because they BELIEVED GOD, not just believing in Him.  Consider this for a moment:

                                                   i.      We cannot be saved without faith Hebrews 11:6,  John 8:24.  Of course we understand this faith must be accompanied by obedience (Matthew 7:21-23, James 2:14-18) and involves more than mere mental assent.  But NEVER let us forget that it DOES involve mental assent (or acknowledgment)! 
Romans 5:1-2 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with god through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we STAND, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Emphasis mine – TT)

                                                  ii.      To stand before others we need faith – If we are going to with resolve resist the devil and His forces; if we are going to confront those in error, whether it be our friends or our brethren; if we are going to teach others the WHOLE truth (1 Pet. 3:15) we have to stand with a strong personal faith.
2 Timothy 1:13 says, “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard form me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”

                                                iii.      Am I standing by faith as firm as I ought to?  Does my faith CAUSE me to be able to stand before God?  If not, I need to do something about it.

c.        Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”  The context of Paul’s message here was to Jewish Christians who were wavering in the freedom (liberty) Christ had afforded them from the Old Law.  Paul’s point is that the Old Law was overbearing and impossible to keep.  But in Christ they were free from that law and its tedious sacrifices, tithing, dietary restrictions and other rules.  NOW Paul’s point was not that they had NO obligation whatsoever, but their New Hope was so much better and liberating (because it CAN be kept and its provision are achievable).  Paul tells them to stand firm in such.  To return to the Old Law would be failure and Paul said, “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” (Gal. 5:4)    
The lesson for us: in Christ there is freedom (from the bondage of sin).   When we obey the gospel our sins are washed away (Acts 22:16, 2:38, 2 Cor. 5:17, etc.).  We are pure in His sight and saved from the condemnation of sin.  DON’T give up that freedom for anything! 
As  Cain sold his birthright and was called profane (Heb. 12:16), sadly many today will sell their spiritual heritage to return to sin. 
Don’t return to the world that you have escaped! 2 Peter 2:20-22, Hebrews 10:26-31.   In Hebrews 10:25 the writer said, “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.”
STAND FAST in your purified state!


d.       Philippians 1:27, “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
One of the saddest problems the church has faced through the centuries, and even in the first century, was division.  Paul wrote 1 Corinthians to a bitterly divided congregation.  1 Corinthians 1:10, Ephesians 4:1-3, Philippians 2:1-4, etc.  Over and over scriptures speak of Unity.  Jesus spoke of unity in John 13:35, etc.
What is the answer to division?  Paul said it in this text: Stand fast in one spirit!  Continually, it has been emphasized from this pulpit that unity is possible, but ONLY if all parties involved are willing to act like Christians in all things.  Where there is division, someone IS SINNING!

e.       2 Thess. 2:15, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.”
In this text we turn back to the word of God.  When Paul speaks of traditions here, he is not using the attitude some have where they refuse to budge because “we have always done it this way”.  When God’s authority and pattern is respected we ought to be flexible and willing to examine if there is a better way to do what we are commanded to do. 
BUT, when it comes to the TRUTH of God’s word we can NEVER COMPROMISE!
1 Thess. 2:3-4 – “For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit.  But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests the hearts.”
2 John 10-11, do not receive one who does not bring the truth.  Also Rev. 2:20 with the church at Thyatira which allowed “that woman Jezebel…to teach…”
It is no secret that far too many today are willing to sell their souls and sell out the truth in the name of compromise.  Whether it be members seeking the church that complies to their wants and desires (instead of God’s); seeking preachers who will stay silent on given subjects (usually the one’s needed the most – cf. 2 Tim. 4:3-4); or a softening of doctrinal views for “the sake of unity”.  Whatever the reason, they are willing to sell out the Lord and His word to please themselves!  Such is unacceptable and NOT standing fast on the truth.
According to this passage, we know that tradition is NOT wrong within itself.  In fact, there are certain things about which we can NEVER change; i.e. the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week, singing instead of playing (Ephesians 5:19), God’s plan of salvation, moral issues, MDR, etc.  In such things we MUST stand fast!

f.         Philippians 4:1 – “So stand fast in the Lord
This is a summary of everything we have said about standing fast.  It is when we do these things that we will stand fast in Him.  After all, is not Jesus the reason we do what we do? 
Friends, don’t let anyone or anything jeopardize your relationship with the Lord.  Hebrews 3:14 says, “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end…”


And thus we can see the need to stand fast.  It is taught throughout the New Testament and applies to everything we do as Christians.  Let us not let down our guard.  Next week we will conclude this study by talking about the soldier of the cross (Eph. 6:11, 13 & 14) – an excellent example of HOW to stand fast in the Lord.

Presented, January 17, 2010 pm


Last week we examined a number of passages in the New Testament that call for us to ‘STAND FAST’.  The idea of standing fast is to stand your ground and be immovable.  It can also indicate acceptance, as in our godly lives allows us to stand fast before God in judgment.

We talked about standing fast in the faith (1 Cor. 16:13), standing fast BY faith (2 Cor. 1:24), standing fast in our liberties (Gal. 5:1), standing fast in one spirit and unity (Phil. 1:27), standing fast as we hold to the traditions of the apostles (i.e. the gospel of Jesus), and standing fast in the Lord (Phil. 4:1).

