We are called to fight the good fight of faith.
Following Jesus isn’t easy. It is a fight. It is war. It is a long, hard battle that requires endurance.
Paul told Timothy:
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12)
Paul also told his young disciple:
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:3)
And near the end of his life Paul told Timothy:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)
One reason following Jesus is described as a fight is because we have a real enemy:
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
Our enemy is the devil. A horrible, powerful, wicked spirit whose desire is to devour us. Paul tells us that the devil “schemes” against us (Ephesians 6:11). He tempts us, attempts to deceive us, lies to us, just as he lied to Eve in the garden.
Not only do we have an enemy to fight, but we must fight the good fight of faith, because in his sovereignty, wisdom and love, the Lord takes us through many hard things to conform us to the likeness of his Son. Jesus told his disciples:
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
We WILL have tribulation. Trouble. Believers suffer in all kinds of ways. Believers will be persecuted in various ways. We will be sinned against by both unbelievers and believers.
We will love and receive hatred in return. We will be accused of things unjustly. We will be misunderstood. We will get sick. We will be rejected, even at times by those we love.
And in these times of suffering we have to fight. We have to fight, especially to hold fast to our Lord in faith. We have to fight to believe his word. We have to fight not to believe the lies of the enemy.
We have to fight to have joy and peace. We have to fight to trust the Lord. We have to fight to keep going. We have to fight to love our enemies, to do good to those who abuse us, to bless those who curse us. We have to fight not to grow cold in our love for Jesus.
How Do We Fight The Good Fight Of Faith?
Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:10-20:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
We Must Be Strong In The Lord (Ephesians 6:10)
We can’t fight the good fight on our own. We just aren’t strong enough. We need the Lord’s strength. We need his might. We need to depend on Jesus 24 hours a day, calling out to him, asking him to help us, asking him for his strength.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
It’s humbling to admit that we are weak, that we need help. But that’s exactly what God tells us to do. He says don’t try to fight this fight on your own; cast your cares and anxieties on the Lord. Humble yourself. Cry out to God!
In Ephesians 6 Paul tells us that to be able to fight the good fight of faith and stand against our cosmic enemies, Satan and his demons, we must put on God’s armor, including the “belt of truth,” “the shield of faith” and “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Why? Because Satan’s primary weapon is his lies. Just as he lied to Eve: “Did God really say?…You will not die.”
We Must Believe The Promises Of God
When we are going through a hard time Satan will whisper, “God doesn’t care about you. God isn’t going to be faithful. God isn’t with you in this. This is too big for God.”
It is in these times of temptation to doubt God’s word when we must fight as Jesus fought the enemy. By knowing God’s word, by believing God’s word, by reminding ourselves of God’s word.
When Jesus was tempted, his response was “It is written…” and he quoted Scripture. This is how we fight the good fight of faith. By reminding ourselves of God’s promises, and by believing them. By fighting to believe them.
When we are tempted to fear for our children or be discouraged about their lack of faith, we must cling to God’s many promises to work in our children’s lives, like (Isaiah 54:13):
All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.
God’s word is the truth – “the belt of truth” – no matter what our circumstances look like. Our feelings aren’t the truth. The lies of the enemy are his “fiery darts” which we extinguish by lifting up “the shield of faith” – faith in God’s word, and brandishing “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
We Must Pray At All Times (Ephesians 6:18)
As we said earlier, by humbling ourselves before God, by casting all our anxieties on him. So we fight the good fight by believing God’s word, his many promises, and by praying. By constantly asking God to help us.
We need to pray for strength. We need to pray for joy. To pray for wisdom and guidance. To pray for God to deliver us from temptation and evil. To pray that God will help us love those who hurt us. “With all prayer and supplication.”
All kinds of prayers. Regular prayers, spontaneous prayers. Prayer all day long.
Prayer is a form of “sowing” seeds. And like seeds, sometimes it takes a while before we see the fruit. But we must keep sowing in faith, for God promises us:
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. (Psalm 126:5-6)
When we “sow in tears,” or pray “in tears” our prayers will usually feel weak. Small. Like seeds. It will feel like nothing is happening. But we need to keep sowing in faith.
Keep praying those “tiny” prayers. Because someday, and we don’t know when, but someday we will “come home with shouts of joy” bringing a harvest of “sheaves” of answered prayers with us.
Pray For Others and Have Them Pray For Us
To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 1and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel…(Ephesians 6:18-19)
We’re not in this fight by ourselves. We need our brothers and sisters to pray for us, and we need to pray for them. The apostle Paul himself humbly asked for his brothers and sisters to pray for him. He asked that they pray for him to be bold to proclaim the gospel.
We fight the good fight of faith every day. We fight by dying to ourselves and obeying Jesus.
We fight the good fight by serving, loving and encouraging others. By sharing the gospel with others. By giving to the poor. And in many other ways.
Fighting isn’t easy. War is hard. Following Jesus is work. But what joy our fight will yield when we hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master.”
So don’t give up! Fight the good fight!