The Good News - Home
Be Still and Know
By David A. DePra
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. (Ps. 46:10-11)
There is something about this verse that is says it all. It is telling us that God has a purpose that is going to be accomplished in the age. Not maybe. It is going to happen. And because we can be sure of it, God says that we can afford to BE STILL.
I’m not sure that many of us really have many of these things right side up. At least my experience tells me that most Christians have them up side down. Most Christians continue to think in terms of God promising to do things for them, to bless them, and to make their lives turn out purposeful, and perhaps even quite prosperous. We have this notion that faith means we give God permission to take over our lives – but that it means that God sort of plugs Himself into our lives -- and from that point the blessings begin to flow to us from God like electricity. For some, God is here to help us accomplish our goals, give us our best life now, and pretty much affirm what we are doing.
I’m not saying that most Christians would suggest that God affirms SIN. Most are smart enough to realize the folly of that – although sometimes you wonder if Christians even know what sin is anymore. But what I’m talking about here is the notion that our relationship with God is about OUR purposes in life, and getting God to bless them. We don’t seek this in a rebellious way, or in a defiant way. We do it in a religious way – we do it believing God wants us to do it. We think that we are in the driver’s seat, and that God has promised to hop aboard our bandwagon.
Now, of course, I’m not suggesting that God is uninvolved in our lives. Neither am I saying that God does not care about the details – both small and large. No. I firmly believe that God is with us – indeed, Christianity is CHRIST IN US. And I believe that if Jesus said that even the hairs of our head are numbered, that they are. God is a our heavenly Father. He knows what we need before we ask Him. And He wants to bless us, provide for us, and bring us into His full purpose.
But actually, this is the whole point – GOD HIMSELF has a purpose He is working. This gets back to why I said we usually get things up side down. Faith is NOT me giving God permission to take over my life. Rather, faith is my surrender to God because I know I must belong to Him, and anything less than unconditional surrender is sin. Faith is not that God plugs Himself in my life. No. Faith means I am plugged into God’s life – planted and baptized into Christ. MY life is crucified in Him and completely set aside. Furthermore, God has never promised to affirm or promote or bless anything we are doing – not even if we think we are doing it for Him. Rather, God already has a purpose and a plan for each of us. What He wants is to be in the driver’s seat, and for US to hop aboard HIS bandwagon.
God wants to glorify Himself in this earth. But He has chosen to first do it IN His people, and then THROUGH His people. This is not because God is selfish and craves glory. It is because the glory of God always means that God is fully satisfied, and fully manifested. We might say that God is fully glorified when He fills all without opposition. Now think about that: If God were glorified in my life, how could I not benefit? It would mean that I would be set free from all that hinders His glory. And it would mean that I would be filled with God.
If you want to know why it sometimes seems as if God doesn’t answer you, the key may be right here. Jesus said to pray, "Thy kingdom come, and Thy will be done." But we often do not pray this, even if we say the words. What we do is tell God what kind of kingdom we want, and what our will is, and we try to get Him to come in on that line and work from that angle. But often He won’t. He has something else in mind. Thus, until we begin to STOP trying to get God on board our program, and begin to seek Him, and His purpose, we are not going to get very far.
We see this in the above passage from Psalms. God tell us to BE STILL AND KNOW that He is God. In other words, HE IS GOD – and we are not. Neither is anyone else. This means we can stop fussing and fretting about things. We can stop trying to get God moving the way we want Him to move. Rather, we need to open to God so that He can bring us into HIS purpose – not the other way around. In effect, we need to settle on the fact that God is sovereign, knows what He is doing, and has a purpose.
You will notice the total victory being described in this passage. God is going to be exalted above the heathen, that is, He is going to be exalted even though there may be many who reject Him and refuse Him His place. And then we have the promise that He is our refuge. In other words, in context, despite the fact that God has a purpose that He wants for us – which may differ from our purpose – He will nevertheless be faithful to us. He is always our refuge.
Funny thing about a place of refuge: It doesn’t do me any good unless I run to it for protection and shelter. If I run elsewhere, it won’t matter that it is there. Well, here we see that a PERSON is our refuge – God Himself. And if we will run to Him – and BE STILL in His hands – we will see Him fully accomplish His will. And we will be right in the middle of it.
There is much in the Bible about, "being still," or, "being anxious for nothing," or about STANDING STILL. Every one of these passages are really predicated upon the same thing: The certainty of God’s victory. They all assume that God not only has a purpose, but that He is going to have it completely fulfilled. Therefore, if I believe that, and want His purpose, I can STAND STILL IN His purpose. I can stand, by faith, in the certainly that God is going to win.
Central to standing by faith is our stand in the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is because, "it is finished," that we don’t have to finish it! It is because the Devil is a defeated enemy that we don’t have to defeat Him. But what we DO have to do is BELIEVE and STAND in that victory.
Spiritual warfare is NEVER about us winning ground. No. Christ has already done all the dying He is going to do for sin, and has already done all the resurrection He is going to do for newness of life. We cannot add to or subtract from His finished victory. But by faith we do need to stand the ground He has given us – in the sense of living in the Truth and victory we have by salvation. It is entirely possible to be saved and yet not live in the Truth or victory of Christ. This is where the battle is fought.
Notice the words of Paul to the Ephesians – notice how many times He uses the word, "stand," or, "withstand:"
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. (Eph 6:10-18)
The call TO STAND clearly suggests HOLDING ground – because that ground has been WON. It suggests a finished victory that we have been given by grace, but now must live out AGAINST opposing forces. But this is not a call to passivity. No. Just as Israel had to invade the promised land – a land that had already been given to them – and drive out the enemies of God, so must we do the same spiritually. As we walk each step of our Christian walk we take possession of that which is given to us by grace. And as we do that, we are expanding the territory on which we STAND.
What we see from this is that STANDING is not passivity. Rather, it is a position of immovable faith that we take IN CHRIST against all that would deny the Truth – unbelief, emotions, our own shortcomings, others, etc. We STAND AGAINST all that would contradict Christ, but STAND IN Christ Himself.
"Be still and know that I am God," is equal to standing by faith because we know that we belong to Christ and that He has purchased us by His Blood. We certainly do this when we are saved, but as we work out our salvation, we do it with regards to the inheritance in Christ that God has for us.
God’s Purpose, Not Ours
Now to get back to something stated earlier. We do NOT take a stand by faith in what WE want, in what WE think, or in what WE desire. I’m not saying that none of these could ever be right in our mind, or at one with God’s will. But we are to stand in God’s will and purpose – that is – we are to stand in the assurance that whether we are right or wrong or ignorant, that God is going to have His way.
But what if we are mistaken about God’s will? What if we think it is one thing, but it is another? Then we nevertheless stand by faith that God is going to do HIS WILL – and we hand ourselves over to Him so that He can open our eyes and heart to it.
Part of the purpose of God, and His promise to us, is that if we will fall into His hands, He will bring US into a knowledge of the Truth. If we stand by faith, but are mistaken about God’s will, God will bring us to the place where we will know His will. Of course, this is going to require CHANGE IN US – it will mean the possible dismantling of our kingdom, our will, our thinking, and our purpose. But so what? This is all unto God’s goals and purposes. "Be still and know that I am God," includes the realization that no matter how off the track I might be, that God is still God, and will bring me into His purpose – if I will yield.
God has a purpose, not only for this age generally, but for YOU and I specifically. Central to that purpose is that we might know the fullness and measure of Christ in us. But if that is the case, does it sound as if we are going to be forever ignorant, out on a limb, and mistaken about what God is doing? No. For as we grow to know Christ, all of these possibilities will be dealt with. As we are brought by God into HIS purpose of Christ in us, we will reap every blessing that is included in the package.