Today we want to examine one text, Ephesians 6:10-20.  It is a text that does not use the expression, “Stand fast”, but it speaks of standing 3 times.  And the idea is a firm, immovable stance or STANDING FAST!  The text has reference to a Roman soldier, who in battle fights for his cause to the very end.  He will not compromise, betray nor retreat from the battle.

Based on the command to STAND FAST, this text helps explain HOW we can do that!

 I.                     The enemy is real

a.       It is obvious that Paul is not so much concerned about the Roman soldier engaged in battle throughout the empire and against its enemies.  BUT, like our Lord in parables, He made oft analogies with concepts the common man could relate to and made spiritual application – in this case, the Roman soldier.

b.       Let us NEVER forget that we are at war! Of course what Paul had in mind was the spiritual battle that we are engaged in.  We need to take this battle seriously! 
One concern that I see is that we acknowledge the war and perhaps we even run around making a lot of noise about it, BUT WHAT ARE DOING ABOUT IT?  Are we STANDING FAST of sitting still?

c.        Satan and his allies are the enemy – our text in vs. 12 says, “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 heavenly places.”  This is a description of spiritual warfare.  Certainly there are physical enemies in this world who are influenced by Satan, but ultimately our battle is against Satan and it is FOR eternity! The expressions used in this verse describe the influences that lead to evil and persecutions, etc.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 also describes this battle.  It notes that we are not battling with physical weapons, but against “strongholds” “arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 

d.       Vs. 11 speaks of the wiles of the devil.  Like the devices of the devil in 2 Cor. 2:11 this refers to his weapons with which he seeks to attack us.   1 Peter 5:8 describes him as a roaring lion, “seeking whom he may devour. 
The point: SATAN has weapons and he will use them.  We need to prepare ourselves so that His weapons will not pierce us AND so that we can possibly defend others as well.

 II.                  HOW do we prepare?

a.       As mentioned earlier, 3 times in our text the word “stand” is used.  In all of them it has reference to us putting on the armor of God.

b.       Put on the WHOLE armorVs. 11, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand.”
Vs. 13 - “Therefore, tae up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand
”.   It needs to be mentioned that if we are to be effective in this battle we need the entire ensemble. 
One thing emphasized of soldiers is that they must learn to carry ALL of their gear and wear ALL of their protection.  To leave off any piece is to render oneself vulnerable in that area. 
Christians are to be equipped – 2 Tim. 3:16-17 tells us that with scripture we can be “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 2:21,Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel of honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” 
Even 1 Peter 3:15 implies this, “…and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…”

c.        In describing our armor, Paul mentions various pieces of the soldier’s gear and equates it to characteristics that will help us STAND FAST as well as engage in battle.  In fact as he begins to describe the armor he says in vs. 14, “Stand therefore having girded your waist with truth…”
The gospel armor consists of:

                                                   i.      The girdle of truth – the “girdle” was not an ornamental piece of clothing, rather it was the hub of the uniform which kept all the other pieces of armor together.  It was around the waist and was designed to be loosened when there was a need to move and tightened in the heat of battle.
IF we are to fight the battle we need TRUTH!  TRUTH can mean two things:

1.       The truth of God’s word – John 17:17 - His word sets us apart.
1 Thess. 2:13 where Paul commended them he noted how they had received “the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

2.       Our confidence in that word 1 Peter 1:13 says, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 
John 8:31-32, Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are MY disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

3.       BOTH are needed! Unless we have TRUTH on our side, we are fighting this battle in vain!  Unless we have TRUTH, we will not fight fervently NOR will we STAND FAST!

                                                 ii.      The breastplate of righteousness – a piece of armor that covered the neck and torso and was designed to protect the vital organs.  Equivalent to the bullet proof vests worn by soldiers and police officers today.

1.       Our “breastplate” is righteousness.  The word righteousness means, “the character or quality of being right or just.” (Vine’s). It used to be spelled, “rightwiseness” which describes what we are talking about.

2.       Righteousness means that we are living right!  Our lives have integrity, justice, character, holiness, purity and honesty.  We live above reproach! Romans 6:13 says, “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” The Christian needs to live an honorable and godly life!

3.       It is also needed in our battle.  If we are not living rightly we are not going to fervently fight for the cause. We may render lip service, but we will waver and doubt.  We will not STAND FAST!

                                                iii.      Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace – if any soldier is to be effective in battle, they need to protect their feet.  It provides them with the ability for swift movement and protection.  The Roman soldier was no different, having leather sandals or some sort of boot, probably with spikes (like cleats) to give traction and help as they pushed forward.  They were designed for forward mobility!  It has been said that Roman Soldier’s armor was designed to make retreat difficult.

1.       Our feet are to be shod with the gospel of peace – I find it interesting here that PEACE is mentioned while dealing with military armor.  But is that not the objective?  To gain peace?  Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”  Sometimes to MAKE peace, we have to fight.
We need to use the gospel of peace – Romans 10:15 speaks of, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things.”

