Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.
- I Corinthians 16:13-14
Hello and good day. I hope as Autumn is now beginning you have plans to get some more riding in before the Winter is here. Unless you are in Australia and then you are planning some new rides for the coming warm weather. Either way, I hope you are riding and sharing God's love and His message of redemption, for that is what the Christian Sport Bike Association (CSBA) is all about. If you don't have plans for October 7-9th, may I recommend the CSBA Fall Rally? The roads will be great, the people will be cool, and you will enjoy yourself. I have been to a lot of CSBA rallies and they are worthwhile events. So come on down to western Virginia for a great rally!
I was finishing up I Corinthians the other day and came across this verse in chapter 16: 13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.
Paul writes this at the end of I Corinthians to admonish and encourage the believers in Corinth who endured persecution and faced the temptation to compromise. As believers and followers of Christ, we too face the same circumstances. You will be tempted to compromise, the reason why the Flesh is so tempted by the World and the Devil, is that they give us what we want in our carnal mind and desires. When we came to Christ we were dead in our sin, but Christ made us alive.
Read here Ephesians 2:1-7 2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time,gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace,expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
As we now realize and know this let us heed the first two admonitions in I Corinthians 16:13 "Be on your guard" and "stand firm in the faith".
I Peter 5:8-9 warns us why to be on guard: 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. We also see similar warnings from Proverbs 4:23-39 23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. 24 Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. 25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. 26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. 27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.
Our natural inclination is to sin, to go along with the crowd, if it feels good, do it, etc. As followers of Christ, we need to turn from that, recall what Romans 12:1-2 says: 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
May we consider how we can be strengthened in our daily life through God, so that we may be a bulwark of faith for others to look to and that we may point them to Christ.
One more Scripture comes to mind as I consider these two admonitions is Ephesians 6:10-13 which says: 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
When we were young in the faith we needed to flee temptation and sometimes we still do, but other times we need to resist our enemies and stand firm. We are the examples of God to that others need to see.
The next admonitions in I Corinthians 16 are: "be courageous, be strong, do everything in love". The enemies we fight against are not only around us, but in us, our own fleshly desires. This is a battle that rages to the core of our being, so these 'charges' to be strong and courageous really mean something. It is a fight, this will be difficult to pursue God and His righteousness. To conform our lives to God, will cause us to crucify our sinful natures and follow Christ.
Let us recall what Mark 9:23-25 says: 23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?
So, yes we are in a fight, and we need to bear down and not give up. But what about the "do everything in love"? How does that fit in to all the above? First, we must realize that the world, the devil, and our flesh are opposite to God. The world would equate all the above with anger, rage, and violence, but God's way is through love. It is the essence of who He is, it is how and why He does all that he does and all that He has said. It's what we need in massive proportions from God. But see how God is great in this, read the passage above from Ephesians 2. See how God has great love for us, how He is rich in mercy, how He shows us the incomparable riches of His grace. We all need to do the same and we need God in a deeply profound way to accomplish this. We need Him every day. We need to pursue Him and seek Him. We need to read His Word, meet regularly with a group of believers, and go where He is calling us to go, do what He is calling us to do, and say what He is calling us to say. May God's Holy Spirit be manifest in your midst this day and year. Peace to you in Christ Jesus!