A Good Soldier

Monday, June 29, 2015, 6:30 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Your Servant Witness.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Timothy 2:1-7 (NASB).

Be Strong (vv. 1-2)

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Timothy was a pastor, a minister of the gospel of Christ, a disciple of Paul’s, and a leader in the church, so he was in a position of spiritual authority within the church. Thus, not everything Paul instructed Timothy to do is applicable to every follower of Christ, yet much of it is, and what isn’t, we can still learn from in principle, for “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17NIV).

We should all be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and we should daily put on our spiritual armor with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us (See Eph. 6:10-20). And, all followers of Christ are the Lord’s servants, his messengers and his witnesses. We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth, and we are to all let our lights shine before people. We are all to make followers of Christ of all people, teaching them to obey Christ’s commandments. And, we are to speak the truth in love, one to another, and to use the spiritual gifts we are given by the Spirit of God, and to fulfill our God-ordained roles within the body of Christ, for the building up of the body in love, and for their edification, encouragement and strengthening in the Lord (See: Eph. 4:1-16; Ro. 12:1-8; 1 Co. 12).

As a Soldier (vv. 3-4)

Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.

As well, we are all soldiers of Christ in his spiritual army, though we do not wage war as the world does, nor do we use the weapons of this world. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Co. 10:3-5; cf. Eph. 6:10-20). Amen!

As soldiers in our Lord’s spiritual army, we don’t entangle (ensnare) ourselves in the affairs (business) of this earthly (physical) life. We don’t get twisted together or deeply involved in or caught up in things which have little to no eternal value. For instance, I believe Christians should not involve themselves in politics, spending vast amounts of time, energy, and devotion to political parties and to defending political platforms which are designed by sinful human beings, and often for sinful, evil and deceptive purposes, of which we may not even be aware. I see many Christians get so caught up in following a particular political party that they will argue and fight with other believers, and will passionately defend the positions of sinful human beings, and for what purpose? God never called us to do this.

We don’t demolish Satan’s strongholds by defending and supporting what are his strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that is raised up against the knowledge of God by living godly and holy lives, and by daily putting on the armor of God, fighting off Satan’s evil attacks with the spiritual armor we have been given by God. And, we do so by spreading the message of the gospel of our salvation so that people can hear the gospel and can be saved. This is where people will find true freedom, liberty and justice for all – in Christ Jesus, our Lord, not in humans. If Christians spent the time and energy they spend following political parties, and vehemently defending their political platforms, instead, in following the Lord Jesus in service to him and to his gospel, and in spreading the message of the gospel throughout the world, we could shake this world for Jesus Christ!

Yet, politics is not the only “affair” of this physical life of which we are not to entangle ourselves. Many, many followers of Christ spend vast amounts of time, energy and devotion in being entertained and in entertaining others, including within the church. Those of us who grew up with TV in our homes, and then were later on introduced to personal computers, and then tablets (like IPads), and then smartphones, and the like, are being regularly bombarded with so many different ways in which to be entertained, and to entertain. Thus, we might often also be distracted from what really matters, from the things of God - of his righteousness and holiness - and from the callings of God on our lives to be his servants and his witnesses to the world around us, which is falling apart at the seams.

A good soldier of Jesus Christ is a follower of Christ who is concerned with pleasing his or her Lord, instead of being tangled up in the affairs of this world (of our earthly lives). Obviously people have to have jobs, pay bills, shop for food, cook, clean, take care of kids, etc. Those are necessities, though even these things can be taken to extreme, as well, and can become our idols, if we are not careful to seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness. The important thing here is that we make Jesus top priority in our lives, and we follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives all the time, whether we are working a secular job, or we are in full-time Christian ministry, or we are at home taking care of small children. We are to be servants of the Lord wherever we are, and in whatever we are doing, and when we have “free time,” we are still his servants, to do his bidding.

According to the Rules (vv. 5-7)

Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Rules? Many say, “I thought rules were done with now that we are no longer under the law but under grace.” They think we don’t have to follow any rules now, but that we are free to live however we want, for Jesus set us free. But, Jesus didn’t free us to live our lives the way we want. That is not true freedom, for that is still slavery to the flesh of man. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (See: 1 Pet. 2:24). He freed us from the slavery of sin so that we might become slaves of righteousness (See: Ro. 6-8). He died that might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us (See: 2 Co. 5:15). This is true freedom! And, it comes with rules, which are written down for us in the New Testament books of the Bible. Without rules, we have chaos, and disorder.

Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self), and follow (obey) Jesus. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (See: Lu. 9:23-25). Jesus died that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. If we walk according to the flesh, we will die, but if, by the Spirit, we are putting to death the deeds of our sinful flesh, we will live (See: Ro. 8:1-14).

Only those who are believing (present tense) in Jesus Christ have the hope of eternal life (See: Jn. 3:16). Jesus’ followers know his voice, they listen to him, and they obey him, and they are the ones who cannot be snatched out of God’s hands (See: Jn. 10:27-30). If we say we have fellowship with God, but we continue to walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (in sin/evil), then we are liars, and the truth is not in us (See: 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

There are rules for the Christian life, and some of them are critical to whether or not we have eternal salvation. This is not works-based salvation, as some would have you to believe, otherwise Jesus and the apostles would not have taught it. This is not following a set of rules to gain or to earn salvation. Yet, obedience to Christ and to his Word is essential to us having eternal life with God (See: Jn. 8:51; Heb. 5:9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; 3:24). That is because true faith in Jesus Christ is both repentant and obedient, not in absolute sinless perfection, but in walking (conducting our lives) according to (agreeing with) the Spirit.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to new lives in Christ, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24). Sin should no longer be our master, because we are not under law, but under grace. We have been set free from sin, and have become slaves of righteousness. When we were slaves to sin, we were free from the control of righteousness (See: Ro. 6). So, let us walk in the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh, so that we might live holy lives, pleasing to God, and be his true servant witnesses.

Your Servant Witness / An Original Work / March 13, 2012

Humbly I bow, Lord, before You,
Bringing my requests to You.
May I listen; hear You speaking.
May I follow You in truth.
Gently lead me in Your service.
Guide my steps and strengthen me.
Fill me with Your love and mercy.
May I live for Thee!

Let me be Your servant witness,
Telling others of Your grace.
May I always share the gospel
With those I meet face to face.
May I show the love of Jesus,
Caring for the needs of men;
Be Your servant witness always
For my Lord, Amen!

My desire to be like Jesus,
Living for Him ev’ry day.
May I obey all His teachings
Given me, so I’ll not stray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master.
You are the King of my heart;
Follow You where’er You lead me;
Not from You depart!