1 Corinthians 16:13-14
There’s no degree of sinful self-indulgence, no depth of sinful depravity that is beyond God’s power to save, right? Were, we are here to testify to that. And as we draw this to a close, I just want to take a few minutes to kinda wrap up the conference by focusing on the theme “Act Like Men.”
It comes from, as you know, Paul’s final exhortation to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14. You can turn there in your, in your Bibles. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14. That small powerful, power packed little section exhorts the entire church to manliness and strength. So we simply cannot leave an act like men conference without devoting at least a few minutes to these two powerful verses. Here’s what they say, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith. Act like men. Be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”
I love the simplicity of that, don’t you? These orders are not complicated. Simple stuff, direct commands, easy to remember exactly what we need as we are soldiers marching into battle. That’s what we are, men, soldiers, ranks of godly men marching into warfare. And I hope you see that clearly because Satan wants nothing more than for you to go away from here minimizing the significance of the conflict. He wants you to underestimate the danger. He wants you to become indifferent to the warfare.
He wants you to become deaf to the call to action. He’d be delighted about that. He’d love nothing more, because with you out of the way. With you compromised, distracted, entertained, pleasured, too busy, just plain too busy, he’s good with that. Because the rest of the family, the entire church, easy targets. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.
A.W. Tozer once wrote a series of articles, I believe it was back in the 1950s. Powerful, powerful exhortations to a self-indulgent age. And that was back then, that he was looking at the church, here’s some of what he wrote, “Our fathers believed in sin, and the devil and hell as constituting one force. And they believed in God and righteousness and heaven as the other. By their very nature, these forces were opposed to each other in, forever in deep, grave, irreconcilable hostility. Man, our fathers held, had to choose sides, he could not be neutral. For him it must be life or death, heaven or hell, and if he chose to come out on God’s side, he could expect open war with God’s enemies. The fight would be real and deadly and would last as long as life continued here below.”
How different today. Men think of the world, not as a battleground, but as a playground. We’re not here to fight, we’re here to frolic. We’re not in a foreign land, we’re at home. We’re not getting ready to live, we are already living. And the best we can do is rid ourselves of our inhibitions and our frustrations and live this life to the full. The idea that this world is a playground instead of a battleground has now been accepted, in practice, by the vast majority of fundamentalist Christians.
And I find that interesting back in his day, he’s not talking about liberal Christians. He’s not talking about people who’ve abandoned the faith while still being religious. He’s talking about fundamentalist Christians. Continuing, he said, “They might hedge around the question if they were asked bluntly to declare their position, but their conduct gives them away. They are facing old ways, enjoying Christ and the world, gleefully telling everyone that accepting Jesus does not require them to give up their fun.
“Christianity is just the jolliest thing imaginable. The worship, growing out of such a view of life is as far off center as the view itself. The sort of sanctified night club without the champagne and the dressed up drunks. The whole thing has grown to be so serious that it is now the bound duty of all Christians to re-examine their spiritual philosophy in light of the Bible.
“Having discovered the scriptural way, we must follow it, even if to do so, they must separate themselves from much that they had accepted as real, but which now in the light of truth, is seen to be false. A right view of God and the world to come, requires that we have a right view of the world in which we live and of our relationship to it. So much depends upon this that we cannot afford to be careless about it.”
That’s A.W. Tozer, those words now published in a book. This world, playground or battleground, those are true words, brothers, true, faithful words. And they seem to be even more necessary today than the day that he first spoke them, wrote them. We cannot afford to be careless about biblical manhood because so much is at stake. But that’s exactly what we find in so many churches around us, so many homes, just a blissful frolicking. The world seems to be happily tearing itself apart.
We Christian men, we must wake up from a centrally, century long slumber. We must answer the call. We have to break ranks with lethargy, break ranks with mediocrity and join the ranks of spiritual warriors and act like men. No better parting exhortation than this from the apostle Paul.
A few comments on Paul’s words, basically simple, straightforward, easy to understand. Five points here, we are just going to keep them as sharp and poignant and commanding as Paul’s staccato exhortations come across. Bear in mind, these words are written to an entire church. The entire Corinthian church heard these read for the very first time. That’s men and women alike. Women were in the sense that’s described here, they were to act like men as well. Believing children, they also, act like men.
