What does it mean to fight this good fight of faith?
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Good afternoon everyone and a pleasant greetings to you on God's Sabbath. Once again it is time to get into this most important Book of books, the wonderful Word of God because it gives us what you and I need and actually what everyone needs but most people haven't got a clue at this time, simply because they have turned their back on this precious book that is called The Holy Bible. It comes from the Eternal Creator Himself, it gives us instruction in righteousness and things that you and I could never learn from any other source. So at this particular time we're going to go into a very important topic in terms of something that is required by God's Word for all of us as men and women, young and old alike. It is something we have to evaluate and look at in terms of how are we scoring on the scale with regard to this particular commodity?
I'd like you to turn with me first of all to the book of Luke 18 and if you will, let's take a look at verse 6. Now this is a parable Jesus spoke about how important it is for every individual to pray, because prayer is lifeline communication between the Christian man and woman and Almighty God and so it gives this example of this widow that had a problem. And so she went to this individual and of course the rest of the parable is given and finally he acquiesces because she sticks to her guns, she needs help and she keeps coming back until finally He says, hey, she's wearing me out! Now you can never wear out God, no matter how many times you come, so that's not the purpose of the parable. The parable is that you and I need to be persistent. God is always faithful in what He does but we sometimes just pop off a short prayer and think we're going to get great results and God may just allow us to have to work at it, like Philippians tells, you have to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. But no, it is God who works in and through you to accomplish His will and His great purpose. Now in verse 6 we find that He gives an answer, Jesus…this is in the red letter edition of the Bible, it says:
Luke:18:6And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. – " I tell you that He (referring to God) who hears the cries of His people …as it says in verse 7… day and night, though He bear long with them .
Meaning God doesn't just jump because we pray – we would like Him to – but He doesn't operate on our time schedule. He tells us you and I have need of patience, that after we have done the will of God, which is the express revelation of Scripture, that when we do that, then we will see the final answer in the great plan and purpose of God. But in verse 7 He says:
Luke:18:8I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? – " I tell you speedily …referring to God, whose going to avenge them or praying to them… Nevertheless …notice the time setting… that when the Son of Man comes …and He will come again, contrary to the skeptics, contrary to the ones who say, oh well, I've always heard the promise of His coming, where is the promise of His coming? They think God is a joke, well they are going to find out that the joke is on them because when the Son of Man does come, He's going to be looking for something and it says… shall He find faith on the earth?"
And the reason why that is posed to us in this manner is because the world is going to descend into such untrustworthy circumstances that you don't know how to – who do you believe, who do you trust? We see already the terrible corruption that is…people have trusted their finances to certain organizations thinking their 401K's and different things would be there for them when they retire. And we have the Bernie Madoff scandals and things like that where individuals have bilked people out of billions of dollars and people in good faith put their trust there, they put their hard-earned money there and they can't afford to lose that stuff. And yet at the same time, the bible is telling us it is going to be such a degree of, you can't believe or trust in anyone or anything and so people will tend to do the very thing that the Bible forbids, don't trust yourself, don't lean to your own understanding. But if I can't trust anyone out there, who do I trust? Well I'll trust myself, because I know how I react. Oh yeah, God says I know how you react too when you lean to your own understanding, you run into serious trouble. And so we're reminded that we have always got to stop and think how God is viewing all circumstances. Because He is the one who has the final word. You and I are players in a dramatic plan that God has worked out from His great vantage point in heaven above and through Jesus Christ is working this great plan and purpose out step by step, He documents all the key people He has worked with down through time, giving them fragments of teaching and preaching of how God's plan was to unfold step by step by step. But it didn't come to its full conclusion until you come to the book of Hebrews where God says, in the past He gave them bits and pieces but now He is speaking to us through His Son Jesus Christ.
So through the gospel account we find that Jesus Christ becomes that central figure that you and I must learn about, study and understand because when He comes back, He's looking, and another way of putting it would be this – is there anyone out there that trusts Me? That has faith in Me? Because you see, you and I are putting our faith and trust in something we can't see at this time in terms of, we didn't walk and talk with Jesus Christ, we didn't do what doubting Thomas did, we didn't put our hands on Him and touch Him and once He was touched, then he said, Now I believe. Then Jesus said what? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. Put their belief, their trust and their confidence in what God has revealed in the Word of God. Marvelous! Marvelous in terms of what God has spoken.
Now let's take a look at another very important area and that is in John 6 and again, referring to Jesus Christ. In verse 28 it said:
John:6:28Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? – Then they said to Him, "What shall we do that we might work the works of God? " Well that's what we all want to do; we want to do the works of God.
John:6:29Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. – And Jesus answered and said unto them… notice, notice how Christ defined it…." This is the work of God that you believe on Him …on who? On the Christ of the Bible, the Biblical Christ as revealed… whom He hath sent ."
In other words, God the Father sent His Son as the Lamb of God to take away our sins as human beings, we are blessed to have a calling, to be a part of the firstfruits of that great assembly of human beings who will become part of the God family in that first resurrection spoken of in the book of Revelation.
