2 Timothy 4:7 (NLT)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.
The world is filled with conflict. People fighting people. Countries against countries. Religion battling religion. Animosity seems to be the order of the day. Television, media and movies filled with drama. Seldom is a feel good story to find but rather constant embattlement of humanity in its world. I wonder if anyone really knows what we are fighting for. The brevity of life should call us to peace so we can live out our days enjoying this short amount of time that has been given. Everything can change in a moment. Your entire life may not turn out as you expected. I am not trying to depress anyone today but I do feel compelled to redirect our attention to what this fight is all about. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have remained faithful. Faith is what the fight is for. It is the coveted prize that we are after as true believers. To live this life to completion and at the end still have faith in God is the key to Eternity.
1 Timothy 6:11-15 (NLT)
But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. For, At just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords.
Paul commissioned Timothy to be a man of God. To run from evil things, pursue righteousness, live a godly life filled with faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. He told him to “fight the good fight for true faith” holding tight to eternal life. He went on to charge Timothy to obey his command without wavering so that no one could find fault with him. This seems like a tall order. Paul was not perfect. He was a murderer who for most of his life persecuted the Christians unmercifully until he encountered Jesus Christ experiencing fully His Grace, Mercy and Love. He was hooked. Who better to teach us to fight for our faith than one who fought against it? The fight we are in is not against the world or anyone in it. We are not really even fighting the enemy only claiming what belongs to us. The fight that we are facing is internal. It is our constant battle to keep our faith when our flesh wants to throw it out and take over. We are all charged with the same one issued to Timothy when we come to Jesus Christ. He asks only one thing – keep your faith. Fight for it. Hold tightly to it. How are you doing with that?
Galatians 5:16-17 (NLT)
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.
My good friend and colleague at work has a great sense of humor. When we first began working together to say that I was caught up in my career and completely stressed out might be an understatement. One day she came in my office with a Stop sign brightly colored by highlighters and laid it on my desk as a reminder right before I would blow up that it was not worth it. We laughed but over time that little reminder has proven quite helpful making me think is it really worth it lose my cool. I laugh because as she grew more accustomed to her new job and responsibilities, she wrote “Go!” on the back. It is not my friend’s responsibility to keep my in check. The Holy Spirit has been given the task of changing my heart and mind to live in agreement with God. What a task that He has been given! The Holy Spirit has been commissioned to guide my life. However, my sinful nature or flesh is in direct opposition to such a surrender. It wants to do evil. The Spirit gives us desires opposite of this. Welcome to the fight for your life. So much for the devil or an outside adversary. We are fighting with ourselves to accept God’s Grace, live in His Righteousness and completely turn from evil to do good. When these two forces collide, we are caught up in the battle. Sometimes we win and discover more hope, others times we fall short only to discover the vast capacity of His Mercy, Grace and Love.
Romans 7:21-25 (NLT)
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
To follow Jesus Christ meant Paul had to change his mind completely from everything that he was taught and all that he once stood for which made for a great deal of enemies. It also gave him a powerful witness to other people. A complete 180-degree turn will always get the world’s attention much more so than compromise and mediocrity. Paul was candid and transparent in his words when he explained the “principle of life”. I want to do what is right, but inevitably do what is wrong. Stop right there. This statement in a nutshell is why discovering the Grace of God is so very important. Rather than using it as a doormat, we must see the vast potential of God’s Unconditional Love in this statement to fall in love with Him as we should. The only way that we will ever win the battle for faith is Jesus Christ. We will never completely kill our sinful nature. It will one day be removed when we leave our body behind to join Jesus forever. This verse is not permission to sin but the freedom to get back up again when we do. We can dust ourselves off, get washed in the Word, and head off in the right direction again over and over if necessary until we win the race, find victory in our battle, and claim our prize.
Ephesians 6:14-18 (NLT)
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
Please understand this world and everyone in it is not the enemy. There is one enemy and he has already been defeated by Jesus Christ. What are we fighting for then? Our faith is the only thing we are fighting for which as we now know is an internal battle. We are called to love others even those once classified as enemies. The struggle is real. It will cause friction and frustration in our life. The Spirit presses our heart to open to God as the sinful nature whispers lie after lie about the Lord to us. We will never win the battle against our flesh without God’s Armor which I have discovered does not protect us from the world but rather from ourselves. The Belt of Truth is the foundation of faith that we are given. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of our faith. He is unmovable and unshakeable. Never changing, we must hold on to this Truth to make it the end especially when the enemy uses our own thoughts against us. Our body armor is the Righteousness of God. It is a gift. It is nothing that we could do for ourselves so sometimes it is difficult to see its true value and worth. The great potential of righteousness is that we are now in right-standing with God having everything to gain and more than ever to lose in our rebellion. We must fight to maintain our Robe of Righteousness not casting it off for the filthy rags of this world. We are Messengers of Peace. We are God’s Ambassadors to this world sent after the war to gather His People. Feeding, clothing, loving and caring for all those left in the aftermath of battle pointing the Way home. This is our mission. It’s not our job, career or profession. This is a calling of infinite worth that will consume our time if given the opportunity. The Shield of Faith protects us from the fiery darts of the enemy who challenges our commitment to Christ with his lies and constant opposition. It is the covering we need to withstand all the fiery tests that we face. The Helmet of Salvation silences the lie of the enemy that implies Jesus is not enough to cover our sin and shame so what’s the point. Our sinful nature will stop at nothing to make us quit and preserve its being. The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God that cuts through our callous heart softening it to receive more and more of Christ until our Spirit can overtake the flesh once again. See the Armor of God does not protect us from the world and people, but protects us from ourselves.
Philippians 2:16-18 (NLT)
Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.
We have been challenged to fight the good fight of faith. We have been commissioned to finish the race. We are to remain faithful. This is your battle of the day. It is not the world. It is not other people. (Philippians 1:27) The battle within us is to remain faithful. We live subject to constant attack. (I Corinthians 10:12-13) But God did not abandon us. Jesus put His Spirit right inside of us to win the battle against our flesh. Pray and ask the Spirit to rise up inside of you. Ask the Lord to lead, guide and direct you today and give you the consciousness to recognize Him. Do not beat yourself up when you fail – His Grace is all that you need. If you wake up tired of the fight – scoop up the new mercies that He left for you last night. Joy comes in the morning so claim it, grab it, hold on to it for dear life. This enemy inside of us is real. It is smart. No one knows you better than you know yourself…except the One who made you. You now have an unfair advantage so starve the flesh today and feed the Spirit! You will win the battle, finish the race and be found faithful!
You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.