1 Timothy 1:18 “This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight,”
Fighting has typically been looked upon as crass or undignified. The one who fights was considered a brute who didn’t have the class to settle things as gentlemen.
Today, fighting is a major enterprise for entertainment. MMA, boxing, Sumo, the list goes on for venues that cater to the aggression in people. The fight the Bible refers to is a much different kind of battle, it is a battle for the souls of mankind.
To withstand a battle in the ring or octagon, one must train and prepare their body. The one who prepares the most is the one with the advantage. So it is in the Kingdom of God, to be able to engage the battle victoriously, we must prepare.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
First, we train so that our testimony would not be in vain.
Unless we live out our faith with consistency and faithfulness, the ability to encourage others to follow our footsteps will discourage them from entering in. The image we are to present is that of our Savior. If we are to lead someone to the door of salvation, we must be able to relate the love of God faithfully. This task of presenting Holiness is not natural from a fleshly standpoint. Our sinful nature wants to rule in our bodies, it is what we have been born into and it is what must be beaten into submission through obedience.
Secondly, we train to be made godly.
1 Timothy 4:7-8 “But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”
The term godliness reflects someone’s inner response to the things of God which shows itself in godly piety (reverence). Ultimately, this is manifested as a change of heart in the one being led by the Spirit of God. We are not just immediately changed into the image of God upon salvation, it takes effort to train ourselves in these characters of growth and maturity. As our heart’s are changed, our character is changed as well. What people see in us is a greater reflection of Jesus, who has invested His Spirit within us.
Thirdly, we reap the joy of bringing pleasure to God.
Philippians 2:12-13 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
The more a believer understands the magnitude of God’s love, the more that believer wants to love Him back. The love of God compels us.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”
Ultimately, everything we do, we do for Him. All that we live for is found in Him. Jesus is the source of all joy, hope, peace, happiness, fulfillment and in Him is our future. When we beat our bodies into submission, we do it out of love for God. His love is perfect and the best way to express this love to others, who live in hopelessness, is to express it as perfectly as we can.
How do we strive for perfection in an imperfect world?
Jesus commanded in Matthew 5:48 “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
So if Jesus commanded us to attain perfection, He must have made a way for us to succeed. He would not have left us Ill equipped for the journey.
In Matthew 5, the beatitudes that Jesus describes in His sermon on the mount is impossible to measure up to on our own. Perfection is an attribute equated only to God Himself, so if we are to be made perfect, we must have perfection dwelling within us. The imperfect cannot then be made perfect on its own.
1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”
*The love of God that fills the hearts of every true believer is the perfection that pushes us on to maturity.
James 1:25 “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”
*The moral law is the standard of perfection the Spirit of God leads us in. It is this standard that gives us a measuring tool as to how we should live and where we are going.
For instance, the 9th commandment says to not bear false witness against your neighbor…this is essentially lying. If I live truthfully, I honor the Lord and I show love to my neighbor. If I keep my eyes pure from lust then I uphold the 7th commandment to not commit adultery or (fornication), I likewise honor God and love my neighbor. All of God’s commandments reflect perfection. The Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin in relation to these commandments. This is the process of moving on to perfection and fighting the good fight!
*When we stumble or fall, it is the perfect love of God that brings conviction of sin, it is the perfect law of liberty we use to realign our pathway and continue on toward the goal of the high calling of God.
As we go into the fight, who are we fighting against? Who or what is the enemy of our souls?
1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
As we look at that which seeks to destroy us, we must first look at ourselves. Our sinful nature is our greatest threat. We must continually wrestle with the notion of whether we submit to the flesh or submit to the Spirit. We also be on guard against the philosophy and temptations of the world. The world lives for itself, it’s god is pride and that manifests itself in all forms of evil. The world wants you to think it is noble to subscribe to its cultural doctrines and beliefs, and yet its path is death.
Ephesians 6:10-11 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Our other common enemy is Satan. He is the god of the world and he wants to subject and trap you into believing a lie. Jesus is the very definition of Truth, the enemy seeks to warp this truth and disguise it as righteousness. We see this pattern of cultural compromise in many post-modern, relativistic notions that lay claim to standards that fit their anti-Christ agenda. As a result of this onslaught of attack, we must gird ourselves and be ready—-
Ephesians 6:14-17 “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;”
The battle may seem long, the training rigorous and the journey may be difficult…don’t despair! God’s promises are true, and He never forsakes His promise!
Deuteronomy 31:8 “And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”