So again, when we talk about the Work of God, you know we're not talking about organizations; we're talking about following Jesus Christ. Organizations merely are like, as I referenced, an umbrella to allow us to as individuals to worship God in spirit and truth. That's what United is all about; it gives us the wherewithal to come and worship God in spirit and truth and to focus our attention on the Work of God which is what? Preaching the gospel, the good news to the world and telling them about what? About Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ is the Work of God. God is working through Him to bring about salvation and deliverance for all mankind through this great plan and purpose that He is working out here below.
Now let's add another dimension to this, let's go to the book of Hebrews, that is that famous book that deals specifically about the High Priest of the New Testament, Jesus Christ Himself, commonly referred to as the faith chapter. We all recognize that key members are mentioned in this book, or this chapter of the book of Hebrews we'll put it and in chapter 11 it makes it very clear. It says that this:
Hebrews:11:1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. – Faith …this trust that we have as revealed in Scripture… is the substance of things hoped for …things we hope for… and the evidence of things not seen.
What is the evidence of things not seen? Something out there that I cannot see, that is invisible, made everything that is here in this physical temporal universe. It made every man, every woman, every child, everything is attributed to this great powerful Creator God, this invisible unseen God, a God who was the one who would have dominated and guided the hand of ancient Israel, but because they said, "we can't see Him, we want a king like everyone else," so that was their great fallacy, that was what brought them down and God was angered by that and He said they would not enter into His rest because they would not put faith and trust and confidence in the God who had done what? Had just delivered them from 400 some years of slavery in Egypt, given them freedom, they watched an entire military nation, Egypt, the power of that time, destroyed before their very eyes. They saw the Egyptians coming across, they saw God's hands literally opening the Red Sea and what happens? You would think you're on such a high at that point, wow, we've got God on our side! Well the only two people that survived with that attitude, their names were Joshua and Caleb. The rest said, you know, I think I want to go back and be a slave in Egypt. Why? Because we remember the leeks and the onions. To me that means their stomach was their god, they were more worried about what to eat rather than to say, Hey, if our God can do this, He can do anything. All we have to do is, Moses, can you tell God to send some food? And He sent manna and He sent some meat, He sent quail, He can do anything! But all these stories are written, showing again, a lack of faith.
That's why this subject is so important today. Actually what we're going to talk about today and I've titled this message, "The Good Fight of Faith." Because it is a fight dear brethren, this is something we have to take seriously because the Bible addresses it in a very serious condition, it does not tell us that it's going to be a picnic going into the kingdom of God. It reminds us that if the righteous scarcely be saved. If the righteous scarcely be saved, it sounds like it's going to be a cliff hanger, that you have got to know and know in your mind and heart that this is correct what God has stated and you're basing your life on this. And so how many people are willing to die for what they believe? The Bible tells us there is coming a time where some people are going to have to die to prove that this is what they believe. It's called a martyrdom of the saints in the end time. It will be a terrible time in human history, people turning on each other, betraying one another because they do not see and fear Almighty God.
Almighty God, when we see Him as He really is, and He is a great and awesome God with power and might and wisdom, then you do what? You take Him into account before you act. You realize, what does He say about this? And then when you understand it from that perspective, everything changes because you realize there's places I don't need to go, things I don't need to see, things I don't want to be a part of and you make your own choices based on the Word of God, not on what people tell you – they say, Oh well, that doesn't matter.
Because we all remember, we've all been touched by an organization that for years we thought believed a certain status of life and then all of a sudden somebody comes along and says, "You know, you don't have to do that anymore, now you can go to church on a Sunday instead of the Sabbath day, seventh day Sabbath that the Bible addresses. And also you don't have to follow any type of dietary laws because again, that's all done away." So people did what? "Is that so?" Rather than check the Bible to see if it were so, they ran off to go do what? Eat their ham sandwiches and all the other things they thought they were being denied and yet all the Mighty God of heaven and earth said, "Look there are certain things I want you to eat and other things I don't want you to eat." It's just common sense. If the Bible is telling you that you can eat anything, then go have an armadillo sandwich! I don't think we want that. How about a porcupine with those quills? No, we don't want that. How about a spider sandwich? No! We don't want that either. But why don't we want that? Because common sense says that doesn't look edible. But you know, when people don't have a guideline – and that's what God gave the Bible for – a guideline, to show us what to avoid and what to ingest and properly eat because God knew very clearly. That was brought out in Peter's vision in the book of Acts, remember when he saw the sheet come down, had all those unclean creatures coming in, in the book of Acts. And what did the voice from heaven say? "Kill and eat." What did Peter say? "Not so Lord." He tried the spirit to see if it was of God, he said, that doesn't match.
Now the way, if it meant like what people sometimes try to say, then it should have been written in the book of Acts this way: "Kill and eat." And Peter said, "Halleluiah Lord, now I get a chance to taste these things, I didn't know, I always wondered what it was like, I never ate them before but I'm ready to go now."
