The Battle of the Christian Life

THE BATTLE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

thebattleofthechristianlifeIn honor of Veteran’s Day, I’m preaching a message titled “The Battle of the Christian Life.” 4 passages we will read from 1st and 2nd Timothy.

1 Timothy 1:18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

2 Timothy 2   3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.

2 Timothy 4 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Overall Background: The passages we just read come from 2 letters that Paul wrote to Timothy, his son in the faith. What stands out to me in these letters is Paul’s use of the battle imagery to describe the Christian life. Repeatedly, Paul reminds Timothy to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ and to fight the good fight. This is contrary to what we hear today – “Get saved and all will work out!” or “Start living for God and you will know exactly what to do.” Paul doesn’t paint this rosy picture. Instead, he challenges Timothy that the Christian life is anything but easy. It’s warfare and only those who are committed to fight to the end will receive the crown of righteousness.

Here’s a statement: Christian life is the battle and every Christian (man or woman, boy or girl) is a soldier. We enlist the moment we get saved. Unfortunately, many go AWOL, retreat, or become a casualty. Very few fight the good fight and finish well.

Question: Are you fighting the good fight of faith? Are you a good soldier of Jesus Christ? Will you finish well? Will you receive the crown of righteousness? What would your fellow soldiers say about you? Are you saved?

4 things about this Battle of the Christian Life:

I. IT’S NOT “A” BATTLE BUT “THE” BATTLE.

1 Timothy 1:18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,

Background: What is interesting to me is that every time Paul mentions the Christian warfare, he does not call it “a” warfare but “the” warfare. In other words, it’s not one of many warfares in life but the only real warfare. Many times people think that life is a series of battles – battle between me and my spouse or me and my children or me and the neighbors or me and my coworkers or me and the world or me and the Devil. Basically, there’s only one battle – it’s the battle you have within yourself. You win this battle and the rest will work out. How do we know that this is an internal battle? Listen to the next verse – that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience.” What you are fighting towards is “faith” referring to the apostolic faith and “good conscience” referring to daily holiness before God. In other words, daily you and I have to fight a battle within as to what we believe about Jesus and how we deal with sin. Paul says it a little differently in 1 Timothy 6:12 but it has the same idea – “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” Not that you are fighting to gain eternal life but you are fighting to recover what is rightfully yours.

What happens when you lose this battle?Which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck.” When we lose this internal daily battle, our lives look like a shipwreck, a total disaster. Paul even gives the names of two individuals who lost this battle – 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. In other words, Paul says – “I’ve left them behind enemy lines because they seem to like it better over there. Hopefully, they’ll learn their lesson.

Listen carefully – Unfortunately, many Christians are naïve about this battle of the Christian Life. They wander around on the battlefield of life as if walking on a beach, busy putting on sunscreen, building sandcastles, picking up seashells, taking selfies, and riding the waves. They don’t realize that daily they are under attack. They don’t put on the whole armor of God. They don’t fight the good fight. They don’t resist the enemy. No wonder there is so many causalities!

Application: Do you realize that you are in a battle? Are you winning or are you losing this battle? What do you believe about Jesus? Is He real to you? Can you see Him everyday? How is your sin life? Are you back in your old ways?

II. IT’S NOT “EVIL” BUT “GOOD” BATTLE.

When we think of battle/warfare, it immediately brings up a negative imagery. Bombs going off, people getting shot, blood splattering everywhere, soldiers losing their arms and legs, homes blowing up, children crying. As someone said, “War is hell.” I did a wedding this weekend and we had the opportunity to meet a wonderful couple from England, friends of the Mahlers. They loved history just like us and they were telling us about a tour they took to Belgium where one of the battles of World War 1 was fought. They were telling us about this one battlefield where as many as 50,000 British troops died in just one day. They told us how they went to the graveyard where these soldiers were buried and how sad and heartbreaking this was. In fact, they are still finding bodies from some of those trenches.

Many of us don’t realize the sacrifice that our men and women in uniform pay for our freedom. Every day should be Veteran’s Day.

But unlike earthly battles that are evil, Paul uses the adjective “good” to describe the Christian battle? 1 Timothy 1:18 “wage the good warfare”; 1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith”; 2 Timothy 2:3 “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ”; 2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight.”

Background: The word “good” comes from the Greek “kalos,” which has the idea of beautiful, praiseworthy, beneficial, without defect, and high standard.

Here’s the point: The battles of this life can be bad, evil, dishonoring, and shameful, but the battle of the Christian life is always good, always beautiful, always praiseworthy, and always beneficial. God looks down with a smile when He sees us contending for the faith and striving to maintain a good conscience before Him.

  • It pleases God when we grow in our faith in Jesus.
  • It pleases God when we learn more about Jesus.
  • It pleases God when we obey Jesus.
  • It pleases God when we lift up the name of Jesus.
  • It pleases God when we walk in holiness.
  • It pleases God when we preserve our testimony.
  • It pleases God when we leave a godly legacy to our children and grandchildren.

Application: Which warfare are you fighting this morning? Is it good and pleasing to God? How do you see the battle of the Christian life? Can you say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight”? Is it bringing glory to God?

III. IT’S NOT JUST A “PRIVATE” BATTLE BUT A “COMMON STRUGGLE.”

Background: Just when we think Christianity is just my private struggle with my faith and conscience, Paul reminds Timothy that his calling and confession were not in private but in the presence of many witnesses. Listen to I Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. Here Paul reminds Timothy that he was not alone in this battle. In fact, there were many witnesses who watched him when he enlisted. He is referring to Timothy’s conversion and baptism.

The tendency among many Christians is to live our Christian lives in isolation from others. We like to do our own thing. Give me my Bible and my notepad or ipad and I’m good. This was never meant to be this way. It’s like going into battle by yourself. You would get shot and hurt and no one would be there to help you. So also in the Christian battle, we don’t go about by ourselves.

Yes, community is messy and many times the overall outcome may appear to be slow and shallow but this has always been God’s way, in the Old Testament and the New. There is great encouragement in seeing other soldiers who have fought the same battle before you and won. There is a great encouragement is seeing other soldiers struggling with the same hills that you are trying to capture.

Application: Are you a lone ranger or are you fighting with your regiment? Do you look at others in the Body as a hurdle or as help in fighting the battle of the Christian life? Do you realize that you have a part to play in the battle of other Christians around you?

IV. IT’S NOT BATTLE “TO” VICTORY BUT BATTLE “FROM” VICTORY.

2 Timothy 4 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Background: There is something very rich in that passage. Even though Paul is challenging Timothy to fight the good fight and to follow his example in fighting the good fight, he doesn’t want Timothy to forget that the battle has already been won. Jesus, when He died on the cross for our sins and rose from the grave on the third day, He did two things for us – He broke the power of sin and He took the sting out of death.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

I Corinthians 15 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:15 “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”

Romans 8 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Old Illustration: D-day (June 6, 1944) and VE-day (May 9, 1945).

Application: Do you understand what all this means? We are not fighting to win but we have already won. Are you living in victory? Do you realize who you are in Christ?

Are you winning the battle of the Christian life?

Are you saved

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: