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FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH - BISHOP ODEDEJI

FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH - BISHOP ODEDEJI

  (An extract from the Presidential Address of the 1st Session of the 9th Synod of the Diocese of Lagos West by the Rt Revd Dr. James Olusola Odedeji)

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12).

 

INTRODUCTION

The only fight the Christian is called upon to fight is the fight of faith. Every child of God engages in one form of fight or the other in the journey of faith. Whether we are interested or not, the fight is on. Satan, being the enemy of the Kingdom of God is also your enemy. The world is hostile to your faith and the kingdom of God. If we are in any other kind of fight different from the fight of faith as children of God, we are in the wrong fight. If you have anything of great value, you will do everything in your ability to protect, guide, and guard it against the onslaught of robbers who would want to steal it from you at all costs. As Christians, our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is of great value and a precious commodity that the devil and his cohorts desire to steal from us (John 10:10; 2 Peter 1:1). This faith is described in 1 Peter 1:7 as being more precious than gold: “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ”. There are enemies of faith in this fight of faith which we are instructed to fight. If there were no enemies or hindrances to faith, there would be no need to fight. The devil and the forces of darkness will continue to attack our faith until we finish our course and race in this world. When we lose the battle to sin, we lose the battle of life. Consequently, you must be ready to fight every day to preserve, protect, nurture, and grow your faith. You must be ready to prevent the assaults of the devil from stealing, killing, and destroying your faith. That is why Jesus says, ‘’The thief comes to steal, to kill and to destroy…’’ (John 10:10a). This is what the good fight of faith is all about.

 

What is this Fight of Faith?

The fight of faith is the spiritual warfare to defend your territory and faith as a believer. The fight is to contend for your faith and be victorious over the powers of darkness that rule the world and would want you to remain in the bondage to sin, flesh, and the world. The fight of faith is a fight against attacks on your belief and faith in God. It is equally the battle between the lie of the devil and the promises of God to us as God s children. Our “good fight” is not a combat for prosperity, houses, cars, or fame. The good fight is the fight of faith. When the devil rises against you, he ultimately wants your faith. As Paul writes: “lay hold on eternal life”, because there is a possibility to lose eternal life. The fight of faith is the unleashing of our faith on the rebellious circumstances of the time to compel changes to correspond with God s agenda for humanity (Ezek. 33:11; 2 Pet. 3:9; Titus 2:11).

 

Darkness has always sought to put out light. Satan rose against the Godhead. Herod sought to kill the Baby Jesus. The serpent came after mankind. Iniquity has abounded and moral decadence seems to be at its peak of all time. Criminality, demonic sexual and social orientations, and all manners of wicked perverted behaviours have found their way into today s everyday life without reservation. Satan believes that since he has been cast out of heaven, he owns the earth. He forgot that the earth is the Lord s and all its fullness. This is why he like a roaring lion, goes about looking for how to devour his greatest rival, man.  Legislations, abolitions, advocacies, and many other instruments of promoting morality have all failed. Institutions that hitherto provided hope for a peaceful world have all lost their grips. Nations now deregister themselves from Unions and Alliances. The Church has also suffered from the attack of Satan. Charlatans, robbers, and liars have found their way to some Pulpits and many who once loved the Lord have gone cold. Rebuke or correction is now termed judgment. Sinfulness has more people on its path unlike the very few on the highway of righteousness. What then is the Lord coming to rapture?

 

All baptized people are Soldiers for Christ, recruited into His Army to fight the devil, sin, and the world. This is why we must contend for the faith and hold on to eternal life as our God s Kingdom is enlarged on the earth.

 

HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF 1 TIMOTHY 6

In his first letter to Timothy, Apostle Paul challenges Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith.” To fully grasp what Paul meant by this statement, we must first consider how the primary audience understood it.

 

Paul, after being released from a two-year house arrest in Rome as stated in Acts 28:30-31, went to Macedonia. It was from Macedonia he wrote his epistle to Timothy, a young leader he had appointed over the Ephesian Church, as specified in 1 Timothy 1:3: “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines.” This epistle s purpose was multi-faceted. Upon his return to Ephesus, Paul discerned that false teachers and teachings had infiltrated the Church. Though he took steps to confront and counter these false teachings, his missionary responsibilities called him back to Macedonia. Recognizing Timothy s challenging leadership situation in a Church grappling with false doctrines, Paul sought to bolster Timothy s resolve and offer guidance. He writes in 1 Timothy 1:18-19Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.” 

 

 

Paul s intention behind this epistle was clear: he wanted to provide Timothy with essential instructions for leading the Church in his absence. As he stated in 1 Timothy 3:14-15

“Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God s household, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:14-15.

 

Through this letter, Paul underscored the crucial role Timothy held and ensured he had the necessary guidance and encouragement to lead effectively. At the time, the city of Ephesus was a bustling Roman metropolis. The strategic location of the city created a unique environment for trading to thrive. As a result of increased commercial activity in the busy port, many of the city s residents became wealthy. A few wealthy individuals from this city converted to Christianity, and among them were some who mistakenly placed their trust in their wealth. This is precisely why Paul advises Timothy to caution new believers against relying on “uncertain riches” (1 Timothy 6:17, KJV).