No, he held his own and then he said and made it clear, what God is teaching me, that I should not call any man common or unclean. Human beings are made in the image of God, not to be looked down upon but to be understood as brothers and sisters and a wonderful creation that Almighty God has made that gives us the chance of a lifetime to be in the kingdom of God, God's ultimate purpose for life.
But in order to do this, we're going to have to fight the good fight of faith, so we're going to look at that today and say, what does it mean to fight this good fight of faith? Timothy writes something; let's take a look at 1 Timothy:6:12Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. . Some of these scriptures we're going to move through very quickly, other's we'll take more time with. Notice what the apostle Paul told the young evangelist Timothy. He said this was something he would have to do, this is something we all have to do:
1 Timothy:6:12Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. – Fight the good fight of faith and lay hold on eternal life …don't just assume you've got it, you have an opportunity for it, but you've got to reach out and take it, you've got to take that opportunity that God offers and lay your hands on it… wherein you are called …we've been called by God (John:6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. – No man comes to Me except the spirit of the Father draw him. ) so Jesus makes it very clear, there's a calling involved… and you have professed a good profession before many witnesses .
Yes we have, we've been baptized, we've had hands laid upon us, people have known us for years in the churches of God and we are all striving hopefully, for that wonderful gift of eternal life that comes from God Himself. We are also pictured in 2 Corinthians 10 , let's go to 2 Corinthians 10. It pictures that we are in a spiritual conflict wherein actually, what many people fail to fully realize, we're in war. We know what physical warfare is in this world, it's raging all over the planet and it's terrible. It's terrible to see what is happening in Syria right now, what happened before in Libya prior to that. Around the world you will see killing, war, and more killing from Africa to Asia. Well here we are told in verse 3:
2 Corinthians:10:3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: – Though we walk in the flesh …that's where we're at in our stage in life, we're in the flesh… we do not war after the flesh . Notice it is a war, but we don't war in the way the world wars. It goes on to say:
2 Corinthians:10:4(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) – For the weapons …
Yes, we're armed, we're not a bunch of spiritual pacifists we're a bunch of spiritual fighters and we have to fight the good fight of faith because when the Son of man comes, He's going to say, is there anyone out there that's got any faith and trust in God? Because Satan is going to hammer this area of faith to break the confidence of God's people so that they will not be looking to Jesus Christ when He returns. They're just going to say, well my Lord delays His coming, I don't know about this, I'm just going to flat give away, and yet others will hang tenaciously right to the very end, as Revelation:3:10Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. tells the Philadelphia Church – hold fast what you have that no man take your crown. You've got to hang on to these things that you know and have proven to be Biblically sound and true, you're not following men, you're not following weird ideas, you're following what you have discovered in the Bible and you're basing your life on it, because nobody else can save your life except God Almighty and Jesus Christ. All of our lives are in that same state of affairs. So he goes on to say:
2 Corinthians:10:4(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) – For the weapons of our warfare …yes, we are in warfare, but they are not carnal, we don't operate based on the physical flesh, but it goes on to say… it is mighty through God …because it is God who is working in and through you to accomplish His will and His purpose as Philippians 2:12-13 talk about… to the pulling down of strongholds.
Now what kind of strongholds do we have as men and women? Have you ever heard the term, boy he is sure a strong-minded individual? That means they can be so set in their ways, so strong in their ways and that's not necessary could be bad but it can be one's undoing if it is not orchestrated properly. You want to be strong-minded but for the right reasons, not the wrong. This is talking about the pulling down of strong minded arguments and things that do what? Notice:
2 Corinthians:10:5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; – Casting down imaginations and every high thing…things that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.
Where do you find the knowledge of God? It's right on your lap, called the Holy Bible. But you live in a world that is constantly exalting itself and trying to tell us that this Book isn't worth the salt and the page it's written on. And so today, people, instead of bowing before the mighty hand of God, they bow to the mighty hand of science because they think science has all the answers and they have made the so-called Biblical explanations of non-effect. The truth of the matter is, just the opposite and when you look and you analyze what the so-called scientific community is, if they stay within the realm of the laws that God has outlined, physics and quantum physics and things of that nature, mathematics, the true sciences, then they can be validated as a true science, but we are commanded in the Bible to avoid all science, falsely so-called. And there's a lot of shenanigans running around today, falsely so-called science.
I heard one here just recently, was listening to a radio program and this guy is called the psychic cop – he is a psychic cop and so the individual calls up and says, "Hello, can you tell me about my dog that just recently died?" And the psychic cop answered, "Well the dog has told me that it was not happy in the way it had to die here recently, your dog did die didn't he?" "Oh yes, yes, yes, you knew about that?" I mean this crazy conversation I'm listening to, this guy is channeling spirits because there's no way certain things can be done or spoken, most of it is a bunch of hooey brethren, I think you realize that, what they do is they feed you – they ask you certain questions and then they take what you give back and then they give it back to you and then you can say, "Wow, how smart they were, they knew about this!" When you just told them! You just told them everything they needed to know and they know how to play this game, but when you're dealing with the real McCoy, the people who are channeling and having spirits, they see things because remember, they're behind the scenes, they see everything that's going on from one generation to the other because they're spirit entities, so they've been around, they know what Granny did back in such and such a time if they happened to be at that same time. But this is the kind of stuff people go for. The Bible says stay away from it, its false science, falsely so-called.
