Spiritual Alertness

“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
—I Corinthians 10:12

THOSE WHO HAVE ACCEPTED the call to take up their cross and follow the Master, enjoy a position of special favor with the Heavenly Father. There is a very special requirement which Paul describes in our text as taking ‘heed.’ To ‘take heed’ means to give attention, to observe carefully, to watch, to be vigilant. It means to ‘stop, look, and listen,’ in our spiritual affairs, and our need for taking heed is that we may not ‘fall,’ or lose our standing before our Heavenly Father.

The psalmist wrote, “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.” (Ps. 91:7) This assurance indicates that those who do not fall are those that dwell “in the secret place of the most High,” and have made his truth their “shield and buckler.”—vss. 1,4

The Scriptures outline our position of favor before the Lord from various standpoints, all of them vitally important. Philippians 4:1 reads, “My brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.” To ‘stand fast in the Lord’ means to be trusting in the merit of his shed blood; and, through full consecration and immersion of our wills into God’s will, to be counted as members of the anointed company of which Christ is the Head.

This is a blessed standing! It requires humility in recognizing our need of the saving grace of God through the shed blood of his beloved Son. It calls for the unqualified devotion of our wills to the doing of the Divine will. To take heed in maintaining this standing means a daily searching of our hearts.


To maintain our standing in the Lord calls for vigilance, as the Apostle Paul wrote, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” (I Cor. 16:13) The faith in which we are to stand is “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3) This is the faith which was first of all delivered to Abraham, and then to Isaac and Jacob, and to all the prophets. (Gal. 3:8) The central theme of this faith is the Messianic hope of a future kingdom to ‘bless’ all nations, and God’s High Calling to the Christian to be a “joint-heir” with Christ in that kingdom.—Gal. 3:16,27-29; Phil. 3:14; Rom. 8:17

Paul indicates that it will require strength to stand in the faith. ‘Quit you like men, be strong,’ he says. It has always required courage to stand in the pure faith of the Gospel. This is manifested by the rapid ‘falling away’ that occurred after the apostles fell asleep in death. It was not long before the pure doctrines of the truth were corrupted, and those who were seeking comfort were fed on pagan philosophy and oriental mysticism. We should always remember that if we want to dwell close to the Lord in our spirit of fellowship we must be enthusiastic about his plan, and spend our energy where he is working. This is possible only if we “stand fast in the faith which was once delivered to the saints.”—Jude 3


To stand in the Lord also means to stand in the liberty of Christ. Paul wrote, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Gal. 5:1) Here the contrast is between liberty in Christ and bondage to the Law. But the principle of liberty in Christ extends beyond freedom from the Law. To stand in the liberty of Christ means to have liberty to do everything that Christ would have us do. If we find ourselves in restraint to the will of man, and thereby held back from saying and doing the things which we know to be pleasing to God and to Christ, then we are not wholly standing fast in the liberty of Christ.


The Apostle Paul says: “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the Gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel.” (Phil. 1:27) There is a remarkable blending of important Christian principles set forth in these words. The apostle urges that we stand fast in one spirit, not by compromising the truth, but by striving together in its defense. The ‘one spirit’ in which we are to ‘stand fast’ is the spirit of the truth. To ‘stand fast’ requires courage and the strength of the Lord. We must be “strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.”—Eph. 6:10


There are various danger signals by which we must take heed and be forewarned of an impending fall. One of these is the spirit of pride. “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall,” the Holy Spirit testifies. (Prov. 16:18) How easy it is for the spirit of pride to enter into our hearts, causing us to be haughty and self-important! The spirit of humility engenders meekness, gentleness, teachableness, patience, and forbearance. How important it is that we do not think of ourselves “more highly than he [we] ought to think.”—Rom. 12:3

Another danger signal is indifference toward the truth. The truth is God’s voice speaking to his people; and if we are to maintain our standing before him we listen and should be attentive to his voice. Our standing before the Lord depends upon our obedience to his truth, for it is by the truth that we are “sanctified.”—John 17:17

The spirit of bitterness and hatred is another danger signal which should be readily discerned by those who are properly taking heed. These unholy manifestations of evil are the very opposite of the spirit of love, which is the Spirit of God. To permit their entrance into our hearts, and to harbor them, will sooner or later result in the complete fall of the New Creature, the complete loss of our standing in Christ Jesus. Let us take heed in this respect by rooting out quickly and diligently, through prayer, every thought of bitterness from our hearts, and seek to be filled with, and controlled by, the spirit of love.

