Better Days Ahead—Part 6
November 23, 2021
by Peter Amsterdam
Better Days Ahead—Part 6
—Fight the Good Fight of Faith
Following Jesus is not a passive, easy, feel-good hobby. It’s a challenge, a lifestyle, and a calling. We are blessed to know that our lives make a difference as we walk in obedience to God’s Word, doing what we can to witness, be an example of God’s love, and lead others to Jesus. Of course, not every day is an exciting thrill with momentous achievements and victories. Some days are rather humdrum as we go about our daily responsibilities, but what makes all the difference is that we know we’re living for the One who loves us, who died for us, and what we do for Him and others matters. We live in anticipation of one day hearing Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Lord.” (See Matthew 25:23.)
The confidence we have in God’s promises and the glorious future we will share with Jesus and all His saved children in heaven is a great motivator! And that’s important, because we are fighting a spiritual warfare! We are soldiers of the cross.
1 Timothy 6:12 says: “Fight the good fight of the faith [in the conflict with evil]; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and [for which] you made the good confession [of faith] in the presence of many witnesses” (AMP).
There are spiritual forces of evil, Satan and his demons, who oppose God and His children. They are in rebellion against God. They oppose our work of bringing the truth of salvation to the world and seek to pull us away from the Lord and His service. But God reigns over the entire created order, including the forces of evil, and Satan is a defeated foe.
Chuck Lawless explains the spiritual warfare as follows:
We do genuinely wrestle against principalities and powers (Eph. 6:12), but the devil and his forces have never been outside of God’s control.
Since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, the devil has tried to bait us with false teaching, lure us into sin, and turn us against each other. He does this to keep us from glorifying God and doing the Great Commission. He seeks to devour us (1 Pet. 5:8) so we can no longer be a light to a lost world. The summary I commonly use is that the enemy wants us to mess up (fall into sin), give up (get discouraged), get puffed up (live in arrogance), split up (divide), or shut up (quit evangelizing).
But we are not on the defensive in this battle. … We put on the full armor of God not so we can defend ourselves, but so we can march into the enemy’s kingdom to do the work of the Great Commission.1
We can take heart that we’re not alone in this battle. Jesus Himself had a face-down with Satan before He began His ministry. What we can learn from reading Jesus’ experience was that He overcame by quoting the truth of God’s Word.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.—Matthew 4:1–11 ESV
We know that a relentless warfare is being waged in this spiritual realm between good and evil, between God and His good forces and Satan and his evil forces, and that we have been called to fight the good fight of faith. The apostle Paul instructed us to be equipped and prepared to enter into the fray, as we go forth to shine the light of God’s truth to the world:
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.—Ephesians 6:10–12 (ESV, emphasis added)
We all face spiritual and emotional battles of some kind at different times in life—fear of the future, discouragement, discontentment, despair and loss of hope, anger, bitterness, temptation, addictions, arrogance, unbelief, lethargy, disunity with other believers, etc. Perhaps you have had sleepless nights when you’ve felt overwhelmed with concern about finances, or maybe it’s the unexpected medical condition that is crippling and weakening you, and you are tempted to doubt God’s goodness and plan for your life. Maybe you worry about the future and who will help take care of you, and you imagine the worst-case scenarios. Perhaps you are suffering with regret and condemnation when you see that things have not gone well in some way and you feel you or others are to blame. It’s possible that bitterness is eating away at your heart because of division between you and someone else.
If you are not facing physical enemies, you are surely facing spiritual enemies. Again, it is helpful to remember, especially when you find yourself in the “wilderness,” [that] you have a very real Enemy who seeks to destroy. He is ever prowling around, searching for those he can devour. … He wants nothing more than to tempt you to turn away from God and turn to the world for your answers, or even more, to just give up and give in to sin.2
We will face an ongoing spiritual war throughout our lives—that is the nature of life in this fallen world until Jesus’ return. Jesus prayed: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. … As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:15–18 NIV). Not only are we living in a fallen world, but we are sent into it to be His light and salt to bring others to Him!
So, what can we do when we face spiritual battles? We can learn to fight! We can keep going and determine not to quit!
We know that the Devil is not omnipresent as God and Jesus are. He cannot be everywhere, but his evil forces wage war against God’s children. The mind is the great battlefield where spiritual war is waged—the war to influence people’s thoughts and, through their thoughts, their actions.
The Bible instructs us to guard our thoughts and put on the mind of Christ:
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
“To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).
“The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” (Romans 8:7).
If we’re going to be the strong followers of Jesus that He wants us to be, we must be wholly His, and in order to be wholly His, we must discipline our thoughts and “gird up the loins of our minds” (1 Peter 1:13). That means to be prepared for action and sober-minded as we go about our mission of bringing God’s truth and message of salvation to the world.
Here is some insight from the Lord about our thoughts.
Jesus: People often consider thoughts to be fleeting and worthless, but yours are so precious to Me that I read each one. My ability to read your every thought may be disconcerting to you. You’re able to interact with other people while keeping your secret thoughts to yourself, but not so with Me! … The fact that I care about every aspect of you—even all your thoughts—demonstrates how important you are to Me.
