Standing can get exhausting. How many of us have stood in lines at the grocery store, amusement parks, voting halls, or black Friday sales lines, to name a few of the biggies? However excited we may have been at the outset of our standing, as the minutes and hours (or sometimes days) passed, the all-important end goal began to fade from its original glory. This can be true even in our faith.
There are so many reasons why I love the Armor of God passage in Ephesians. I have prayed through and studied this passage for many years. But I’ve only recently discovered the power in a phrase I’ve been skimming over all these years. It’s a command that is actually repeated all throughout the Bible. And here in this passage, it is the main purpose and goal of putting on God’s armor, and that is to stand firm against the devil’s schemes to draw us away from God.
I remember my newly excited baby Christian standing. I had so much energy and pride that I thought I could concur the world, or at least protect my immediate family. I could not see all of the twists and turns that the path of my faith journey would take just around the corner from this early new birth. I’m quite confident that God keeps the knowledge of how long and tiring and difficult our journey will be from us in order not to discourage us. But what He does give us is much knowledge and encouragement about this disciplined faith task of standing firm throughout the Bible.
First of all, the Bible gives us confidence to trust in God because of 6 things that He causes or enables to stand firm, with no action whatsoever on our part.
1. “. . . the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” Psalms 33:11.
2. “[God’s] love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself” Psalm 89:2.
3. “Your statutes, Lord, stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days” Psalm 93:5.
4. “Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens” Psalm 119:89.
5. “When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.” Proverbs 10:25
6. “The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous stands firm” Proverbs 12:7
So the plans of the Lord, God’s love, God’s statutes, and God’s Word as a whole stand firm, no matter what happens here on Earth, no matter how dark and bleak our world or our circumstances seem, God is still standing firm and strong. Even when the storms of life, literally and figuratively blow through, God tells us that the righteous and the house of the righteous stand firm. This is not to say that the “good people” stand firm, but those who have been made righteous by the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ. His is the house of the righteous, and those of us who know Him as our Lord and Savior will stand firm in the end. “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, 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.” 1 Corinthians 15:57-58
Second, God gives us many promises based on our actions. God commands us to simply (easier said than done I know) stand firm, and then He will respond with His mighty power and reaction. What does this phrase mean though? How do we go about standing firm? Do we just stand in place, keep a status quo in our lives, and let God do all of our work for us? No, not at all. When I studied the original language and definitions for each time this phrase appeared throughout the Bible I got a much clearer image of what God is asking of us. The Greek or Hebrew definitions are in (parenthesis).
1. “. . . Stand firm (to set or station oneself, take one’s stand, stand with someone) and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring to you today.” Exodus 14:13
2. “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm (to set or station oneself, take one’s stand, stand with someone) and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.” 2 Chronicles 20:17
3. “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm (to tarry behind, bear bravely and calmly ill treatments) to the end will be saved” Matthew 10:22
4. “Stand firm (steadfastness, constancy, endurance, a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance), and you will win life” Luke 21:19
5. “. . . so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground (to set one’s self against, resist, oppose)” Ephesians 6:13
Standing firm in the face of opposition, stationing ourselves as a soldier would in the midst of danger whether physical or emotional, this is not something we can do in our own power. We need the power of God to help us to stand firm. “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” 2 Corinthians 1:21-22. Whether you are a new believer or mature in the Lord, stand firm in His power and might, in His victory, not on our own human feet. As you grow in your faith, be sure to find out what pleases the Lord (Ephesians 5:10), and then by faith take your stand, by faith station yourselves, by faith stand with someone, by faith tarry behind for the weak and defenseless. I have lost friends and loved ones because of my stand on topics such as abortion and godly marriage, as Matthew’s verse plainly states. But friends won’t save us on the day of evil. Only God and His Word is worthy of standing for.
Finally, God gives us warnings for what will happen if we do not stand firm.
3. “. . . If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” Isaiah 7:9.
4. “You have not gone up to the breaches in the wall to repair it for the people of Israel so that it will stand firm (to remain, endure, take one’s stand, to tarry, delay, continue, persist, be steadfast, stand one’s ground) in the battle on the day of the Lord” Ezekiel 13:5.
5. “So, if you think you are standing firm (to make firm, fix, establish, cause it to stand, set or place in a balance), be careful that you don’t fall!” 1 Corinthians 10:12.
If we decide to take the easy route and go with the flow, we will not stand at all. If we have breaches in our “wall,” such as addictions, habits, a lack of spiritual discipline causing us to forget or not know what pleases the Lord, we will not stand on the day of battle. And if we think that we are standing firm, we got this, no problem, we better be on guard, and possibly even think again and reevaluate our standing. Is it in our own strength or wisdom that we stand, or founded on our faith in God and His promises and carried out by the power of the Holy Spirit?
Standing firm is a life-long process and journey. We will get weak and tired. But stand firm even in times of weakness, because “[God’s] grace is sufficient for you, for [His] power is made perfect in weakness” 2 Corinthians 12:9. Then we will see the victory the Lord has planned, not our own ideas of victory and justice, but God’s perfect love and plan for us all. Isn’t this the glorious end goal of our faith, no matter how tired we may get?
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 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. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.