Well you and I are told we have to remember that we have a real tough job on our hands, we have to bring into captivity, notice, every thought. Now even as I am speaking to you, your mind is doing this – you're coming up with all kinds of thoughts. You hope every one of those thoughts are yours, but there are other thoughts that can be place in your mind by other spirit and elements in this world. You know that the scripture tells us that Satan is the prince of the power of the air and a lot of times people don't realize, they don't think carefully why am I thinking this? We live in fantasy world, but really that's in Disney World when you want to go to Fantasy Land, but you hear people, "What's your fantasy?" I'm sorry, we live in reality, we don't live in fantasy.
So in living reality, what are we told to do? We're told to try the spirits, to see if it's of God, to see if this is what the Word of God would have us do. And as we try the spirits, we begin to see certain things that do not harmonize with the Word of God. If it doesn't harmonize with the Word of God, we're told to avoid it, to stay away from it because it's not going to be beneficial.
But these are things; we have to bring every thought in obedience to Christ. Now let me show you an example of that that the Bible clearly says. Now it was the will of God, and we know that Jesus Christ had to go to Jerusalem to do what? He had to die to become the Lamb of God, to take away the sins of the world. Your sins, my sins, everyone's sins. Thank God for God and thank God for Jesus Christ our High Priest at the right hand of God the Father.
I don't know how much we tell him how much we appreciate what He did because you and I cannot comprehend what it must have been like, when all the ugliness and the sin of all generations are dumped on the Son of God, a pure clean innocent God man who had never sinned and suddenly is covered with all of our transgressions. This is what Passover is all about; it's a very moving time to make us realize the terrible price that God had to pay to save our lives for the future. Many people don't appreciate that and some are going to turn on God at the last and they're going to end up in the Lake of Fire, that's too bad.
You'd say, common sense, why would you want to turn against God? But people are stubborn, I read the book of Revelation, I ask myself, what in the world, there's hail coming down, 100 lb. blocks of hail out of the heavens and God's trying to make people come to their senses. And it says, they curse the God of heaven. It's almost like a perversity of human nature. "If you're not going to stop it, then I'm going to fight you even more." It's terrible. You don't want to be at war with God because you're going to lose every time. You just can't win that way.
But every thought has to be in obedience to Christ. Now here's the example we all experience: Christ is going to Jerusalem, He tells His disciples, He says, I've got to go and the Pharisees and Sadducees are going to lay hands on me and they're going to make it rough for Me and I'm going to have to die. Remember a man named Peter, what Peter did? He ran up there, very well meaning, he wasn't in a bad attitude or anything else, he ran up and grabs the one and puts his hands on the Lord and said, Lord, far be it for you to go, we're not going to let that happen to you. To me, when I read that it sounds like he's well meaning, he wants to preserve the life of the Master, I don't want you to go and die. But yet the will of God was that He had to go and die. That's what he was trying…and what does Christ do? He sorts this thinking out for us and shows Peter, you don't realize whose talking. You say but you have been inspired by something else in your thinking. He said, " Get thee behind Me Satan, for you savor the things of men, not the things of God."
So there are times if we're not careful, Satan can get in there and he can muddy our thinking up and cause us to say things or do things that furthers his will rather than the will of God. You know you and I don't want to be a part of that, you don't want your life to ever be used by Satan the devil to hurt somebody else. And so, some brethren have done that, Satan has come in in tares and used brethren – and it hurts brethren in the Church of God. This has happened down through time.
Have you ever had somebody say something to you that's hurt your thoughts and your feelings in the Church? You better believe it, it's there, we'd like to say we're all a bunch of wonderful loving people but sometimes things get out of hand in peoples lives and they lose it. That's when repentance has to be sought very quickly.
All right, moving right along, we find now also in 2 Timothy:2:3-4 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. and notice how Paul uses this metaphor to inspire and encourage the membership. He says:
2 Timothy:2:3Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. – You therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ .
All right, some of you men in here and I'm sure those who will be watching the video, at any given time, have served in the military know that the military is not a time of just peaches and cream. You go through some very hard maneuvers to toughen you up and also when you go into combat situations, you suddenly begin to realize that there are certain things that they didn't teach you when they gave you so-called, everything by the book. So the first rule most soldiers will tell you, that after they've learned the basics and they realize now they are thrust in the middle of harm's way, you get rid of the book for the most part and you fight to survive. And that's what happens and if you've ever seen some of the war films, you see some of the people, like in the Pacific theatre, some of the recruits coming back from Guadalcanal and in Guadalcanal, these were the guys that were first thrust in, they were just young fellows going in there. When they'd come up, they have a cigarette hanging out of their lips and they look like they've been through a meat grinder. Here come the other soldiers, the Army to replace the Marines and what are they? They are all fresh recruits; they do not know what it means to fight the good fight of faith, but in their particular case, they're going to learn to fight.
I guess the thing I'm trying to show you is this – the soldiers that came out of that, they were the ones who learned under fire, they came under the fire. You know when somebody's shooting at you; it changes your whole perspective of life. When you go through something and it's just marching through and everything is spit and polish and it looks good, boy when they start shooting at you it's a different ballgame, that's reality. Well that's what happens, God is telling us, look, you and I cannot afford to be entangled by the affairs of this world. That's why He says, in your hardness, He says:
2 Timothy:2:4No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. - No man that wars entangles himself in the affairs of this life, that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier .
Jesus Christ is our Commander-in-Chief, He's the one that set the example, gave us the commandments, showed us what we need to do and guides us on every day situations because through the power of the spirit of God, at the right hand of God, He guides and hears our prayers and helps us in the battle of overcoming. And He told us, be of good cheer because I have overcome the world.
So you and I are told to be mindful of these things. Now something I did not know, I'm sure many of you have heard from time to time, the importance of one particular sport – if I were to mention the name Tiger Woods or some of these other guys that have been in the golfing industry, golf takes a very high prestige, people really are into golf. Well I didn't realize but actually golf had its beginning in Scotland and back in 1420 golf became so popular when King James II of Scotland was in his rulership, he feared that the pastime, this men going playing golf was taking such preeminence, they were spending too much time chasing golf balls rather than practicing their archery against the English, because they were having their constant battle again. So he persuaded the government to pass an act in Parliament, banning golf! I didn't know golf had been banned at one time, but it was because people put too much emphasis on the golf.
Now the lesson we learn from that is this: you and I have been given, as Christian individuals, an opportunity that we must make everything subservient to our Commander in Chief, our King, Jesus Christ. We are told to love everything less by comparison or otherwise we're not fit to be in the kingdom of God. We've got to follow His command.
So what it means is that you and I have to ask ourselves constantly, anything that jeopardizes our service to Jesus Christ as the King of kings, must be treated on a lower priority. Now that doesn't mean good things that God has given, God wants you to have good things, He blesses, He just doesn't want you to set your heart on things, He wants your heart set on Him, who gives you all things. This is the important thing. So if you have blessings from God, you thank God for them, but you put it on a subservient level, you don't emphasize like we hear so many creatures today talking about what we call the "Prosperity Gospel" – you have a right to go to God and ask God to bless you and they put it all in this hype.
Well that's not what Jesus said, Jesus said just the opposite, He said it is through much tribulation we must enter the Kingdom of God – that's what the Book says. So you have to listen carefully, be careful what you hear out there, but what it means to fight the good fight of faith is the fact that everything has to be in subservience to Jesus Christ.
Let's take a look at, first of all, why we fight. You know back in the 1940's in the United States, hard to believe, that's over 71 years ago now. The United States entered into a terrible war for its very survival, Pearl Harbor became a battle cry and the United States was fighting for its very life with two totalitarian powers, one on the Eastern front and one on the Pacific front and everyone was fighting and struggling and a certain group, Frank Capra came out with a special group of, they would be called propaganda films at the time, but they were designed to help the American people understand why we fight. Then it showed the history of the German situation, the history of the Japanese, it showed what we must do as the free people of the world, how we are to be the arsenal of democracy, as Franklin Roosevelt said.
Well all of this basically summarizes this: You and I have got to know why we fight because if we don't fight, then we have already raised the white flag of surrender to the enemy. We have to fight him every day of our life and the reason why we fight, is against the devil and his angels – Ephesians 6 . These scriptures are written to punch home some very important instruction to us, to help us know what we're up against.
You know, I like to use modern terminologies to help us understand, to bring the Bible up to date and make it relevant. What is it when a force is a military force is going to go in against an opposition? What must they have to help them gain the victory? They have to have good intell – intelligence. We've got the best going; we've got the Word of God! It's the best intelligence from the highest source of wisdom, knowledge and understanding that exists in the universe and God told ancient Israel that if they would abide by His laws, they would have all this and it would be their wisdom in the sight of the nations. So if they're not going to embrace it, then it's going to be your and my wisdom in the sight of the nations, how we live our lives to the glory of God and notice if you will please, Ephesians:6:12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. . It says you and I…well, I'd like to back this up just a couple verses.
Ephesians:6:10Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. - Finally my brethren …notice this, we are brethren, called for a very serious mission in life as spiritual soldiers of Jesus Christ, we are to… be strong in the Lord …IN the Lord, not against Him, but IN the Lord… also in the power of His might . Because without the power of God's holy spirit working with us and calling upon it, we don't have the wherewithal to match the enemies force and his strength. So you and I are told, put on what?
Ephesians:6:11Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. – Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles …or the schemes… of the devil.
Why is that? Because we are in a serious wrestling match.
Ephesians:6:12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. – We wrestle not against flesh and blood ...
We've seen wrestling on TV, you see what they do and how they throw themselves around, most of its a bunch of phony baloney, but there is serious wrestling, but it's amazing how people get caught up and they get all excited over wrestling, watching these people. It's been around for a long time on television, but real wrestling, if it's done right, boy it's a strain to watch. When somebody's trying to pin the other guy's shoulders to the mat and you're trying to fight and resist it, it's a battle. But here is what the Bible is telling us - that would be easy compared to what you and I are really wrestling against!
