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Stand fast

by Jeff Davidson

"You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you will bear his judgement, whoever he is. And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offence of the cross has ceased. I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!” (Galatians 5:7-12 NKJV).

The apostle Paul fought against anything that detracted from the truth of the gospel that he was proclaiming, and that certain Jewish Christians were destroying after he had left. That was therefore provoking in him a righteous, godly anger against the activity of these Christians! Paul is very clear in his message: “you who attempt to be justified by law: you have fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4 NKJV). In fact, if we get all our identity from the law, we deceive ourselves, for the written Word of God is true, but it cannot justify us; only Jesus has the ability to do that.

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

For freedom, Christ has set us free, we must therefore stand fast (military term) to stand guard over this freedom! It is our responsibility to take up our position. God has given us the necessary armour for that: “Put on all the weapons [panoplia, armour] of God in order to be able to stand fast against all the tricks of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Let us strengthen ourselves in the Lord and in His almighty power, and let us take up His armour, in order to stand firm against the enemy who works against us continually. We do not have to struggle against flesh and blood, but against the whole spiritual hierarchy (his army) of Satan (Ephesians 6:12). Three times Paul wrote 'stand fast' in this passage (verses 10-14), because Satan attacks us without respite every day.

You will not have to fight in this matter: position yourselves and stand there, and you will see the deliverance the Lord will give you” (2 Chronicles 20:17).

The Old Testament often foreshadows the New Testament. In this passage, for example, God also says to King Jehoshaphat and His people, 'Stand fast'. So without God we can do nothing, but without us He will do nothing. That is why we must stand up, stand firm and see with faith the victory of the Lord. But if we are absent or passive, the Lord will do nothing.

The prime aim of the enemy is to put us in a position of slavery so that we do not come into our inheritance (Galatians 4:1-7). But the Lord wants us to enter into our inheritance and for this reason He sets us apart and makes us different from others.

Our inheritance begins first in our spirit and works from the inside to the outside. It leads us into a freedom which flows and is dynamic, when we have too often made rules to govern this freedom and transform it into slavery without our realising it.

Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage)” (Galatians 2:3-4 NKJV).

Paul wanted to have him (Timothy) go on with him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek” (Acts 16:3 NKJV).

We see here that the apostle Paul resisted the circumcision of Titus, but he allowed that of Timothy, why? Because he was free to obey the Holy Spirit. Freedom is very important, but it can quickly be transformed into a prison if we make it into a rule. But the Holy Spirit constantly wants to lead us into new and different things. And so the apostle knew how to listen to the Holy Spirit in order to act outside of all human logic.

We therefore have to stand firm in the freedom and not put ourselves under the yoke of slavery: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1 NKJV).

Jesus said: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart; and You will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and My burden light” (Matthew 11:28-30). If our soul is not at rest, our body will not feel well. Now it is impossible to be yoked without a yoke, whether we are under the yoke of Jesus as a servant, or we are under the yoke of Satan as a slave.

But only the yoke of Jesus will give us rest, for He is gentle and He carries our burdens. For that to happen, we merely have to turn to Him in faith, saying to Him: 'Here I am, Lord, I am here before You, and I am taking Your yoke upon my life'. And when we take the yoke of Jesus, the yoke of the enemy that is broken, for we cannot be under two yokes at the same time. But Jesus will never impose His yoke, and it is only if we come to Him and ask Him that He will put His yoke upon us.

If we are under the yoke of Jesus, as it is He who is the stronger, He will carry the whole load and lead us, and then we will have nothing else to do but to follow Him. On the other hand, if we put ourselves under the yoke of slavery, we shall be the ones who are pulling the load and the enemy will lead us along a hard and evil path.

How do we remain constantly under the yoke of Jesus?

To do that we must discern when the yoke of slavery is coming upon us and resist it. Here are two ways:

  1. We must be a disciple of Jesus and be connected into His Word: “If you remain in My word, you are truly My disciples; you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). The root of the word 'disciple' is 'discipline' and so we must remain under the discipline of Jesus.

  2. We must walk by the Spirit. The apostle Paul considers that the ministry of Moses was that of death, although it was glorious, whereas the ministry of the Spirit surpasses it in glory” (2 Corinthians 3:7-11). When we walk according to the law, there is a veil over our hearts but when we turn towards the Lord, the veil is taken away (2 Corinthians 3:15-16). Now, the Lord, He is Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17). However the Holy Spirit is omnipresent, but there isn't freedom everywhere.

It is only when, in our heart, we turn towards the Holy Spirit that we find freedom. And the greatest freedom is to be free from ourselves, from the 'old' man. The Holy Spirit will then be able to guide us to the Lord's yoke.

And step by step, with our face unveiled, we shall see Jesus, His way, and we shall be transformed in His presence from glory to glory.

Freedom is the key to a glorious Church, the way to glory, the inheritance and the pure image of Jesus Christ.

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