by Steven Chan
30 August 2009
The Bible expects us to stand for something and not fall for anything. Sis Peng Lee Lee shared with us this statement that she had read recently: “Be bold in what you stand for and careful what you fall for” that was quoted in the Wall Street Journal.
We are to stand fast in the apostolic teachings as contained in the Scriptures: “So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye were taught, whether by word, or by epistle of ours.”(2Th 2:15). We need to stand for something in our lives. “To stand” means to “hold firm”. The apostle Paul exhorted us to “stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter”. Stand fast means we are not to move away or from it. The apostolic teachings are indeed the very word of God: “And for this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when ye received from us the word of the message, even the word of God, ye accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also worketh in you that believe.” (I Thess 2:13). The things that are passed down to us by our forefathers are not necessarily bad or to be discarded as being out-dated or obsolete just because they are from an older generation. Some things are good and should be retained. The words of the Scriptures are given by inspiration of God for our guidance in life and will make us wise unto salvation (2 Tim 3:15-17). There is nothing today that is superior to the God-revealed Scriptures (Deut 29:29).
To stand for the truth requires us to be bold. In Acts 4:13, we read of the boldness of the apostles: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” In Acts 4:29,31, the apostles prayed for boldness in the face of strong opposition by the Jews and the authorities: “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word” and thereafter, “when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” Do we have boldness to stand for what we believe to be true?
We should also be careful what we may fall for. In I Cor 11:12, the Bible warns that we should all be careful lest we fall! The possibility of falling away is real and one should not discount that happening in our own lives. According to Prov. 16:18, “pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” So, we all should look out for pride and a haughty spirit in our own lives! They are the pre-cursers of what is going to happen to us shortly thereafter, i.e. our fall from the faith. I recall the many incidents when some brethren succeeded in achieving academic excellence in foreign universities or financial success or outstanding careers, and then pride and a haughty spirit overtook them and they swiftly fell from grace. They came back spouting with baalish ideas and language (I Kings 16:31-33) with an air of intellectual superiority that they had supposedly acquired in their sojourn in the foreign lands. The Bible still calls us back to the old paths (Jer. 6:16). In fact, Christians are to grow up and “that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error” (Eph 4:14).
But quite apart from the fall that comes from pride and a haughty spirit, is the danger of falling into personal or moral sins. Oftentimes, we place emphasis on the danger of succumbing to false doctrines but we overlook the very real and imminent danger of falling into personal sins. For instance, the mighty Samson fell for Delilah that resulted in the loss of his life (Judges 16), David fell for Bathsheba resulting in the death of his new born son and discord among members of his family (2 Sam 11-12), Judas Iscariot fell for 30 pieces of silver paid for his betrayal of Jesus; and Ananias & Sapphira fell when they lied about what they had given to the Lord – they lied when they said that they gave all of the proceeds of the land that they had sold (Acts 5).
The problem with personal sins is that they are often hidden, in secret and not known to many. As the prophet Nathan said to David in 2Sa 12:12: “For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel.” That probably explained why David could refer to “secret sins” in Psa 90:8: “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.” David’s son, Solomon wrote in Ecc 12:14 that ‘God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” In I Cor 4:5, the apostle Paul said that “when the Lord comes, He will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall each man have his praise from God.” God shall judge the secrets of men (Rom 2:16). In warning of the danger of duplicity or hypocrisy in our lives, Jesus said in Luke 12:1,2 that “there is nothing covered up, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known”.
We think that because man does not know what we have done or what we may have really intended in our hearts, that we can also hide the matter from the Lord. But we are sadly mistaken. David discovered that God knew what he had intended in his heart when he sent his loyal and courageous lieutenant Uriah to his death so that he could have his widow, Bathsheba as his wife. David thought that he had an ingenious master plan to achieve his ultimate objective without appearing to be accused by men of stealing another man’s wife! But he failed to recognize that God sees the thoughts and intents of the hearts of every man. Similarly God revealed to Peter about the lie of Ananias and Sapphira when they falsely represented that they had given to God all the proceeds from the sale of their land.
The Bible says: “For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Heb 4:12,13). God knows.
Let us be bold to strive to stand for the apostolic tradition/teachings that we have received and also exercise care that we do not fall for false teachings as well as into self-deception that will lure us into personal secret or hidden sins.