Ephesians:6:12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. - We wrestle… against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places …or the marginal reference says "wicked spirits."
There are things going on behind the scenes that we do not, because we are so wrapped up in our daily fleshly lives, we don't realize there's a whole dimension of spiritual elements working. There's not only the good but there is also the bad. Thank God for the good, because the good outnumber the bad by 2 to 1 or maybe higher odds, however God works them. We know a third of them went bad and we're willing to buy into the argument that Lucifer set forth against God, to slander His reputation. God saw that whole equation unravel.
So you and I are told that we have to do this and notice in Verse 16 , as you arm yourself with this information:
Ephesians:6:16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. – Above all …notice, if you're going to arm yourself with anything, he says above all means, above all, don't leave this one behind, you need it! And what is it…. a shield of faith wherein you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
See how important faith is? Why you and I must really guard the faith and confidence that we have in the Word of God? Now it's very important, you know faith – the book of James talks about faith and it tells us that we are to understand that faith is what? Something that we not only have to demonstrate by works, the works we do and how we function and how we carry out the Work of God in our daily lives is manifest and validates our faith. That's why James said show me your faith without works and I'll show you my faith with works.
When people talk about works they try to say, Oh, well you're trying to work your way, save yourself with salvation you know, you're trying, because the scripture says by grace are you saved through faith, through faith, not of works lest any many should boast. That's right, and that's what we believe. But faith also requires a conduct, a code of conduct that is outlined by the Word of God, that's how we grow and that's how we understand. Why must we fight? Because we fight against the devil and his angels, we have to fight against falsehood and error and we must remember what the book of Jude says, one chapter, under verse 3 he says:
Jude:1:3Beloved, 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. - …we must earnestly contend for the faith once delivered.
Because today people are masquerading and saying all kinds of false things that are not true and unless you go back and check the Bible when you do certain things, the Bible is your source. That's why the Berean's were commended, they listened with a readiness, they said, OK, tell me what you've got to say Paul, and then they went back and checked, the Berean's, the scriptures, to see if these things be so. So when somebody comes and says, you know, "The seventh day Sabbath, that is Old Testament, that is done away." You go back to the Bible and see – can't be because Jesus said, If you want to know about the abomination of desolation, you have to go to the book of Daniel. But the book of Daniel is in the Old Testament, so how can it be all done away? I mean they're caught in their own Catch-22 because they don't want to believe the Word of God. They would rather throw out excuses; they would rather come up with their "theories" of this and that. And the very thing they say, theory, you know, why is it people can't just listen and realize evolution; there's no sense to evolution?
All you have to ask of yourself is one question, Can I see please, the intermediate species of the first man called Adam and how he evolved into what he became in the Garden of Eden? Can I see the intermediate species of mother Eve, where she came, because you know, wow she had to start small and then she had to evolve herself and here comes an arm, you know…this is Eve? It helps us to understand the foolishness of man. There are no intermediate species because God says, I made him from the dust of the ground and I made mother Eve from the rib, the replaceable rib that comes from the side of Adam himself. And He didn't make them as babies growing up; He made them as full mature adult beings! God can do that? You better believe He can do that and a whole lot more!
If you can believe, Jesus said, all things are possible. But you and I don't believe that sometimes and that's what limits us. We tie the hand of God. God is saying, take off the handcuffs – cut Me loose and let Me go! Let me do what I can do for you, but you've got to believe I can do it. If you say to that mountain, get out of the way, it's gone. But we don't really believe that do we? And so we theorize, you know. If the mountain needs to be gone, it will be gone. But see how much we've got to grow in faith? We're not there yet folks, but God says that's all possible. Jesus can't lie and He says if you can believe and have faith and trust , belief, faith, trust, they all interlock, and if you can trust God that way, He says all things are possible for you. Why? Because with God, He can do anything. What a wonderful God in order to serve and worship this great Creator.
But we've got work to do and Paul makes it very clear, it's a battle that we fight against worldly lusts, the world is filled with them and it works on all of us. Let's go to Romans 12 . Here we're told by the apostle Paul that in living our lives, we want to live peacefully, we're not trying to cause problems or difficulties for anybody, but he says, notice:
Romans:12:18If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. – If it be possible …as you live life you're going to discover… if it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peacefully with all men.
There are some people you just can't life peaceably with; they're just always ready to cause trouble. The Bible calls them the wicked ones, God says in the very next verse:
Romans:12:19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. – Beloved, avenge not yourself …
Don't get caught up in that, yeah they didn't do you right, yeah they took advantage of you, you just pray, I saw the whole equation, what they did to you, you were honorable in what you tried to do and they pulled the rug right out from underneath you and hit you hard and tried to destroy your faith, that's what Satan tries to do, he uses the world against us, he uses our own human nature against us and notice, God says, Don't worry:
Romans:12:19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. - …for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine and I will repay."