We Must Surrender
We do, of course, need to be clear about something: We must surrender to God as He opens His purpose up to us. If we don’t, we aren’t going to be in the place where we can enter God’s purpose – we won’t be in the spiritual condition necessary.
For example – remember Israel at the Red Sea? God told them, "Fear not, stand still, and you will see the salvation of the Lord." This is a spiritual revelation of what we are supposed to do when we are in a trial, an impossible situation, or other difficulty. It is a command to us as to HOW to surrender to God, and HOW to fall into His hand. We are to FEAR NOT – which really is a negative way of saying BELIEVE. And if we will believe, God says, "Stand still – don’t move in your heart – from that faith." But then if we will stand still in faith, notice what happens: The Red Sea parts and we see the salvation of the Lord. Sure. Yet even though it was God who worked the miracle, can we see that if we had not obey the command to STAND STILL that we would not be in the spiritual position to where the Red Sea could open in front of us? No, we would not – anymore than if Israel had scattered at that point of their trial would they have logistically been in the physical position to be able to cross on dry land. The lesson is clear: We must believe, and stand still in that faith – because we trust Him. Then we will be in the spiritual position, or, if you will, spiritual relationship with Christ, to move forward.
There is nothing that scatters us more than FEAR. There is nothing that moves people to flee to something other than God more than FEAR. Yet it is precisely at that point of fear that God says, "Fear not, and stand still, and you WILL see the salvation of the Lord." In other words, "BE STILL and KNOW that I am God. If you will, you shall see My purpose fully accomplished – unto MY glory and your benefit."
Again – God has a purpose for His glory. He wants to bring us into it, and if He does, then we will experience Him, and His will for us. But this will require our surrender. It will sometimes cut across everything about us. Yet we can know for certain that if we will absolutely refuse to settle for anything less than God’s will, that He is going to bring it to pass in our lives. Indeed, He will not only DO His will for us, He will do it IN US, and we will actually BECOME His will. Now, that is something to stand for.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (James 1:2-4)
The word for, "patience," in the NT usually comes from a Greek word meaning, "to abide under." If you notice, this verse is talking about being in a trial, and the fact that the trial works patience. In other words, if you, "abide under," the pressure and weight of the trial, you will build endurance or patience.
However, it is here that many Christians miss the point. This is not about, "developing character qualities." It is not about some kind of self-improvement course that God has us involved in. No. You can divorce NONE of these things from a personal relationship with Christ and turn them into a list of principles or character qualities – making them items unto themselves. Christians do not, "build character." Rather, God builds CHRIST in Christians – and His character comes through us. Often, and here is where the trials comes in, this requires the CROSS – to get our flesh out of the way. Then Christ can be seen.
Thus, patience is a RELATIONSHIP word – as is every other fruit of the Spirit – it is the outcome of what is going on between myself and God. Patience is the result of abiding under a trial so that I might decrease and He might increase. It is the result of ME being crucified, and Christ being made manifest through me.
This is for sure because even unbelievers go through trials, and some abide under them, and it doesn’t do a thing for them in Christ. Some Christians even become WORSE for the trial because they break faith. So a trial only, "works patience," if we abide under it by faith in Christ. Or, to get back to our theme, a trial only, "work patience," if we STAND STILL in the trial; if we obey the command to BE STILL and KNOW.
Again – God has a purpose. He is not making it up as He goes along. And the goal in any trial is to get me to the place where God can have His full way and purpose with me. A trial is not that purpose. No. Rather, the trial is a means unto that purpose. God has a purpose for me and the trial is the present vehicle whereby He intends to accomplish that purpose. It is a chapter along the way. But don’t think of God’s purpose in terms of circumstances. No. His purpose is to do something in me – to enlarge me in Christ. The trial is intended to build in me, not character qualities, but to build in me CHRIST.
