Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:13)
Standing Firm. There is such depth of meaning to this concept. In fact, the idea of what standing firm really means has been rolling around in my thoughts and prayers for the past week as I’ve continued work through the Armor of God study by Priscilla Shirer. Each time I would read “stand firm” in the study, God’s Spirit would ignite something in me–He kept igniting a desire to dig deeper. So I began searching God’s Word for other verses dealing with standing firm.
And here is what I learned: standing firm does not mean standing still. Standing firm is both purposeful and powerful. Standing firm is an action.
Explore this with me for a minute as I highlight a few of its uses I discovered as I searched God’s Word…
First of all, it was used by God in battle as a directive–a directive requiring action and obedience. God would tell His people to stand firm–or to hold their positions with confidence–so that He could fight the battle for them. In Exodus 14:13, Moses encourages the Israelites to “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you today…The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” And God did. After Moses actively obeyed the command to place his staff in the water and begin walking, Moses and the Israelites crossed the Red Sea on dry land. Even more, the Egyptians were then overcome by the very same waters. The very waters that parted for God’s children overwhelmed their enemies.
In 2 Chronicles 20:17, after Jehoshaphat and all of Judah petitioned God for help, God spoke to them the following: “You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” And the Lord indeed delivered them. Jehoshaphat and his men did nothing but go to the place God directed them to go. And when they got there, the enemy was dead and the spoil was theirs for the taking. The purpose of standing firm in battle was similar in meaning to Psalm 46:10 in that “being still” allowed God to exalt Himself. Yet being still did not mean to stand still; it meant to cease striving. Standing firm in battle means to go forward as God directs knowing God has already won.
Another use of standing firm I noticed was one of being actively steadfast in our belief that God is God and more than able to do His will. It is a standing firm in knowing God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). If He has done it before, then He is more than able to do it again. Below are a couple of examples of Scripture proclaiming God’s sovereignty and our need to stand firm in it.
“Remember this and stand firm,
recall it to mind, you transgressors,
9 remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
10 declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose’” (Isaiah 46:8-10)
For the righteous will never be moved;
he will be remembered forever.
7 He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
8 His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,
until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. (Psalm 112:6-8)
We can stand firm in our faith because we can trust God is God; He is “a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in Him” (Nahum 1:7). We can “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). God is God. God is faithful. And we can stand firm knowing this.
A third use of standing firm I gleaned from my research is that to “stand firm” in our faith is to walk in obedience to God and His Word. Joshua reminds the Israelites to “…be strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor the left…” (Joshua 23:6). Colossians 1:23 encourages believers to “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel” that they’ve heard. We are also exhorted in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 to “stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught.” Furthermore, by standing firm in obedience, we will also be able to walk out our faith. We will do all in love as we are encouraged to do in 1 Corinthians 16:13. We will also walk “worthy of the gospel of Christ…standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side-by-side for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). This means when we stand firm in our faith through obedience, we will also find ourselves standing firm with our fellow Christ followers–and there is immense power in unity.
In general “standing firm” is rarely passive. There are so many examples associating “standing firm” with deliberate, confident action. Ephesians 6:11-13 reminds us to actively put on the armor of God so we can “stand firm.” In Hebrews we are encouraged to “hold fast” our confidence and hope “firm to the end” (Hebrews 3:6, 14). Hebrews 6 encourages us to be earnest, not sluggish, in our faith. James reminds us be steadfast in trials, to resist the devil, and to establish our hearts (James 1:2-4, 12; 4:7; 5:8). First Corinthians tells us to be steadfast and immovable as we abound in the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58). And I believe Daniel 11:32 may say it best of all: “…but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.”
Stand firm and take action. Being steadfast and being active go together.
Yet please do not misunderstand me. Taking action is not attempting to do things in our own strength. Doing things on our own will inevitably lead to failure. Rather, taking action means actively seeking God’s direction and wisdom. Prayer is taking action. Reading God’s Word is taking action. Waiting is taking action. Listening for His still small voice to say “This is the way” is taking action. Actively standing firm could mean taking the first step into the raging waters of an uncertain future. It could mean keeping your mouth shut when you so want to say something (or speaking when you don’t!). It could be saying no to something without a “good” reason except for the sense God is directing you to say no. Standing firm in our faith is purposeful–whether or not we must stand still in our steadfastness or go forth in it.
So I end with an encouragement to you today to actively stand firm in your faith. Fix your eyes on the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Plant your feet on the firm foundation of Jesus (Matthew 7:24-27). Resist the devil knowing He will flee (James 4:7). And at the same time, draw near to God (James 4:8). Ask, seek, and knock with full confidence that God will not only hear, but He will answer (Matthew 7:7-11). And as God answers–as God whispers in your ear to stand firm in the faith–go forth with confidence. Yes, “Stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13).