An Effective Good Fight of Faith
How many of you remember schoolyard or playground fights and that one kid who loved to windmill? You remember the one – always throwing their arms round-and-round in a circle towards the other kid in an accelerated fashion.
The funny thing about that kid is – they were doing more work, expelling more energy wearing themselves out than actually landing any effective blows on their unimpressed opponent.
Team, how many of us approach the adversary like that? Have we been windmilling the enemy, having “bad form” in fighting the good fight of faith with no power, beating the air?
Don’t Be an Air Beater.
I like how Paul put it. Paul understood that athletes train and persevere to win a corruptible crown that will one day tarnish and fade away. But WE contend for the faith to win a prize that is incorruptible (1 Corinthians 9:25).
So, therefore, our fight has to matter. We can’t step on the battlefield ill-trained and half-cocked. There’s too much at stake, teammates! We must have this same mindset that Paul had in 1 Corinthians 9:26:
“…so I fight, not as one who beats the air…”
We’re not here to shadowbox or run around aimlessly wearing ourselves out in the name of Jesus Christ. If we’re going to step into the ring, our goal is to throw punches that land.
So, take inventory of your fight of faith. Is it good or bad? Do you need more training, discipline, a better diet? Let’s see.
Characteristics of a Fighter Who’s Fighting the Good Fight of Faith
1. Your faith focuses on eternal life.
If you’re only using your faith to pursue earthly success or material things, you’re short-changing your blows, teammate. Our good fight of faith focuses on eternal life. The concerns of the Kingdom of God must take precedence over our worldly pursuits.
Not that we’re overtly “heavenly-minded” and completely irrelevant to the world around us, but do you ever consider eternity at all? Are you consumed with this world’s uncertain riches (1 Timothy 6:17)? Have you forgotten that we are only passing through?
Eternal life is the end game, the ultimate win – just ask the devil. Our adversary is always obsessively thinking about eternity, and how he can break God’s heart by taking so many with him. Why else is he so consistent in his intent to disrupt and distract our focus on the reason why God so loved us? To give us eternal life (John 3:16).
2. You are properly dressed to fight to win.
As the fastest running back on the team, a football player will fumble if he’s tackled hard enough without his helmet.
Team, the fumbles that hurt us the most are the fumbles we could’ve avoided – had we been fully dressed in the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:13). Many of us are full of scripture, can quote a verse in a second, we’re out here just swinging our sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), but we have not taken the time to protect our most sensitive areas with Truth (Ephesians 6:14). Truth is the first article of armor mentioned – now we can properly apply the Word. You do recall that our enemy can quote the Word, too?
Do an armor inventory. Are you barefoot (Ephesians 6:15), and the shield of faith has to quench the fiery darts aimed at your feet? Because your heart’s not covered with the breastplate of righteousness, are you easily influenced by this world’s culture? Do you constantly approach situations from a position of hopelessness because your mind is not covered in the hope of salvation (Ephesians 6:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:8)?
3. Your body is kept under subjection to the Holy Spirit’s leading according to the Word of God.
Why do we think natural athletes have to train so hard, get proper rest, eat right, miss hanging out with the boys/girls, hit the gym when they’d rather chill – but as God’s athletes, we can let our bodies go and do whatever makes us feel good?
Our flesh is not going to obey the instructions of God, the guidance of the Holy Spirit on its own. It’s going to take consistent, never-ending work, practice, and prayer (1 Corinthians 9:27).
Let’s look at that verse a little closer. In order to land blows Paul says, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection…”
Did you know that the phrase “keep under my body” implies beating your flesh black and blue, giving it an intolerable annoyance until it lines up with the will of God? And the phrase “bring it into subjection“… it implies making a slave of your flesh, leading it away by force from its desires into obedience the Lord.
Never think that the struggles you have in your flesh are a sign that something is wrong with you. The most effective contenders for the faith are always striving and training their bodies and minds in obedience to Christ. And, when we keep our bodies under subjection as we lead others to Jesus, we’ll avoid being labeled as hypocrites who are rightfully disqualified to represent the faith of Jesus Christ.
So, What’s the Play Call?
Take your faith fight seriously. The cross is not a game, and our fight is not to be taken lightly. Yes, Jesus paid it all, but never forget this part – “all to Him we owe.”
At the end of the good fight of faith, we win the crown of eternal life. Are you training, sacrificing, and fighting for the win?