“Your adversary the devil prowls bout, about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”1 Peter 5:8
Take a look at the first point, first point we could just call, stand watchfully. It just says be watchful, be watchful. That means stand guard duty. Stay awake on your watch. And while you stand at your post, be alert, don’t let the enemy get through. Actively watch for threats that are lurking in the darkness. Some of you, no doubt, have lived and operated in war zones, surrounded by enemies. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, other places. Like people living in ancient times, you understand the value of having somebody that you can rely on, standing guard duty at all times.
Cities and towns back in Paul’s day, were always under threat of bandit raids. Always looking out for attacks by a foreign army, some renegade group of soldiers. And that made the role of a watchman for that city or that town absolutely vital for the protection of the entire society. The Bible repeatedly warns us about the many and varied dangers that we face as Christians.
1 Peter 5:8, “Your adversary the devil prowls bout, about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” You either believe that or you do not. And if you do, it affects your behavior, and we can tell by your behavior if you believe it or not. Some Christians, I’ve seen, live like practical atheists. They profess they believe in spiritual warfare, but they live as though they believe the devil doesn’t exist. All the while they fall victim to the wiles of the devil’s deceptiveness. Falling into temptation after temptation, indulging in sin.
Probably the most difficult thing about being watchful is staying alert when things seem most peaceful. When all seems to be quiet on the western front, to keep your eyes focused and pinging for the enemy. As any soldier will tell you, the enemy is always there, he is always present. So you got to stay alert, and stay watchful because he is. He’ll come visiting. We stand guard first by standing guard over our own hearts, don’t we? Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
We need to walk the rounds of our guard post. We need to walk the rounds in our own thought life. Looking inside, thinking about our thoughts. Examining our motives. We need to look for influences inside of us, of attraction to, or catering to, or compromising with the, the Christians’ three enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil. We need to watch for that all the time. Watch for enticements to compromise, enticements to give in, to be complacent, to just relax. And when the enemy comes visiting, not if, because it’s certain that he will. God promises us that. In one form or another, it is guaranteed.
When the enemy comes, we need to, second point, stand firmly. Stand firmly, it says “stand firm in the faith.” That is, hold your line. Hold your position. Give no ground whatsoever to the attacking enemy. God has gained that ground through you, do not give it up. That is the point of sin and temptation. Don’t give ground. The enemy wants to weaken your resolve, wants to loosen your grip on believing. He wants to detract you from acting obediently. He wants to keep you away from being bold in the faith.
The word faith here, as it’s used, it’s preceded by the definite article. In the original, it’s “the faith,” stand firm in “the faith.” This refers to the entire body of Christian doctrine, or we could just say the New Testament. Jude calls it, “The faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” Paul sometimes calls it “the Gospel.” Just as a summary, he calls it the traditions, doctrine that he received by revelation, directly from the Lord. And then delivered it to the churches, which is now written here in the bible.
Again the command is, stand firm, in that body of doctrine. Stay there. Don’t move from that position. To do that you have to believe. You must trust what God has revealed. You have to actively exercise, progress in your faith. Practice it, that’s the subjective side of this. And you have to practice exercising faith in “the faith” the revealed faith. That’s the objective side. Remain steadfast in your believing and obeying the truth of God’s word. That’s what’s talked about here.
Listen, nothing, I guarantee you, nothing troubles the enemy more than a courageous, uncompromising man who will do his duty, hour by hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. On it goes for a lifetime, Satan hates that. He wants to take that person out. Imagine, look back through church history and just, just pick a name. Martin Luther, we’re about to celebrate Reformation Day next week, right? Hand out candy to the kids in celebration of Martin Luther and all he did in the Protestant Reformation? Those kids are just rejoicing over that, it’s just so good to give them candy for remembering the faith.
You can remind them of that, it’s okay. I think we have some extra hard boiled eggs too if you want from this morning, so if you want to put those in their stockings, or stockings. Mixing my, mixing my holidays here. Baskets, I don’t know, pillow cases, whatever. Actually on second thought, better not give them eggs. You know those kids. Anyway, where am I?
Projectiles, yes, the enemy, he does not like you to be uncompromising, doesn’t want you to be courageous. He wants you to weaken. He wants you to compromise. And if you do your duty, like those men of church history. It just took one man, standing firm. Just one man changed the course of history. And all that means for us, you guys, is regular time in the Word and prayer. Just sticking with it, day after day. Leading and teaching in your homes. Taking, shepherding your family, shepherding your wife and your kids. Working on your own sanctification while you’re helping them work on theirs.
