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Engage in the Battle

March 16, 2009

Been in a good fight lately? If you haven’t, you might want to consider engaging in one. Not just any fight but the “good fight of faith” (1st Timothy 6:12). In 2nd Timothy the Apostle Paul put the mission of spreading the gospel in terms of a battle and Christians as soldiers in the army of Christ (2nd Timothy 2:3-4).

As a part of my Precepts Bible study on 2nd Timothy I reviewed the Greek meanings to the words in verses 3 and 4 of chapter 2. I also reviewed the characteristics of the Roman soldier and the tactics they used in battles that made the Roman armies so successful in war. I then applied this information to Paul’s teachings to give a fuller meaning to his text. 

The battle that Paul was referring to is spiritual that sometimes becomes physical through persecution and other forms of attack. Satan’s first tactic is to distract us with concerns and worries of this life so that we will take our attention off of the battle that is constantly raging all around us. Once our attention is diverted from the battle, there is one less soldier that can be marshaled to fight which weakens the entire army. If enough soldiers are distracted, the commander must change tactics because he loses the concentration of forces and risks defeat. 

We see this throughout church history. Churches lose their effectiveness. They no longer have any influence on culture and civic discourse. Christians seem ashamed of the one they call their Lord. No army can defeat their enemy when the soldiers are ashamed of their leader. These soldiers become soft and lack discipline and thus aren’t prepared when the enemy strikes. This lack of preparation causes fear that puts the soldier on the defensive instead of the offensive. An army can’t win a war when they are in retreat and on the defensive. They must regain their passion for their leader and their reason for joining the army in the first place. They must submit to the authority of the one that enlisted them and work hard to be ready for future attacks and battles. This preparation inspires confidence instead of fear that then enables the leader to put into action his plan to defeat the enemy. Only when soldiers are prepared, willing to follow the command of their leader, and to fight to the death can the battle be won! 

All great spiritual revivals had these types of soldiers. They had a deep passionate, abiding love for God. They knew the only way to succeed in a battle with Satan was to be in close contact with God. Prayer is a common denominator of the great revivals. Through prayer they gained confidence in His ability to win the victory and they sought His counsel on what needed to be done to move His objectives forward. That is the key. The emphasis has to be on letting the Supreme Commander (God) set the objectives. We have to recognize that God knows best how to build His church. Have we bothered to ask Him what needs to be done or have we just struck out on our own, making plans that seem to be working elsewhere? We must stop and recognize that we aren’t in charge; He is. We then need to spend extensive time in prayer seeking His guidance. It is only then we will be able to join the battle and be effective!

The problem is Satan has done such a great job of distracting us with the everyday issues of life that we aren’t even aware there is a battle going on, much less realize that we have been enlisted in an army to fight this spiritual war. Imagine an army with soldiers who are oblivious to their commander or the war raging around them! What a great strategy of the enemy and sadly it works more than it should. As the church, we need to wake up. We need to understand we are in the midst of a spiritual battle and fully engage in the fight by turning to our Commander and seek His counsel and then follow His commands. 

One word of caution, when you put the enemy on notice that you won’t fall for his distractions and that you are in the battle to win, expect him to throw everything at you! Paul knew this when he told Timothy to “suffer hardships”(2 Tim. 2:3). The Greek meaning for this phrase is actually “to endure evil”. If distracting you didn’t work, he hopes you are soft and will flee the battle when things get rough. It is at these moments that you must turn to your Heavenly Father and ask for the strength that only comes from His grace (2 Tim. 2:1). Don’t run from the battle, engage the enemy with the confidence that comes from knowing the outcome. Your Heavenly Father wins and those that “endure will also reign with Him” (2 Tim 2:12)!

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