 

Ephesus was home to the fertility cult of Diana or Artemis (Acts 19:28). The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus was one of antiquity s most celebrated pagan temples. This temple is now regarded as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. In his article “Great Was Artemis of Ephesus,” N. T. Wright beautifully captures the splendor of the city of Ephesus with the following words:

Ephesus flourished; on one side they had some of the richest soil in Asia Minor and access to the silk road. On the other side they had built a port to trade with the rest of ancient Europe. They built a city of marble. They built a stadium that sat tens of thousands of people. They built a two-storey teaching hospital. They built a sprawling library. Most importantly, they built the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

 

These pervasive pagan influences and practices surrounding the young Church in Ephesus likely prompted Paul s urgent exhortation to Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12) and to “guard” or “keep” that which was “committed to him” (1 Timothy 6:20). Thus, from this historical background of the Ephesian Church and Ephesus in general, we can glean valuable clues and insights into the challenges faced by early believers and what it meant to “fight the good fight of faith” in the first century. Another indication of why Paul exhorted young Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith” can be traced back to the pronounced persecution of Christians in the city of Ephesus during that era. In Acts 19, we see how the city was thrown into chaos. Demetrius, a silversmith, seeing a decline in sales of his silver idols of Artemis due to the rising Christian faith, incited a riot against Paul and his followers. The uproar grew so intense that city officials stepped in to ensure their safety.

Paul metaphorically describes his ordeal in 1 Corinthians 15:32, stating he “fought with beasts at Ephesus”, implying possible physical confrontations with his adversaries. What could have been the root of this animosity? As Christianity s influence grew in Ephesus, many shifted their allegiance from Artemis to Christ. This shift threatened the city s pagan elite, who viewed Christianity not just as a spiritual but also a political challenge to their dominion. Yet, despite these formidable obstacles, the Christian faith not only survived but thrived.

 

We have thus far uncovered two main sources of opposition that the Ephesian Church faced.

  1. Internal Opposition:This came from false teachers promoting incorrect doctrines within the Church. Their teachings were not in line with the authentic message and therefore created conflict within the community.
  2. External Opposition:The Church faced resistance from several external forces, including:
    • Diana s Fertility Cult Adherents:This group was ideologically opposed to the Church s teachings.
    • The Business Community:They were economically threatened by the Church s growing influence.
    • Local City Politicians:They had their political reasons for opposing the Church.

 

EXEGETICAL DISCOURSE

Timothy, a fellow missionary of Paul in many geographical areas, was saddled with the responsibility of dealing with problems in churches relating to godly conduct and doctrinal issues. Heretical teachings were all around (1 Tim. 1:4). The purpose of Paul s letter to Timothy is stated in 1 Timothy 3:14-15: “I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth”. 1 Timothy 6 then shows several characteristics of heretical teachers: they taught false doctrine and had not accepted sound doctrine (v. 3); they had an interest in arguments and disputes over certain words (v. 4); and they were not only greedy, but also believed that godliness is a means of gain (v. 5, 9−10). Paul subsequently admonished Timothy to oppose these teachers (1Tim. 1:18-20). Paul reminded Timothy why he was left behind in Ephesus, namely, to correct the teachings of the false teachers (1:3-20). False teaching is not the only issue addressed in 1 Timothy. There was a problem with worship in the Ephesian church. Paul therefore admonishes believers to gather for worship with a clear conscience and to deal with relationship problems at home (2:8). Another problem was how women dressed and operated in the church (2:9-15).

 

In 1 Timothy 6, Paul prescribes some duties for Timothy to fulfill as a minister of the gospel. In other words, the chapter focuses on pastoral motives for ministry and conduct. After Paul completes his instruction about slaves (1 Tim. 6:1-2), he refers to false teachers for a third time (1:3ff; 4:1-5). Paul then shows the consequences the love money has on these teachers (6:9-10). Paul exhorts Timothy to avoid the love of money and pursue righteousness and godliness (6:11-16). 1 Timothy 6:3-12 illustrates Paul s complete thought, where Paul warns Timothy that there is no relationship between godliness and one s material blessings or possessions. Paul ends by appealing to Timothy to pursue spiritual things rather than temporal materialistic possessions. Paul equally gives implications of pursuing earthly riches rather than godliness. Paul concludes with more personal instructions to Timothy (1 Tim. 6:11-21). The major arguments here relate to Christian character and discipleship, taking the “charge” to defend the faith and spread it with other faithful people, using earthly wealth for the greater good, and standing up against challengers.

 

In 1 Timothy 6:12, Paul now exhorts Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith”; and in 2 Timothy 4:7, he tells him that he has “fought the good fight”. The use of the noun “fight” after the verb “to fight” in this phrase is a figure of speech whereby there is a repetition of the same basic word with the same sense to depict the meaning of the redundant wording. The expression “fight the fight” is used in the Greek world as a patriotic warfare idiom for one who perseveres in loyalty to his king and country by fighting war campaigns to preserve the welfare of the kingdom. Paul therefore applies this expression to mean fighting for God s kingdom instead of an earthly kingdom. The word fight” has a metaphorical meaning, that is, to contend, and persevere against opposition and temptation. In Ephesians 6:12, Paul tells us the battle is not waged in the physical sense. It is instead engaged in the spiritual realm, unseen by us but real and, therefore, felt. Paul s admonition to Timothy refers to a “fight” against false teaching to maintain and foster godliness. Thus, this is a “good” fight through which Timothy perseveres, which will demonstrate his good Christian character and reputation against the false teachers’ bad character and attitude.

 

Earlier in 1 Timothy 1:18, Paul had exhorted Timothy, “This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare”. Hence, Apostle Paul portrays the part that man must play in his salvation. For example, in Philippians 2:12, he exhorts the Philippians: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. This means that man has a definite part in his redemption. Jesus Christ Himself gave us an insight into the importance of the individual s effort in bringing to himself the possession of the riches of the kingdom. Jesus Christ enjoins His followers: “Watch therefore, and pray always, that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).

 

In Paul s admonition to “fight the good fight of faith”, the word “good”, puts the admonition to fight, in another context. It suggests that the fight is a good one and therefore must be characterized by good motives. The word “good” is also defined in 2 Timothy 2:3–4, where Paul exhorts Timothy to be “a good soldier” and then defines part of what such a “good soldier” is: “no one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier”. There may be a bad fight of faith. This refers to a fight about things of God without the presence of the Holy Spirit, when the motivations are flesh, self, recognition, and reputation. The strengths of that kind of fight originate from self and the end of the fight is about self and self alone.

 

This fight which the apostle admonishes us to fight, takes on a new meaning, approach, and goal. We are to fight to win eternal life. The fight of faith is good because even after getting saved and on the narrow path, the fight will usher you to a greater benefit and the fullness of the heavenly package. No battle is fought successfully without a goal, purpose, or objectives. And Paul desires that the believer shall set his affections upon things above and not on the things of this world. He wants us to look heavenward, and stop looking earthward. Hence, the warfare is “good” because the Commander who enlisted the Christian soldier to fight would not enlist anyone if the warfare was not a “good” one in which to engage. In other words, it is a “good fight” because it is for a good cause; the cause of God and truth; and under a good Captain, Jesus Christ the Captain of our salvation. In addition, the fight will be fought by people who profess to be people of faith. Consequently, total loyalty is to be given to the God who enlists every Christian soldier in the warfare.

 

Again, the word “faith” in the fight lifts it out of the commonplace and earthly warfare. This warfare is not engaged with physical weapons but is carried on by faith. It is a spiritual warfare. The fight of faith is essential, and Paul realized it. It was the very essence of his teachings. He was an example to the believers, for he practiced what he preached. In many instances, Paul served churches that seemed ungrateful of his service, self-denial, and painstaking ministry; but he was always loving and kind in his dealings with them. Paul recognized that the fight demanded perseverance. He therefore steadily fought on in faith, only to end in chains; and after that, to suffer a martyr s death. But through it all we can perceive no vengeful spirit, no retaliation; but on the other hand, his heart seemed to have been overjoyed in that he had been a minister even to those who mistreated him. He seemed to take joy in suffering as his great Master, Jesus Christ, did. Paul admonished Timothy to “fight” false teachers who were contradicting the truth of the gospel and were even maligning their characters.

 

 

Likewise, we as Christians and children of God are in a “fight” in this world. We should not expect less.

 

Like Paul and Timothy, we are in the “last days,” (2 Tim. 3) Jesus Christ prophesied would be characterized by a tribulation including false teaching (Matt. 24; 1 Tim. 4:1–22 Tim. 3:1–13). Spiritual and worldly forces are arrayed against us. We need to persevere as spiritual warriors in the face of constant opposition and attacks (1 Tim. 4:1–2; 5:13–152 Tim. 2:23–26). Overall, Timothy was a young pastor who needed encouragement from Paul. Paul therefore reminded Timothy that he was a man of God (6:11). Paul equally reminded Timothy to fight the good fight of faith (6:11-16), remind Christians to set their hope on God, not material wealth (6:17-19), and to stay on the right path regardless of those who try to oppose the true teachings (6:20-21). Hence, Paul did not want Timothy nor other Christians to be passive observers but rather active soldiers for Jesus Christ.

 

Paul s exhortation to Timothy is one of Godly fidelity. It is an exhortation to keep his faith in God and to persevere in the face of adversity without wallowing, complaining, or giving up. Paul s life was living proof of what it means to fight the good fight of faith. Despite enduring adversities such as being stoned at Lystra (Acts 14:19), surviving a harrowing shipwreck (Acts 27:27–28:5), and enduring five humiliating lashings (2 Corinthians 11:24), his dedication to spreading Christ s message remained resolute. Even in the face of hostility, Paul unwaveringly continued to proclaim the gospel of salvation. He testified that nothing could sway his faith in God, expressing it this way:

“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 I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)

 

To fight the good fight of faith, we must be steadfast, unwavering, and fearless.

Why does the Bible describe the fight of faith as a good fight?

The Bible refers to the fight of faith” as “good” because it is a fight that exalts and glorifies God and ultimately results in eternal life. The Greek word for “good” that is used here can also mean “beautiful.” The good fight of faith is referred to as “beautiful”. After all, it is the result of consistent, tenacious, and unwavering soul exercise.