God will repay, He'll just tear apart the hopes and the dreams of the wicked and He will fulfill the hopes and the dreams of the saints. What a wonderful God we are blessed to serve. You know we are told that fleshly lusts war against the soul (1 Peter:2:11Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;) and that war goes on in every individual to one degree or another. Let's all notice how the apostle Paul referred to that in Romans:7:23-25 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. . The apostle Paul was saying how he (verse 22), how he delighted in the Law of God…notice…after the inward man. The mind, the inward man, that where conversion takes place. He says, but if I don't focus my mind and my attention where it needs to be, thinking about the things of God, he says:
Romans:7:23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. – I see another law in my members working against the law of my mind. The law of the mind and the mind is you want to keep God's commandments, but your body doesn't want to keep God's commandments, it wants to do what it wants to do and that's what mankind has been doing down through time. He says: and this wars against the law of my mind, bringing me into the captivity of the law of sin …which is the transgression of God's law.
Once that happens we're right back where we started and we're back under the curse of the law if we go back that way. So he is showing you, you've got a two-fold element, or there are two sides to this coin. There's the Godly side, spirit of God, walking in the spirit in the mind and the body, if you don't focus that way, then you're going to walk according to the lusts of the flesh. He says:
Romans:7:24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? – O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me …in other words, where is salvation going to come… from the body of this death? I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself serve the law of God …that's my intent, that's what I want to do he says, but if I don't focus there, notice what happens… but with the flesh, the law of sin .
In other words, keep your mind going where it needs to go, stay walking in the spirit and you won't fulfill the lust of the flesh. But if you stop walking in the spirit, you'll go back to doing what we all do, walk in the flesh. You'll say things you shouldn't say, think things you shouldn't think, go places you shouldn't go, eat things you shouldn't eat – instead of moderation you'll do excess, people do it in this world every day, it's just called doing what comes naturally.
But you and I have not been called to do that, why should we fight, why must we fight? Because it's a good fight, it's a worthy cause that is outlined in the scripture and it also serves the Lord Jesus Christ who has enlisted us. He stands for what is right. How many people want to deliberately wake up in the morning and say, I want to do what's wrong today? Nobody does, you want to do what's right. But the Bible tells us in Proverbs and several places, there's a way that you and I think, apart from God, put that on hold, apart from God, what do we do? There's a way that seems right to us, but it ends in death. Whatever it is that's working it will destroy destroy destroy until finally its death. That's the way it would go.
So we have to not only look to God for our salvation, but to stand for what is right and of course we talked about the armor of God, God purifies us, each one of us is tested by fire. I mentioned about how a soldier is tested under fire. You know it's one thing to dress up and have your gun and everything and do your marching and you think you're a great soldier until all of a sudden you get into harm's way and somebody is shooting at you and suddenly you say, Whew, what is going on here? Everything changes in a hurry; you wise up quickly and realize this isn't very good. But we live in a world that is hostile toward us and we're all under fire at times.
To God be the glory in all things, we walk by faith, we live by faith and we fight by faith. That I think you know, maybe has not been emphasized enough. We walk by faith, we live by faith but we must fight by faith. Because if you don't fight, you're taking a passive approach and you're letting the rolling elements of the world slip up on you in ways that you might not even be aware of. Let's look at 2 Corinthians:5:6-8 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:  (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)  We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. .
2 Corinthians:5:6-8 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:  (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)  We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. - Therefore …notice, when he uses the term "therefore" it means everything that has been spoken prior to that should be taken into consideration in the context as you come to this point… Therefore, we are always confident …when the scripture tells us in Hebrews 10, The Lord shall be your confidence, or better put, I think it says, "Don't cast away your confidence" that is a Proverb that tells us the Lord shall be our confidence and keep our foot from being taken… knowing that, while we are at home in this body, we are absent from the Lord …in other words we're not there yet in the spirit dimension… but we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident I say and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
We would love to be there, you hear people say it all the time, boy I wish God would just come and finish this thing up and we could all be there – God says no, there are things, lessons that have to be learned for everyone. Remember what Gallo wine used to advertise? "They don't harvest the wine until the time." We don't have to wait until the given period of time to do your harvesting – God is doing the same thing.
We have to lay hold on eternal life; we've already touched on that, we know it does no good to think about having eternal life. But one of the wonderful things that the scripture deals with, there are many passages in scripture that speak of eternal life as future, I think we all realize that and that can be found in Titus:1:2In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;, Mark:10:30But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. and Matthew:25:46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. . It refers to the Kingdom of God and eternal life in the Kingdom of God. But there are also passages which speak of eternal life as in the present, that you and I have received eternal life as a down payment by Jesus Christ living His life in us through the power of God's spirit and God uses this terminology many times. He says He calls things that are not as though they are. We are not yet in the Kingdom of God but it is as good a deal as you can get and you're on your way if you maintain that straight and narrow that leads to life with Christ. So what we are told is John:3:36He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. , let's take a look at some of these scriptures here dealing with the present, because we know the future holds eternal life for those who are faithful to the end. Let's notice some of these that encourage us on this line.
