In the Army of the Lord
As soldiers in God’s army, we must stand in readiness for the spiritual conflict, always ready to fight a good fight of faith as we fight back the forces of the enemy.
II Timothy 2:1–4
Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
When hardships and sufferings come along, many of God’s people want to bow out – but that is not being a good soldier in the Lord’s army! Wouldn’t it be awful if those in the armed forces would just give up and let the adversary destroy them?
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake
There is a spiritual warfare being fought for our souls. Satan and all his demonic forces are enemies who are behind much of the opposition we face as Christians.
I Peter 5:8, 9
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom He may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
The enemy is always there trying in any way he can to pull us away from God. But it’s up to us to stand and fight in this spiritual battle. We have to be vigilant, sober, on alert, watching out for the snares and attacks of the enemy.
We find as we come closer to the coming of Jesus that things are getting harder because of the demon forces that fight against us.
An old lust spirit has been unleashed in the world. Our nation, once considered a nation under God, is now fighting against all it ever stood for. Everything is becoming more and more corrupt in our society. Our godly principles are being taken away.
But God still has a remnant who will stand and serve Him, those who will live a godly moral life – those who will fight the good fight of faith, not giving in to the pressures of hell round about them.
I Corinthians 16:13
Watch ye, stand fast in the faith,
quit you like men, be strong.
· Be alert and on guard
This is where we have to be in our Christian experience in this spiritual battle.
· Stand firm
· Steadfast in the faith
“Quit ye like men “
· Act like men, not like little babies
· Don’t act like a little child that pouts when they want their way
· Be firm in the faith
· Be courageous
A CONSISTENT PRAYER LIFE
But you cannot be alert and on guard if you don’t keep up with your prayer life. If you don’t maintain a close walk with the Lord you will be unprepared to fight against the devil, unprepared to come against sin and temptation.
Know that temptations will come. It’s no sin to be tempted – but it is wrong and sinful to yield to temptation.
We've got to be in the place where we are very courageous, able to endure suffering, able to stand up under hardships. Know that God is faithful. He will not let us be tempted above that we are able, but will make a way of escape that we can bear it.
I had been going through a long, hard trial. I asked the Lord, how long would I have to go through this? I told him I didn’t think I could take much more – and, you know, it didn’t lift! I still had to take more as I waited for the answer!
Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.
I hoped in the Lord, waited on Him with good courage, knowing that He would do the work that was necessary – in His time.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation:
the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Be alert, on guard. Keep praying that you don’t enter into temptation: because, if you let down on your prayer life, there will be no strength to fight off the adversary.
When you have a consistent prayer life you draw strength from the Lord. You get just exactly what you need from Him in order to stand under all the hardships and sufferings you may have to go through,
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
You can't avoid persecution. There's no use trying to think everybody's going to talk well of you. In fact, we are told to beware if all men speak well of us. If all men begin to talk well of you, there's something wrong with your experience.
We have no strength in ourselves against the devil. We get that strength from God. We get the grace and help we need from Him.
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
We're not going to resist our adversary in our own strength and power: it all comes from God – nothing from us whatsoever. We’re just weaklings in the flesh. Take the things of God out of our lives and we'd soon find just how weak man really is apart from God.
God helps us. He encourages us, strengthening us to go on even in the face of all we might have to go through – be it hardship, suffering, sorrow, persecution: anything we may have to face.
Yes, He’ll be right there to help.
for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
We want to be ready when the Lord comes. We don’t want to be caught short of making it
Don’t think for one minute that we can stand on our own, because we cannot.
It’s nothing of our own doing. We won’t make it if we turn our back on God. We won’t make it if we slack off in our prayer life. We won’t make it.
THE KEY AGAIN:
OUR PRAYER LIFE
I believe the key to all this is to keep up with our prayer life. That’s so important. That’s where the strength comes from to be able to stand and fight back the forces of evil; to fight back Satan when he comes along with his fiery darts, comes along with hardships, sorrows, and sufferings.