 

The Nature of the Fight of Faith

  1. The Fight is Personal. The fight of faith must be fought alone. There is a certain assistance and comfort that comes to the individual soldier as he fights by the side of a comrade, but in the last analysis, every soldier must fight the battle alone. We must always bear in mind that the only help of the Christian soldier comes from God. Some mistakenly lean on people forgetting that “…the help of man is useless” (Psa. 60:11). Paul, therefore, reminds us in 2 Cor. 5:10 that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad”. We must learn to depend upon God for victory. Also, Romans 14:12 “So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God”.

 

  1. We Must Fight (Jude 3). Every true child of God must fight the good fight of faith. There will be times when we shall have to put every part of our spiritual being to the stretch to win the struggle. Life is full of battles to be fought and confronted, which Christians must confront boldly face to face. These dangers are there to frighten and distract children of God from finishing their race victoriously. Christians are called to defend the gospel in whatever occupation God has placed them. Believers must put on the full armour of God so that when the day of evil comes, they will be able to stand their ground. Put up a fight if you must lay hold of eternal life. In this war, you must put up a fight because the forces of darkness are behind the scene that enforces sin on believers. Christians are saved to make heaven but they are to put up a fight against the forces that are there to make it impossible. Only fighters become overcomers, not spectators. Rev. 21:7&8 “He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake of fire which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death”.

 

  1. The Fight for Faith is Spiritual. It is not a fight of physical combat or one that requires physical weapons. The bible described it as a Good Fight of Faith. The real enemies of our faith are not physical humans but principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:12). The same goes for weapons of war which are not carnal but mighty through God (2 Cor.10:3-6). In other words, believers in Christ Jesus are not into physical combat, we are involved in spiritual battles. Even when we are physically assaulted because of our faith in the Lord, it is still traceable to the instigation from the kingdom of darkness. This was why Paul kept reminding Timothy of the need to fight the fight of faith. We fight against Satan and his agents (1 Pet. 5:8). The master of deceit seeks to engage the children of God in battle constantly. The devil s work is seen through his ministers who try to deceive God s children and lead them down the path of destruction (Matt. 7:15; 2 Cor. 11:13-15). Satan and his agents are behind every threat to our soul and we must be willing to engage them in battle. Our fight is to resist the devil s rule over our lives and his control over our will and direction.

 

 

  1. We fight against the vain philosophies of this world (Col. 2:8). There are teachings today that water down redemption to mere assumptions (1 Tim. 4:1-2). There are hundreds of false doctrines, ideas, and teachings that are now being carried about throughout the world. These doctrines are dangerous because they have deadly effects. Today many are being carried away with diverse doctrines which have not profited those who feed on such (Heb. 13:9). For example, the doctrine of “it does not matter what we do, we shall make heaven because of the price Jesus paid”. “What you do, does not matter, do whatever you do, it does not matter”, and “Nobody is perfect, let us just go on”. Iniquity abounds, and the love of many has waxed cold. Christians must fight the subtle influence of the world and the drawback to ungodly love for sin. The pleasure of the world could be enticing and hard to resist, but it is worth giving up everything to win the price. A good fight of faith is about disliking the world and all her values. Those are end-time issues that must be confronted by those who do not want to be conquered. As they would not want to retain God in their knowledge, they heap up all kinds of translations. We are admonished to fight the good fight of faith to lay hold on eternal life. The empty philosophies of man must be defeated and it is the children of God who have the responsibility to do it.

 

  1. We fight against the lusts of the flesh. Peter urged that we “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11). Christians must fight the flesh, even after conversion, all believers still carry within them a nature prone to evil and emotional feelings which can lead them astray (Col. 3:5). The things in life that can give us the most pleasure and we tend to enjoy can also cause us the most pain. Satan knows this and he uses fleshly lusts to lure us away from the path of righteousness. We must be willing and able to recognize this wicked plot and fight against it. I John 2:15-17: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world, if any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever”.

 

  1. You are already an Overcomer. “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Jesus Christ has already defeated the forces of darkness. Jesus said, ‘…be of good cheer; I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33). You are not trying to overcome the world; He already did. So, you walk by faith in the victory of Christ on your behalf. Hebrews 4:3 says “For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: So, I swore in my wrath, they shall not enter my rest, although the works were finished from the foundation of the world”. Satan is already a defeated foe (Col. 2:15). Jesus Christ triumphed over the forces of darkness in His resurrection and put them to naught. The victory over demons and every power that is in this world has already been accomplished for you. The battle has already been fought, and the battle has already been won. Everything Jesus Christ did, He did as your substitute and is marked down by God to your credit.

 

HOW TO FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH AND BE VICTORIOUS

The good fight of faith has rules, and the rules must be strictly adhered to, if you must win and become a victor and receive a crown of righteousness like Paul.

You must know what you believe (John 8:32). Know what you believe because what you believe will come under attack. We are called to defend the delivered faith. This faith has been delivered by God, not just to anybody. It was delivered to the saints, to those who have come to know Christ as Lord and Savior. There is no other faith that has been delivered to the church (Jude 3). God s truth as found in the Bible is of infinite value. They have always been under attack and therefore must be contended for. The faithful must go to war against the intruders who have come into the church and fight for the truth of the Christian faith. This does not mean taking up swords and guns, it means taking up the truth. Therefore, you have to know it.

  1. Identify and recognize the enemy you are fighting with. The real warfare we are engaged in as Christians is not a battle of guns and bullets. It is not a battle of bows and arrows. It is the fight of faith. Having the right understanding is key to victorious living on earth. The devil is the enemy that wants to resist you (1Pet. 5:8; Eph. 2:2; James 4:7). Jesus Christ rightly identified and rebuked the devil when he spoke through Peter who earlier rebuked Jesus Christ for speaking about His death (Matt. 16:22-23). Until you recognize and identify the enemy you are fighting with, you cannot effectively engage him. If you cannot recognize how the enemy operates, you will not know how to fight or what you are fighting. Consequently, defeat is inevitable even before the battle begins. However, a proper understanding of the enemy and his operations will make you win the battle ever before it begins.

 

  1. In 1 Timothy 6:11-12, Paul gives us four clear instructions for the battlefield: These are “Flee”, “Pursue”, “Fight”, and “Lay Hold”.

                               

  1. First, we must flee. Christians must flee “pride, covetousness, false teachings, sin, and temptation. To flee from temptation, we must recognize it as an enemy and we avoid it, without hesitation just as Joseph did. Joseph fled to fulfill his glorious destiny (Gen. 39:7-12).“A prudent man foresees evil and hides, but the simple pass on and are punished” (Prov. 22:3). We are instructed to flee and not dabble into temptation, analyze it, or even embrace it. We must abstain, from every form and appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5:22). Paul also admonished Timothy to “flee from youthful lusts”. In addition, Paul, writing to the Corinthians, instructed them to “flee sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18). These are things that do not want us to finish our race. We prepare to battle temptation, but we also do our best to avoid temptation altogether. As far as it depends on us, we “make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Rom. 13:14). If necessary, we cut off our hand or pluck out our eye (Matt. 5:29-30). This means we must be ready to go the extra length to flee the sin we know can ruin.

 

  1. Christians are to pursue “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness” (1 Tim. 6:11). This instruction is repeated in 2 Tim. 2:22 when Paul wrote, “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart”. The six qualities Paul enumerated above are essential for Christians to fight the good fight of faith and win. Christians must follow God and sound doctrine. Are you pursuing faith in Jesus, not just keeping faith? Are you consciously making time each day to be alone with God through His word? Does your life mirror Jesus Christ, your Lord and Saviour? Are you intentional about deepening your knowledge of and walk with God?

 

  • lay hold. We must “lay hold on eternal life to which you were also called” (1 Tim 6:12). Eternal life is a gift that God graciously gives to those who have given their lives to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. It can never be earned by anyone. Paul is telling Timothy to do all he can to strengthen his grip on what God had already given to him. And that is an exhortation for all of us. Eternal life is God s gift to us. To “lay hold” implies taking hold of something without letting go. In other words, don’t just be aware that you have eternal life; lay hold on eternal life; take possession of it. This means to live it like you have it. We must have the desire to know more of Christ and to become more like Christ. While it is true that the devil can rob us of eternal life, it is also true that we can ignorantly submit it to him. Every day, walk in the consciousness that you have the life of God in you. Think, act, and live as one who is filled with eternal life. As God has done His part to give eternal life to us, we are to do our part in making sure our grip on it is growing stronger and stronger; not because we possess it by our efforts, but because we appreciate and value it as God s gift.

 

  1. Let God fight all your battles. Those who put God in the forefront of their warfare will never experience defeat. Whatever the picture the enemy is showing must not be allowed to make us doubt the power of our mighty God or to shake our faith in Him. As Christians, we should resolutely say, On Christ the solid Rock I stand”. And God will make us to be more than conquerors. Don’t put your trust in worldly, carnal methods and earthly weapons. In 1 Samuel 17:38-51, the enemy s stature (Goliath) was greatly intimidating. In warfare, he was a veteran; an undefeatable champion of his time. His weapons, built for his defense and the destruction of his opponents were intimidating. He was proud, boastful, and confident of his victory. On the other side was a young boy, untested and inexperienced in the intricacies of battle. He went into the combat only in his shepherd s clothing with a sling and five smooth stones. With just one shot, the enemy fell. David s victory came through his belief and confession: “The battle is the Lord s” (1 Sam. 17:47). Let Him fight all your battles; you don’t need to fight any. Like David, when confronted by an enemy or a challenge that seems to intimidate us, we should quickly realize and confess that we have the One who has never lost a battle. He is the Lord of hosts. We must depend upon God to the point of considering ourselves as nothing. When we reach that point when we do not regard our own merits, then the Lord will pick us up and do wonderful things in our lives.

 

  1. You must be divinely empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; Ephesians 6:10). The battle is not a physical one and cannot be fought in your might and power. You must put your spiritual armour to use. In 1Sam. 17:31-54, David couldn’t confront Goliath with the human armour he was provided with. He pleaded with King Saul to go in the might of God, empowered by his sling and the little stones. David said to Goliath, “Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord s, and He will give you into our hands”. Just one stone did what spears, guns, and arrows couldn’t do. We must be ready to go to war with God s might and not in our power. If you want God to step in, you are to step back. Without God, you can do nothing (John 15:5).

 

  1. Be a Witness to the Lord Jesus Christ. Every genuine child of God should be         ready to defend the interest of God s kingdom when the enemies of the Cross are on the loose. This implies that you speak up for the Lord Jesus       Christ and speak out against those who would oppose His Person or           principles. A witness is a man who reports what he has seen and heard; he       does not need to argue. In Acts 13:6-12, Paul had to rebuke the sorcerer            who was trying to dissuade a potential convert, Sergius Paulus, from          accepting the faith. The result of this fight of faith resulted in the       conversion of the proconsul: “Then the proconsul believed, when he saw      what had been done, being astonished at the teaching of the Lord” (Acts   13:12). You should also take the “charge” to defend and spread the faith        with other faithful people by being consistent in your words, actions, and      values. Christians should not engage in practices that are contrary to           Scripture or their faith, which can then deter other followers from the true

 

faith (Rom. 14:13). You must be ready always to answer every man who asks you the reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15). Be determined to witness Jesus Christ to someone every day. This is a profitable way of fighting the good fight of faith.

 

  1. Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot     fight the good fight of faith effectively without the knowledge of the one           who can give you victory. 2 Peter 3:17-18a says, “You therefore, beloved       since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your            steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the           grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”.

 

g    Be Filled with the Word of God. The Word of God is our “sword” in the   fight (Eph. 6:17). We must “be diligent to present ourselves approved to             God, workmen . . . rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15; Titus             1:9).  Satan wants to keep people ignorant of God s word (2 Cor.    4:4). Satan identified as the god of this world supplies ample        disillusionment for people to keep on believing lies. Your faith applies to   your convictions which must be well grounded in the Scripture and able     to make you solid, impenetrable like a wall. That is what Christians           ought to be. God s truth, which is light, exposes Satan s dark mixture of   lies and half-truths because Satan is a master Scripture twister. Nothing      disarms darkness like light. You must be filled with the Word of God before        the battle arrives.

 

  1. You must be a dedicated and committed soldier, with undivided loyalty and faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Captain of our host as fighters           is God Almighty Himself, the Man of war and the Lord of hosts (Psalm          24:7-10). Be resolute and steadfast.

 

  1.     Don’t Glorify the Devil, Resist him. When you talk about the devil and      what he has done, you are glorifying the devil and his works. When you            talk about defeat, you are talking about the works of the devil. James 4:7         says, Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Resisting the devil with the          truth causes one to stand firm. Defeat is not of God. God did not intend           for the Church to be defeated. The Bible declares in Matthew 16:18 that the          gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. Paul, writing to the           Church, said, “... in all these things we are more than conquerors through      him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37). A wrong confession glorifies the devil. God     has already done all He is going to do about the devil. Jesus Christ defeated him for you, and now it is up to you to do something about him.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Faint not and do not fear. These are indeed evil days and if you faint in      the day of adversity, your strength is small (Prov. 24:10). There will be times of trouble when we must stand our ground and continue trusting             God even when it is difficult. If you open the door, the devil will   accommodate you. Job said, “For the thing I greatly feared has come           upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me” (Job 3:25). You open    the door to the devil by being afraid (2Tim. 1:7). Stand your ground in the       victory that Jesus Christ obtained for you, and you shall see the salvation of           the Lord. 

 

            The Importance of Faith and why it must be guarded

  1. Faith is a Fight. Faith is a fight for the Christian. We must work hard, discipline ourselves, and sometimes struggle to keep on believing. The seeds of unbelief remain in our hearts and sometimes it seems as if they have so successfully sprouted and that real faith is almost choked out. The devil will always come to tell you something contrary to God s word. It is not enough to identify the devil as your enemy; you must develop your faith not to doubt God s word. The greatest hindrance to faith is a lack of understanding of the Word of God. As the Psalmist said, “The entrance of Your word gives light...” (Psa. 119:130). Meditate on God s Word; feed on God s Word. Feeding and meditating on God s Word will bring the light, and it will bring faith because, “... faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). When Satan tempted Eve, he questioned her faith in God s commandment (Gen. 3:1-7). When Satan tempted Jesus, he attempted to question Jesus’ firm conviction that He was the Son of God (Matthew 4:1-11). Satan was not after Job s wealth but he was after Job s faith in God (Job 1:11). Your faith in God is what Satan wants you to lose. Don’t allow the issues and circumstances of life to move you; fight with your faith and contend with prayers and your victory is certain.

 

  1. Faith is proof of your righteousness (Gal.2:21, Jam.2:23, Heb.11:33, Rom.1:17, Heb.10:38). Righteousness does not come by keeping the law. If righteousness were to be earned by keeping the law, then there would be no need to become a Christian. It is faith that justifies you before God. Remember Joshua, the High Priest, and Satan accusing him (Zech.3: 1-5), and Moses and the devil standing against him (Jude 9). The Lord will bring to remembrance the day you trusted him even though things went bad, those times you kept hoping when you had no child for years. He will bring to remembrance also days He gave you instructions to leave a place and told you to trust Him and you went to another place – all of these will be brought to remembrance before God.

 

 

 

  1. Faith is a key to unlocking promises (Heb.11:33). Faith is the force that is needed for the fulfillment of God s word (Mark 11:23-24). The fathers of faith in the Bible could obtain the promises of God through faith. They waited patiently through faith until God s promises were fulfilled. Some of them could not even get those promises in their lifetime, yet they believed. Has God promised you something and you are already wavering over it? Don’t let go of it and don’t be discouraged because the time to receive the promises is nearer than before.

