Stand Still - Go Forward
When Israel stood at the banks of the Red Sea, with the Red Sea in front of them and the Egyptian army behind them, God, through Moses, spoke to Israel some of the most powerful words in the Bible:“And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will show to you today: for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. The LORD shall fight for you, and you shall hold your peace. And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore do you unto Me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea” (Ex. 14:13-16).
In this great message, we see the paradox of how to walk with God properly: stand still—go forward. It’s a paradox because God gave Israel two commands that were opposite of each other. How does Israel stand still and go forward at the same time? Even though believers today are far removed from Israel’s physical situation, the spiritual truth of God’s message to Israel applies to us today. Under the new covenant God is still telling His people today, “Stand still. Go forward.”
But the big questions for us are these: What does this mean? How do we stand still and go forward in Christ at the same time?
One of the biggest hindrances to believers who are learning to live by faith in Christ and the Cross (we’re all a work in progress), is understanding on a very practical level how our justification is compatible with a life filled with good works, primarily the Christian disciplines—prayer, Bible reading, church attendance, etc.
In justification, we learn we are not righteous before God by our works, regardless of how good or biblical those works may be. We learn that the doing of the Christian disciplines are not the means by which God makes us righteous and victorious over sin. In justification, we learn to rest from our works to be righteous by faith in Christ’s finished work on the Cross. Sometimes justification and sanctification by faith can be explained with the one-liner, “It’s not in our doing; it’s in our believing.”
For the believer who has lived the Christian life trying to be righteous through good works and law, the understanding of justification by faith brings true renewal of the mind. This is why believers say, “It’s like I’ve been saved all over again!”
The understanding of the Message of the Cross for sanctification is truly life-changing. This is equivalent to the Lord telling Israel, “Do not be afraid. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” The main difference now is the Lord says to us, “Do not be afraid. Stand still and rest in Christ’s finished work on the Cross. By faith, keep your eyes on Jesus and His victory over the enemy for you!”
After the believer begins to rest in Christ’s death on the Cross, then comes what I referred to earlier as the “paradox of how to walk with God properly.” God says, “Go forward! Move!” This is equivalent to God’s Word telling us to pray, read and study His Word, gather with other believers, worship, witness, give tithes and offerings, etc. The question becomes, How do I have a diligent prayer life, etc. while resting from my works at the same time? To some believers, there is little to no difficulty at all with this, while other believers can struggle for years with having works in their lives. The reason for the struggle is primarily fear—fear of going back under law. The believer is fearful of making a law out of prayer, Bible reading, etc., so he is timid in his prayer life and other disciplines. If that is you today, allow me to tell you: Do not be afraid. Stop letting fear hinder you from spending time with your Father in prayer. Don’t be timid in the Christian disciplines, but be diligent in seeking God, spreading the gospel around the world, etc.
By faith, you can stand still and go forward at the same time. With your eyes on Jesus and His finished work, seek God’s face, study His Word, worship Him, and tell others about Him. God will part Red Seas for you—He will do the impossible—as you stand still and go forward.