WHEN UNDER FIRE, DO WE SURRENDER, DO WE RUN, OR DO WE STAND BOLDLY BEHIND THE SHIELD OF FAITH?
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
9 OCTOBER 1994
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Ephesians 6:10-12, 16
Today, as we continue in our series on spiritual growth, we are going to look at how human nature usually deals with some stressful situations.
Have you noticed that even when we know something is wrong, we all too often go along with it because of peer pressure?
All too many of today's youth turn to destruction and violence because they feel neglected, or oppressed, or that no one cares about them, or they see no hope in their future.
Within peer groups of these youths, there exists a hierarchy that they ascend by their acts of destruction and violence.
But when you have the opportunity to talk to them privately and without intimidation, most of them will freely admit that they knew what they were doing was wrong, but they did it anyway to make a statement.
Or they acted the way they did to make themselves feel important or, more accurately, to make themselves feel powerful.
They may also have acted that way because they believed they had been unjustly treated.
Many adults also act out their frustrations in similar ways.
We do these things because God is not the central focus of our life.
If this is the direction in which our society is heading, we are heading for a fall; for as these youths oppress others, and as they themselves become oppressed by others, they all begin to react in the same manner.
Then, all that is left is chaos.
Now, if we assume that we have an excuse for behaving in this manner, then no one had a better excuse to act this way than Job, for he was truly unjustly treated.
He was far more unjustly treated than any of these people we've been talking about.
Even Job's friends unjustly accused him of doing wrong, and thought that the Lord was punishing him because of his actions.
Yes, the Lord did allow Satan to abuse Job, but only to demonstrate that true faith will stand firm no matter what the circumstances.
And here is where the presence of the Lord makes a difference.
Note again what we were told in our preparation verses for this morning: (Ephesians 6:10-12)
10. Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.
11. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
12. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Even though Paul wrote these words about 2,000 years after Job, nevertheless, Job recognized these same basic truths.
And today, even with 4,000 years of having these truths expressed to us, most of society doesn't respond to them.
They simply react.
The people who turn to violence are in effect running away from the truth and using their violence as a way of excusing the actions of others that they don't want to face and help solve.
Or, we could say that they are surrendering to the evilness of this world.
But Job and Paul understood that there is a better way.
Note Ephesians 6:16.
16. in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one.
If we extinguish the evil sent our way by the devil, or through others, we in essence extinguish anything that could cause a burning anger in ourselves.
Listen to how Job responded to the accusations of his "friend," even though he had lost almost everything and was in pain: (Job 23:1-17)
1. Then Job replied,
2 "Even today my complaint is rebellion;
His hand is heavy despite my groaning.
3. "Oh that I knew where I might find Him,
That I might come to His seat!
4. "I would present my case before Him
And fill my mouth with arguments.
5. "I would learn the words which He would answer,
And perceive what He would say to me.
6. "Would He contend with me by the greatness of His power?
No, surely He would pay attention to me.
7. "There the upright would reason with Him;
And I would be delivered forever from my Judge.
Do you notice the absolute assurance with which Job responds?
In effect he is saying, “Even if I can't see God, I still know He's there.”
Job knows God is there, but he still doesn't like what is happening.
After what has happened, Job feels unjustly treated by God.
He also feels unjustly treated because God isn't answering him to explain why all this is happening.
If God would only answer him, he would listen; and he knows that he would also be vindicated.
He's angry and frustrated, and feels even worse than any of the people of today that we have been talking about; but Job still stands boldly behind the shield of faith.
8. "Behold, I go forward but He is not there,
And backward, but I cannot perceive Him;
9. When He acts on the left, I cannot behold Him;
He turns on the right, I cannot see Him.
10. "But He knows the way I take;
When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
11. "My foot has held fast to His path;
I have kept His way and not turned aside.
12. "I have not departed from the command of His lips;
I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.
13. "But He is unique and who can turn Him?
And what His soul desires, that He does.
14. "For He performs what is appointed for me,
And many such decrees are with Him.
Do you see Job's absolute knowing faith?
But what if God should suddenly answer him?
What would he do?
15. "Therefore [says Job], I would be dismayed at His presence;
When I consider, I am terrified of Him.
16. "It is God who has made my heart faint,
And the Almighty who has dismayed me,
17. But I am not silenced by the darkness,
Nor deep gloom which covers me.
Even though this is happening, Job expresses no desire to "get even."
Job knows God is invisible, and yet he still searches for Him because he knows He's there; yet at the same time, he is afraid to see Him face to face because he knows he is not sinless.
Job knows that the Lord has allowed all this to befall him, but he still proclaims his faith in God, and in that faith, his right of petition for justice.
If we would only look at the things that go wrong in our own lives, as Job did, we would all have the peace of God, and Satan would lose his hold on us.
People who resort to violence to express their anger and frustrations are really cowards, for they do what they do in ways they believe they won't get caught and have to face the consequences.
This, if we look at it subjectively, is an admission that they know what they are doing is wrong.
In Revelation 21:8 we are told what shall befall such people.
8. "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
If we become members of this group, we will also inherit what they will inherit.
But if we stand firmly behind the shield of faith, as a peacemaker, as were Job and Paul, then we shall inherit the kingdom, as we are told in Matthew 5:9.
9. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
So, if we consider ourselves to be sons and daughters of God, then we should also have the perseverance and faith of Job.
And if we’re not quite there, know for certain, that the Lord has shown us what areas of our lives we have to work on.
He's with us all the way.
But for our part, we have to want to stand firm and make a difference in the world.
I pray that each of us has made the correct choice.
Your Comments are welcome
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