Regularly and actively serving in the church doing significant things for the good of the ministry. That’s what God wants and that’s what Satan hates. To actively influencing other people through, through your words, through your behavior, toward the truth. That’s how we stand firm in the faith. That’s how we reinforce the faith in our own lives. It’s how we influence others in the faith as well. At the same time, that troubles the enemy of our souls, and I love that. It thwarts his efforts to undermine our conviction.
Third thing we see here in this passage. If you’re going to stand here watchfully and firmly holding the line, you’re going to need to, third thing, stand manly. Stand manly, act like men. As we’ve seen, that’s the idea of bravery, of courage, a fighting spirit that a man needs to be a successful soldier. This is about valor in the face of mortal threats. This is about courage in the face of deadly observa, opposition.
We’re not just talking about the frontal attacks, we’re also talking about hidden snipers, you can’t find, shooting at you. We’re also talking about the stealth and the subtlety of an assassin’s poisonous darts that he shoots at you from behind a curtain. Temptations in the night. You guys know what I mean. It’s been the subject of this weekend. I’m so encouraged because there’s been upwards of a hundred and seventy five or so of you manly men that have come here this weekend. You wouldn’t be here if this didn’t matter to you, I know that. Biblical manhood does matter and you’re voting with your feet. I’m with you. We’re all with you.
We’ve come together here to learn about, to celebrate, to reinforce with each other, the virtue of biblical manhood. With God’s help, we’re going to grow in the practice of biblical manhood. We’re going to keep on pursuing it, both in the home and the church. According to God’s will we’re going to find increasing levels of growth, of success, of victory, and of influence in whatever realm he’s called us to exercise influence in. So united together in what true manhood means, we’re going to stay watchful, stand firmly, we’re going to brace ourselves. We’re going to steel our spines and act like men.
Fourth thing we see here, just quickly. Stand strongly. Stand strongly. Be strong. You can have all the courage you want, but if you do not have the firepower in the middle of the fight, it does not do you any good. You’re going to be out of the fight. You’re going to be a casualty of war. The verb there, be strong, it’s not as much about the possession of strength as it is about the exercise of strength. This is the exercise of dominion over something. Dominating something by superior force. Superior power. This verb is mostly used of God, which makes sense because he exercises overwhelming, irresistible, unstoppable power.
If you walk through this Corinthian letter, and I encourage you to do that at some point because this church, honestly, if you look around at your church you have any complaints, just read 1 Corinthians. You’ll be so encouraged. Your church will look great, because Corinth was a mess. It was an absolute mess. You had a good idea of why Paul ended here, act like men. Be strong, stand firm in the faith. So many opportunities in this immature Corinthian church. It had let so much go for so long, things had gone to seed.
So to be strong in the context of the Corinthian church meant to put an end to division in the church. To be strong meant to fight for unity. That’s strength. To be strong was to exercise church discipline on an openly immoral man. No one wanted to confront him, everybody wanted to celebrate the freedom in Christ. What is that? That’s weakness, not strength.
“We need strength to confront false doctrine.”Travis Allen
To be strong is to stand up against an arrogant, worldly person in the church who favors his own preferences over a weaker brother’s conscience. What is that? Self-centered pride. We need to stand up to that. We need to be strong. To be strong is to confront profane people who make a mockery of holy things, like the Lord’s Supper, 1 Corinthians 11. To be strong is to protect the order in the church. Not allowing distraction and chaos in public worship, like 1 Corinthians 12-14 describes. To be strong is to confront doctrinal error. Such as those who denied the bodily resurrection and were happily attending church.
To go on the offensive as a Christian, you not only need courage, you need overwhelming power, strength. Where are you going to find that? Because we’re not strong, we’re weak. You know the answer, God’s word is power. If you know the word, you have God’s power at hand to stand for what’s true, to stand for what’s right, to stand courageous, to stand boldly. You act in power of biblical conviction. God told Jeremiah, “is not my word like a fire and like a hammer which shatters a rock?”
Though the word, stick with the word, live by the word. You will yield overwhelming power. But bear in mind, we’re not about the strength needed to perform extraordinary feats of bravery like when literal bullets are flying or the terrorists are taking over the airplane. Those opportunities may come up once or twice in a lifetime, most of the time though, it’s not about that. The divine strength we need is to do what’s ordinary and to do it faithfully.
Stand watchfully. Stand firmly. Stand manly. But in the day to day, in the mundane, in the routine, in the regular, that’s where it’s hardest. As we see illustrated in the Corinthian church, we need the mortal fortitude. We need the Christian spiritual strength to protect just unity in the family and in the church. That’s hard to do. We need strength to exercise church discipline. We need strength to confront the arrogant, the profane.