We'll be able to stand because we’re praying, because we’re on praying grounds with God, and because He is there to help us. Even though we can't see Him, He's there. The whole Godhead is with us. What better help could we have?
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord,
and in the power of His might.
We can find great strength in the Scriptures. We draw strength from our relationship with Christ, empowered through our union with Him.
Fear thou not; for I am with thee:
be not dismayed; for I am thy God:
I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee;
yea, I will uphold thee
with the right hand of My righteousness.
Let’s look at Paul's sufferings for Christ. Wherever he went it seems he was being warned about how he would suffer for Christ.
And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit
But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy . . . and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
Paul wasn’t worrying about his life. Why? Because he had his hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul knew that when he closed his eyes for the last time he would find himself present with the Lord – therefore he wasn’t worrying about what happened to him.
Worry is nothing more than the devil’s tactic to keep us from doing what God wants us to do. We worry about this, worry about that – just like a rocking chair going back and forth, back and forth. If our soul is right with God, why worry?
Even after Paul was stoned and left as dead he got up and went forth with the Gospel. None of those things moved him. He knew that all the things that happened to him were for a purpose:
But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel
Paul didn’t care if his life was taken. He knew where he was going when he died.
That’s the main thing. If you're not sure where you're going when you leave this world, you'd best get an assurance that you're going to make heaven your home. You’ve got to live according to God’s Word if you're going to make it.
So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace,
and in all other places
We know that the things that happened to Paul worked for the furtherance
of the Gospel. He was thrown into prison
And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Paul's standing fast under sufferings caused others to wax confident, and enabled them to speak the Gospel boldly without fear.
Many are afraid to speak the Word because they don’t want any backlash. They don’t want to have to face any persecution that might come if they did.
We want to be in the place where we’re not going to hold back, where we’re going to speak the Word as the Lord gives is to us.
EVER ON GUARD
Now remember we want to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ, able to endure hardness. We can’t succumb to the devil and his tactics. We've got to rise up and fight the good fight of faith, even though we may feel weary.
Don’t ever let your guard down just because you're weary in the battle. Let your guard down, and along comes Satan and his evil forces. You can rest assured he will work to drive you away from God.
I'm not going to tell you there won’t be times when you feel weary. We do get weary: but what helps us is when we pray and seek God, and He renews our strength so we can go on and fight.
There are demonic forces coming against us. We are in a spiritual warfare. We struggle sometimes within ourselves, but if we would just put it in God’s hands He would work it out.
You can’t work it out; there's no sense in your trying. Just put it in God’s hands. Let Him do the work – and when He does the work you can rest assured that the work will be well done.
And, when it’s all finished, you will find yourself rejoicing in what God has done for you.
How many times have you called on God for help because you couldn’t do it? Did He help you? He didn’t have to help you – but He said He would, so to keep His word He did just that.
HOW MUCH CAN ONE MAN TAKE?
Here we have Paul as a good example of having the sufferings of Christ in one’s life.
II Corinthians 11:23–28
Are they ministers of Christ?
(I speak as a fool) I am more;
in labours more abundant,
in stripes above measure,
in prisons more frequent,
in deaths oft.
Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes – save one.
Thrice was I beaten with rods,
once was I stoned,
thrice I suffered shipwreck,
a night and a day I have been in the deep;
in journeyings often,
in perils of waters,
in perils of robbers,
in perils by mine own countrymen,
in perils by the heathen,
in perils in the city,
in perils in the wilderness,
in perils in the sea,
in perils among false brethren.
In weariness and painfulness,
in watchings often,
in hunger and thirst,
in fastings often,
in cold and nakedness.
Beside those things that are without,
that which cometh upon me daily,
the care of all the churches.
I believe Paul told us of his sufferings because he wanted us to know that we, too, can endure sufferings for the sake of the Gospel the same as he did.
When we’ve been in a long, hard spiritual battle we become weary: but we’ve got to rise; we’ve got to get up; we’ve got to fight. We can’t succumb to the devil. We have got to rise up and fight, resisting him.
