Waging the good warfare

The Bible says that as Christians we are at war.  Jesus entered our world and announced that the Kingdom of God has come and that God’s new era is now advancing in the world.  God’s kingdom is confronting and exposing the kingdom of darkness.  Wars are mostly fought by soldiers; trained men (and now also women) who courageously endure danger on behalf of others.  It was the same during New Testament times.  The great, conquering army of the day was the Roman army.   Paul, the author of 1 Timothy, probably has a Roman soldier in mind when he says to Timothy in 6:12 “Fight the good fight of the faith”.

Roman soldiers

Paul has in mind a Roman soldier.   Paul had been in and out of prison because of his faith.  He had been on trial before governors and kings.  Paul knew all about Roman soldiers.  He knew they were tough and trained, not afraid of battle, and they were aware of the stark reality that the world was not as peaceful as it seemed.  Paul says to Timothy and to us:  You are Christian soldiers, fight the good fight of the faith.

Real enemies

If we have to wage warfare battle, who exactly is the battle against?   The Bible tells us our fight is against world, the flesh and the devil (cf. Ephesians 2:1-3).

The world is the anti-Christian thinking of the world in general; the secular-humanism and false spirituality of this age; the great philosophies and ideas of our world that seek undermine the truth of God’s word ; the lifestyle priorities of money, lust and materialism promoted in FHM, GQ, Cosmo and Playboy.

The flesh is the our own sinful nature, our fallen, broken, rebellious self, that seeks to exert itself above God as the ruler of ourselves.  A brilliant Christian book I’ve been reading calls our sinful nature “the mole”, always they beneath the service, always burrowing, always trying to gain the upper hand.  The sinful nature says you are important and others should always listen to you.  The sinful nature says that you deserve to relax after a long day at work, and the kids should leave you in peace.   The sinful nature says take that long, lingering look at the babe/hunk that’s not your spouse.

Lastly our battle is  against the devil, Satan himself.  He is the father of all lies.   He, along with his demons, seeks to thwart the purposes of God and distract the people of God by tempting them to rebel against God in all kinds of ways.  Satan tempts us to trust ourselves and follow our sinful nature.  Satan says don’t wake up early to ready the Bible, you deserve the sleeping. Satan says it’s ok for married guys to flirt with girls as everyone knows to look at the menu isn’t the same as ordering.  Satan says you deserve a better spouse.

Not against flesh and blood

Did you notice that our fight is not against other humans?  Sometimes we are tempted to think that our fight is against jihadist Muslims or ardent homosexuals or ungodly leaders that oppose the gospel.  We are called to love our enemies and pray for those that persecute us (Matthew 5:44) as our battle is “not against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12), but against the spiritual forces of sin, Satan and unbelieving worldviews (cf. Ephesians 6:11, 12, 14, 16 etc).

Jesus is bringing in his Kingdom of God, characterised by righteousness and godliness, and the world and the flesh and the devil don’t want that.  So Paul tells us to Fight the good fight of the faith.  We are to be, as the old hymn says, Christian soldiers.

Armed and ready

Dear friend, we are in a battle far more serious than any earthly battle.  The battle is for your eternal soul.  You won’t just lose an arm, or a leg, or an eye or your earthly life, but your soul for all eternity.  You need to win! 

We know that Jesus has won the battle for us on the cross.  On the cross Jesus broke the stranglehold of sin and Satan over us.  Satan’s defeat is secured.  The Holy Spirit in us empowers us daily to say no to the sinful nature.  But we need to keep fighting.  We must win ground.  We must overcome. 

Are you aware that you are in a cosmic battle?  There are only two sides.  God’s side or Satan’s side.  If you’re not fighting for God, you are inadvertently fighting for Satan and promoting the world’s agenda.  You are living for yourself and “the mole”.  You still ignore or reject Jesus, the Commanding Officer and you are in a very dangerous position. 

On the other hand, if you are a Christian soldier, are you fighting the good fight?  Are you fighting sin?  Do you keep the sinful nature in check?  Are you aware of Satan’s schemes and call them for what they are?