Just before a commander sends his troops into battle, he gives a succinct series of final orders. As Paul concluded his Epistle to the Corinthians, he gave the Corinthians their marching orders. Paul warned the elders he met in Miletus, “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock…to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).
The first command in 1 Corinthians 16:13—“be continually staying alert,” or “standing on your guard”—involves being diligent and discerning threats to the truth of the word. Some of their dangers were divisions (1 Cor 1:10–17; 11:18), pride (3:18–21), misuse of spiritual gifts and resulting disorder (14:40), and mistaken theology (15:12). When human reasoning and feelings have more control over our decisions and attitudes than the word, defeat is inevitable.
Peter warned that Satan walks around “seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet 5:8). The enemy is alive and seeks to tempt, divide, puff up, criticize, or suggest ideas that are false realities, twisted doctrines, or arguments for apathy and indifference.
The second command is to “be continually standing firm,” or “be true to what you believe.” Paul wrote, “I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you unless you believed in vain” (1 Cor 15:1–2). The Corinthians, like the Ephesians, were being “carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph 4:14). Because they did not want to appear dogmatic, bigoted, or egotistical, they did not stand for anything. We must evaluate everything by scriptural truths and standards so that we “may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God” (Col 4:12).
The third command is to “show courage,” or “be brave,” meaning to “act like a man.” Paul told the Corinthians, “Do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be babes” (1 Cor 14:20; 3:1–2). Maturity comes by obeying the word (2 Tim 3:16–17).
The fourth command—“continually be made strong”—only appears in the passive in the New Testament; that is, it is something that is done to us, the filling of the Spirit. As we trust what God commands and begin to obey, no matter the cost, we become “strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph 3:16). It happens only as we obey. Are you willing to commit to serious obedience?
“Lord, it is not weakness but selfish and indulgent thoughts that cause me to give in to temptation. You tell me such thoughts are harmful; why don’t I believe You all the time? Deepen my convictions to follow Your word faithfully.”
In order to practice this command today, I am going to …