Yes, we’ll feel weary. I’m not going to tell you there won’t be times when you feel weary. But, you know, what helps is when you pray and seek God – and He renews your strength so you can continue fighting in this spiritual warfare.
Paul suffered pain time after time. You can’t have thirty–nine lashes across your back and not have pain.
And Jesus certainly suffered pain.
And after that they had mocked Him, they took the robe off from Him, and put His own raiment on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.
His back was laid open with stripes. He was nailed to the cross. Imagine how raw His back was with those open wounds! Do you suppose that didn’t hurt?
If you skin your knee, to lie down at night with a sheet over you hurts. Jesus didn’t have the softness of a sheet against His back: He lay on the rough wood of that cross!
There are sufferings in this life, and we can’t get away from them. We don’t always realize the pain that some have to go through.
Paul was someone who went through a lot of pain along the journey. He was an ordinary man whom God had called to go forth and preach the Gospel. And, as he did what God had called him to do, he found there was much suffering along the way.
One thing about the Apostle Paul, when it was all said and done, he was able to declare:
II Timothy 4:7
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course, I have kept the faith . . .
That’s what I’m trying to tell you! We’ve got to stand up and fight the adversary of our soul. We’ve got to fight a good fight in this spiritual battle over our soul.
I HAVE FINISHED MY COURSE,
I HAVE KEPT THE FAITH
Paul didn’t backslide. He kept the faith. Even though he suffered many things, he didn’t back down. He wasn’t going to let the devil defeat him. He fought a good fight.
And this is what you and I have to do. We have to rise up and stand, acting like men, having courage, standing and fighting the good fight of faith. We have to quit being babyish about everything: a little pain and you’d think you were going to die!
Put your faith in God. He will take care of things – and, when He does, you’ll look back and rejoice at how He brought you through.
I think we can see from these Scriptures that we have enough in the Word of God to show us that if these men in the Bible could do it, you and I can do it also. After all, they were just human beings like we are.
II Timothy 2:4
No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
DON'T GET ENTANGLED
We can get so involved in every day life, so entangled. But a soldier at war doesn’t entangle himself with the affairs of this life. He’s too busy fighting the war!
As good soldiers of Jesus Christ we ought not to get ourselves tangled up with every day life, where we cannot serve God in the capacity that He’s called us to serve Him in.
Many put so much emphasis on those things of this life that they have no time to do what God would want them to do. If they want to please Him who has chosen them to be a good soldier, they can’t get involved and entangled in the affairs of this life. If they allow themselves to get all entangled in the affairs of this life they may not be able to untangle themselves. They may find themselves caught in the devil’s trap.
How can they fight the good fight of faith when they’re all tangled up with the things of this life? How are they ever going to get free to get back in the fight?
It takes the power of God to loose one when they’re so in bondage to the affairs of this life. Those things mean so much more to them than spiritual things and serving God.
We need to be careful what we do, knowing that we are in a warfare!
As ministers of the Gospel we stand and preach to the people, warning them about backsliding, teaching them how to walk with the Lord from day to day, how to live in well-pleasing to the Lord, how to separate themselves from the world and the things of the world.
When one lets down in their prayer life, they soon get involved in the affairs of this life and begin to dabble in sin. No wonder they’re so miserable!
We have to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
We have seen in this message that if we will live godly in Christ Jesus we will suffer persecution. We cannot escape it. But know also that in the midst of suffering we can walk victoriously with the Lord – that is, if we maintain a steady prayer life, a daily fellowship with the Lord. This is where we will find the strength to be able to fight back the forces of the enemy.
I Chronicles 16:11
Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His face continually.
by Patricia Dailey
In the battle that rages oh so long
The Bible tells us to be very strong,
Strong in His power and in His might,
So we are able to stand firm and fight.
The weapons of our warfare
Are not carnal you see;
But mighty through God
Who sets us free.