 

  1. Faith is a shield (Eph.6:16; Rom.10:17). Your faith can serve as a shield against every fiery dart of the wicked. Whenever you hear a negative pronouncement or curse against you, your faith in God serves as a shield to you. Has someone said you will die untimely? Remember that it is written that, "Thou shall not die but live…"

 

  1. Faith is a weapon of victory (1 Jn.5:4b,5, Heb.11:33). You overcome through faith. You are untouchable, and if anything happens, you have certainly got the victory. The powers of darkness cannot just overcome you. Is your faith strong enough to withstand and send back the fiery darts of the forces of darkness? Those who act upon God s Word will get results (2Cor. 5:7). Jesus said to the woman with the issue of blood, “…Daughter, your faith has made you well...” (Mark 5:34). It was not Jesus’ faith or someone else s faith, but it was her faith that made her whole. Your actions and your words must agree that you are a believer. It will not do you any good to talk faith if you are not going to act faith. When you know what God s word says for yourself and make your confessions of faith in line with God s word, you cannot be defeated. Find out what the Bible says about you as a Christian, believe it, confess it, and act on it, your victory is certain.

 

  1. Faith earns you good report and makes you uncondemnable (Heb. 11:1,2,39; 2 Pet.2:11). Faith earns us good report before God, before men, and even before demons. We are justified by God through faith and are counted among the just who live by faith. Those who live their lives full of faith while on earth will not be condemned in the end by God. We are sanctified and justified by faith.

 

  1. Faith pleases God (Jam.2:23b; Heb.11:6a;1 Sam.16:1; Jonah 1:3). Faith helps us to please God. Our obedience and faith don’t just please God but make us God s friends and He knows we will do whatever He wants.

 

 

 

 

FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH

The theme is of great importance to all believers who want to finish strong in the Christian race. It is found in 1 Timothy 6:12. If the believer wants to gain victory in the fight, then he must not fight with sins and weights. He must fight from a righteous point of view.

 

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” – 2 Timothy 4:7-8, NIV

 

After finishing off the list of attributes to pursue, Paul writes a new instruction to Timothy: “Fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Timothy 6:12, NIV). In a way, this seems to be a combination of his previous pieces of advice. Fighting the good fight of faith involves running from sin and pursuing things such as righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. We have to contend for the faith. Fighting the good fight of faith is about making a choice – a choice to pursue God s will and a life of faith daily. It is about deciding to fight the temptations and factors that pull away from God and instead lean into Him. We have to look at faith comprehensively as we examine the types of faith. There are about five types of faith or more.

  1. Saving Faith: This is the faith for salvation from sin. When a sinner hears the word of God, believes with his heart, and confesses with his mouth- he shall be saved. (Romans 10:9).

For by grace, ye are saved through faith and not of yourself. It is a gift of God. Saving faith is what God sees in you before He saves you from sin and translates you from the kingdom of darkness into light.

 

  1. Doctrinal Faith: Doctrinal faith is called the FAITH. We need to earnestly contend for it so that it is not polluted.

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Jude 3

 

  1. Character Faith: Faith is one of the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit as seen in Galatians 5:22-23

 

  1. Miracle Faith: This is the faith in miracles, signs, and wonders.

1 Corinthians 12:9 says to another faith by the same spirit.                    

This is the faith in raising the dead, cleansing the leper, opening the blind eyes, and faith in miraculous deeds.  The Miracle faith is used to draw heaven s resources.

 

  1. The Christian Faith: Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. This is the totality of the Christian faith. We have so many faiths but our faith or the Christian faith talks about everything Christianity stands for.

 

The Use of the Weapons of Our Warfare as Christians in the Fight of Faith

The weapons of our warfare are not only spiritual but are also very potent. The potency of these weapons is seen in the fact that they can pull down strongholds, cast down arguments and everything that exalted itself against the knowledge of God, and bring every thought into captivity. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5). Every genuine child of God is a battle-axe in God s hands (Jer. 51:20-24). Every Christian must understand that he is engaged in spiritual warfare and it is expedient that we fight a good fight as Apostle Paul admonished. He fought a good fight. Understanding that we fight in the Spirit and understanding the enemy is of great importance. However, it is still not enough to gain dominion in the spiritual war without understanding our weapons of war and how to use them efficiently. This is because in every battle, there are weapons at the disposal of the actors of war, and efficient and effective use of these weapons goes a long way to guarantee victory.

  1. Belt of Truth. Truth holds everything in place and gives you assurance and authenticity. The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth (John 16:13. John 8:32, John 4:24).

 

  1. Breastplate of Righteousness: Righteousness preserves and protects a child of God (Isaiah 59:17, Leviticus 8:8). It protects our hearts from the attack of the enemy.

 

  1. Feet with the Gospel of Peace. God is asking for every genuinely saved Christian, righteous and honest, to be proclaimers of the good news, spreading the word of salvation wherever they go.

 

  1. Shield of faith: The word of God produces faith for advancement in any situation (Prov. 30:5). It quenches the fiery darts (arrows) of the enemy (Romans 10:17). There is a bridge for you to cross: the bridge of faith. You also need the boldness of faith and the blessing of faith.

