“Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” – II Timothy 2:3-4
The Word of God is full of promises and blessings. Its pages contain the plan of salvation and allow us to see God’s grace, His mercy, and His everlasting loving-kindness. It is a book of commandments and instruction. It tells us of what is to come that we may prepare and of what has already been done so we may learn from past mistakes. With all that said, we cannot overlook the indisputable fact that the Word of God is also a book of war. It is a book that is full of blood.
In II Timothy 2:3-4, we see Paul giving instructions to Timothy concerning the duty of a soldier. In fact, throughout Paul’s writings, we see a consistent pattern of referring to Christianity in “warlike” terms.
Statements like “we can conquer through Him who loved us” and “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” are just a couple of examples. He tells us to “put on the full armor of God that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” At the end of his life he says, “I have fought the good fight of faith. I have finished the course.”
Throughout the Bible, we see character after character who fought and engaged in battle for the advancement of the kingdom of God. There’s Joshua and the children of Israel conquering the promised land, Gideon and his three hundred men, Jonathan and the Philistines, David and Goliath, Elijah and the prophets of Baal, and many more examples.
In Hebrews we see these words penned:
And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.
If this is the heritage of those who have gone before us, then it ought to be ours as well. This is even more true for us because we are in the very end of the age, right before the second coming of Christ, where it is more important than ever to advance the kingdom of our God into all of the earth. Many might look at Christianity as some kind of social club but in reality it is God’s army and we are soldiers enlisted for battle.
A.W. Tozer said, “Yes, we want to forget that most of God’s people in the early days of the church did not have the peace of mind. They did not seek it. They knew that a soldier does not go to the battlefield to relax – he goes there to fight!”
The Call To Fight
Every Christian is called to fight. I remember when I first realized this and took up the challenge and how it revolutionized my life. It gave my Christianity real meaning and purpose and not merely something to satisfy myself. It changed my prayer life. It changed the way I viewed church attendance. It changed the way I viewed evangelism, because I realized that this thing was real. It was life or death, for myself and those in my sphere of influence.
Ephesians 6:11-12 stays, “Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Note the following observations:
- This letter was written to all of the Christians at Ephesus, not just the elite.
- The devil has schemes.
- There is a battle — and it is not with each other.
The Mindset of a Soldier
The difference between a soldier and a civilian is this – the soldier understands that the battle is raging all around him. He understands that at any moment, he may be called to fight yet another battle, either for himself or those around him. The soldier understands that he must stay in top physical condition so that he may be able to destroy his enemy. The civilian does not posses the same mindset.
In the kingdom of God there are soldiers and there are “spectators.” The soldiers are actively involved in advancing God’s kingdom while the spectator is watching.
In the church today, there are far to many spectators. They are more interested in fighting each other than the devil. They are more interested in tasting sermons than allowing sermons to mold them. They are Sunday Christians, totally blind to the spiritual realm and the war going on around them. They often don’t sense the battle because there is no battle against them – the devil doesn’t kick a dead dog.
John Maxwell described these Christians as such:
“Allow me to define fat. It involves scores of passive parishioners sitting week after week, soaking up what is in some cases gourmet preaching, but who are still infected with a disease called “spectatorism.” This mass of untapped potential is generally educated far beyond their level of obedience, and is not translating Christian theory into practice. Spectatorism generally creates flabby, weak, spoon-fed believers who have grown old, but not up, in the Lord. They know more about church policy than evangelism, and are better acquainted with parliamentary procedure than with discipleship.”
Choosing the Right Battlefield
It is not that Christians do not fight for things but all too often it is on the wrong battlefield. In fact, here are a few issues, that while noble, are on the wrong battlefield:
- The abortion issue
- The Disney boycott
- The political fight Christian (Republicans) vs. Democrats
- Saint vs. Saint
The Right Battlefield – Souls (yours & others)
God is interested in one thing – souls, yours, mine, and especially those out there who have not been won to Him yet. He has saved us so we could know Him and make heaven our home. He has left us here for one reason – those “other” souls.
The Bible says that Satan is the prince and power of the air. What we see therefore is that God has placed us right behind enemy lines in order that we might set the captives free. This is the Christian’s battlefield then – his own soul and those around him.
The soldier sees every non-Christian soul as “conquerable territory.” He sees fellow Christians as territory subject to attack. So the soldier is constantly watching and waiting for open opportunities to conquer and situations where conquered territory is under attack.
1.) We Should Get Involved With a Local Church
“We ought to regard the church not as a luxurious hostelry where Christian gentlemen may each one dwell at ease in his own inn, but as a barracks in which soldiers are gathered together to be drilled and trained for war. We should regard the church not as an association for mutual admiration and comfort, but as an army with banners, marching to the fray, to achieve victories for Christ, to storm the strongholds of the foe, and to add province after province to the redeemer’s kingdom.” – Charles Spurgeon
2.) It Is Everyone’s Job To Follow Up On Other Christians
Napoleon conquered many territories in his day. Whenever he did so, he set up a government and developed the country into a better place. This was his specialty; not only his military might, but his ability to govern and better yet appoint others to assist him in developing the conquered territory. Those he appointed did well in their positions because of their love for Napoleon.
The question we must ask ourselves is this: If Napoleon’s men could do it for him, can we not do it for Jesus?
The Daily Duties of a Soldier
1.) Discipline in Prayer – Prayer is our spiritual exercise. It is where we actually fight the battle – on our knees.
A couple of quotes remind us of the importance of prayer.
“The explanation is that prayer is not primarily God’s way of getting things done. It is God’s way of giving the church ‘on the job training’ in overcoming the forces hostile to God.”
“The prayer closet is the arena which produces the overcomer.” – Paul E. Billheimer
Prayer reminds us of our dependency on God. It reminds us that the battle is the Lord’s. It reminds us that the battle is spiritual and not in the flesh. It disciplines our lives.
2.) Read the Word – This is where we receive our instruction. This is where we learn about our weapons. It is where we learn about our enemy.
3.) Go to Battle