Strategy for the Christian Soldier
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered 11/16/03
Text: 1 Timothy 6:11-12 "But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."
If you are a Christian, you are at war. However, the war is not a physical war, like the war we are fighting in Iraq. Rather, it is a spiritual war, a spiritual struggle between good and evil. There are three primary fronts in the war. We are in a struggle with…
When I speak of the world in this context, I am referring to the evil world system of beliefs, philosophies and practices that will not acknowledge the Lord God of Heaven and Earth.
Colossians 2:8 "Beware lest any man spoil [take you captive] you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." The Greek word translated rudiments is stoiceion stoicheion (stoy-khi’-on 4747) which means "things in a row" or the fundamental principles or causes perhaps of things like the universe, man, sin, etc. What Paul is referring to is that there were Christians who were abandoning biblical truth and going back to false, man made explanations. This verse is clear. One of our enemies is the world. James 4:4 puts it this way -- "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
We are also in a struggle with…
The flesh, in this context, is the fallen, sinful nature of man. Galatians 5:17 shows us that they are in a war for control of a man’s soul. "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." Paul further says, Romans 8:8 "So then they that are in [controlled by] the flesh cannot please God."
The Apostle Paul was concerned about loosing the struggle with flesh. He said to the Corinthians, "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." 1 Corinthians 9:27. The Greek word that underlies the phrase keep under is the word upwpiazw hupopiazo (hoop-o-pee-ad’-zo; 5299) which means to beat black and blue, to smite so as to cause bruises.
The phrase bring it into subjection is the metaphor of the victor leading the vanquished as captive and slave.
The Greek word translated castaway is adokimov adokimos (ad-ok’-ee-mos; 96). Six time the King James translators translated the word reprobate, one time rejected and one time castaway. The Greek Lexicon says the word means not standing the test, not approved or unfit.
Dr. John Gill says, this is not referring to the apostles natural body, but rather "the body of sin, the corruption of nature, and of that being laid under some restraints; of the mortifying the deeds of the body through the Spirit, of crucifying the affections with the lusts, of putting off the old man with his deeds, as concerning the former conversation, and of making no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." I don’t know about you, but I am constantly at war with my flesh! We need to be brutal with our old nature.
Our final struggle is with…
1 Peter 5:8-9 "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world."
Now that we know our enemies, we need a strategy for dealing with them! Our text gives us that strategy in three words – Flee, Follow, and Fight.
In war, there is a time to charge and a time to retreat. When is it time to retreat? We are to flee fornication, idolatry and youthful lusts according to what Paul says in other places. Here, Paul writes, 1 Timothy 6:11 "But thou, O man of God, flee these things;" But, what are the things that Paul is referring to? The first is the desire to be rich and the second is the love of money.
Turn to verses 9-10. "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." 1 Timothy 6:9-10
I want to point out that this passage is not addressed to those who are rich, but those "that will be rich" or aspire to be rich. Those driven by the love of money will take unreasonable chances and do questionable or illegal things in an effort to get rich. They are also susceptible to believing lies. Here is what I mean. Several years back I went to a luncheon where a man who alleged to be a Christian business man told us a tale about how we could double our money within a year’s time. As I recall, there was someone there to give a testimonial of how this plan had worked for him. It just sounded too good to be true. And do you know what? It was too good to be true! Many Christians and Christian organizations lost a bundle. Indeed they "pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
Now, there is another aspect that we should consider. There are some that think being financially successful is evidence of God’s blessing and approval. We read this in 1Timothy 6:5 "supposing that gain is godliness..." Paul’s advice is "…from such withdraw thyself."
The believer should run the opposite way from those whose primary goal in life is to be rich and who are driven by the love of money.
Let’s move on to the second strategy…
"…follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness."
The Greek word translated follow is
diwkw dioko (dee-o’-ko;
1377), which means to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to
run after. The question is, what are we to run after?
We have looked at flee, follow and now we come to fight.
"Fight the good fight of faith…"
The word fight is a translation of the Greek word agwnizomai agonizomai (ag-o-nid’-zom-ahee; 75) from where we get our word agonize. The word means to contend in a contest with an adversary. The Christian life is warfare. We are to fight our enemies (the world, flesh & the devil) and to fight the good fight for the Christian faith (1 Timothy 6:12; Jude 1:3). This is a lifelong battle that every Christian must fight!
I have said it before and I say it once again. The
Christian life is a battlefield folks not a recreation room. It’s a fight
and not a game! If we will be successful we must flee sin, follow
righteousness and fight the good fight of faith.