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Rainbow Divider

STANDING FIRM IN THE FAITH

by Phil Enlow

Rainbow Divider

But there is a place where we can enjoy the presence, and the blessing, and the deliverance of God. And that’s when we let go and we say, Lord, not my will, but Yours be done. I mean, what better example do we have than our Lord Jesus? He came to fulfill a divine calling, a divine purpose. Every aspect of His life was devoted to that! He never deviated from that purpose!

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I’ve got a scripture I can’t seem to get off my mind, so I’ll just go with it and just see what the Lord has. It seems like I’ve been in 1st Peter for the last three Sundays, different emphases each time. But Peter, the Lord’s apostle from the very beginning, was writing, no doubt late in his life, to encourage believers, and I believe to give every one of us a picture of what we’ve been called to, because that’s what it is.

He begins in Chapter 1 with talking about how we’ve been chosen of God. He foreknew us. He did everything necessary to make it possible for us to have a hope that goes way beyond this world. It’s not something that depends upon our ability, or depends upon any worthiness in us, but it’s something that He has done.

The reality is that we go through many things in this life in the process of getting ready for that, but one theme you see throughout is the fact that God has called us to glory. You get kind of a little picture of that when Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up, and he saw Him glorious, and it just was an overwhelming experience for him. You see another picture of that when the disciples saw the Lord transfigured. All of a sudden He began to shine like the sun, and their earthly eyes couldn’t take it in. But I don’t know how much we really appreciate what the Lord has for us and what it is that He’s called us to.

But that’s a theme throughout this, that Peter is seeking to teach us…first of all, the greatness of what God has done, but then, what is our part? How do we cooperate? How do we, as David said, not be like the horse and the mule? You know, the horse and the mule, you can’t explain what you’re going to do, you have to use physical means to kind of steer them the way you want them to go. But the Lord doesn’t want us to be like that. He wants to deal with us as sons and daughters, that He can communicate with, and that we will be willingly responsive, and loving Him, and all of that.

One theme that you will see throughout the book of Peter is a life of trust in the heavenly Father. You see it in Jesus. He talks about in chapter 2 how Jesus endured many things, but He didn’t fight back, He didn’t threaten. He just simply committed Himself into God’s hands, and that becomes a pattern for every one of us…that our lives of faith, of trust…there are many things that we don’t necessarily understand—many things we don’t understand, but yet we know because of Who we’re trusting in that it’s gonna be okay. He’s got everything in His hands.

And so we are called to do the same thing that Jesus did. And there’s a sense, too, of our inter-relationships…he talks about husbands and wives, talks about “all of you” in Chapter 3, verse 8. “…All of you, live in harmony with one another.” (NIV). And you get these themes of a sense of submission, of humility, of all those things, and you come to…I guess my favorite chapter is chapter 5.

And, there are many themes that we have talked about at one time or another. And there’s one that I just…my mind just keeps going back to that I don’t remember ever focusing on it exactly. But you remember how we’re encouraged to clothe ourselves with humility toward one another. That’s a defining characteristic of our relationship. Now if you scratch any sin deep enough, what do you find?

Pride. That’s it! That’s what God is dealing with. That’s what caused Lucifer to be lifted up in his own estimation of who he was and to rebel against God…his pride. And so that is the thing that God has to deal with in us, and we are loaded with it and don’t realize it.

And so God is absolutely going to overshadow the lives of His children in a way that will challenge and crush the pride that’s there, not because He’s angry, not because He’s mad at us, but because He loves us enough to want to deliver us from that terrible destructive force that has taken root within us! And we simply cannot be what He has called us to be, unless He deals with that.

You know, chapter 5 begins with Peter speaking about Him being one who will share in the glory to be revealed. You get that theme that just kind of permeates this passage. And then you get down to verse 10, and you see, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory….” Again, the same theme. So this is where we’re going. We understand that it’s something only God can engineer, but we have a part to play.

And so, in past times we’ve focused on how we’re to humble ourselves, “…therefore, under God’s mighty hand….” And that involves recognizing that we are indeed under God’s mighty hand, that He is not absent from the things that happen to us in our lives. They do not happen by accident...that even things that are difficult, distressing, maybe unjust, maybe…whatever it is, they’re not accidents. God literally overshadows and orchestrates these events to do what?

