Thus far we've considered four characteristics of the Lord's army:
But, what must one do to fight the good fight of faith as Paul instructed Timothy in I Timothy 6:12? What are the proper ingredients in the make-up of a valiant warrior? Why do so many members of the church seem to get "knocked out" early in the fight? And is it not true that many brethren take such a beating from Satan long before the Judgment that they have been counted out by TKO? Some, however, linger on to the last bell and find out that they have "lost on points." They would have won had they been more careful (cf. II John 8). Others begin strong but soon run out of steam and refuse to come out for the last rounds. They are disqualified as they sit on "the stool of do-nothing" in a neutral corner (e.g., Rev. 3:15). Quite a large segment of the losers blame everyone else for the bad decisions: the referee, the promoters, the judges, the makers of the gloves, or the ones in charge of the lighting arrangements! This reminds me of brethren who blame elders, preachers, teachers, and other members for their own deficiency in battle. It is never their fault! However, it will be in the day of Judgment. We will be judged by the word of God - "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him--the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). We will be judged by our actions - "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who 'will render to each one according to his deeds'" (Rom. 2:4-6).
Do you want to be a good fighter for the faith? Then let's consider ten important qualities of a good fighter:
1. A good fighter is WELL MANAGED.
Christians have the only perfect manager the world has seen. We must yield ourselves unto Him fully. We are to present ourselves to Christ as slaves! How do we do this? "Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?" (Rom. 6:16). Remember, we're a "new creation" (II Cor. 5:17). Kind of like a restaurant under new management.
2. A good fighter TRAINS FERVENTLY.
Occasionally a boxer has won a big bout without proper training, but this is the exception. To stay on top in our contest against sin, we must be willing to stay in shape spiritually at all times. We, like Paul, need to discipline our bodies and bring them into subjection (I Cor. 9:27). Even Paul realized that he could fall from grace, and thus, he worked out his salvation with fear and trembling so he would not become disqualified (cf. Phil. 2:12).
3. A good fighter has ENDURANCE.
Some fighters are unable to win if the contest goes beyond the first five rounds. They have a flashy beginning but no staying power. Unable to plan their attack for the later struggles, they always lose at the final bell. They run out of steam before the battle ends. Jesus called this lack of planning a failure to "count the cost" in Luke 14:25-33. As the Hebrews writer says, "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Heb. 12:1). Let's remain focused and growing in His grace and knowledge (cf. II Pet. 3:18). Those who don't build up endurance remain in the novice bracket all of their days.
4. A good fighter must DEVELOP AN OFFENSE.
No boxer has ever won solely with defensive measures. Paul said: "I have fought a good fight" (II Tim. 4:7). Too many professing soldiers of Jesus are depending upon what they haven't done to save them. Often our only plea of righteousness is: "I have not done anything wrong." But James 4:17 and II Corinthians 10:4-5 demand that we do something good by bringing our lives into absolute subjection to Christ.
5. A good fighter must STRENGTHEN HIS DEFENSE.
Yes, our enemy Satan, desires to have us in his clutches (e.g., Luke 22:31). We must resist his advances of temptation. We must have an impenetrable defense, because he will try to get us anywhere we are weak. We need strong protection against sin and its deadly punch (cf. Rom. 6:23).
We will conclude this study in our next lesson.