A Different Kind of Warrior
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12
When preparing for battle soldiers must go through rigorous physical training, buffeting their bodies and stretching the boundaries of their physical strength and endurance to become strong and capable of withstanding assaults that would overwhelming the average person. They must also practice to become skillful in the use of their weapons of warfare, developing keen hand-eye coordination, accurately hitting their intended targets. The soldier must be courageous and brave, thinking less of himself than whatever it takes to accomplish his mission. He must learn to be in submission to authority and have an unwavering respect for and dedication to the cause for which he fights to win.
In matters of spiritual warfare, the preparation, training, practice, development of skills in the use of spiritual weapons such as courage and bravery, submission to authority, respecting and dedicating one’s self to the cause, is the same for the Christian as for the soldier with two exceptions. The difference is the realm in which we fight and the weapons we use to wage war.
Basic training for Spiritual warfare begins with studying the Word, becoming familiar with it, so much so, that it is uppermost in our thoughts all the time, guiding and directing our words and our actions. During basic training the new believer is confronted with all kinds of temptations and circumstances that test his resolve and reveal the truth of his old human nature. We come to the Word first as novices, babes, with both a wide-eyed wonder at the amazing grace and power of God and also with a naiveté about life in general and the sin laden spirit of the world in particular.
In these early days while we are learning what it means to walk by faith we can and sometimes do stumble and fall, but the Holy Spirit prompts us to get up and keep moving on, gently carrying us until we can begin to walk with a steady stride.
This comes by the personal experiences of God in our lives, of Him using us to be a blessing to others, by sharing our witness, sacrificing for others motivated by love and by being bold to speak His name and His Word among those who don’t know Him and even some who are hostile to Him.
First and foremost in our training and throughout our lives as believers is the call to worship God and serve Him only. Worship is the starting, middle and ending point in our lives. It is what we must do all along the way of our walk of faith. However, we don’t come to the worship of God naturally. Our natural instincts are to worship the things of this world including people who are as stained with sin as we were in the world, when we worshiped pleasure, seeking wealth at almost any cost, fame, adulation, power/dominance over others, stuff, the latest fad, the latest idol, outward appearance and all such transient things that can add nothing to our eternal lives and indeed will over time rob us of all that we have. Witness the prodigal son and his brother.
In contrast to the physical soldier our training is not intended to make us physically imposing, intimidating and aggressive to people, but to be all these things in opposition to those who oppose God in the spiritual realm. In the world we are called to meekness, humility, gentleness of heart, to be gracious and long suffering, patient and willing to lose stuff in order to demonstrate God’s grace instead of fighting our brothers and sisters as though they are our enemies.
The end of our faith as Christians is transformation from the people we were in the world into people who will become the image of Christ.
This is a hard truth in some ways for today’s world to embrace, but it is vital for the spiritual soldier to know, understand and be firm in his commitment to it.
“Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:2-11
Who in this modern culture doesn’t seize every moment to gain the advantage over others, while at the same time espousing a philosophy that there should be no competition among them, but everyone should be considered equal whether they deserve to be or not. That is, all except those making the rules. They are above their own laws, and therefore gods unto themselves.
But the soldier in the Kingdom of God is one who worships and loves God above all others, who loves his neighbor as himself and fights the good fight of faith, resisting the devil and dispelling the darkness of this world by the declaration of the light of the Word of God wherever he goes.
“The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130
Now the end of all this is that we would be blessed in all these things. God doesn’t need our stuff and He gains nothing from our good works. If anything in our lives is good it comes from Him in the first place and we get to enjoy all things by His will. The benefit of obedience is for us. God is not increased or diminished by our worship or lack of it. He is honored and He is blessed by the sincerity of our hearts to want to and to do His will. He is pleased with us when we love our neighbors as ourselves, and when we prosper in the things He has given us.
“I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee.” 1 Chronicles 29:17
“The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.” Psalm 147:11
“For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.” Psalm 149:4
“Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.” Psalm 35:27