I know how difficult it is for you to control what courses through your brain. Your mind is a battleground. … Your own sinfulness also finds ample expression in your thought life. You need to stay alert and fight against evil! I fought and died for you, so remember who you are and Whose you are—putting on the helmet of salvation with confidence. This helmet not only protects your mind, it also reminds you of the victory I secured for you on the cross.
Because you are My treasure, I notice and rejoice as soon as your thinking turns My way. The more thoughts you bring to Me, the more you can share in My joy. I disarm evil thoughts and render them powerless. Then I help you think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy things. Ponder these things while resting in the Peace of My Presence.—Sarah Young, Jesus Lives
It’s wonderful to know that Jesus is helping us bring our thoughts into captivity and that by doing so we can enjoy a more intimate relationship with Him.
Earlier in this article we were reminded from Ephesians 6:10–12 that we can “stand strong in the Lord and his mighty power” and that we can “put on the full armor of God,” which will help us overcome the Devil’s attacks as we battle spiritual forces of evil in the world.
Ephesians 6:13–18 is a description of the spiritual armor God gives us. We are to stand firm with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, and by praying in the Spirit. What do these pieces of spiritual armor represent in spiritual warfare?
We are to know the truth, believe the truth, and speak the truth. We are to rest in the fact that we are declared righteous because of Christ’s sacrifice for us. We are to proclaim the gospel no matter how much resistance we face. We are not to waver in our faith, trusting God’s promises no matter how strongly we are attacked. Our ultimate defense is the assurance we have of our salvation, an assurance that no spiritual force can take away. Our offensive weapon is the Word of God, not our own opinions and feelings. And we are to pray in the power and will of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is our ultimate example of resisting temptation in spiritual warfare. Observe how Jesus handled direct attacks from Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1–11). Each temptation was combatted with the words “it is written.” The Word of the living God is the most powerful weapon against the temptations of the devil. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).3
…In Ephesians 6:18, we are told to pray in the Spirit (that is, with the mind of Christ, with His heart and His priorities) in addition to wearing the full armor of God. We cannot neglect prayer, as it is the means by which we draw spiritual strength from God. Without prayer, without reliance upon God, our efforts at spiritual warfare are empty and futile. The full armor of God—truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer—are the tools God has given us, through which we can be spiritually victorious, overcoming Satan’s attacks and temptations.4
In the following message, the Lord encourages us to not become discouraged and lose hope in the midst of this spiritual warfare. He is with us every moment of every day, and He has provided all that we need to be victorious!
Jesus: You are in a spiritual warfare that is the most important warfare that will ever be waged, for the most righteous cause, for results that are eternal—the salvation of mankind and the preparation of the earth for My kingdom come. And war is about opposition—it’s two opposing armies facing each other down, each determined to be the victor.
You have an advantage over traditional armies because your victory was prophesied from the beginning of time. Your success is guaranteed and set in heaven, if you continue to fight the good fight, using the spiritual weapons of warfare, determined to carry the day in every battle you face.
If you have the mindset that you are in a war, then regardless of the form that the battles may take, you will not see it as some strange thing that has come upon you (1 Peter 4:12). Instead, you will know that it is a part of the spiritual warfare—and as you face it with the power of My Spirit and using the spiritual weapons of warfare at your disposal, you will overcome, no matter what threat or challenge you face.
Every time you’re hit with a battle, remind yourself, “I am a child of God! I am an enemy of Satan and I’m a threat to his kingdom!” If you take on a battle-ready perspective every day, you won’t be shocked if you run into some resistance at times. As you wield the shield of faith, you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one that seek to undermine your faith (Ephesians 6:16).
The formula for overcoming any spiritual battles you face is faith. Trust that I am at the helm. No matter how powerful the waves are that beat against your ship, I’m going to bring you through the storm. Regardless of the circumstances—the size of the waves crashing against your vessel, or your inadequacy to meet the challenges—My will is that every battle you face will somehow work together for your good.
Determine to stand strong in Me and in the power of My might, and having done all, stand your ground (Ephesians 6:10, 13). Determine to run the race that I have set before you, and be not weary in well-doing, knowing that in due season you will see the reward of your faith, if you do not give up (Galatians 6:9).
May we each find joy and strength through yielding to Jesus, walking with Him day by day, and being His vessels of love and grace. The Lord is with us constantly, strengthening us, leading us, and helping us to be a testimony of His truth. God has given us every spiritual resource we need for this warfare so that we can stand strong and be His witnesses to the world. These include the truth, righteousness, gospel preparation, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer (Ephesians 6:14–18).
As we fight our spiritual battles, I am confident that God will give us boldness and endurance as we put on the whole armor of God. “Fight the good fight of faith, and take hold of the eternal life to which we were called when we made our good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12 NIV).
We have the hope of heaven and can count on a glorious future of eternal life. Let’s not lose sight of the goal, the prize! “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). God is for us, He is always with us, and He will perfect that which concerns us. So, no matter how difficult, no matter how hot the spiritual battle, no matter how weak or tired we feel, let’s persevere fighting the good fight of faith because, as we do, we are guaranteed to win, by God’s grace and power!