 

  1. Helmet of Salvation: The helmet protects the head. If you are not saved, you are prey in the hands of the devil. Understanding the saving work of God perfected by Jesus Christ for us protects our minds from the lies of the enemy (Exo. 15:2; 1 Sam. 2:1, 2 Sam. 22:3; Psa. 18:2). This helmet guarantees our victory over darkness.

 

  1. The Sword of the Spirit: This is the word of God which is sharp and quick. The only offensive weapon is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Interestingly, there is no weapon for the back. This indicates that we are never expected to turn our back on the enemy. We are to confront and put their host to flight and not to run away in fear. God is ready to be at your rear, where you have no piece of armour. The word of God is declared to accomplish the purposes of God (Heb. 4:12). Do you know the word with which to confront the adversary? The Bible calls the word of God, “a two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). The word of God is the sword of God in your hand.

 

  1. The Weapon of Prayer (Eph. 6:18; 2 Tim. 1:6-7; 1 Chron. 4:9-10; Gen. 32:24-28). Prayer is a weapon of spiritual warfare; the Bible encourages us to engage always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.

 

  1. The Blood of Jesus Christ: The blood of Jesus Christ sanctifies us ready for battle. Through the blood of Jesus Christ, we have victory over sin and Satan (Rev. 12:11; 1 John 1:7). The blood of Jesus Christ gives us boldness to gain access into the holy of holies (God s Presence) (Heb. 10:19). The blood of Jesus Christ speaks on our behalf better things of mercy, freedom, and grace.

 

  1. The Name of Jesus Christ: The name of Jesus Christ changes situations when called. The Bible tells us that the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and are safe (Prov. 18:10; Psa. 61:3; Gen. 4:26). The name of Jesus Christ is above every other name and dominates in the spiritual realm; every knee bows in obedience to the name of Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:9-11). We have the authority to use Jesus’ name (Acts 3:1-9). All the power and all the authority that is invested in Jesus is in that name.

 

TAKE HOLD OF ETERNAL LIFE

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” – John 5:24, NIV

 

Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.  1 Timothy 6:19 (KJV)

“Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12, NIV). In life, we take hold of a lot of things. From family to possessions to habits, everyone has something they embrace and celebrate. In Chapter 6 of 1 Timothy, Paul is saying to take hold of eternal life.

 

In John 5:24, Jesus says, “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.” Through belief in Jesus and God s plan of redemption, we can have eternal life. Paul encourages us to embrace and hold on to it. As in his previous analogy to fighting a good fight, here eternal life seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, a prize in the fight, an encouragement to keep the faith and not grow weary.

 

HOW CAN WE SUCCEED IN FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH

 Here are ten encouraging, inspiring, and practical pointers:

  • Walk straight ahead on the way of God. Don’t look back like Lot s wife. Continue to say “yes” to Jesus, for He surpasses all knowledge. Forget what lies behind, and earnestly pursue what lies ahead; hasten toward the treasure which is laid up in heaven for you. (Philippians 3:12-14; Matthew 6:20)
  • Do not love the world or the things in the world, and never covet anything on earth. Pursue those things which are above; the kingdom of heaven consists of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God leads us into the depths of this kingdom so that our peace is like a river and our righteousness is like the waves of the sea. (1 John 2:15; Colossians 3:1-2; Romans 14:17; Isaiah 48:18)
  • Never resist God s Spirit. Always let Him lead and guide you, because He can guide you into all truth. (John 16:13)
  • Don’t be afraid if you come into fiery trials, for gold is purified in the fire. The fire will not consume you, nor the waters overwhelm you. (1 Peter 1:6-7; Isaiah 43:2)
  • Always seek nourishment for your spiritual life. This nourishment consists of life and peace since the mind of the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6)
  • Open your ears wide to the voice of God s Son so you can clearly distinguish the Shepherd s voice from the voice of the hireling. (John 10:11-12,27)
  • Never be satisfied with being somewhat religious outwardly while remaining just as worldly within. Shun such folly. Always keep a clear testimony, and never be in league with the world. You must be radical in this, because Christ and Baal, God and the world, can never be united. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)
  • Never be ashamed of the name of Jesus but, profess it boldly; your boldness will increase and your reward will be great. (Romans 1:16)
  • If you lack wisdom from God, ask for it; He gives willingly and without reproach. If you want to learn about God, spend time with Him because you become like the one you spend time with. (James 1:5; James 4:8).

 

  • Keep saying “yes” to Jesus, “no” to yourself, and “no” to the world. If you do this, your speech will simply be “yes” and “no,” and you know that anything more than this is of the devil. (Matthew 5:37).

 

CONCLUSION

Those who had gone ahead of us also had to contend for their faith to get a good report (Hebrews 11:2). You too must be ready to do all that is necessary to hold on to your faith and ensure that it is not shipwrecked (1 Timothy 1:19-20). You are a partaker of God s divine nature, and no battle can overwhelm you. The precious faith that you have obtained is worth defending and fighting for if you are determined that the devil will not take it away from you. You must arise to defend your faith. Satan is not your friend because you belong to God. The devil is a contender and you must be ready to defend your territory and refuse to be terrified by this enemy of your soul. Your ultimate goal and focus should be that after your sojourn on earth, you will be able to declare like Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).

 

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