“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13.

To be the people God wants us to be requires courage. While we are repeatedly instructed to be gentle, humble, forgiving, and are taught not to answer evil with evil, we are called on here to “act like men” (ESV). The gentleness our Lord demands of us must not be mistaken for a softness that gives in to or refuses to oppose sin. Are we brave and strong or weak, easily pushed around, and silenced? Let’s explore some reasons courage and strength are so vitally important and then consider some things that will help us develop that strength. But the first step toward developing the courage to stand strong is the realization of how important it is.

The Devil

Never forget that we have an adversary who daily seeks to devour us. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). In addition to the devil himself there are spiritual hosts of wickedness, who, though unseen to us, daily strive against us (Ephesians 6:10-12). Peter used the imagery of a roaring lion to emphasize the strength, power, and ferocity of our adversary. Paul used the imagery of warfare to stress the necessity of being fully equipped and prepared for battle. Though these passages speak of great danger, 1 Peter 5:9 says resistance of the devil is possible and Ephesians 6:10-13 tells us that we can stand against the wiles of the devil and all his hosts of wickedness.

The devil is a powerful enemy, but if we courageously stand and take up the battle against him we are assured that he will be the one to flee (James 4:7). To use the imagery of 1 Corinthians 16:13, if we resist the devil with a manly courage he will back away like a frightened child. But be warned, Satan will not back down if he senses fear and timidity in us. If we are not serious about standing up to him he will win.

We Are in the Minority

It is often said that there is strength in numbers, and if that is the case where does the strength lie? “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13, 14). There are many Christians in Limestone County, and here at Pepper Road we have a good support group, but the vast majority of people in this area are not Christians after the New Testament order. The majority of people in this county do not believe baptism is essential for salvation. The vast majority consider instrumental music acceptable. When it comes to moral issues, if we continue to teach and uphold the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:9 we will be solidly in the minority. That we are in the minority means we may be put on the defensive when we try to talk to people about the gospel. We may be intimidated into silence for fear of increasing our sense of alienation, or even worse we may begin to modify our beliefs so as to fit in better with the majority.

Do we have the courage to stand alone? Throughout the centuries when holy men and women of God have found themselves in the minority they have built an ark, gone to battle against a Goliath, refused to bow to a golden image, confessed their faith before Nero, and done many other brave things. And let’s not forget that the One who could have summoned twelve legions of angels to deliver Him had the courage to die alone that He might deliver us from our sins. We are in the minority, but we can still win the battle.

Pressures We Face

As a sub-point to the devil seeking to destroy us, there are daily pressures placed on Christians. Business owners may feel pressure from customers and their own pocketbooks to begin dealing in alcohol. Employees may be pressured to engage in unethical tactics to boost sales, cover up manufacturing defects, “cook the books,” etc. Because we are in the minority we may fear letting our faith be widely known lest it cost us a promotion or drive away some customer.

It takes courage to stand against the moral pressures placed on children of God. The works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21) control modern fashion and the Christian, especially the younger one, is naturally going to feel pressure to go along with the crowd in raising the hemline, lowering and tightening the top, making the jeans formfitting, etc. The pressures to drink, use drugs, commit fornication, and indulge in other works of the flesh are real, and without strength and courage we will give in when others ridicule us for our old-fashioned ways (1 Peter 4:1-4).

Both individually and as a collective body we face pressure from an increasingly secular society to back away from a biblical stand on church discipline (1 Corinthians 5) and divorce (Matthew 19:3-9). Though the pressures in our part of the country are not yet that great, we are likely to face increasing pressure to back away from our opposition to the practice of homosexuality (Romans 1:26-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10).

What are we going to do? Are we going to be brave and strong or will we yield to the pressure? Make no mistake about it, the pressures are real and they are strong, but just as surely as the pressures are strong, we can “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). We will look next at some things that can help us be strong, but the single most important factor in developing the courage to stand is the desire for the courage to stand.

“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13.

As we work to develop bravery in the face of adversity and danger, a look at some inspirational examples of courage found in the Scripture makes a good beginning.


“Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually….Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:5-9). Doesn’t our courage often fail us when we feel we are alone and no one is standing with us? For the many long years it took Noah to build a boat approximately 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high he and his family stood alone in walking with God. If Noah could courageously stand for righteousness in a world so wicked the Lord was determined to destroy it, can we not also walk with God? While the numbers are against us, the reality is that we have a benefit courageous Noah did not have, and that is our many good brothers and sisters to help us. While our circumstances are not always easy, they are not as difficult as those Noah faced—if he could do it certainly we can too.


“Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods’” (Joshua 24:2). We often speak of the faith of Abraham, but when we realize he came from a family of idolaters our appreciation for his courage should be deepened. Few things test our resolve like spiritual conflicts within the family, but when we face those family tests we need to remember the courageous faith of our father Abraham. A brave stand for truth and righteousness just might be able to turn our family to the paths of God, but even if that doesn’t happen, one thing is for certain, we will save our own souls.