To deliver us! You know, I’ve said many times, if somebody gets your goat, it simply goes to prove that you have one.

And we’ve all got them. And unless God challenges those goats in us, they’re gonna remain areas of resistance to God’s will, and areas of a stronghold that needs to be broken. And I certainly have my share. I’m made of exactly the same stuff you are. But God is absolutely going to challenge them, and He’s going to keep challenging the ones that get you, until you become more concerned with the fact that you’ve got a goat, than you’re concerned with what made it react.

Now, just think about that one. What is God concerned about in these circumstances? Is He concerned about that terrible wrong that somebody said or did? No, He’s concerned with your reaction to it.

And when we become more and more like Jesus, we don’t have to fight that kind of a battle. We can give it to the Lord, and humble ourselves under His mighty hand and see that power over us broken. And that’s what He’s seeking. So, “…Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand….”

And of course, we have the promise…it’s a promise and a warning all in one, where God opposes the proud. So if there’s an area where God keeps trying to shine His light, put His finger on in your life, and there’s something in you that just continually resists and rises up, that’s not a good thing. You’re in a place where God’s going to be continually opposing that. He’s going to resist you! You’re not going to get ahead. You’re not gonna prosper trying to exert self-will in any aspect of life. I’m not gonna prosper.

But there is a place where we can enjoy the presence, and the blessing, and the deliverance of God. And that’s when we let go and we say, Lord, not my will, but Yours be done. I mean, what better example do we have than our Lord Jesus? He came to fulfill a divine calling, a divine purpose. Every aspect of His life was devoted to that! He never deviated from that purpose!

And that purpose involved the ultimate humility, the ultimate humiliation of letting go of earthly value, everything that men treasure and saying, no, there’s something greater, and I’m in the hands of God, and that’s what my eye is upon. Oh my, isn’t that what we’re called to?

This is not an earthly calling. This is not a religion to add to your life. This is life itself! This is what everything is about! And Peter was just…you could just sense the yearning in his heart. He had seen the Lord’s glory. He had touched and seen and fellowshipped with the risen Christ. He knew this was real! He paid for it with His life ultimately! That’s how sure Peter was. And so, man, he wanted to somehow impart that vision. You see that in chapter 2…I’m sorry, in the second book where he talks about, “…we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”

Praise God! So, we’ve got a solid witness here as to what this is all about. Obviously we have to cast all our anxiety on Him, because we all have it. In the process those are natural reactions. Peter is certainly not preaching some kind of perfectionism here. He understands, as we all must, that this is a process. But what Peter is showing us is the road. This is the way you go. Yeah, we don’t certainly measure up, and we’re not earning our way by walking on that road, but we sure are cooperating with what God is seeking to do in our lives. And we are in the receiving position where God’s grace can flow. Thank God it is by grace!

I don’t have any resource that I can look to for any of this. Do you, anybody here? No, we don’t have it. God understands that. I’m so glad we’ve got a heavenly Father that loves His children. He knows our frame. He remembers that we are dust. Praise God! So…I don’t want in anything I say this morning, I don’t want to try to convey some high, unattainable something by which we earn anything.

But anyway…and I understand you had an emphasis recently on what He says after that. “Be self-controlled and alert.” That’s certainly true! Because we are not unopposed in this process, are we? We’ve got an enemy who is going to be all-out to divert us from the course and the way that God has called us. He’s gonna do everything in his power to say, no, it’s not this way, it’s really this way.

And so, we need to recognize that, and we need to not just bop along and think we’ve got a handle on it, the sun is shining, everything’s great! We’ve got an enemy we’re gonna have to learn how to recognize, learn how to detect him. God will help us, if we want to learn. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Now, this is something we’ve said before. He’s not talking to unbelievers here. He’s talking about the damage that can be done even in a believer’s life who is careless. You know, Paul warned that we reap what we sow! Many times we go certain ways and we give way to something that isn’t of God, and what happens? We reap a harvest that isn’t good.

