Philippians 4:1 "Therefore, my brethren, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved."
Our text raises 2 main questions: Why should we stand firm in the Lord? and How should we stand firm in the Lord? The "Why" is perhaps the easiest, so it comes first. If you had the chance to choose which side you were on, how would you choose? If you had to choose between your friends and doing what was right, which would you choose? If you had to choose between your friends, and being on the winning side, which would you choose? Most people like to be with their friends. Most people like to be on the winning side. And for Christians the answer is easy, for the promise of God is clear, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these other things will be yours as well." Its not like Iím telling you something you donít already know. You all know another promise of God "All things work together for good, for them that love God." But most of the time, were so in the midst of living life, that we canít see what is going on. So now we step back for a moment to look.
Our text plainly tells us that Jesus has conquered all opposition. In the end, everyone will acknowledge Jesus as Lord, even the devil. It wonít help the devil, heíll still be in hell, and so will all his followers, but in the end they will all worship Jesus as Lord. They lived as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their God is the belly, they glory in shame, with their minds set on earthly things. They may tempt us to join them. They may even claim to be our friends. But good friends donít lead friends into danger. Good friends donít lead friends to destruction. So the reason why we stand firm in the Lord, is simply because he is Lord of all, and as Lord of All, not only does he give us daily bread, and all we need, but he forgives our sins, makes us a new creation, and gives us life everlasting. He did all this for us, while we were still his enemies. Standing firm with Jesus, is not only clinging to the greatest treasure the world has known, the greatest friends weíll ever have, but it is also being on the winning side, and doing what is right.
About this time, you might be saying, well, what about our friends? And if by friends, we are talking about those who do not know Jesus, about those who are on the way to destruction,... ask yourself a simple question: Are you doing either of you any good, by going along with them? If their end is destruction, and you go with them, you too will find yourself a lost and condemned sinner, condemned to Hell. But Jesus doesnít want that. Jesus died to free you and your friends from slavery to sin and Satan. And Jesus has shown us the way of salvation, that we may lead our friends to the way of salvation, by grace through faith, in Christ Jesus.
All this leads us to: "How we stand firm in the Lord." The first thing we do, is to remember that we are citizens of heaven, and we are, only because Jesus died for our sins, and the Holy Spirit, working through the Word, has worked faith in our hearts, and made us a new creation. And if we have friends who are not citizens of heaven, we want to bring them to Jesus, so that they too can have the peace of God which passes understanding through the forgiveness of sins in Jesus blood.
How we stand firm in the Lord? We remember our savior, and the glorious hope of the resurrection of the dead. What can compare with the riches that are ours in Christ Jesus. But thereís more, for God hasnít left us on our own, but has not only sent the spirit to dwell in our hearts, but has surrounded us with fellow believers who encourage us, by word, and by the example of our lives. How we stand firm in the Lord? Paulís says it simply and humbly, when he says join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us. In other words, we stand firm in the Lord, when we stand firm together in faith, when we stand together as the church, and when we remind ourselves that we are the sonís and daughters of God by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. And remembering this we reach out to our friends and bring them to Jesus, and by our lives, show them the way of faith.
For we know that Jesus ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God. And we know that Jesus has gone before us, to prepare a heavenly mansion for us. And we know that Jesus will come again, to take us home to heaven. And so we stand firm in the faith, not by our own strength, but by the grace of God in Jesus Christ which enables us. Amen.