The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” (Judges 7:20). Children love the story of Gideon and his 300 brave men who won the victory over the Midianites, but as adults do we appreciate how God grew the faith of Gideon and enabled him in time to become the courageous warrior we see in Judges 7, 8? When we are introduced to Gideon in Judges 6 he didn’t appear to be anything special, but the Lord worked with him and helped him to become brave and strong. We today face a different type of enemy, but just as Gideon’s faith and courage grew, through study of the word, prayer, the encouragement of our brethren, and perhaps other means, the Lord will help us become mighty spiritual warriors, even if we start out as timid and unsure of ourselves as Gideon.


“Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:47). It would be a great mistake to think David courageously faced Goliath only because he was confident he was the best stone slinger in Israel. Certainly David had acquired considerable skill with a sling, but he repeatedly stated that he was going to battle against Goliath because this uncircumcised Philistine had defied the living God, and he was confident of victory because of trust that the Lord would be his help. Knowing we will face temptations and enemies of righteousness, we need to acquire as many skills as possible, but Ephesians 6:10-18 affirms that it is the Lord’s armor that protects us and His might that allows us to triumph. We may appear “undersized,” but like David we can be strong in the Lord if we have absolute faith in the Lord.

Many Others

We could go on with many more inspirational examples of courage. Be encouraged by stories like that of aged Daniel choosing to face the lions rather than stop praying to God (Daniel 6). Be humbled by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego as they not only risk their positions of prominence, but put their lives on the line rather than bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s image (Daniel 2). What of Aquila and Priscilla who “risked their own necks for [Paul’s] life” (Romans 16:4)? The Scriptures also tell us of Jonathan, Nehemiah, Esther, Onesiphorus, Paul, and many other holy men and women who stood up and were counted, even at the risk of their lives. God has recorded example after example, taken from various walks of life, to say to us that we can do it. We can develop the courage necessary to become “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13.

As we continue the theme of developing courage, consider that the strength to stand today is often attained by realizing what the consequences of our actions might be tomorrow.

When the pressures to drink or use drugs mount, think about the shame of having to call your parents, spouse, or perhaps one of the elders to come get you out of jail. Consider the possibility you could lose your driver’s license. Realize that you could severely injure or kill someone, even yourself. When trying to find the courage to say no to drugs and alcohol, take a moment to think about what might happen.

“Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: ‘They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?’” Proverbs 23:29-35

Sexual temptation can be great and that society in general gives its approval to sex before marriage makes it more difficult to say no, but think about the possible consequences of saying yes. You will be un-able to present yourself as a “chaste virgin” to your spouse (2 Corinthians 11:2). There is the distinct possibility you will contract some disease because you gave in to the temptation. Imagine the joy of telling your parents you are dropping out of school because you are pregnant or because you have a pregnant girlfriend to support. If you are married, think about the possibility of losing your spouse and your children. Consider the financial costs of divorce, alimony, and child support. Give some thought to the consequences of sexual sin and you will begin to understand why sexual immorality is often found at the beginning of the lists of sins to avoid. See 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Galatians 5:19-21; and Ephesians 5:3-5. “Flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18).

When it comes to financial dealings and the temptation to cheat is there, think about the shame of being fired from your job, or, as has happened to many prominent people recently, going to jail for fraud or tax evasion. The Bible often cautions against covetousness and warns that the love of money will lead to many sorrows (Colossians 3:5; 1 Timothy 6:7-10, and we would do well to heed the warnings. Think about the consequences of being caught and remember that “your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

But let’s not think only on the negative consequences of a lack of courage. Good things result from the courageous strength the Bible commends. Think about the positive benefits for you and your family if you stand for the truth like Paul and Barnabas did at Antioch (Acts 15:1, 2). Consider how you might be the one who inspires someone else to take a stand against evil (Philippians 1:14). You will not be called on to do battle with a Philistine who stands nine feet tall, but if you have the faith and courage of David you may be the one to break the cycle of alcoholism or divorce or some other evil within your family. As you battle temptation, please take a moment to think about what a difference you might make in the future of your family, your community, and your brethren in Christ. Courage can be contagious and productive of great things.

Then we come to the eternal consequences. Because the laws of sowing and reaping cannot be canceled (Galatians 6:7, 8), the things we have considered are real dangers, but the truth is that in this life some manage to avoid many of the things we have looked at. However, no one avoids the eternal consequences. No skillful attorney will beat your drunk driving rap when you stand before the eternal Judge. There is no Pill to prevent God’s judgment against the sexually immoral. Thinking about tomorrow helps inspire courage—thinking about eternity makes courage an imperative.

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, Whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14).

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell….Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:28, 32, 33).


Unless noted, all quotations from the New King James Version, copyright 1994 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.