stand your ground

Written by Mark Lafler

B.A., Global University; M.C.S., Regent College I am currently serving as a youth minister at our church in Sarasota, FL. I am married to Tera (15 Years +) and we have 3 beautiful daughters.

May 23, 2012

armor of God

A popular text growing up was Ephesians 6:10-20 on “spiritual warfare.”  I remember being taught to pray over myself the armor of God each morning so that I would not fall to temptation in my life.

However, the personal application is of secondary nature to the main emphasis, which is a call for the church to resist the evil spiritual powers in the world.  Like most of scripture the call is corporate and less individual.

The key emphasis in the passage does not rise and fall on the different parts of the armor or on the word “wrestle.”  We tend to focus on these parts of the text and for good reason because they create such good visual images.  Nevertheless, the text rises and falls on the word “stand.”

Stand (stanai Grk.) is used four times in the text and is the verb that most of the adverbs are describing.  Obviously the word is used metaphorically and may be described to mean resistance or to hold one’s ground.

So how do we combat evil forces in the world?

We stand against them.  It is not a passive sense of standing, but an aggressive withstanding against an onslaught.  Many commentators and ancient writings note that the word is a military term suggesting that the soldier was to stand his ground and not take flight.

We stand our ground by praying (Ephesians 6:18), speaking out (Ephesians 6:19-20), and by being unified in Spirit (Philippians 1:27).

It should never be an individual effort to resist the works of the dark forces, but a unified Spirit-led church movement.

In the late John Stott’s book Evangelical Truth (IVP, 2003) he suggested:

 “…stability in both doctrine and ethics is in short supply today…. It is much easier to drift with the stream than to swim against it.  It takes much less effort to bend like reeds, shaken by the winds of public opinion and political correctness, than to stand firm and immovable like rocks in a mountain torrent.”

It seems to me that following the ways of this world is much easier than struggling against them.  It is hard to stand against the forces of evil in this world.

Sexual sins, hunger, addiction, creation abuse, divorce, and unethical business practices (to name a few) are often ignored or overlooked until something too big to ignore happens.

It is the mission of the church to resist these forces and to call them out as wrong, unethical, un-Christ-like, and evil.  It is the mission of the church to stand up for those who are ambushed by these evil spiritual forces.

So how do we stand?  For me, I do my best to support my church in combating the evil forces.  We pray for God’s kingdom to come and we are unified through the assembly and the Lord’s Supper.  However, I imagine like at most churches that there is more we can do.

So I ask, “What do you do?”

2 Comments

  1. Ginny Jaques

    I know the Church as a whole is important, and we need to stand in unity, but I have a hard time separating what the Church is to do from what I am to do as a member.  

    In our current evangelical culture, the importance of the individual is being downplayed.  I can understand why.  The individual has been worshiped for too long in our secular culture.  But I don’t want us to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  

    “The Church” does not walk, day to day, moment by moment with with the Lord.  Individual people do.  For sure, we need to think corporately, but at the same time we need to be careful not to lose the sense of how important our own personal walk with the Lord is.  The Body of Christ is made up of members, and the members, individually, are the ones who have to stand up for the truth, to pray, to resist the forces of evil.  We do it together, for sure, and we need each other, but if we start thinking of the Church as being an entity of itself, and lose site of the fact that it’s made up of individuals, we’ll end up with a predicament as bad as the one that happens when we worship the individual. It’s so hard to correct one problem without creating another one.  I hope that we, as the Church, don’t do that in this case. 

    Reply
  2. Andy Carlson

    Mark…what a very timely commentary for the palace I find myself, within the wandering of my own denomination.  I was enlightened and buoyed in your comment depicting the verse as relating to the church rather than the individual primarily.  That gave me a whole new confirmation on the opportunity and obligation of the church membership to protect the on slot to the church from both within it walls and from the social in-roads being made (accepted and frequently championed) by they church: rather that standing firm on the sure foundations of our faith.  Your question “What do you do?” Specifically for me I have found myself to have been taking the path of “bending with the reeds”.  It was a place of passivity to the changes around me, to the point of being ignorant of those changes. So to overcome the passivity I am seeking to become less ignorant: to be more aware, to be more proactive in discovering those changes.  I am finding most folks to be “OK” in bending with the reeds…unaware of the changes about to overtake them. However, your other proactive concern of “standing up for those that are abused” takes on a whole new set of conflicts  with those have been abused (socially, spiritually, physically) when we the church have so “demonized (marginalized)” those who are not “like us” or are in “obvious sin” that we have pushed them away from the church.  To the point that they have found their way into the church’s leadership rolls  (for they too Love the Lord)  to take the steering wheel setting the agenda and discussion. I suggest that we (the church – and individuals – to Jinny’s point) have too “bent with the reeds”, withdrawn from the position of battle ready and retreated for the purpose of “non making waves”.  We have not walked they way of Jesus as living examples of His love, His way, nor his (the Trinity’s) way of  living or sharing truth or correction.  It seems we (as individuals, as well as the church) are living more of a social agenda rather than a Trinity filled life.  I don’t have the answer, I want to learn and follow the way of the Trinity.

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stand your ground

by Mark Lafler time to read: 2 min
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