And that’s what he’s talking about here. There are certain consequences because we have a part to play. There are consequences in the choices that we make. That’s what he’s saying. But I’ll tell you, we have a Lord who is ready to help anyone who will lift their heart to Him and say, Lord, I want to go Your way. We are not on our own. Thank God!

But the thing that has jumped into my mind…I’ve just thought about it over the last few days. Maybe it’s for me, I don’t know. We’ll just…I mean, I know it’s for me, maybe it’s only for me, but, somehow I don’t think so. “Resist him, standing firm in the faith….”

I was about to say, as I often do, I don’t know about you, but I do, since we are made of the same thing. This is not a small issue. How many times have you come in here, and you’ve heard the Lord speak to you in some way, and it’s really been real? And you see something, you see a part of truth, you see an aspect of truth, and it becomes real to you. And you say, yes, yes! That’s right!

And then you go out, and what happens? Does it kind of…dissipate a little bit? And what the Lord is wanting from every one of us is an absolute consistency—a move in the direction of having a consistency in our convictions…that our convictions are not up here, down here, over there.

You think about a football team, for example. We all remember, many of you remember “Facing the Giants,” and how the coach wanted them to build a stone wall, and ‘nobody-gets-past-me’ kind of attitude. Well, that’s a great attitude. That’s a wonderful picture of that kind of an ‘I’m-not-gonna-let-anything’…I’ve got a conviction here, I’m gonna stand!

But what happens if after a while I get tired…you know, this is beginning to be hard work, I’ve got something else I’d rather be doing, and all of a sudden you let down that effort? What’s gonna happen?

They’re gonna run right over you. What’s gonna happen if you have a city wall and you just kind of let it crumble…oh well, that’s okay…we put up a good effort for a while, that’s good enough?

You see the problem. Every one of us has areas where we need the Lord to teach us convictions that we can stand by, that don’t change with the weather, that don’t change with circumstances, don’t change with who we’re with, where we’re at. We need to have a sense of who we are! We’re God’s people! We’re headed for glory and we’re going to act like it under any and all circumstances.

Now I can just hear somebody with a legalistic bent saying, yeah, preach it! That’s what I’ve been looking for! I’ve got my standards! Here are my ‘do’s and don’ts’, and we’re gonna do this! And not only and I gonna do it, I’m gonna impose it on everybody who will listen!

No, this is not a ‘rules-to-live-by’ thing. This is a walking with the Lord. This is surrendering to His way. This is understanding…this is in the context of humbling ourselves under God’s mighty hand. This is in the context of allowing God to shine His light down in here, and not fighting back. And not saying, ‘God, it’s not quite like You say it is.’

How many of you have ever said that, or not really said it, but that’s kind of how it really was? No, it’s not really that bad! It’s not this way, it’s that way! I know better! There’s not a one of us here who hasn’t done that in some area of our lives. We resist, by nature, God’s light that would shine deep in our hearts. And oh, how God longs to pour in His grace and to see us surrender.

But I mean, even the conviction to walk with God that way, even the conviction to say, God, my life is yours! I’m not my own, I don’t belong to myself! That thing needs to be absolutely rock-solid, or the devil is gonna run rough-shod, and we’re gonna keep right on falling in the mud over the same issues.

And God needs to give us that sense of firmness, of ‘steadfastness,’ it says in the King James, where we’re gonna build, by God’s grace, we’re gonna build a stone wall, and we’re gonna be the same person, regardless.

Now, this applies to so many things. I just trust the Lord to help me to do it, to make sense of this. But you see it in a negative sense in Eve, don’t you? She knew what was right! When the devil asked her about the trees of the garden, she said the right thing. But somehow, at that particular moment, her conviction was not very strong, was it? And what she allowed the devil to do was to challenge the truthfulness of God’s Word, and to call His motivation into question, saying, He’s really not got your interest at heart! He’s got His own agenda! You would be better off to take this course than what He says!

And so she allowed the devil to reason with what God had said, and obviously you see what happened. She began to consider. She began to listen. It looked good. It’s good for food. It’s this, that and the other. And one thing led to another, and down she went. And down we all went, because Adam chose to follow her.