Nor should we permit the spirit of the world to take control of our hearts and lives. The spirit of the world is the spirit of self-seeking, of the ambition to shine before others, of vainglory. (Gal. 5:26; Phil. 2:3) It is the spirit of selfishness, which is of the Devil. Let us endeavor to be so filled with the Spirit of the Lord, and so occupied with the things of the Spirit, that there will be no time or place for the spirit of the world to gain even the slightest entrance into our lives.


The Apostle Peter gives us an excellent formula by which we may keep from falling. He reminds us of the precious promises upon which our hope for the Divine nature is based, and indicates that these promises are the groundwork of our faith. Then he admonishes us to add to our faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly-kindness, and love. “If these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. … If ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”—II Pet. 1:4-11

When the Bible speaks of the Lord’s people falling from Divine favor, it means more than mere stumbling. No one is free from making mistakes because of fleshly imperfections. But if our hearts are pure, God will watch over us, and his everlasting arms will be under us. As Solomon wrote, “A just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again.”—Prov. 24:16


Jesus said that we should “take heed … how ye hear.” (Luke 8:18) Do we hear the message as one which has brought responsibility? Do we recognize that we are to be doers of the Word, as well as hearers, and are to be sanctified by the truth? (John 17:17) We are in the school of Christ to learn and apply the truth in our lives so that we may be equipped to serve as ‘ambassadors for Christ’ now; and through faithfulness to the Divine will, be found worthy to serve in the future work of the kingdom as joint-heirs with Christ.—II Cor. 5:20; Rom. 8:17

If we hear the truth with appreciation, our love for it will be demonstrated by the amount of energy we exert to defend and promote it. Has our hearing of the truth been so inspiring that we are willing to die “for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God”? (Rev. 20:4) Each day should find us busily engaged in using the truth to Divine glory. Failing in this proper appreciation of the truth, we become more or less subject to the deceptive influences of the Adversary by which he is endeavoring to bring about our fall from Divine favor.


Deception is a method frequently used by Satan to lead God’s people into his various snares and pitfalls, and he usually practices his deceptions through human agencies. Jesus said, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” (Matt. 24:4) This particular warning has to do with the truths pertaining to our Lord’s Second Presence, and the end of the age. Certainly many of the Lord’s professed followers have been deceived along these lines. And Jesus reminds us that, if it were possible, the very elect would be deceived. But evidently this does not become possible because they are the faithful ones who ‘take heed.’

The Apostle Paul also reminds us of the importance of taking heed lest we be deceived. We quote: “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” (Eph. 5:6) ‘Vain words’ are those not in harmony with the plan and will of God, especially those words which appeal to human vanity. Flattery is one of Satan’s chief methods of deceit; and if we are properly taking heed we will be especially alert when we hear the voice of flattery appealing to us to turn to the right hand or to the left.

The warning, ‘Let no man deceive you,’ reminds us of another apostolic warning. To the elders at Ephesus Paul said, “Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:30) The deception of human leadership is a most subtle deception. There is the constant temptation for elders and teachers to become leaders of a little flock all their own. And there is also the willingness on the part of so many of the Lord’s people to be led into byways of special interpretations. It is difficult to follow only the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.

In this respect, elders need specially to take heed, for their responsibility is great. To the elders at Ephesus, and to the elders today, Paul says, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28) The proper ‘taking heed’ on the part of the elders means that they will ‘feed the church of God.’ This is a privilege and they are not to lord it over God’s heritage, nor to assume a headship of their own in the Church.

