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Fight the Good Fight

"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called…" (1 Timothy 6:12).

School bullies with an inferiority complex like to fight. Politicians with a craving for pork like to fight. People with a pure mean streak like to fight. Even some religious folks who desire the limelight like to fight. But only perverse people enjoy fighting and the turmoil and suffering it spawns.

But, like it or not, every breathing, thinking person is at war with spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). Thus, Paul urges Timothy to "wage the good warfare" (1 Timothy 1:18) and "fight the good fight of faith" (1 Timothy 6:12). Make no mistake: A war is being fought, our soul is the prize and the outcome is for eternity.

The modern religious world recoils from militaristic terminology. They would rather emphasize love, peace and harmony. But it was the Holy Spirit, not Bible translators or right-wing religious zealots, who chose this wording to describe the conflict between good and evil. The New Testament speaks of armor (Ephesians 6:10-18), weaponry (2 Corinthians 10:3-5), enemies (Philippians 3:18) and fighting (2 Timothy 4:7). Not a pretty picture but accurate nonetheless.

In this battle, truth is constantly attacked. We must fight to preserve and advance it (Galatians 2:5). Our character as godly people will be assailed. We must give no occasion for justified criticism (2 Corinthians 8:21). But amidst the fiercest battles, let us remember one thing: The war is not ultimately against us but Christ. Satan hates Him so passionately that he also hates all those loyal to Him. Jesus repeatedly alludes to this ( e.g. John 15:20-21; 16:1-4).

Even in warfare, men recognize certain rules of engagement. The Geneva Convention establishes humane treatment in the midst of inhuman behavior. We must not only fight but fight as children of God, as ones who possess His spirit. If we begin enjoying the battle and use it as a pretext for satisfying our own carnal urges, then we bring guilt upon ourselves even as did the Assyrians and Babylonians of old (cf. Isaiah 47:5-7; Zechariah 1:15).

We have no choice as to whether we shall participate in this battle; we're already in it. The only choice to make is which side we will be on. Victory belongs only to Christ and those on His side (1 Corinthians 15:57; Romans 8:33-39).