But you look at somebody else like Daniel, for example. You remember that occasion when some of the guys who were in government with Daniel became very jealous of him because he was…under the king, he was the top dog. He was the guy that the king looked to and honored and they tried like crazy to find something wrong with the guy. If we can just catch him doing something wrong, something illegal, then we’ll have him! Then we can bring him down. Well, they couldn’t find it, could they? Wouldn’t that be wonderful for someone to be able to say that about us?

Man, they are so solid, they are so consistent in living for God that I can’t find any ground to accuse them. It’s mighty quiet in here this morning. But this is real stuff, isn’t it?

Well, I’ve been walking around with me is who I’ve been walking around with. Well, praise God! But Daniel…you remember what happened was, they finally got together and said, we’re not gonna get anywhere with trying to bring Daniel down unless we find some occasion that has to do with his belief in God. And so they tricked the king into this edict that nobody could pray to any God except the king for 30 days. And he signed it and there was some law that once something was signed, you couldn’t undo it. So a lion’s den was in Daniel’s future there.

But what did Daniel do? What would you have done? What would I have done, for that matter? You know, it would’ve been awfully easy to say, well, I really don’t have to make a show of this. You’d start weaseling and you’d start reasoning, and we start bringing our minds to bear on the situation, and the next thing you know, you’re rationalizing this and rationalizing that. And Daniel could have said, I just have to go in my secret chamber. I can pray and they won’t even know.

But what did he do? He went upstairs! He opened the window that faced Jerusalem, and he got in the window and he did exactly like he’d been doing! He prayed three times a day to the God that was connected with Jerusalem. It didn’t make a bit of difference to him. Next thing you know, he’s sleeping with the lions, and just having a wonderful night.

But I’ll tell you, we have a God who can honor those who honor Him. But you see, that rock-solid, firm, I don’t care the circumstances, I’m gonna do what’s right. I’m gonna please God. I’m gonna serve him. This is not a small issue. It’s easy to come in here, and we get it, and we see it, and we profess it, and we say, isn’t that wonderful? But, this is not where we measure our lives. Our lives are what we are everywhere.

And, that’s what God is looking at. That’s what the world is looking at. That’s what the devil is looking at. And God is looking, not just for someone who agrees in principle with these things and says, yes, I want God’s will in my life, but, when the rubber meets the road they say, yes, Lord, I surrender that thing that my heart is just so…there’s such a hardness there. But, I’m willing to yield that hardness to Your will, because I see something that’s more important.

You know, you get down to where you want a mate, something that really matters to you in your life, that’s when this matters. How firm are we in standing against the things, the traps that the devil will lay, and he will lay traps. Young people, the devil has got more schemes to pull at you through this world than you have any power to imagine. But I’ll tell you, there’s a God who will honor you if you will honor Him if God can somehow establish this kind of a firmness and a conviction in our thinking to where it doesn’t matter who we’re with. It doesn’t matter where we’re at.

You think about the Hebrew children, another perfect example. The king came up with this grand big statue. I forget how tall it was. It was a huge thing. And man, they were all gonna…he got everybody out there to bow down to that thing, and they wouldn’t bow. And you know, he warned them and they wouldn’t bow. They didn’t really have any certainty as to what was gonna happen.

You know, many times that’s where we’re at. We don’t know what is gonna happen! As far as they knew, they were going to die. Is your faith such that you could stand there and take a bullet for Jesus if it came to that? It may come to that. It’s coming…I mean, that’s reality in many parts of the world right now. But that’s the kind of certainty God wants to infuse into our spiritual life, where His kingdom is so real that that’s what we live for, and it’s not just here in the assembly, it’s in every area of our lives.

God will honor a people like that. Look what He did for them. They stood there against the mightiest…in the face of the mightiest emperor on the face of the earth. God had even put the beasts of the field in his hand. God had raised this man up. And here he was opposing them. And they said, we don’t know…our God is able to save us from the fire, we don’t know if He will. One thing we know, we aren’t gonna bow.

Well, you remember what happened. Of course, he heated the furnace seven times hotter, and the guys who threw them in…he was so anxious to get them in there, that the guys who threw them in were killed. And all the fire did was to burn their bonds. They were tied up and thrown in, and the next thing you know there were four of them in there walking around free and no fire on them.

