Take A Stand

Sun, Jan 22, 2023
Teacher: Mark Hull
Duration:25 mins 14 secs

Message text

2Thessalonians 2:15 – 17

OPEN: The story is told of a man who was on his way to a costume ball on a Sunday evening. He’d rented a fairly realistic Satan Costume. It was a red suit with a tail and a skintight mask with horns. It was a quality outfit, and … he kind of looked like Satan.
In order to get to the party, he had to walk a fair distance, and was caught in a sudden rainstorm, so he sought shelter in a church building where the service was just ending. Just as he ran into the building, there was a loud clap of thunder, and as the crowd turned to look, a flash of lightening lit up the doorframe.
It was so sudden, and so shocking that the people thought THIS was really Satan, and they panicked and rushed for the exits. But the intruder didn’t realize what was frightening them and thought that maybe the church had been struck with lightning and was on fire… so he raced after them.
Everybody got out… except for one elderly lady. Turning in fear, she stretched out her hands, “Oh devil, please don’t hurt me. I know I’ve been a member of this church for 30 years, but I’ve really been on your side all the time!”
Now… what was that lady saying? She was saying: I surrender, I give up - You WIN! She was afraid that he would hurt her, so she abandoned her faith… and yielded to the enemy.
Now, maybe that’s meant to be a humorous story – it never happened. But too often, there are Christians who literally surrender to Satan. They give up and refuse to stand firm in their faith.
That’s why the Bible repeatedly tells us to stand firm.

1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain”;
1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong”;
Ephesians 6:13 “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.”

And, of course our text today says: “Stand firm and hold to the traditions (the teachings) that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15
The Bible is very clear on this - God calls us to stand firm. What’s interesting is that God repeatedly tells us stories of men and women who stood firm.

Moses STOOD before Pharaoh and ultimately led the people of God out of slavery.
The people of Israel STOOD before the walls of Jericho… and the walls fell down.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego STOOD before Nebuchadnezzar’s idol and refused to bow and God delivered them from the fire.

Esther STOOD before the throne of Xerxes and saved the Jews from destruction.
Now, what’s interesting about all those stories is that… that's about all these folks did - they STOOD! Their victory didn’t come by their force of arms (swords/spears, etc.);
Their triumph wasn’t accomplished because of their personal power;
They didn’t win the day because they were influential people. They overcame evil because they trusted in God and they STOOD FIRM.

Edmund Burke said “The only thing necessary for triumph of evil - is for good men to do nothing.” But when Godly people stand firm in the face of evil, evil is frustrated, and evil is defeated.
And so God tells us to stand - stand firm. YOU may be the only person who is able to stand up FOR God in the face of a bad situation so… stand firm.
And oft times – people who stand for God have to stand ALONE. Many of the great heroes and heroines of Scripture faced danger all by themselves.  But it was their courage - in those times of danger - that turned the tide.

ILLUS: I’ve read that in WWII, the Germans nearly won the Battle Of The Bulge. All they needed was just enough time to reach their objectives… but they never got to their destinations quickly enough. The Germans didn’t lose Battle of the Bulge because they faced a huge Allied army. No!
They lost because they kept running into small groups of soldiers who refused to yield. Small companies of men who stood firm because they knew that they were the only ones who could stand against the might of the German war machine. They STOOD FIRM and they STOOD ALONE, and they turned the tide of the battle.
That is what God calls you and I to be willing to do. God calls us to STAND FIRM, even if you have to stand alone. Because everything may depend upon you.

ILLUS: In the book of Esther, an evil man named Haman who hated the Jews so much that he talked the King into passing a Law calling for them to be destroyed.
Esther was approached by her uncle Mordecai to appeal to the King to save her people… but she was afraid.
And Mordecai rebukes her with these words: “If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish.” Esther 4:14
Esther listened to her uncle, and she stood firm before the King and saved her people from destruction.
Many ask the question, “why would a Christian NOT stand firm?”  Why would they back down in the face of opposition?