2.       There are so many avenues of peace afforded by the gospels – peace with God, with ourselves and with one another.  With God’s word we can solve all sorts of conflicts!

3.       Perhaps the main point in this illustration is found in the word, PREPARATION.  In our spiritual battle we MUST be prepared! 1 Peter 3:15 (again) tells us to be ready to give a defense.  2 Timothy 2:15 calls for us to study so that we can “rightly divide the word of truth.”  2 Cor. 2:11 says, “we are not IGNORANT of his devices.”  Are we?

4.       When we are prepared, we are ready to STAND FAST!

                                                iv.      The shield of faith – a shield made of leather, and often reinforced.  This shield was the long shield.   It measured about 4 feet by 2 ½ feet.  Used in formations, but was also mobile enough to move so that it could repel fiery arrows, sword slashes and spears.

1.       It is obvious that if we are to be prepared in battle we need faith. 
Hebrews 11:6 – we have to trust God and believe Him. 
1 John 5:4 - says, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.”
1 Peter 5:8-9 which warns of the devil walking about as a roaring lion tells us, “resist him, steadfast in the faith.”

2.       With faith, it doesn’t matter from which direction the devil hurls his darts.  We are prepared and we simply redirect our protection toward his charges and then we STAND FAST!

                                                  v.      The helmet of salvation – it is obvious why in battle the head needs to be protected.  A wound to the head can be fatal. Romans soldiers wore helmets, just like virtually every army.

1.       For us, this piece of armor represents our hope.  It is WHY we do what we do.  It is why we are engaged in battle in the first place.    Paul repeated this description in 1 Thess. 5:8, “But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.”

2.       There are many in this life who give up and quit serving God when times get tough.  They have surrendered to the enemy.   In their own lives, Satan has won.  How tragic as the scriptures warns of their fate!  But the prepared Christian, engaged in battle knows there is something better waiting for him beyond this life (cf. Heb. 11:39-40; 1 Peter 1:6-9) .  Therefore he STANDS FAST!

                                                vi.      The sword of the Spirit which is the word of God – up to this point we have noted the armor of the soldier.  It is primarily defensive to protect.  Here we have the only OFFENSIVE weapon – the sword.  In Rome there were at least two different types of swords.  This one, was a short, personal sword (machaira), like a dagger.  The  point is this was a PERSONAL weapon, wielded by the solder to defend himself and to ENGAGE the enemy.

1.       Friends, we need to use the word of God to go out and FIGHT our enemy!  We need to have confidence in the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16).  It is described as being sharper than a two-edged sword in Heb. 4:12 (same sword as our text).

2.       With use, we will be able to teach others and further the borders of God’s kingdom.  Don’t be caught merely cowering in the building waiting to fight off the enemy.  Go out and fight and STAND FAST!

                                               vii.      One other important piece of “equipment” is mentioned in vs. 18, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication…”  A key element to engaging in battle is communication.  Prayer is how we communicate with God.  Take advantage of this blessing as a Christian.  You don’t have to fight this battle alone.  With God’s help we can all STAND FAST!

 And thus we can see some things that will help us STAND FAST in the Lord.  Realize the need to engage in battle.  I want to conclude this lesson with an encouragement to take seriously our need to put on the gospel armor.  

A study of the Roman army is very interesting. The Jewish historian, Josephus, in The Jewish War, described the Roman army by noting, “Every soldier is every day exercised, and that with great diligence, as if it were in time of war, which is the reason why they bear the fatigues of battle so easily” (Book III, Ch. 5, p. 17).  It was this discipline that made them such a great army.  However, it did not remain that way. 

Edward Gibbon, in his work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire had this to say about one of the causes of the fall of the Empire, “The relaxation of discipline and the disuse of exercise rendered the soldiers less able, and less willing, to support the fatigues of the service ; they complained of the weight of the armour, which they seldom wore ; and they successfully obtained the permission of laying aside both their cuirasses and their helmets. The heavy weapons of their ancestors, the short sword and the formidable pi/um, which had subdued the world, insensibly dropped from their feeble hands. As the use of the shield is incompatible with that of the bow, they reluctantly marched into the field ; condemned to suffer either the pain of wounds or the ignominy of flight, and always disposed to prefer the more shameful alternative. The cavalry of the Goths, the Huns and the Alani had felt the benefits, and adopted the use, of defensive armour ; and, as they excelled in the management of missile weapons, they easily overwhelmed the naked and trembling legions, whose heads and breasts were exposed, without defence, to the arrows of the Barbarians. The loss of armies, the destruction of cities, and the dishonour of the Roman name ineffectually solicited the successors of Gratian to restore the helmets and cuirasses of the infantry. The enervated soldiers abandoned their own and the public defence ; and their pusillanimous indolence may be considered as the immediate cause of the downfall of the empire. (Vol. 3, Pg. 463)

Brethren, let us not let down our guard and relax.  Instead, let us stand up and fight the battle for truth and STAND FAST fully prepared to engage the battle for our souls and the souls of others.  Instead of apologizing for the gospel, let us contend for it (Jude 3).