We have a great God, folks. We have a God who honors those who honor Him. Now, that doesn’t mean that everybody who honors Him gets to live in a situation like that, but I’ll tell you, they ‘get’ to live. If you understand what God has called us to, it’s either we get to glorify Him here or we get to glorify Him there. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,” Paul said.

Do you have that certitude in your heart, that firmness of purpose? Are you the same person out there as you are in here? Are the things that are wrong here, somehow right somewhere else? I’ll tell you, what’s wrong in the light is wrong in the darkness. What’s wrong when you’re with the Christian fellowship is still…what’s wrong there, is wrong when you’re alone sitting in front of your computer, or out with your friends, or out with people of the world. It’s still wrong.

God wants us to have convictions that don’t shift. We’re not called to be chameleons. We’re called to have such a revelation of who we are and who He is, that we don’t change with the weather. We don’t change our convictions. God help us. God help me, because, I have to look in the mirror and say, Lord, I need help. I’m not always the same person.

You know, what is wrong when we’re feeling strong is still wrong when we’re feeling tired, and got a little pity-party going. What’s wrong when we’re here with people we know, is still wrong when we’re in another city some place and nobody knows us. I appreciate all the nodding heads. I’m glad to get some agreement on this, but, this is real stuff. You see how the devil gets an advantage on so many of us. God help us to have that kind of…this is the difference between it being up here and it being down here. This is what controls what we are and what we do under all these other circumstances.

But somehow, we say, well, I’ve got it. I understand it. I get it. We think that’s enough and it isn’t. Oh God, give us the courage to stand up, because we are in a world that hates us. We’re in a world that mocks us. And it is our nature to want to be liked.

Oh, how good we are at bending and twisting and trying to be more concerned about being liked than we are…and it doesn’t mean we have to have a bad spirit, or be angry, or have any kind of a spirit other than the Spirit of Jesus. But I mean, we have to stand and we have to say, no, that’s not the person that I am. And it’s not because I’m better than anybody, it’s because Jesus is real. It’s because His salvation if real, and I want to serve and I want to honor him.

Oh I’ll tell you what, it makes a difference when there’s a real work of grace in a heart. This is not religion. I mean, religion is full of people who come in and put on a religious mask on Sunday that has nothing to do with what they are the rest of the week. That’s just straight out hypocrisy.

But I’ll tell you, real believers are still affected by this. That’s who Peter is writing to. We, everyone, are affected, and we are weakened, and we become vulnerable to the enemy to do damage in our lives where we don’t stand. And I’ll tell you, when my will, my pride is challenged, that’s where the rubber really meets the road, when God just continually puts His finger on something and I’m…

( straining ).

…No it’s not really like that! No, I can do this and I can fix it. How many of you have played those games? Yeah. When what we need to do is say, truth, Lord…because the real battle is, is God telling us the truth? If God’s Word is true, then it’s true and it’s true everywhere, all the time!

And this is where the devil attacks! He will attack somehow, the veracity, the truthfulness of God’s Word, or he’ll twist it as he did with Jesus. Jesus, himself, went through these very choices of taking another route that would be easier on his flesh, being tempted by the devil, and what He stood for was the truthfulness of God’s Word.

And that means the truthfulness of God’s Word about you and me and our need. We can’t come to God and say, I’m better than other people, I’m this, or I’m that. We are not, folks! We are sinners—hopeless, lost sinners! Without the grace of God, there’s not an ounce of goodness naturally in us! The only goodness we could possibly ever possess is Christ coming in, imparting His own life, and His own goodness.

Oh, what a glorious Gospel we have that reduces us all to the same level where we have a God who loves us in spite of the reality of our condition. But oh God, what a humbling thing it is to take that place and say, yes, Lord. Truth, Lord. I’m exactly what You say I am. I’m not gonna make any protest of my own innocence. I’m not gonna think that I’m smarter than You.

