Devotional: ‘Decide Once and For All Where You Stand’

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1 Peter 4:1 So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. 2 You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. 3 You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols. 4 Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. 5 But remember that they will have to face God, who will judge everyone, both the living and the dead.

Today we live in a world full of terrorism. Through various means, men try to force others to comply with their demands. There are many forms of terrorism. There are the open acts of violence such as mass shootings or bombs. But then there are the more subtle forms of terrorism such as ridicule, mockery and slander. Behind both types of actions is the intent to cause others to comply with someone else’s demands.

Satan is the ultimate terrorist and part of his program of terrorism is something we today call ‘peer pressure.’ As many of you know, peer pressure is the need we sometimes feel to conform to the lifestyle and standards of our social peers. We all know that children face peer pressure, but many adults do as well. I am convinced that one of the leading reasons many young adults drift away from the church during their college years is because they have a tremendous need to be accepted by their friends. Someone who is a young adult, and even many who are in the senior years of high school, no longer want to be viewed as their parent’s little child. They’re entering into adulthood and they desire to be viewed as such. With adulthood comes the desire for independence and the power of choice. So great is this need to be accepted by their peers that many Christian young adults are willing to compromise on their convictions.

Children and young adults are not the only ones who struggle with peer pressure. Many adults do as well. Someone has said that we often buy things we can’t afford to impress people we don’t like. We do it just so that they will think that we’re important. Peter recognized the power of peer pressure and therefore he encouraged his readers to determine which kind of lifestyle they will live. Will they allow peer pressure to pull them back into their old sinful ways of thinking and lifestyle, or will they decide once and for all that they are through with sin and are living for Jesus?

As I write this I think of what Joshua said in his last message before the people.

Joshua 24:14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Both Peter and Joshua knew that at some point, every believer must draw a line in the sand and then decide which side of that line they are going to stand on. James tells us that those who try to jump back and forth from one side to the other will always be unstable in all their ways. (see James 1:5-8)

As we were raising our daughters, we used to talk with them about possible situations they might face. Our intent was to help them decide before they faced the situation where they should stand.

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