Standing Firm Versus Striving or Idleness
“You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position,
and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf…”
2 CHRON 20:17
Most Christians tend to fall into one of two ditches: idleness or striving in one’s own strength. The road of faith has these two ditches running on either side of it, and it is the work of the saint to remain on the road as they walk with God. What we must realize is that faith is very active, but it is not striving. So many set out in their zeal but in their own self-efforts, while others tend to mistranslate “faith” into idleness.
The place of the saint is to “stand firm” (Eph 6:13). Yet our flesh always wants something different from this. Either we want something more exciting (sword slinging and heroism) or something more of ease (idleness, i.e. floating on a pool toy down the lazy river). We either resent the humility and simplicity that God calls us to (1 Thess 4:11-12) or we resent the right striving that we are called to, “Strive to enter through the narrow door.” (Luke 13:24, emphasis added) “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest…” (Heb 4:11, emphasis added)
We hate the call to “stand firm” precisely because of what it actually means. “Stand firm” is the grounds of a holy faith, one that is not passive about righteousness but is rightly looking to Righteousness Himself. And it is one that is deeply humble, laying down the attempts to make ourselves as God, but looking to the one true God. Yet so many people think either sword slinging or pool floating to be faith! Both of these are marked by a deep disregard for God’s glory, righteousness, justice, truth, and the death of self.
To “stand firm” requires that we relinquish no ground to doubt, but maintain our faith in God, both in relying upon His promises and walking in obedience. “... so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” (Heb 4:11, emphasis added) This is very active and yet keeps us from trusting in ourselves, but has us trust in God. The matter of fleshly striving is that which causes us to trust in ourselves: our effort, knowledge, strength, emotions, goodness, etc. But the matter of striving to obey God, to trust in Him, to be found in Him is never something that the Bible condemns. And yet too easily we think that both of these strivings are the same!
The saint absolutely should be very careful to avoid believing in their own abilities and seeking to live by their own strength, and yet they should be equally careful to not imagine that faith is floating on some pool toy on a hot summer day.
“Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” (Heb 4:11) “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” (Luke 13:24) The great danger today is that so many people disobey Christ and put off this essential striving to enter into the narrow path into right obedience to God. This is a great danger to them. And the other danger is that people only take up pursuits of righteousness because they are enamored with some vain heroism or idealistic imagery. Neither obey Christ rightly. Neither are the love for God to which we are all called.
May the Lord help us to find the right path of faith, one that is active and one that is humble, looking to Christ alone as all-in-all.
October 30, 2020