Stand Fast in the Lord
INTRODUCTION: Again as we have moved verse by verse through the book of Philippians, we finally come to the 4th chapter. In so doing, I again remind you that the theme of Philippians is "The Joy of Living in Christ." We have found in
Chapter 1: There is Joy in spite of CIRCUMSTANCES; here Christ is the PRINCIPLE of the believer’s life.
Chapter 2: There is Joy in spite of PEOPLE; here Christ is the PATTERN of the believer’s life.
Chapter 3: There is Joy in spite of THINGS; here Christ is the PASSION of the believer’s life.
Chapter 4: There is Joy that defeats WORRY; here Christ is the POWER of the believer’s life.
Now let’s focus our attention on the context from Philippians 4:1-4,
“Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. (2) I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. (3) And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with my other fellow labourers, whose names are in the book of life. (4) Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.”
We believe God would have us to center our attention on the phrase in verse one that says, "stand fast in the Lord…"
Paul's word "therefore" in verse 1 connects us back to Philippians 3:20-21 where he mentions the great hope that awaits us at the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ,
“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: (21) Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” "Therefore," says the apostle, "since you have such a great hope in Christ, don't let anything destroy the firm foundation upon which that hope is resting."
In this last chapter of Philippians, Paul moves away from his explanation of the great purposes of God in Christ, and begins to encourage the believers to live in a way that is in keeping with the great truths they have been taught.
Let me pause and say something here. Today in our churches, we have become skillful at analyzing situations and criticizing people. But what we ought to develop is the ability to encourage.
In Hebrews 10:25; we read, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but EXHORTING ONE ANOTHER, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
That word "exhorting" could be translated as the word encouraging. We are to gather ourselves in the house of God for the purpose of encouraging one another, even more so because Jesus could be coming again at any moment. Today, as we wait for His return, God's people need to be encouraged.
So here in Philippians 4:1 Paul is seeking to encourage these believers in the Lord. He said six things about these Philippian believers as he prepared to encourage them.
First: They were all "brethren." These people were family to the apostle, and he considered them his spiritual brothers and sisters.
Second: Twice he called them "dearly beloved."
Third: He described them as "longed for." More than anything else, he valued the people themselves.
Fourth: He described them as his "joy!" This is just what he called the Thessalonian believers in I Thessalonians 2:19, "For what is our hope, our joy, our crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?"
Fifth: He referred to them as his "crown." Paul looked ahead to the Judgment Seat of Christ and he knew that his faithfulness toward these Philippian believers would be rewarded by the Lord Jesus Christ. Earlier in Philippians 2:16 he had exhorted them "to hold forth the word of life; ….that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain or labored in vain."
Sixth: He really cared for these Philippians and did not want them to lose heart and give in to the pressure of their enemies. He urged them to "stand fast in the Lord." The expression "in the Lord" is found eight times in this epistle (1:14; 2:19, 24, 29; 3:1; 4:1-2, 4).
Now in verse 1, Paul's overwhelming desire for these believers living in the midst of a croaked and perverse world, a world in which they could easily backslide, was "Don't be defeated." "Stand Fast," "Stand Firm," lest you begin to spiritually drift. Another way of saying this would be "Stand firm lest you begin to backslide because of the pull of the world."
Holding your place here, would you please turn with me to II Timothy 4 where we find some of Paul's last recorded words? He has finished his ministry; life for him would soon be over. Were there any regrets? No, for we read in verses 6-8,
“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. (7) I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: (8) Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
Having said that, Paul gives a list of some of the men who had labored with him in the Gospel. Tragically the very first name to be mentioned has brought sadness to Paul's heart, verse 10, "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world…" Now when you and I move through this present age in which we are living there is nothing unusual about that.
There are a lot of people who have forsaken the Lord.
There are a lot of people who are forsaking the house of God.
There are a lot of people who have forsaken their walk with the Lord and their work for the Lord.
The reason: "they love this present world." Over in II Timothy 3, Paul again is describing for us the last days. One of the characteristics of people during that time is found in verse 4. People will be "Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God." They will love to do what they want to do rather than what God wants them to do. So:
Demas couldn't resist the PULL of the world.
Demas couldn't resist the PRESSURE of the world.
Demas couldn't resist the PERSECUTION of the world.
That is the problem with most believers today. They can't resist the PULL of the world that PULLS on every side away from God. We must ever remember:
This world is not a friend to GRACE.
This world is not a friend of GOD.
Demas couldn't resist the PULL, PRESSURE and PERSECUTION of the world; consequently he slid back into the world to live like an unsaved person. That, my friend, is tragic for a believer.
