For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
1 Corinthians 16.13
Had I known what our country, and indeed the entire world, would be going through this summer, I might have postponed my sabbatical another year. Ministry trips I had planned were cancelled. Most of my time was spent at home, observing the agony of our nation. As if the effects of COVID-19 weren’t enough, the explosion of violence in cities across America, including my hometown of Portland, Oregon, was appalling.
All my life I’ve heard of violent and lawless mobs in other countries, often incited and encouraged by tyrants seeking power. But until this year, I had never seen it in America. We’ve had brutal riots and bombings, but never – until now – with the tacit support, and even open approval, of government officials and the media. This is unprecedented. It prompted me to reflect on what factors have caused our nation to so quickly descend to this level of incivility and anarchy. And that led me to consider the role of Christians in America.
The result of this thinking is a sermon series which I will present during the month of September. I have called it “Here We Stand,” because where we as Christians take our stand is critical in these turbulent times. Whether or not our country will continue to be a beacon of freedom in the world is in doubt. But whatever happens, the convictions which govern our hearts and lives will remain. And in an increasingly dark time, a little light shines brighter. For too long we have assumed the moral declines in our society would correct themselves. It is now clear that will not happen.
Throughout history, people of faith have stood against the advance of sin, and stood for the truths of our Creator God. Repeatedly, in the face of relentless evil, men and women have stood firm, exhibiting confidence in God in times of deprivation and persecution. We are on the threshold of those days again, and we must be prepared to ‘stand firm.’
This is not a political battle, though the enemy uses politicians to achieve his wicked plans. Nor is it a cultural or social battle, though the enemy has infected society and culture with his evil. This is a spiritual battle, and it is that which we must be prepared for. Sadly, theologians and church leaders have not prepared us: Instead of proclaiming and defending the core tenets of Christianity, they have surrendered the foundations of our faith, and compromised our most precious truths. We can no longer wait for others to fight our battles. As the Apostle Paul exhorted Christians in first-century Ephesus, we must take up the full armor of God. As we do, we can do so with confidence. Our foe is Satan, and although formidable, he cannot defeat the King of kings! Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world (1 John 4.4)!
As believers in Jesus Christ, we need to resist in the evil day…and stand firm (Eph. 6.13). It was for freedom that Christ set us free, so we must keep standing firm (Gal. 5.1). Like the Corinthian Christians who were living in a wicked and idolatrous society, we must be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, and be strong (1 Cor. 16.13).
Join me this month as we focus on and affirm our spiritual foundation, our saving message, and our blessed hope.