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SERMON: How to Stand Firm


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 4:1.

As long as I can remember, I have heard sermons exhorting the church to be steadfast – or as the New International Version renders it, “Stand Firm.” We see frequent passages urging this on us – like these:

1 Corinthians 15:58. Therefore, my dear brothers, STAND FIRM. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22. Now it is God who makes both us and you STAND FIRM in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Galatians 5:1. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. STAND FIRM, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Philippians 1:27. Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you STAND FIRM in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.

1 Thessalonians 3:8. For now we really live, since you are STANDING FIRM in the Lord.

And yet, we waver – and many fall asleep (and fall away) from the Lord. We cry out, almost in despair, “Lord, HOW CAN I Stand Firm when there are so many pressures on me day after day and night after night?”

We find an answer to this question in our text:

Philippians 4:1. 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.

When you boil this verse down by taking out Paul’s loving description of his Philippian brothers, what you have left is “Therefore… that is how you should stand firm in the Lord….”

Someone said, “When you see ‘Therefore’ in the text, you need to ask yourself, ‘What is it there for?'” Therefore always points back to what has just been said. In this case, it points back to Philippians 3:17-21.

I. LIVE IN HOPE. Philippians 3:17-21

Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But 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.

Our Citizenship Is in Heaven.

You cannot stand firm – without a firm foundation. This world is perishing – it is not firm! But our citizenship is in heaven – not here. As the great old song says, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through….”

You are different from those who live as enemies of the cross. They are headed for destructionThey serve their own stomachsThey boast of their shameThey mind the here and now, not the hereafter. But you are different now – and will be even more different.

This is because Christ Will Transform Us. We all look forward to His coming when we will see Him as He is and be made like Him (see 1 John 3:1-3).

Even now, he is changing us. Is that your hope? Do you really believe He can change you as you behold Him? Or do you think that is an empty promise? Many Christians do not down-deep-believe that Jesus changes us very much – but the text is clear:

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. – 2 Corinthians 3:18

STRAIN AHEAD AND PRESS ON. Philippians 3:12-16

Verse 17 said we are to join with others in following Paul’s example. What was his example? For the answer, let us look at 3:12-16.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

You Do Not Stand Firm by Standing Still.

Christ does not call us to be idle. When Israel was at the Red Sea with Pharaoh coming behind, when Moses said, “Stand firm,” God said “Move on!” God is always calling us to move up, to advance as He calls us heavenward.

God Calls You Heavenward.

When He first called you by the gospel as your heart was touched by the love that reached down to you in your sin, He was calling you heavenward. When you stumbled and fell but He stooped to lift you, He whispered in your ear, “Come home, my child, come on up – heavenward.” When you were growing in grace, He continued to call you onward and upward to better things ahead – as you moved heavenward. When you are mature in Him, He still spoke warmly to you and urged you to come even closer to Him as you moved heavenward. Then, when it comes time for you to cross over to the other side, He will still be there to greet you and welcome you home – as you move heavenward once again.

Consider the Example of Paul.

He did not think he had already reached his goal. He knew he was not yet perfected. What he did say was, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me!” Again, he could lead us in the song, “I’m Pressing On the Upward Way. New heights I’m gaining ev’ry day!”

So, his example says to us, “Forget the past. Stretch for the future. Press toward the goal! Keep moving nearer to God’s voice calling you heavenward!”

DESIRE TO KNOW CHRIST. (Philippians 3:7-11)

Verse 12 began by saying, “Not that I have already obtained all this.” What had he not obtained? Let’s find the answer in verses 7 – 11.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to the resurrection from the dead.

What did he say he wanted? First, he wanted to know Christ. He did not say he wanted to know about him. He wanted to know him. There is a big difference – spelled R-E-L-A-T-I-O-N-S-H-I-P.

How much did Paul want to know Jesus? He wanted to know His sufferings. He wanted to experience the sacrifice of Jesus in leaving heaven – by giving up all he had considered important. He wanted to know his trials in this world by following Jesus and being rejected as Jesus was rejected. He even wanted to know his agony in Gethsemane and at Golgotha by being crucified with Jesus.

He also wanted to know the power of His resurrection as he found new, real, life in Jesus. You do not really know him until you know his victory over death. (See this post.) We are raised in Jesus to walk a new life! (Romans 6:3-4). This is a life that is to be lived in Resurrection Power.

CONCLUSION:

We are called to stand firm – in the midst of a battle!

Ephesians 6:13-14a. 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….

Stand Firm – stand with him in His suffering and resurrection, hold his hand as you press ever higher, and look to his coming. If you do these things, you will never fall but will stand firm.

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One Response

  1. You must be strong in the Lord and put on His full armor, so that you may stand firm against the enemy.

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