Please, pause for a moment to let me ask you a question. What if the Apostle Paul were here to preach instead of me? Perhaps this place would be packed simply to see what he looked like. If Paul came, what do you think the theme of his message would be? Well, Paul has a favorite theme and he preaches on this theme over and over again in each of his epistles. It is the theme of "Standing Fast." For example:
In I Corinthians 16:13, "Watch, STAND FAST in the faith, quit you like men, be strong."
In Galatians 5:1, "STAND FAST, therefore, in the liberty with which Christ hath made us free…"
In I Thessalonians 3:8, "For now we live, if ye STAND FAST in the Lord."
In II Thessalonians 2:15, "Therefore, brethren, STAND FAST, and hold the traditions which you have been taught…"
In Philippians 1:27, "…that ye STAND FAST in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel."
So Paul might come here and encourage us to "STAND FAST,"
To stand fast in the faith,
To stand fast as far as our freedom is concerned,
To stand fast on the foundation of the Word of God, and
To stand fast as far as our fellowship with God is concerned.
In other words the Apostle Paul is saying,
After you have received Christ as your personal Savior,
After you have had the opportunity to read the Word of God,
After you have had a time to do what the Word of God has told you to do,
don't drift back into living the way you used to live before you were saved. That's what he meant here in Philippians 4:1 "To stand fast."
Time and time again, in the Bible God warns us of those who teach a false truth of what a Christian ought to be by their lips or by the way they live. We call that person a backslider.
Someone said, "A backslider is one who has given up ground once taken for God."
Another said, "A backslider is one who is falsifying the truth of what really has happened in their lives.
Again holding your place in Philippians 4, turn with me to II Peter 2:20-22; where we have a sober warning on backsliding,
“For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. (21) For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. (22) But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”
If there is one thing I know, it's this: here is one area I don't want to understand through experience.
I know one thing for sure. Backsliding isn't just a quaint little term Christians use to say, "that Christian is not living like a Christian."
I hear people say, "Oh, he is backsliden.” As if to say that is one of the forms of the Christian life we just pass through.
As I read this passage, it says to me that backsliding is a very serious and extremely dangerous thing for a Christian. The Bible says it is WORSE in the end than at the beginning if a Christian drifts away, if he refuses to stand fast in the things of God.
Backsliding brings SUFFERING and SHAME and REPROACH to the name of Jesus. You will suffer, others will be affected, and God will not be glorified.
Maybe you are saying:
“Pastor, if you had the opportunity of coming to where I work, you would see how difficult it is to stand fast. Where I work there is temptation on every hand, people are godless, there are foul mouths and filthy minds. I am in a situation right now, and I don't know how to get out of it. I find myself addicted to this person or to this thing.”
Or maybe you are saying: I have not gone into sin or backslidden into the pleasures of the flesh, but…
There was a day when I used to enjoy seeing people get saved. What a thrill it was to see people come forward to receive Christ as their Saviour. But Pastor something has happened and I have lost my burden. I don't witness for Christ any more.
There was a day when the Bible was like a love letter from heaven. But now I don't enjoy reading it. I no longer read it at all. What's wrong?
There was a day when I delighted to come to all the services. The choir sang so beautifully. The messages reached into my heart. I enjoyed them. I loved them. And oh, the fellowship of God's people, what a blessing that was. I say “was” because I find myself not really enjoying the church services as I once did.
There was a day when I loved to pray. I loved to come into the presence of God. It was like having an audience with the King of Kings. But something has happened and prayer time is no longer thrilling. It seems like God doesn't hear my prayers any longer. Now I only pray when the mood hits.
Pastor, the blessing is gone.
Pastor, the excitement is gone.
Pastor, the tingle is gone.
Pastor, I am going through the motions without any emotion.
Pastor, The joy is gone.
Hold it! As I have seen, it is at this point where you will either make the mistake of your spiritual life and begin to backslide, or you will keep doing that which is right until the joy of that activity returns.
You are not necessarily a mature Christian when you do what you like to do when you enjoy doing it.
Rather, you are a mature Christian when you do what you know is right regardless of your feelings about the activity. For example, if reading the Bible is no longer an enjoyment, you read it anyway because you are committed to reading it.
"WHEN YOU TRANSFER INSPIRATION FOR OBLIGATION IN BIBLE READING, in PRAYER, in SOUL WINNING, in SERVING THE LORD in various ministries, then you become a nature Christian."
