We live in a day where the beliefs of society are like shifting sand. Firm footing is hard to find. Like the time of the Biblical Judges, today “everyone does what is right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:15b NKJV). Those who try to keep up with the ever-changing declarations of the media, politicians, or other self-declared arbiters of right and wrong will quickly become confused, frustrated, and hopeless. They will not stand firm but will stumble around in the darkness and fall.
That is a dangerous way to live.
To stand firm in the Lord, we must live by a different standard; one that does not change. Rather than following the capricious rules of men, it is much wiser to walk in the ways of the Lord.
Watching recent events and listening to the pompous moralizing of so many voices in the public square brought to mind a proverb describing what God hates. Remember that the people who lived in the Promised Land before the Israelites, did “all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates” (Deut. 12:31b). So God removed them from the land. To stand firm in the calling or place God has us, we must know the difference between what He hates, and what attracts His Presence.
To Stand Firm, Know What God Hates
Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV says, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” Let’s consider them one by one.
1. Haughty Eyes
The Passion Bible translates this as “putting others down while considering yourself superior.” It describes pride, racism, sexism, fault-finding, self-righteousness, and the list goes on. It plays out in all sorts of horrible ways. A mother ending the life of her unborn child. People judging someone’s character by the color of their skin, the uniform they wear, the size of their bank account, or anything other than their actions and motives. Those who denigrate others who do not hold their political view. Mobs destroying the property, livelihood, or reputation of those who disagree with them. Social media has made it far too easy to heap abuse on others in self-righteousness and anger.
Many people get swept up in the emotion of our day trying to prove they are good citizens. But going along with a crowd to please others is also pride. Scripture says, “speak up and judge fairly, defend the rights of the poor and needy’ (Prov. 31:9). It is incumbent upon us to speak up when injustice occurs, but we must not go overboard and condemn others without the full facts. We must also judge fairly.
The Bible reveals that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6, Prov. 3:34). If God is opposing you, there is no way you can stand firm. But James 4:10 says, “humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” Then even when the sands around us shift, we can be confident the Lord holds us.
2. A Lying Tongue
The Passion Bible translates lying tongue as, “spreading lies and rumors.” This includes gossip, exaggeration, and passing on opinions as fact.
I was rebellious during my High School years. To do things my parents would not approve, I lied, a lot. It not only caused me internal stress, but it also harmed my relationship with my entire family and the Lord. That is what lying does, it destroys relationships with others and the Lord, but it also destroys the one telling the lies.
Social media has also made it so easy to spread rumors and fake news to prove our point. And today, many once credible news sources have become propaganda machines for ideological viewpoints. We need the wisdom to discern what is true so we don’t spread falsehoods – or believe them ourselves.
The Bible has a lot to say about truth. Jesus declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). In the Garden, Jesus prayed that the Father will “sanctify <us> by the truth, your word is truth” (John 17:17). And the Apostle Paul tells us to, “stand firm then with the belt of truth buckled around your waist” (Ephesians 6:14a). Truth is critical for us to stand!
If we are in Christ, we must walk in God’s truth. Among other things, that means we communicate truth be it verbally, on social media, or in emails. It also means we lovingly correct falsehood if we detect it. We must be sure to not just communicate our perception of truth – but must immerse ourselves in God’s Word so we can discern truth from the lies of satan that are so prevalent in our culture today.
3. Hands That Shed Innocent Blood
Scripture is filled with verses declaring God’s abhorrence of murder. Taking the life of the innocent is anathema to God, and should be to us as well. Whether it is killing the unborn, choking a restrained man to death, stabbing a police officer, or any other form of brutality, all are repugnant to the Lord.
In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus says, “you have heard that it was said…, ‘You shall not murder…’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment… And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” Angry, in this passage, stems from the Greek word orgizo, which HELPS Word-studies clarifies to mean “sinful anger focuses on punishing the offender rather than the moral content of the offense.” So, those wanting to exact revenge, or see someone punished in anger, are also considered murderers.
Wrongdoers are not exempt from punishment. But punishment must not be meted out in anger.
Jesus says, “if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift… First, go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift” (Matt 5:23-24). The onus of reconciliation seems to be on the offender, but it also applies to the one harboring anger. Be reconciled, forgive, only then will God accept your offerings of praise, tithe, alms, or acts of service.
Psalm 37:14-17 says, “the wicked draw the sword…they slay those whose ways are upright. But their swords will pierce their own hearts… the power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.” The wicked, the murderers, will fall. But the upright will stand firm because the Lord upholds them.
4. A Heart That Devises Wicked Schemes
Reports of plots, conspiracies, and unlawful schemes abound, true or not. Even once-venerable institutions are not immune to accusations. Big businesses received funds meant to help small businesses; FBI employees planned to entrap political opponents; China tried to cover-up the coronavirus outbreak; shadow figures have coordinated rioting in cities across the nation; and more.
We must also beware of identity theft, title theft, Click Bait scams, etc. We’re bombarded by deceptive telemarketing calls and emails, crafted to trick people into paying for things they will never receive. It is all wicked in God’s sight.
Why is there a seeming increase in wicked schemes? Ecclesiastes 8:11 gives one reason, “when the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong.” But as God’s children we can not let injustice lead us to the slippery slope of evil.
Instead, let us pray, “My eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge… Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers, from the snares they have laid for me. Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by in safely by” (Psalm 141:8-10 ). Proverbs 28:10 promises, “Whoever leads the upright along an evil path will fall into their own trap, but the blameless will receive a good inheritance.” We have sure footing when we are innocent of evil.
