2002-09-24 - Looking for a Fight
1 Timothy 6:12 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.
We see here in 1 Timothy 6:12 that the Apostle Paul admonishes Timothy to "Fight the good fight of faith." But Paul appears to also have been writing to himself because he says later in 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith." Paul encouraged others and exemplified in himself what we find in Luke 8:15 when Christ explains the parable of the seed sown on the good soil. He says, "And the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance." This is the Christian fight. It is to hold the truth fast with perseverance. It is to endure to the end in the inward life of the soul.
Perseverance is a difficult work in the Christian life. It really is a fight and it is unattainable without a great effort. Perseverance implies victory over sin and this can only be accomplished in and through Christ. In the end, only Christ is victorious over sin and we, through His redemption and shed blood applied to our lives, only experience victory over sin through His atonement. Think how often Scripture talks about the difficulty of attaining eternal life. We are told to enter by the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13). We are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Our Christian life is compared to a race (1 Corinthians 9:24) and, in the verse we started with, a fight.
Living the Christian life is a fight. Notice, however, that Paul calls it a "good fight." This is because the Christian fight is not a fight about power, money, honor, or anything else that is tied to this world. Rather, the Christian fight is a good fight because it is a fight for holiness. Our fight is centered and grounded in the gospel of salvation. Our faith is strengthened by the internal workings of the Holy Spirit but is practically grounded in the Word of God. It is in God's Holy Word that we learn of the gospel. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the faith to have faith in the gospel, but we know of this gospel through God's Word. Christ's Righteousness is therefore imputed to us. It is a work done to us and in many respects we are passive agents in the work. But it does not stop there. This is where our good fight begins. This is where it all starts. And our fight against sin is waged in response to the grace of Christ which has been granted to us.
We do have enemies in this good fight. One is an attachment to the world. I hope here to give you maybe a new way to think about worldliness. To be attached to the world is simply to obey the world rather than Christ. Heavenlymindedness is a neat word, but the concept of the antithesis of heavenlymindedness might even be more powerful. We ought to think that being obedient to the world is to be the world's slave. To obey the world is to seek to serve, fear, and agree to the world. It is quite contrary to fighting the good fight.
As Christians we really have a choice it seems. We are admonished in 1 Timothy 6:12 to "Fight the good fight." There are times in life when it is good to walk away from a fight, but not in living the Christian life. We must press on in the Christian fight.
A long time ago an Indian shared a poem with a Christian missionary. It was thus:
"Go on, go on, go on, go on,
Go on is exactly what we must do in our Christian practice of fighting the good fight.
Soli Deo Gloria,