Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 Timothy 6: 12

 

Unfortunately, many people think that accepting Jesus means that all of the struggles and hardships of this life should come to an end. This sets people up for great disappointment, and it also creates a badly mistaken expectation for what it means to live as a follower of Christ in our world. They start expecting that Jesus will cure all of the ills of body and spirit and bring about happiness, peace, and even prosperity in the process of working His magic. This is not the reality that the early church experienced, and it is certainly not what any of those early leaders of the church expressed to us as what we should look forward to as a mark of faithfulness in our living out Christ’s direction for us. Paul’s use of the word fight here is a sign of exactly what he knew about the way that a life of submission to the Lord would look.

 

A life that is lived out in obedience to God is a life that is conducted in the center of a hostile field of contest. This is a place that more resembles the tortured earth of the front-line trenches that devoured the earth during World War I than it does our usual images of the idyllic and peaceful Eden of our hopes and dreams. Every day involves a struggle with forces of evil that are desperately attempting to demonstrate their control and dominance over all of Creation when they, in fact, have already been defeated by God in the person of Jesus and in the hour of His resurrection from the cross’ tomb. These are days when Jesus leads us into battle, and this fight is one that is being conducted for the souls of people and for the redemption of Creation.

 

When Paul speaks of this struggle, he also speaks in terms of making a good confession in the presence of many witnesses. This is a part of the means and the method that our Lord is calling upon us to use in accomplishing His purposes, and this idea of confession is much larger than the words that we speak. It involves the totality of the life that is lived out in view of the rest of the world and it also encompasses the most personal and private moments of our days. The confession of faith that Christ desires for His people to make includes such things as the attitudes that we hold toward our possessions, the way that we use our finances, caring for the weak and the oppressed, and the thoughts that we have about others. Confessing Christ is not going to be comfortable or easy, and it will inevitably lead us into a place of conflict with other people and with the systems and structures of our world. However, making a good and continuous confession of Christ in all aspects of life is the most powerful weapon that we have been given by Christ to use in engaging in the fight into which He leads us.

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Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 Timothy 6: 12

 

Every day numerous battles that we can choose to engage come our way; still, others envelop us without our permission. Sometimes the conflict is truly spiritual, it is a fight against evil and its attempts to destroy what is good in this world. Other conflicts are in the category of battles of the spirit; these are times when we are not getting what we want in life and we attempt to use the force of our own wills to accomplish the outcome. In the abstract dimension of the written word, there is an obvious distinction between a righteous fight and a self-serving one, but when we look at these distinctions from inside of our daily lives, these differences are a lot harder to discern.

 

The Lord is a truly wise and experienced commander of combat troops. He asks that we give every ounce of ourselves to fight against the darkness of sin that desires to hold all people captive. He sends us into conflict after conflict; some are small and rather easily resolved, while others are fights to the death. Yet, the Lord never wastes his resources, and He never sacrifices His soldiers needlessly. His perspective on the field of battle is established from the highest view possible so His eye is always clear, and He knows all of the moves in the game before the first blows are struck.

 

Our role in these events is to be faithful and humble followers. We are called upon to be willing to allow Christ to direct our actions and to give us discernment regarding what is truly His fight. The Lord wants us to look at our lives, especially at the spiritual struggles of our lives, with a view toward His eternal game plan. He wants us to ask Him if what we are about to do or what we are already in the middle of fits into God’s desired outcome of restoration of the souls of all people to Him. If what we are doing, how we are doing it, and our motives for doing it do not work toward this end result, then are they truly actions that are motivated by service to Christ? God will send us into the fight, He will train us for it, and He will provide the support that we need. However, Christ also wants us to trust Him to send us into the right battles. He wants us to rely on His Spirit to guide and His love to motivate us. The Lord will send us into the good fight, and He does lead us in the holy and righteous fight that is waged every day for eternity’s sake.