Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: The Militancy of Faith

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Militancy of Faith

The Militancy of Faith

This world is steeping in a brew of evil growing ever stronger each moment it continues to steep.  We have seen the kind of evil of which humanity is ready to heap upon one another already written on the pages of historical infamy.  Humanity would be as evil as Satan himself if we were left to our own devices unrestrained by a conscience that works because of restraining faith knowledge of God. 

We are approaching another historical epoch like Genesis 6:5 where God said, “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”  In Genesis 6:3, God said, “My spirit shall not always strive with man.”  The Great Flood is historical testimony that God’s longsuffering eventually comes to an end.  Satan has historically done everything in his power to mock, eradicate, and eclipse the testimony of God’s judgment in the Great Flood.  Christians must fight to keep these testimonies alive. 

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12 fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (I Timothy 6:6-12).

          The Word of God is redundant with militant terms.  These terms are used to describe the struggle of the Christian life; terms like “war a good warfare” (I Timothy 1:18), “fight the good fight” (I Timothy 6:12), “so fight I” (I Corinthians 9:26).  In Ephesians 6:11, believers are commanded: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”  Understanding the Bible’s teaching on a life of faith is to understand that believers will be at war against evil and its influences until the creation of the new Heaven/Earth. 

The struggle of a life of faith involves every believer in a spiritual war that began with the insurrection of an angel of God called Lucifer, who rebelled against God’s sovereignty and usurped His authority by the deception of Eve.  In this war, casualties are more severe than in other wars in that these casualties involve the loss of souls, lost for all eternity, and the loss of lives wasted in the pursuit of sinful pleasures that lead men and women to live their lives in ways unimaginable.

          For the Christian, this is a battle about recovery.  Although the Christian’s soul has been redeemed and eternally secured by the Cross-work of Jesus Christ “by grace through faith,” every Christian must fight the fight of faith in the recovery of this temporal life from the dominion of sin -SANCTIFICATION.  It is a life-long battle with no intermissions or rest periods.  Like swimming upstream in a strong current, stop the struggle for one moment and you are carried downstream.  It will be a constant struggle to maintain every inch of spiritual ground that is gained.

          In II Corinthians 10:3-5, Paul talks about not warring “after the flesh,” “the weapons of our warfare” not being “carnal” weapons, and about the enemies against which we fight; “casting 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.”  The battleground involves temptations from without, perverse desires from within.  This is a battle with humanity’s corrupted, un-Biblical, extra-Biblical, and perverted knowledge of God.  Simply because believers still possess a Sin Nature does not mean their Sin Natures must possess them.  All believers can be enabled to live righteously by the enabling power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  

20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: 21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace {enabling of the Holy Spirit} be with thee. Amen” (I Timothy 6:20-21).

In Ephesians chapter 6:10-18, Paul talks about the warfare “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  He goes on to talk about the believer’s spiritual armament, commanding believers to “take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  Of course, standing in these verses refers to standing in battle against the influences of evil as opposed to retreating in defeat.  He uses a similar analogy to describe the struggle of the faith in I Thessalonians 5:8-9.

8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain {to acquire the end of} salvation {used here in the sense of the final victory over the flesh in the believer’s glorification and reign with Christ in the Kingdom Age} by our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thessalonians 5:8-9). 

In I Thessalonians 5-8, the emphasis of the battle against the forces of evil is the guaranteed victory “by our Lord Jesus Christ” at His second coming.  The emphasis of the warfare of the believer is simply to be faithful in the battle, which is already won.  Why then fight if the victory is already won?  As we battle by faith for the faith, those fighting against us, who are under the influences of evil, are won to Christ and are joined with us through their faith in Christ in the guaranteed victory.  Evangelism in sanctification is part of the battle. 

In II Timothy 2:1-4, Paul uses similar military terminology to describe the spiritual struggles of men in the pastorate. 

1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace {the enabling of the indwelling Spirit} that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 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” (II Timothy 2:1-4).

As long as we live in this body of flesh, the Christian life will be an unending warfare.  There can be no allowance for compromise in any form, for the enemy takes no prisoners.  He is described as the “deceiver” and the “destroyer.”  He is described as a “lion” that devours his prey bite by bite.  He destroys lives by getting people addicted to self-destructive, sinful practices, and perversions of theology.  His tactics are ancient, perfected in their use, and well developed in their application.  These tactics are always aimed at our faith in that they almost always question God’s wisdom or what God has said, seeking to pervert our understanding of both.

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden (Genesis 3:1)?

The militant struggle for a pure faith involves every Christian in a spiritual war fought on two fronts.  Every Christian must involve himself in the fight by faith and the fight for the faith.  Although these two fronts are not the same, they are dynamically connected.  Our knowledge of the Word of God, our living the Word of God, and our use of the Word of God to bring the lost to saving faith in Christ is what it means to fight by faith.  The battle against the corruption of Bible doctrine by the never-ending sedition of the worldly influences of various levels of evil is what it means to fight for the faith

The fight of faith involves the believer with three enemies of a living faith.  Those three enemies are the trinity of the fall; Sin, Self and Satan.  Satan is the tempter, the liar, and the deceiver.  He tempts with sin.  Sin is anything that defiles the believer before God and breaks “fellowship.”  Sin is anything that the believer is forbidden to do. Sin is also a failure to doing anything God commands to be done.