Jesus tells us in John 10:10, “the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” Those who plan or carry out schemes that steal, kill, or destroy, are in league with satan. Our plans should be for building others up, that all can access God’s abundant life.
5. Feet That Are Quick To Rush To Evil
Too many times peaceful protests turn into looting and riots once the first window is broken. Not everyone joins in, but often many in the crowd jump at the chance to set cars on fire, steal from stores and beat up police or bystanders. This is not the only time opportunists take advantage of distractions, anonymity, and darkness to do evil. But images of recent events vividly portray the real scars left on communities, businesses, and lives.
Proverbs 1:18-19 says, “these men lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush only themselves! Such are the paths of those who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it.”
In Abraham’s day, a Sodomite mob rose up to sexually assault angels of the Lord sent to inspect the city. They were so set on evil, the angels had to blind them to stop their pursuits. Soon after, burning sulfur rained down from heaven to end their wickedness for good (Genesis 19).
Instead of doing evil, God instructs us to “do good.” Psalm 37:3 says, “trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” Verse 27 says, “turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever.” Doing good brings stability and blessing to our lives.
In Luke 6:27 Jesus instructs, “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” The Apostle Paul writes “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
God hates those who rush to evil. It is contrary to our nature, He made us to be consistent and persistent in doing good!
6. A False Witness Who Pours Out Lies
The justice system in the US was designed to ensure that innocent individuals are not found guilty. It relies on faithful and true witnesses as well as impartial judges and juries. Unfortunately, too many times it has been rigged to set the guilty free or find the innocent guilty. Recently it has resulted in the boiling over of generations of anger against injustice perpetrated at the expense of many Americans in the Black community.
Proverbs 17:15 says, “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent— the Lord detests them both.” Injustice of any kind must concern us all.
And in the day of #MeToo, vitriolic political divisions and other movements, we have seen people’s lives and/or careers ruined by sometimes baseless accusations or outright lies. The mob mentality of today’s cancel culture is also abhorrent to the Lord. Whether in a legal court, or the court of public opinion, spreading falsehoods is never the way to achieve justice or any positive end.
In the book of Zechariah, chapter eight, the Lord promises to bless Jerusalem and His people again with peace, joy, and security. To maintain that blessing, the Lord says, “These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other and render true and sound judgments in your courts” (Zechariah 8:16).
If we are to stand firm before God, we must be people of truth. For Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Truth is essential!
7. A Person Who Stirs Up Conflict In The Community
After the death of George Floyd, cities across the country quickly devolved into chaos as paid and volunteer agitators goaded crowds to riot, loot, and cause harm to people and property. This kind of conflict makes it more difficult for legitimate grievances and voices to be heard, and also damages communities in other ways. Whether on a community level or among friends or family, the Lord hates those who stir up conflict.
Jesus taught, “every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined and every city or household divided against itself will not stand” (Matthew 12:15). The kingdom, city or household will not stand firm. Those who foment division cause ruin in their wake. They will also reap ruin. Proverbs 6:14-15 promises “he <who> always stirs up conflict… disaster will overtake him in an instant; he will be suddenly destroyed—without remedy.”
Recent events show how quickly dissent turns to anarchy when alternate viewpoints are not offered with pure motives. Productive dialogue and positive change only occur when all parties are well-meaning. Disagreements can be reconciled when people come together in good faith to resolve them.
Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, declared, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). If we are children of God, we are called to be peacemakers.
The Apostle James taught, “peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:18). This requires action, sowing in peace; just the opposite of stirring up conflict. Psalm 1: 5 -6 reminds us, “the wicked will not stand in the judgment…the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.”
The wicked will not stand before the Lord, but peacemakers who reap righteousness — will.
How Then Can We Stand?
There is great darkness in the world. It is easy to shrink back in fear. But we must fight the darkness and stand firm in the light?
Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Following Christ gives us firm footing in dark times.
Ephesians 5:8-10 reminds us, “for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.” As children of the Light, we will one day dwell with the Lord. On that day, “He will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
Righteousness to Stand
As King David pondered the awesomeness of being in God’s presence, he recognized that coming into in the presence of a Holy God requires holiness and righteousness on our part. There is no way we can achieve this on our own. Thankfully, “righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:22). But in Psalm 15, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, King David described what righteous living under the Lordship of Christ is like.
“Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.” (NIV)
When we compare Proverbs 6: 16-19 to Psalm 15, we see a stark contrast. Those motivated by God’s love, will follow the course laid out in the later. If we are to stand firm in our faith, and not topple when the sand of society shifts around us, that is the way we are to live.
The world is getting crazier by the day. It can be overwhelming. We all need encouragement and help to stand firm. Our faith in Christ should affect what we think and how we act. Conversely, what we think and how we act have a direct impact on our faith.
As we go about our days, here are some simple reminders that will enable us to stand in these days of trouble. Speak the truth. Be trustworthy. Refuse slander, insults, gossips, and fake news. But speak out against evil! Commend those who are faithful. Keep your commitments, even when it hurts. Be generous. Reject underhandedness and live with integrity.
Dr. Jodie Chiricosta is vice president of Somebody Cares America/International. She is teaches and consults on a variety of Christian living and leadership topics and is a host of the podcast Her God Story https://somebodycares.org/hergodstory/which is available on major podcast streaming services.