The Church should take heed of what they are fed. We should not shift our individual responsibilities onto the elders. How much sorrow could be avoided at times, if all the brethren in the church would take heed as a group to prevent ambitious brethren from becoming leaders.

Taking heed on the part of the brethren implies an insistence that everything we accept as truth be well supported by a ‘thus saith the Lord.’ Fanciful theories and high-sounding reasoning should not be permitted to carry weight in the minds and hearts of the people of God. Any idea that cannot be supported by the Scriptures has no sanctifying influence in our lives, and may lead us away from our appreciation of the glorious fundamental doctrines of the Word of God.


Paul says, “We are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.”—I Cor. 3:9-13

The manner in which a Christian builds for the future, as a coworker with God, is clearly outlined. First there must be the foundation of the ransom. Upon this must be built the superstructure of faith and character. And if we take heed how we build as coworkers with God rather than of our own choosing, our building will be able to survive the fiery trials which ‘shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.’


Hebrews 3:12 reads: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” The context refers to the unbelief of the Israelites in the wilderness, when they forgot so quickly the many miracles which God had wrought on their behalf. Their disposition to turn away from him to the worship of other gods showed lack of appreciation for the living God.

Just what is our own attitude? Have God’s blessings which came to us through our knowledge of the truth become commonplace? Do we still keenly appreciate the miracle of his grace as it has abounded toward us through Christ Jesus? Or have we permitted the trials of the way to mar God’s loving watch care over us? Do we still hear the voice of God speaking to us, or are we listening to other voices? Are we seeking a way less narrow and paths more pleasing to our flesh? Are we taking heed that we do not depart from the living God and the secrets of his Divine plan?


“Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.” (Col. 4:17) There is a danger of our neglecting to be ministers, or servants, of the truth. And how easy it is to fall away from our steadfastness along this line! Satan is always active in his endeavor to draw us away from the ministry. If we are properly taking heed we will recognize Satan’s cunning devices, his misleading sophistries, and not be affected by them.

Jesus, our Exemplar, came into the world to serve, to be a minister in the great work of reconciling a lost world to God. Our calling is to cooperate with him in this ministry. Thus, no matter how faithful we may be in meeting all the other requirements of the truth, if we neglect the ministry we shall fall short of the very purpose of our calling. Let us, then, indeed take heed unto the ministry, that we ‘fulfil it.’

In ‘taking heed unto the ministry’ we have an important responsibility. Paul wrote, “Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed.” (II Cor. 6:3) Much of II Corinthians 6th chapter is a timely, heart-searching admonition, pointing out details concerning the things to which we should take heed if we are not to bring reproach upon the ministry. Separateness from temples of idols is another prerequisite which Paul mentions. There are hideous creed idols now enshrined in the various temples of Christianity. The pageantry of outward show in these temples is alluring to the devotional instincts of some of the Lord’s people. These temples promote a god of pride, instead of a god of humility; a god of disaster, instead of a god of peace; a god of material wealth, instead of a god of spiritual blessings. Our God bids us to “come out from among them, … and touch not the unclean thing,” with the promise that he will receive” us.—II Cor. 6:17; Isa.52:11; Rev.18:4

Continuing the quotation from Isaiah 52:11, Isaiah says, “Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.” These ‘vessels’ contain the pure water of the Lord’s truth. And how vital it is that these vessels be kept clean in order that those who drink therefrom may be truly refreshed with the living waters of the Word of God and the glorious knowledge that “God is love.” (I John 4:8) Only as we minister the pure truth of the Divine plan can we hope to have God’s blessing upon our ministry.

“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” (I Tim. 4:16) In this admonition to Timothy we have a summary of all that is involved in our taking heed lest we fall. It means to take heed to ourselves in every way, and to take heed to the doctrines of the truth. To take heed to ourselves, and to the doctrines; and to continue in them means to understand and believe the doctrines, to defend, and to be guided by them in our own Christian conduct and ministry.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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