The paradox is that, in the fall of mankind, all of us received a sin nature (Self) that wants to sin.  The Bible words for Self (the Sin Nature) are words like the “old man,” the “flesh,” or simply “sin.”  The point is that all men and women, believers and unbelievers alike, have a serious Wanter problem when it comes to sin.  We all have an insatiable appetite for sin.  The Bible word for this is “lust.”  Therefore, the believer in his fight by faith for the faith fights even against his own evil influences upon the world. 

There are three main avenues of sin into our lives.  The wise believer understand that he must keep vigilant guard upon these three doorways for sin to enter his life.  He must build reinforced gates against them with the understanding that his own desires will want to leave them wide open and unrestrained.  These three main avenues of sin into our lives are defined for us in Satan’s deception of Eve in the Garden of Eden and they are described by the Apostle John.

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6).

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (I John 2:16).

Every believer must learn to meticulously guard these three doorways of sin into his life.  Just as it only took one sin to bring God’s curse upon all of humanity, one sin is all it will take to defile the believer before God making him “unclean.”  Once this happens, restoration to “fellowship” with God must be restored through repentance, confession, and cleansing (I John 1:7-9) before God can bless the believer’s works or answer his prayers.  The central purpose of the forgiveness of sins is not the removal of guilt from the believer’s heart, but it is about the restoration of “fellowship” with God so that a working relationship can once again take place.

The struggle of a militant faith is about living the truth in unbroken “fellowship” with God.  This is a critical truth to the Christian life.  It is the heart and soul of the doctrine of grace in the New Covenant.  This word “fellowship” is so often misunderstood and misapplied.  It is often only defined as relationship without the emphasis upon the purpose of that relationship.  The purpose of “fellowship” is a working partnership with God in the fight by faith for the faith in bringing lost souls to receive the gift of salvation and to be “born again.” 

The word “fellowship” in the Bible is usually translated from the Greek word koinonia (koy-nohn-ee’-ah).  Its usual meaning is a communion of joint participation in something.  In other words, it is a word describing a working relationship of two or more people joining their energies and resources to achieve a common goal or purpose.

Therefore, “fellowship” with God involves the believer in, and with, supernatural forces and resources.  In this “fellowship,” the power of the Divine is united with the yielded and believing human.  Therefore, a critical aspect of “fellowship” with God and the fight of faith is about this “unity” with God in living the truth.  Paul talks about this “unity” in Ephesians chapter four.  Notice the emphasis on two areas in the fight by faith and the fight for the faith as these two arenas of struggle are discussed under the doctrine of grace (God’s divine enabling through His Holy Spirit).

1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation {the priesthood of all believers} wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us {believer priests} is given grace {God’s enabling} according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts {listed in verse eleven} unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting {equipping, maturing, thing Basic Training for warfare} of the saints, for the work of the ministry {spiritual warfare to engage the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciples of Jesus Christ}, for the edifying {building up and strengthening of the structure of the Church} of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:1-13).

The critical part of a living faith is that “fellowship” with God cannot exist apart from a life separated from sin (holiness) and separated unto God (sanctification).  These two arenas of Christian responsibility are the arenas in which the fight of faith and the fight for the faith are fought.  This is what Christian growth is about and how it is measured (progressive sanctification). 

The purpose of the “perfecting of the saints” is for “fellowship” with God to be achieved so that the “work of the ministry” can be supernaturally actuated.  The “work of the ministry” is spiritual work demanding supernatural forces and resources.  Christ refers to the critical spiritual dynamic of this “fellowship” in John chapter 15 in His use of the words “abide in him” involving the requirement of being “clean.”

1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:1-8).

Being a disciple of Jesus involves a believer in following Jesus in His warfare against the forces of evil.  Disciples understand their own frailties when it comes to battling against powers far greater than we can imagine.  The believer’s abiding in Christ and Christ’s abiding in the believer is the only possible way the believer can win occasional victories in warring for the salvation of lost souls and their discipleship after their salvation.  Therefore, do not miss the connection of the warfare by faith for the faith – winning lost souls to Christ and making disciples.  You are the connecting link!  Your saved soul and sanctified life is the means through which Christ wages His war for lost souls.  Your personal compromises regarding any issue of sin or false doctrine keeps Christ from being able to do what you have been saved for Him to do through you. 

When this spiritual warfare vision of reality is a part of a person’s everyday life, fighting the fight of faith will become a priority.  Without this vision of reality, there really is no reality of personal faith and therefore the battles by faith for the faith are never fought.  Without abiding in Christ and Christ’s abiding in the believer, these battles certainly cannot be won.  It is in this arena that a missional vision must find its foundation, for, apart from this spiritual dynamic of holiness (separation from the world) and sanctification (separation unto God), missions (the “work of the ministry”) is nothing but an operation in futility. 

When we think in the reality of the spiritual and eternal, we are immediately transported into another real existence where miracles are commonplace, where there is no such thing as the impossible, and where the grace of God overwhelms any problem or difficulty that Satan might throw at us to get us off track. When we think spiritually and eternally, we move into a real realm of existence where the Creator of Heaven and earth lives and reigns; a Kingdom of light and life; a place where power is unlimited and dreams always become realities. Even though we must continue to live in this present, wicked, temporal world, we must work to keep our thinking and desires fixed on the spiritual and eternal.

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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