— The Preaching and Teaching Ministry of Kevin A. Pierpont

Stand Fast – Philippians 4:1

Kevin A. Pierpont
Higgins Lake Baptist Church

Of being steadfast it has been said that…

There aren’t any hard-and-fast rules for getting ahead in the world—just hard ones.

Let me share a few more quotes with you that may teach us a thing or two about being steadfast. It’s been said that “In order to live off a garden, you practically have to live in it” (Kin Hubbard).

It’s also been said that, “You don’t have to lie awake nights to succeed. Just stay awake days” (Healthways).

There’s a Japanese Proverb says that, “There is no poverty that can overtake diligence.”

And you know – “Triumph is just umph added to try.”

Robert Benchley said, “It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.”

And George Bernard Shaw once said, “When I was a young man I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. l didn’t want to be a failure, so I did ten times more work.”

V. Raymond Edman, former Wheaton College president once said…

  “It’s always too soon to quit.”( V. Raymond Edman, former Wheaton College. Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 1.)

Those words weren’t just a cliché with him. He actually died of a heart attack while giving a chapel address. It’s important as believers that we not quit. We need spiritual stability. We need to be steadfast. We need to stand firm.

John W. Yates shared this letter from a missionary who had gone into the jungles of New Guinea:

“Man,” he said, “it’s great to be in the thick of the fight, to draw the old Devil’s heaviest guns, to have him at you with depression and discouragement, slander, disease! He doesn’t waste time. He hits good and hard when a fellow is hitting him. You can always measure the weight of your blow by the one you get back. When you’re on your back with fever and at your last ounce of strength, when some of your converts backslide, when you learn that your most promising inquirers are only fooling, when your mail gets held up and some don’t bother to answer your letters, is that the time to put on your mourning suit?

“No Sir! That’s the time to pull out the stops and shout hallelujah! The old fellow’s getting it in the neck and he’s giving it back. And all of heaven is watching over the battlements: ‘Will he stick it out?’ And as they see who is with us, as they see around us the unlimited reserves, the boundless resources, as they see the impossibility of failure with God, how disgusted and sad they must be when we run away. Glory to God! We’re not going to run away. We’re going to stand.” (John W Yates II, “Overcoming Discouragement,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 42.)

That missionary knew the importance of standing fast. He understood how vital it is for the believer to hold his ground, to be spiritually stable and steadfast. Circumstances that would discourage many and cause them to throw in the towel, pack their bags and go back home didn’t have that affect on him.

Why was that?

It’s because he was standing fast.

Today we’re are going to look at Philippians 4:1 where we’ll see the importance of standing fast in the Lord.

Philippians 4:1  Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.

As we look closely at this verse, I want you to see three things. We’ll see…

– Paul’s care of the Philippian believers,

– Paul’s crown and

– Paul’s charge to them.

1. Paul’s Care

Notice first of all the care, the affection Paul expresses for the church at Philippi. He calls them beloved twice in this verse. He calls them longed-for brethren. He cared deeply for them. They were his brothers in the Lord and he loved them dearly. Because of his love for his brothers in Christ, we know that Paul sincerely loved God. Think about the verses in 1 John 4:20–21 with me for a moment.

1 John 4:20  If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?  21  And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

Paul had a heart for the Lord. He loved the Lord deeply and his love for God is seen in the way he lived his life. If we are Godly and love the Lord with all of our being like Paul did we are also going to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.

If you don’t love fellow believers like Paul did then you need to ask yourself if you really love the Lord. Paul did love the Lord and he clearly loved other believers.

His care and love; his deep affection for the Philippian believers was a natural outflow of his love for the Lord. He genuinely cared about them and was concerned about their welfare. He wasn’t a self-serving person who used others selfishly. He sincerely cared about the Philippians. They were his beloved. They were also his longed-for brethren. He enjoyed spending time with them. He missed them when he wasn’t with them. He looked forward to being with them.

When we truly love others we look forward to spending time with them. We don’t enjoy separations from those we love. We long for them. We want to be with them.

Paul had a heart for people and he cared deeply for the believers at Philippi. We’ve seen Paul’s love, his care for the Philippians, look at Paul’s crown.