But we’ve all done that, when we reason it out, and we figure, no, it’s not quite like this. I can do it. I can figure, I can work it around, and think it a different way, and conceive of it a different way, and it’ll be okay. It’s what God says. It’s the truth. And I want to have grace to, not only get the process, but be able to stand up to all the efforts of the enemy to divert me from that, when he says, no, there’s another way, it’s not quite like God said. It’s exactly like He says.

Oh, what a glorious simplicity there is to this. I know there’s so many aspects of it, and I feel like I’m probably going to wind this up in a bit and I’m sure others will be able to contribute. But, you can really develop a lot of aspects. But, it’s a way of looking at life according to the truth of God’s Word.

But as God deals with us, there are going to be things that you are going to know in your heart that are wrong. It’s not because there’s a rule somewhere. You’re gonna know that God is not pleased with this. But that doesn’t change based on who you’re with, and where you’re at. As I said, what’s wrong in the light is wrong in the darkness. And God needs to give us that kind of a steadfast heart, when our commitment is based upon the Word of God and what He reveals to us.

But the wonderful thing about this is that it’s standing firm ‘in’ the faith! And, I guess I’ve already touched on one aspect of this. It means it’s based upon the Word of God! That’s one aspect of it, but it’s also standing firm, not in my own…the power of my own resolve, which I do not have. I might be able to muster something for a day or two, but I’m gonna fall flat. My resolve is going to dissolve, if I rely upon that.

But it’s faith…because right within this passage he said, God resists the proud, but does what? He gives grace to the humble! So, all I have to do is occupy that place where, Lord, I know that I’m the recipient of your mercy! I know that without your help I will absolutely fall. But, oh God, I gladly take that place of somebody who’s not smart enough to figure it out, who does not have the strength, does not have anything I can look to. But Lord, I do have One that I can look to and that’s You! And Your promise is true! You have promised that I will have the grace that I need to do what you called me to do.

Now the natural man hates this. He will not take that place of humbleness. But oh, what a blessed place it is. Oh, praise God! It lifts the burden from my shoulders and says, yes, I need to stand strong and firm, but I’m not standing by my own strength! As long as I am constantly pointed to Him, I’ve got all the strength that I need to stand. And so do you. Praise God! Praise God!

And so, of course, that word of encouragement there, he says, “…Because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” Now I know that nobody here has ever experienced the devil telling you that you’re the only one, everybody else is being blessed and you’re being singled out. Anybody here ever not had the devil tell you that? It’s a favorite tactic, but it’s a lie like everything else he says.

I’ll tell you, we have a God who is faithful to His Word, and all He’s looking for from us, is that we simply surrender to His Word and the process that it takes to make us over into creatures who can enjoy Him forever, who can enjoy the glory that He has prepared for us.

And that’s why he finishes with this tremendous promise. “And the God of all grace…” the God of all grace, “…who called you to his eternal glory…” That’s how we got on this road to start with. He invited us. He called us…in Christ! “…Eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while…” So here’s the process. There’s the road. “…Will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” So where do I get this quality from? If I look down deep and…

( straining ).

No, I just say, Lord, I’m not any of this. I don’t have anything to look to. I’m utterly weak! But what does the Scripture say about weakness? His strength is made perfect in weakness! If God puts you in a place that brings you to where you’re facing something and you feel utterly weak, God has done you a favor!

How many of you have ever experience that, and you know what I’m talking about? God has put you in a place and you say, oh God, here I am in this desperate place! I need help, and now You’ve made me weaker than usual! What’s going on? I don’t get it! You must be mad at me!

No, He says, “…My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (KJV). Oh! Well, that puts a different spin on it. Okay, Lord. Thank You! Thank You that I’m weak. Lord, I give my weakness to You. Then what happens? All of a sudden, somehow His strength just carries us through, without half the effort that you’d have to put forth if you were trying to do it. It’s a way of rest. It’s a way of joy. It’s a way of experiencing what He died to give us. Praise God! Folks, do we have an awesome salvation?

But oh, God looks for that steadfastness, that firmness of not wavering, not being one person under certain circumstances, and a different person under other circumstances. God wants us to be absolutely consistent 24/7. And He will supply everything that we have need of, in order to make that happen. I just praise Him this morning. I bless His name. Praise God!

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