We need strength to protect the good order of the church, to create an environment in the church where the Word can be heard and understood. We need strength to confront false doctrine. That is regular, normal stuff and it’s happening all the time in our homes and in our churches. That’s where we need strength. No need to go diving in front of bullets, at least not yet. May come for that time, but we need today in our time are the men who have the strength to stand when it really counts. When no one but God is looking. And that’s in the day by day, the week by week. Faithfulness in the home and in the church.
Finally, fifth point there in verse 14. Stand lovingly. Stand lovingly. “Let all that you do be done in love.” Now that really puts all of this into some very necessary perspective doesn’t it? We just had to end there because here’s the deal. All this manliness stuff, you need to exercise this with wisdom and good judgement and love when you go back home. Everything you say and do must be done in love.
We do not want a bunch of angry phone calls from your wives on Monday morning, complaining that you guys went home and started acting like, not like men, but like cave men, okay? Not here to issues cards, the he-man woman haters club, or anything like that. Act like men conference is about a biblical approach to manhood and it’s about love. It’s about love. Manhood, as we just heard this morning is about humility, John 13. “A fragrant offering of worship to the Lord who humbles himself always for us.” That’s amazing humility.
Manhood is about zeal for righteousness, prayerful wisdom, uncommon faithfulness in a faithless time. Nehemiah 5. It’s about kindness, gentleness, tenderness, leading in love. And listen, that’s what we’re going to tell your wives if they call us, okay? That’s what we told you, go back and do it. Listen, we got, we’ve got to join together you guys. We’ve got a covenant together to grow in loving leadership with our wives, with our children, serving in our churches, always investing in eternity.
This is about becoming the man others want to follow. No one coerced into submission. No one subdued by superior strength. Those who look up to you need to be eager, joyful to follow your lead because they’re learning to trust your character. They’re learning to, they’re seeing your competency grow as you practice your leadership. Nothing is going to prepare and motivate you to wage spiritual warfare, to fight the good fight, except this God-given virtue of love, love.
If love for Christ and his word is not driving your life and ministry, you can forget about standing firm. You’re not going to stand. The enemy is going to roll right over you and use you for massive damage. It’s, if sacrificial love for others is not directing your decision making, if it’s not govering, governing your use of time and resources, you’re gonna fall right back into the complacency and passivity of Adam. Or the tyranny of some of his infamous descendants.
But if you cultivate love and devotion for Jesus Christ, for his eternal word. His Spirit is going to set your heart aflame with passion for ministry, compassion for people, and a heart for the battle that is nothing less than supernatural. When you make it your aim to do what Paul says here, verse 14, “to let all that you do be done in love.” You’re going to fulfill every single one of these commands that come previous. You’ll, you will be watchful and stand firm in the faith.
Because you love Christ and you do not want to surrender any ground that he gave, gained for you. You do not want to let the enemy in through the gates. You do not want to be the point of weakness that lets the team down. Because you love, you love Christ and you love his people. You’re going to watch and stand firm, not ultimately for your own sake, but with a view to set an example for those who are following you. You are a man after all, and others are watching your life.
You act like a man, decisively, courageously, with this unstoppable power, because anything less is going to bring shame to your lord and savior and you do not want that. You love him dearly. You don’t want to lead others astray, you love them dearly. You love him, you want to see him honored, you’re strong and courageous, not for your own sake, but for the sake of edifying those who look to you as an example of the faith.
Brothers, we are not strolling casually through life on a playground. We’re not taking a spin on the merry-go-round. We’re not swinging in the swing sets. We’re fronting up against a spiritual enemy on a very real spiritual battlefield. We only get one chance to do this well. Just one very short life. We will have the victory through God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, amen? In him, we can do this. It’s him we follow after all, we, as we act like men, because there’s no one else who demonstrated biblical manhood like Jesus Christ did.
Let’s pray to him. Heavenly Father, we are so grateful to you for what you are doing in our midst even now as we go through this text just in a short way of summar, to summarize the conference and we are rejoicing in you. Thank you for what you’ve taught us, thank you for how you’ve confronted us. We just pray that you would lift us and strengthen us.
We are not sufficient for these things, but you, our God, have made us sufficient for all things through Christ. You will strengthen us by the Spirit. You will teach us your Word. Thank you for what you’ve done. We love you, give ourselves wholly to you to be used however you determine, but we know where to start, putting one foot in front of the other and act like men. We ask for your help in this, in Jesus name, amen.