One reason is that a lot of folks are afraid of standing alone. In fact, there’s actually a name for that kind of fear: Band wagon effect. In sports, the Bandwagon effect describes “fair weather fans”.
Those folks only get on the “bandwagon” and support the team when they are winning.
But amongst psychologists, the Bandwagon effect is described as: “The tendency for people in social and sometimes political situations to align themselves with the majority opinion and do or believe things because many other people appear to be doing or believing the same. I am sure we have ALL heard the phrase: “If EVERYONE else JUMPED off the bridge… would YOU JUMP ALSO?”
Hubie Brown, at a basketball clinic I attended many years ago, gave this advice to all the coaches in attendance that day:
Believe in yourselves and your coaching program and always remember this one thing …
“The dogs may bark, BUT the caravan moves on.” (EXPLAIN)

ILLUS: Abraham Lincoln “Be sure you put your feet in the right place. Then stand firm.”
Back in the day when I would travel with the 8th grade students from Perry Middle School to Washington D.C. we would often play “King Of The POOL!” at our hotel.
One person would stand at the edge of the pool and another kid would try to push them in without falling into the water themselves.
I had learned that – when I placed my feet just so, nobody could push me off the edge w/o going in with me. I put my feet in the right place… and I stood firm.
But (as a Christian) how do I do that? How do I make sure my feet are in the right place so that I can stand firm for God?
Well… our text today says We do that by “holding to the traditions that (we) were taught... in Scripture." 2 Thessalonians 2:15

You see, the Bible is the foundation of our faith. It’s in the Bible that we discover what is right, and what is wrong. God’s not interested in my opinion or yours.
He’s not influenced by churches who ignore sin. He’s not interested in the editorials of a newspaper or in a government law that tries to legalize immorality.
HE IS NOT A GOD WHO CHANGES WITH THE TIMES! You either line up with Scripture… or you’re wrong.  Whatever the Bible says - that’s where we put our feet.

Peter and John were once commanded not to preach in the name of Jesus and do you know what they said? “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20
They refused to back down. They made sure their feet were in the right place and they STOOD FIRM. But notice - Peter and John were respectful.
They didn’t insult the Sanhedrin; They didn’t mobilize a protest. They just said this is where we stand, and we’re not backing down.

Jesus drew a line on where to stand in Matthew 8:3-11
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

This brings us to the final way Christians should STAND FIRM. Earlier in the sermon I quoted I Corinthians 16:13 that said: “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
But I didn’t include the next verse which says: “Let all that you do be done in love.” I Corinthians 16:14
When I was younger I was frustrated that there didn’t seem to be any action shows in Movies or on TV that showed Christians beating up on criminals.
In the movies, Steven Seagal played a Buddhist who would literally destroyed gangs of bad guys by himself.
But I don’t remember ONE single CHRISTIAN doing stuff like that. I mean, if we Christians are all about righteousness, you’d think we’d get a TV hero who’d punch somebody in the nose once in a while. But that just didn’t seem to happen!
(PAUSE) And there’s a reason for that. Christianity wasn’t built on violence. There was no school of marital arts ever created by Christians because Jesus didn’t teach us to behave that way.

Now, I’m not trying to say a Christian shouldn’t defend their family, their country, or even themselves. But, by our very nature we should not be violent, cruel or nasty folk. Jesus said: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) And here in I Corinthians Paul reminds Christians to stand firm - but do it in love. Be respectful. Set your feet and don’t move but don’t even get into arguments

2 Timothy 2:24-26 “The Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

The fact of the matter is… God has called us to STAND. To not back off our faith for anyone or anything. To do this gently… but without apologizing for what we believe in.
The world will fight you and evil will oppose you. But when the dust clears you’ll know it was worth the cost.
I want to close with this observation by a writer from America’s Revolutionary times ---Thomas Paine

“The harder the conflict,
the more glorious the triumph.
What we obtain too cheap,
we esteem too lightly;

it is dearness only
that gives everything its value.
I love the man that can smile in trouble,
that can gather strength from distress
and grow brave by reflection.

‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink;
but he whose heart is firm,
and whose conscience approves his conduct,
will pursue his principles unto death.”

CLOSE: So the question you need to think about this morning is this: DO YOU STAND WITH JESUS?



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