John:3:36He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. – He that believes on the Son …do we believe on the Son of God, you better believe it, the Biblical Son of God, what does it say… has everlasting life; and he that believes not …should we take the path of not believing it – no, why not… shall not see life .
In other words not only have you had the blessing because of Jesus Christ and your relationship with Him, you have it as good as gold that you're on the way, you have eternal life guaranteed as long as you stay with Jesus Christ. And we know the full manifestation of that will take place when? In the resurrection – that's when we'll be changed to spirit and have eternal life as God has promised. He says:
John:3:36He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. – But the wrath of God abides on the individual who doesn't believe .
So what is belief? Faith, trust. Do we believe in this? Did Jesus lie to us? He said if we believe in Him, He would not give us eternal life? No, that's one of those wonderful promises of God, the precious promise, He tells you, be encouraged now because you're on the right path, just continue that path and be with God in the Kingdom of God and who's going to make that possible? God Himself.
All right, let's take a look and see what else we want to cover here as we draw to a conclusion. Paul did not consider himself as brilliant as he was in conversion. Remember, Paul was a hostile individual – he knew the Bible, the Old Testament Torah so well that when this new group of Christians showed up on the scene, he thought they were a bunch of radical Christian nuts, a sect that had to be eradicated and so he went after them hammer and tongs and he went and pulled them out of their church buildings or their synagogues and wherever they were meeting at, he actually killed some of them, had letters and permission from the Pharisees and Sadducees. Then of course you know how Paul met his Maker on the road to Damascus. Once that changed, you have a man who was so hostile toward the things of God and then suddenly turns and he makes such a dramatic change. God uses him to write fourteen books of the New Testament. Now why is that? Because he understood the Old Testament backwards and forwards and once the new edition of God's spirit was added to him, he could now take that Old Testament and bring it into the New Testament and show you how it was fulfilled like nobody else could even explain. Even Peter said, Brother Paul has written many things hard to be understood – you've got to take your time and read carefully, don't read into it.
Where do most people get their arguments against the things of God? I submit, from Paul's writings to say…they go to Paul's writings to say, well Paul did away with the Christian Sabbath. No, you can't find it in the Bible. And of course I bet one thing I don't think he would appreciate is when he comes forth to find out they refer to his writings as Pauline theology. He'd say, my name is Paul, not Pauline! But that's what they've done; they've taken the Word of God and changed it, as they do other scriptures. But Paul had this marvelous attitude. Let's take a look at Philippians 3 and notice how he phrases this. He says:
Philippians 3:13 – Brethren …so he's talking again to converted men and women who understood where he was coming from… I count not myself to have apprehended …in other words, I have not completed the race yet, I'm not there yet, I'm still struggling… but this one thing I do, forgetting the things that are behind …in other words, I don't dwell on the past, I learn the lessons from the past, I try not to repeat the past, but I won't go back there, I'm not going to live under depression and all that, I'm going to live under the joy of God's forgiving grace, because I know my sins are ever before me and I know what I did and I'm ashamed of what I did and not even worthy to be called an apostle of God, but He made it possible for me to be and I'm going to give my life in dedicated service to Him and notice how he goes on to say… forgetting those things behind, reaching forth unto those things which are before . What things are before? The things that Jesus Christ talked about, preached about the kingdom of God. Then he says:
Philippians 3:14 – I press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God… and it is a very high calling of kings and priests in the kingdom of God.
What does a king do? He has to know the laws of God, the commandments of God, how they apply to every day physical life, that's part of our job of training and teaching now. We have to learn those, that's what we've got to teach other people, because they don't understand those laws. The law will go forth out of Zion so people will learn where the headquarters of God's kingdom dwells when Christ returns. Then we're supposed to be priests – what is that? We advocate the spiritual laws of God, we show how Christ died as the Lamb of God, we teach again the things we have learned about Jesus Christ and how that He is the Savior, the true Savior of all of us and salvation means deliverance from God. Deliverance comes from God, that's the only place you'll ever find it. Notice how he finishes this thing:
Philippians 3:14 – I press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. So he was always moving forward and then he says something else in Verse 15 for us to end on.
Philippians 3:15 – Let us therefore, as many as be perfect …mature, striving for these very wonderful things of God… let us be thus minded …pushing for that high calling of God… and if in anything you be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you .
In other words, if you get hung up on something, something you don't understand, don't throw everything out the window that you have understood and get stymied on something that is going to cause you to stumble and fall. Say, God, this is something I don't understand, I'm going to put it up here on the shelf and ask You, please, show me, give me the answer to this so that I can be at peace on this particular issue and everything else, thank You God for what You have given me, what You have shown me and help me to be like the apostle Paul, help me to reach for that prize of the high calling of God that you have given to me and my brother and sisters in Christ.
That's why we've been called dear brethren, that's why we not only live by faith, walk by faith, but I hope you've gotten the message today, we've got to fight by faith because if we're not fighting, we're surrendering territory to the adversary. That is not the will of God. The will of God is that you fight the good fight of faith and God will work it in and through you to give you the victory to His glory and His honor.
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