2. Paul’s Crown

Paul says that the believers at Philippi are his joy and crown. Remember that Paul is imprisoned when he is writing this letter to the Philippians. Instead of letting his circumstances rob him of his joy, he found his joy in others.

We’ve returned repeatedly in our studies in Philippians to this theme of joy. And Paul’s joy wasn’t in material possessions or the things of this world. He found his joy in relationships with others. People mattered to him. He was concerned for others and poured his life into helping others know Christ as he knew Christ and that was a source of joy for him.

Look for a moment at a couple of verses.

Daniel 12:3  Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.

3 John 1:4  I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

There is joy in serving others and seeing them walking in a way that honors the Lord. There is joy in pouring your heart into the lives of others like Paul did and seeing in them a desire to honor Christ.

As a parent it brings me great joy when my children express a desire to follow Christ. As a pastor it is great joy to see others who love the Lord Jesus Christ and want to serve Him faithfully.

Do you want to experience real joy? Go out of your way to love others, to do for others for God’s glory. Then you’ll know real joy.

Not only were the Philippian believers Paul’s joy, they were also his crown. David Guzik says:

Paul uses the word for crown which denotes the crown given to an athlete who has won the race, a crown of achievement; not the crown that is given to a king – the Philippians, as they stand fast in the Lord, are Paul’s “trophy” (David Guzik)

He was investing in the lives of others and storing up treasures for himself in heaven. The Philippian believers were Paul’s trophy.

Often the trophies we pursue on this earth are things that are going to vanish, rot and decay.

I don’t suppose I’m all that uncommon. When it comes to my vehicles I can’t stand to see rust appear. Do you feel that way about your car? Rust starts to show up around the edges after a few years and when you realize it’s there what do you want to do about it—take it for a paint job—no—if your like me you want to get rid of it.

A few years ago I heard a Physician interviewed on the Focus on the Family radio program. I think the topic of the show was stewardship—handling properly the things God gives us and not putting to much emphasis on having things in excess.

A couple of things that physician said struck me and I’ve never forgotten them. They really challenged me to think about what kind of value I should place on things.

One thing he noted about how simply we can live when we put our minds to it was that he only owned one sport coat and one pair of dress slacks. He said he didn’t need any more than that.

He also said that he decided never to spend more than $4000 on a car. He said that the car was driving at the time was so rusty that he could pass a basketball through the fenders. He also noted that driving a car that looks that bad has its setbacks. Once while working on call in the emergency room his car was towed from the on call Doctor’s parking space. When security was questioned as to why the car was towed their reply was that there was no way a Physician would own a car that looked that bad.

Don’t we put a high value on things in this life? It may not be your car for you—maybe it’s some other earthly possession. Those are things that won’t really matter for eternity.

Paul’s crown was the people he invested in. Giving our lives to serve others and help them come to know Christ and mature in their faith is a crown that will last. Paul’s passion wasn’t for material goods, it was for people. People are what mattered to him. The Philippian believers were his joy and crown. He cared deeply for them and he spent his life urging others to know Christ and live lives that honored him. Paul had his priorities straight. He knew what really mattered. He lived his life to please the Lord and encouraged others to do the same.

Out of this deep love and affection for the Philippian believers we see Paul’s charge to them.

3. Paul’s Charge

Paul tells the Philippians to stand fast in the Lord. It is so important that we stand fast as believers. We need to be steadfast. We need to be stable. We see the importance of this throughout Scripture. Consider what Barnabas said to the early church at Jerusalem.

Acts 11:23  When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.

Barnabas encouraged them to continue with the Lord—keep on keeping on with the Lord. We see the same idea of standing fast here.

Paul repeatedly encouraged other churches to stand fast.

Let me share a few other passages where we see Paul emphasizing the idea of standing fast.

1 Corinthians 15:58  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 16:13  Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.

Galatians 5:1  Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Ephesians 6:11  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Ephesians 6:13,14  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

Philippians 1:27  Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,

2 Thessalonians 2:15  Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.

For another example of the importance of standing fast, listen to James 1:6-8.

James 1:6  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  7  For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;  8  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Note that in contrast to one who is standing fast, we see here one who is double-minded and unstable in all his ways. This is not the picture of an effective, fruitful Christian.