If in this service, I could INSPIRE you to go soul wining and you were to say, "I am inspired to go Soul winning," the inspiration would probably last for a week or two, or until someone you were witnessing to rejects the Gospel.
But if I could impress upon you an OBLIGATION to do right and you say, "I will go soul winning not because I feel like it but because that is the right thing to do," then this service could change your life. Listen, DOING RIGHT is one way of growing in maturity and in preventing backsliding.
You might be thinking, “Pastor, when I am not inspired and I don’t feel obligated, how can I stand fast?” Well, notice the answer in Philippians 4:1, "So stand fast IN THE LORD." He does not just say "stand fast." He says, "stand fast IN THE LORD."
Now what does he mean by that? He is simply saying if you are a child of God, "Whatever you are doing in your life be sure you are staying close to the Lord." Just how do you do that? Well, in James 4:8; we read, "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you."
Once you find yourself close to the Lord and in fellowship with Him, that closeness will become the NUMBER ONE priority in your life. He will be first, always first. So that you will never have to experience what it means to backslide. You are to "Stand Fast in the Lord."
Now go back, would you, to Philippians 3:20-21 where Paul is talking about the second coming of Christ. Notice again that last phrase, "According to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself." Literally Jesus Christ is able to bring everything, absolutely everything under His control. My friend,
That includes your problem,
That includes your need, and
That includes every single aspect of your life.
You may ask yourself, if He is able to bring everything under His control, then how come I am backsliden? The answer is simple. You are not yielded to Jesus Christ. IT'S AS SIMPLE AS THAT! Someone said, "Responsibility is my response and His ability, and His ability knows no inability."
Notice chapter 4 begins with a "Therefore." As much as He is able, and Jesus is totally able to subdue all things, "Therefore, Stand Fast in the Lord."
Now in this first verse, there are two other words that need our brief attention. They are "Joy" and "Crown." Paul is saying the spiritual steadfastness of these believers brought joy into his heart and joy into his life. Now that ought to be true of any minister of the gospel. When people are not living for God and drifting toward living in sin, that doesn't bring joy into the heart of a Pastor.
In II John verse 3 we read John’s description of his friend Gaius, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." Really, as your Pastor, I have no greater joy than to hear that the individuals of this church are living for the Lord and making their lives count for Christ. There is nothing more sorrowful then to hear of people who are drifting from the Lord and that their lives aren't counting for Christ.
If this backsliding or drifting away brings discomfort to a servant of God, what emotion must it bring to the Lord? Paul is saying "Standing fast brings joy to his heart." Not only Paul feels this way. There is coming a day when I will be standing before God and I'll be rewarded for serving God. Do you realize that when a Pastor stands before God his reward in part is conditioned on how well his flock lived their Christian life? That's quite a statement. My reward, "the crown," is partially contingent upon whether or not you stood fast.
Paul says you are my CROWN. You are my reward. My greatest joy is seeing the people of this church whom I pastor walk in truth, and "standing firm in the will, walk, and Word of God."
For a moment, let's turn to the other side of the coin.
When we stand fast in the faith,
When it comes to the foundation truths, the basics of our faith, and
When it comes to fellowship with those of like precious faith,
God sees to it that JOY comes into our lives. You show me any Christian who is involved in any pleasure of sin and I'll show you a Christian down deep in his soul who is sick over it. God doesn't allow believers to live in sin contentedly. There is DISUNITY, there is DISSATISFACTION, and there is DISHARMONY with God. But joy comes when we “stand fast in the Lord.”
There is coming a day when you shall stand before God and the rewards will be given out. Here in this verse, they are called "crowns." And these crowns are contingent upon whether or not you stood firm.
My friends, do you realize that the day or the hour or the moment of your home going or Christ's return could be right now, even before this service ends? I believe the lesson to be learned is "Boast not thyself of tomorrow, because you know not what a day may bring forth."
Suddenly God may say, "Time’s up. Come Up." As you stand before God, you may have to say to yourself, I have been living a kind of life that has not been pleasing to God. That's why the Bible says you should be "standing firm."
As we close would you look at the last phrase of verse 3, "whose names are in the book of life." I wonder this morning if your name is written therein. It is, if you have received by faith the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour.
However, if it is not, one day God will look in that book and as we read in Revelation 20:15, "Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of Fire." Why not this morning make sure of your relationship to Jesus Christ?
Or perhaps this morning you are saved and know it. But within your heart is some backsliding. You need to be encouraged to come back so that you can "rejoice again." Once again within your heart, you need to sing, "All to Jesus I surrender."
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon, "Stand Fast in the Lord," then right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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