Can we possibly grasp the fact that God is doing something in our lives? – and that everything that is happening is a matter of Him catching us up in it, and trying to bring it to pass? Can we see that this makes our responsibility clear – to let go and let God? To surrender to God so that He can have His way and glory with us? Sure. We must BE STILL AND KNOW THAT HE IS GOD. He is going to win. And He offers us a ride – and all the redemption won in Jesus Christ.
Patience is an aspect of Jesus Christ that anchors us in purpose of God. Patience means that we will not be moved by anything – we will not settle for less than God’s will and glory. We build patience, not by reading a book, but by facing opposition. And then we are ready to face it the next time.
But let’s ask: If patience means, "to abide under," then how do we overcome? I mean, "to abide UNDER," sure seems like the opposite of OVERcoming, doesn’t it? Sure. But it isn’t. In fact, I OVERCOME by COMING UNDER the trial – not as a religious thing to do – but as a means of surrendering to God, and allowing Him to make Jesus my personal Lord.
This goes back to the recognition that all of these things have to do with my relationship with Christ, and with God’s purpose – that are not things unto themselves, or issues of personality development. I overcome by abiding under -- if my abiding under equals an abiding under Jesus Christ as LORD. For when He is Lord of me on a new level, I have overcome on that level, even if there remains a great trial on that level. I have, in effect, OVERCOME by COMING UNDER the Lordship of Christ through the trial.
To STAND STILL equals BEING STILL, and certainly this is what it means to ABIDE UNDER in a trial. It all comes back to letting God have His way with me, and in me, to His glory. I won’t MOVE from that purpose.
They that trust in the LORD shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abides for ever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever. (Ps. 125:1-2)
If we STAND STILL in Christ, nothing can move us, because nothing can move Christ. He is our eternal anchor. The phrase, "Be still and know that I am God," embodies everything, from salvation, to victory in Christ.
All of these things tell us that we are to be still in the assurance that God will get HIS WAY and HIS PURPOSE, and thus, our being still and knowing is not only confidence in that, but a surrender to God Himself for His purpose.
But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. (Ps. 4:3-4)
Holiness, in the Bible, comes from a word that means, "set apart for God’s use." In short, holiness means to BELONG TO GOD.
We usually think about all of the benefits of belonging to God. That’s fine – for those benefits begin with salvation itself, and just grow from there. But to belong to God – to be set apart for HIS use – means exactly that. We are not our own. God has a purpose He is intending to accomplish. And we are to open ourselves to Him for THAT.
When we think of HOLINESS, we often think of works. We think of clean works, vs. unclean works, which would be UNHOLINESS. There is Truth to this definition. But have we ever realized that to use ourselves for our own purposes is unholiness? – even if that use is a religious one? Well, it is actually the very definition of unholiness to use yourself, or the things of God, for your own purposes. It is actually a great sin.
It is obvious that if I do bad works I am using myself for myself. That is unholy. But it is also possible to do religious and legitimate things – and say we are doing them for God – when in fact we are using them for ourselves. For example, it is possible to preach the gospel – to preach the Truth – but to do it for self-gain. Pride. To gain admiration. In that case, the gospel isn’t unholy, but I am – I am using what belongs to God for myself. Likewise if I use my church for my own purposes – I take the things of God and use them to build members and money – this is an unholy motivation. It might astound us to discover how many things people say they are doing for God, but which they are really doing for themselves! This is going on everywhere today.
Holiness is expressed in our phrase, "Be still and know that I am God," because carried with that command is God’s insistence upon HIS rights, and His assurance to us of His faithfulness to us. Carried with it is God’s claim of ownership over us unto His purpose for us. Thus, holiness means I let God be God of ME – Jesus is Lord of me. And it translates into living, works, and motivation.
In the final analysis, the way to come into the purposes of God is to give myself to God Himself. I surrender into His hands even if I don’t know where that will take me, or where it will lead. And I keep myself in His hands against all temptation to flee elsewhere. This will take me to GOD, and into His purposes. All of this is wrapped up in the phrase, "Be still and know that I am God…I will be exalted in the earth."
The Good News - Home