Peter also emphasizes standing firm in 1 Peter 5:12.

1 Peter 5:12  Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it! (NASB)

And think about Jude’s words.

Jude 1:24  Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,

If you are standing fast, if you are standing firm, if you are steadfast and stable spiritually you are not going to be one who is stumbling.

Throughout Scripture we see the importance of standing fast. Paul’s charge to the believers at Philippi in Philippians 4:1 is to stand fast in the Lord.

John MacArthur says;

“Steko (stand firm) is the main verb of verses 1–9. It is an imperative, a command with almost a military ring to it. Like soldiers in the front line, believers are commanded to hold their position while under attack (cf. Eph. 6:11, 13, 14). They are not to collapse under persecution and compromise, to fail under testing and complain, or to yield to temptation and sin.” (MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

The charge that Paul gives to the Philippian believers is one that applies to us today as well. It is an imperative. In other words it is a command. It is not optional. It is something that those who hear must obey. The Philippians were commanded to stand fast. Today we are commanded as believers to stand fast. It isn’t a suggestion. It is a command. It is so important that we take seriously the commands of Scripture.

1 John 5:3  For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

I think we sometimes get the idea that it is a burden to keep God’s commandments but that is not the case. When we live in obedience to God’s Word we are going to experience joy, freedom and victory. Obedience to God’s commands liberates us from the bonds of sin.

It is imperative that we stand fast so that we aren’t beaten down and discouraged when trials and persecution come our way. We need to stand fast so we aren’t taken captive and led astray by wrong and deceptive teaching. We need to stand fast so we aren’t giving in to temptation and living sinful lives. If we fail to stand fast we are going to be weak and ineffective Christians.

If we want to live lives that are fruitful, effective and victorious then we must stand fast! If we want to live in a way that honors Christ and draws others to Him then we must stand fast! We are going to face problems and challenges and temptations in this world. We are going to face difficulties and trials and yet we must stand fast. Jesus made it clear that life wouldn’t just be a bed of roses for the believer.

John 16:33  “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Don’t give up. Don’t quit serving the Lord. Don’t be defeated or discouraged. Stand fast!

And the key to standing fast is standing fast in the Lord. We shouldn’t attempt to stand fast in our own efforts or we will fall. It is in the Lord that we are able to stand fast. As we saw earlier in the passage in Jude, it is the Lord who is able to keep us from stumbling. Also as we noted in the passage in 2 Thessalonians, we stand fast by holding to the truth of God’s Word.

2 Thessalonians 2:15  Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.

If we are going to stand fast we need to have a close relationship with the Lord. Standing fast in the Lord isn’t a matter of just doing it. We must prepare ourselves. We need to understand the truth of God’s Word and live in obedience to God’s Word.

If we aren’t well taught, if we don’t have a clear understanding of the Word of God, we are going to be weak and unstable spiritually.

If we are going to be spiritually stable and stand fast then we need to be close to the Lord. We need to understand His word clearly and be careful to obey what He has commanded.

It is important to be in a church where God’s Word is clearly taught and is not watered down or compromised. It is my hearts desire that I teach God’s Word here with God’s authority and not my own opinion. It’s sad but there are churches where they don’t faithfully teach God’s Word and that leads to spiritual instability. It’s important that we dig into God’s Word for ourselves as believers. That will help us to stand fast and be spiritually stable.

It’s also important that we are obedient to Scripture. If we pick and choose the parts we’re going to obey and other parts we’re going to ignore we are not going to be able to stand fast. It is the Lord who is able to keep us from stumbling so we need to be cultivating our relationship with Him through His Word, through prayer and active obedience.

If we are standing fast what an opportunity we have to impact the lives of others. What God’s church needs today is mature, spiritually stable believers who can nurture and disciple other believers and help them to stand fast as well.

We’ve seen the necessity of standing fast as believers. In the weeks ahead in our study of Philippians we’ll see some practical examples of standing fast.

If you are a believer this morning I hope it’s your desire to stand fast. My desire for myself and for all here who know the Lord is that we will stand fast in the Lord—in His strength—in the wisdom of His Word—actively obeying.