In Him is deliverance! We very quickly fall prey to our old nature and this is seen when we commit sin of the flesh and the sins of the spirit. The sins of the flesh include:
“… Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, revelling, and such like:” (Galatians 5:19-21).
More insidious than these, however, are the sins of the spirit, such as pride, jealousy, envy, irritability, impatience, intolerance, criticism, and so on.
Third, the Devil is the enemy around. He is real, and powerful and a personal foe, and he is determined to bring about our downfall. If we do not learn the way of victory, we shall have a rough time in seeking to live the Christian life, and we shall be knocked down by this great enemy, time and time again.
Sometimes, Satan comes to us “as a roaring Lion” (1 Peter 5:8); and sometimes, with great subtlety, he draws near in the guise of “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). It is most important, therefore, that we should not be ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11), and that we should learn how to be victorious over Him, and all who are allied to him, who seek to bring about our downfall.
These, then, are our three great enemies. We must be on guard against them, for if we are not careful, we shall be taken unawares, and we shall fall in bondage to them. But consider now the second part of our formula.
- Stand firm in the faith.
This actually reads, “Stand fast in the Faith”, and this reminds us of those great words in 1 Corinthians 15:58.
The words “stand fast” really mean, “Stay Put”, and this brings before us the picture of someone with deep spiritual convictions who stick to them.
Some years ago, I saw a picture in a magazine. It depicted a young fellow sitting in the dark and reading a book studiously! The important thing about the picture was its caption, which read: it is not the fellow who starts who succeeds, but the fellow who starts and sticks.” But how often we do not stick and we give up in conflict! There is no need for us to breakdown, however, because the Lord has provided complete victory for us all along the line. The earlier quoted 1 Corinthians 15:58, about being steadfast and unmovable and always abounding in the Corinthians letter, they came right at the end of the gospel. The fact and the glory of the resurrection of Christ and of the believer who is united to Christ through faith; and the second coming of our Lord and the vanquishing of death and Hell.
Then, after all this, he says in 1 Corinthians 15:5, “Therefore because of the glorious victory of your Lord who is exalted now at God’s right hand, and who is soon coming back again)…”
If we are going to have spiritual convictions, and if we are going to stick to them, we must be men and women of the book. We must give heed to Paul’s exhortation to young Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15.
Having said that, however, I believe that the words, “stand fast in the faith” also means, ‘keep trusting the Lord’… do not lose your faith in the midst of all the trials and testing that you experience. When reverses and losses come, when sickness come upon you, and even if bereavement comes… do not lose your faith! The focal point of Satan’s attack is our faith. If only he can stop us from trusting God. This is what he is out to do.
The next four words in our formula are very interesting. Here they are: “Quit you like men.” I would like to alter them slightly.
2. Behave like man.
The phrase here means, “to make man of someone”, or, “to enable him to grow up”. Let me ask you this question: How long have you been a Christian? Well, perhaps, you need this little bit of advice: Be your angel! Put away childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11). It is very sad, but it must be admitted that Christians are often childish and petty, and they behave like babies. How touchy they are sometimes about the most trivial things! Such behaviour is an indication of spiritual immaturity. Paul tells us that babies are object of “envying, and strife, and divisions” (1 Corinthians 3:3). many Christians seem to be perpetually immature; they have never grown up. This is what Apostle Paul is saying, in effect, “We must rise to the full stature of our manhood in Christ.”
But how can we do this? What are our resources? The advice sounds very good, but how are we to be on our guard all the time? How are we to believe, and to behave, “like men”? We certainly cannot do these things in our own strength. The reason we have failed so often is because we have tried to live His life in us, through the gracious person and ministry of the Holy Spirit who indwell in us. Every time we have failed, it is because we have tried in our strength, to do the things which are utterly impossible to do in our own strength.
What then is the secret of victory? This is given to us in the next two words in our formula. They are the words “be strong’. I want to alter them, and make them read rather differently.
3. Do not rely on yourself
It is futile to rely upon ourselves, for we are utterly incapable of facing the world and of remaining pure and unspotted; it is quite impossible to overcome the crying of our old nature within, in our own strength, and we certainly have no power against the mighty power of the Devil. This is what the apostle had in mind when he wrote Ephesians 6:10.
He did not say, “Be strong in yourselves”, he did not simply say, “Be strong”, what he did say was, “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might!” Then he went on to speak about the whole armour of God which we must put on if we are going to be conquerors in the battle of life. We must have our “loins girded about with truth”; we must have our “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace”; we must take “the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:10-17).
There is no need of defeat. If we are defeated, it is because we are relying upon our own resources, which are totally inadequate.
Here, then, is our formula for victory. We must always be on our guard; we must stand firm in the faith; we must behave like grown up people; and we must never rely upon ourselves. Is that all? No, there is one more thing, and it is tremendously important. It reads like this: “Let all your things (all you do) be done with charity.” But I want to make it read differently.