The Christian Soldier and the Word of God
There’s something about a soldier in uniform that commands respect, yet without possessing weapons he or she doesn’t stand much chance of defeating an enemy who has equipment. Any weapon the enemy has will be an advantage over the person with none. Likewise, in the spiritual warfare we are engaged in moment by moment we are instructed by the apostle Paul to take up our only offensive weapon against the armies of darkness … “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17b).
Thinking of that text in Ephesians 6 where Paul studies the Roman soldier’s equipment, there’s something that’s not mentioned in the text but is essential for the soldier’s survival: the instructions he receives from his superiors to be combat ready. Every soldier needs to be single-minded and focused, listening carefully to the officers during training.
If we are to be good soldiers of the Lord Jesus, we need to have the same perspective. This will give us victory over our enemy. Consider this text in 2 Timothy 2:1-4: “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”
Whether we like it or not, we are soldiers in the Lord’s army and our devotion and obedience to the Lord and His Word are vital components in our discipleship. Through them we advance the kingdom and edify the body.
Psalm 119 uses several terms to describe God’s Word: The Law, testimonies, precepts, statutes, commandments. Pastor Gene has reminded us on many occasions that the Bible will keep you from sin, and sin will keep you from the Bible. I especially think of verses 9 and 11:
“How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.”
Now imagine a world, perhaps like that of the first century believer, where you as a follower of The Way are a hated and misunderstood convert of Jesus, the risen Christ. The culture around you, and perhaps those in your very family, are hostile to all you trust in and you stand weaponless! You don’t have the written Gospels to assist you in your daily battles with the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Jesus, the Living Word of God, has ascended into Heaven precisely as He said He would.
The Holy Spirit has come and indwelt believers, exactly as Jesus promised.
The Law, the prophets, songs and wisdom literature are available to some.
You could consult a devout Jew, perhaps even a rabbi, but only if you are a man. But what about all the things the Savior said and did while He walked the earth? How do you remember all the things you’ve been told about Him? What happens when you’re faced with a daunting trial and cannot recall any of it? Or if you live in part of the world He never visited??? Doesn’t that sound scarier than an episode of The Twilight Zone!
That was the case back then, but it’s still the case with many of our brothers and sisters in places where the Word of God is unavailable to them. And for those who do manage to find it, it often comes at great cost and sacrifice. These believers are persecuted and threatened with great bodily harm – not only to them but to their families! And some have even given their lives to simply have a copy of the Bible. And remarkable, their chief request is not that the persecution would stop; it’s they’d have a copy of God’s Word!
In contrast, we in the West, and especially in America, are inundated with Bibles. Some of them sit collecting dust. Some are family heirlooms. Some are trophies or even merely serve as decorations.
But tragically in our land of plenty – even among some who identify themselves as Christians, Biblical illiteracy is rampant. And many have been deceived into thinking that the Holy Scriptures are not divinely inspired! And if they are not truly the words of God, there’s no logical reason to live or die for what it says, right?
Disciples who have the truth of God’s Word as their foundation are equipped to employ it as weaponry. That means we apply it to every facet of our lives. Every decision we make is informed by it. We don’t stand in scrutiny of it; we allow it to scrutinize us. We allow it to change us into the likeness of the One who died to redeem us.
There can be no revival, no move of the Holy Spirit, no power in our personal walk to accomplish things of eternal value, or exaltation of the Name of Jesus apart from the Word operating in all its fullness.
To consider …
- The day may come where the Bible will be outlawed even in the United States of America. If you and I had to live through that, would we be able to stand firm for Jesus because we’d hidden the Word in our hearts?
Would we be noble vessels which the Lord could use to encourage weaker believers?
Or to invade the darkness of unbelief with the light of the gospel?
Or bear witness to the truth of God’s Word, immovable and steadfast, abounding in the work of the Lord? (1 Corinthians 15:58)
- Can you remember the last time you allowed the Word to judge the intents of your heart? How did you respond? What did the Lord show you?
- In what ways do you see God equipping you according to 2 Timothy 3:16-17 for good work?
Comments are closed.
What a great message Pastor Dave! Last night Gina and I were looking at Psalm 144 which begins, “Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle.” David knew a great deal about dependence on the Lord in battle. We read about his victories when he sought the Lord and the losses he suffered when he failed to do so. Actually, many people suffer when their leaders fail to follow clear instructions and choose human wisdom, past experience, or some alternative instead. Whether you are a parent or politician, seamstress or soldier, God’s word provides all the training necessary for victory.
Putting on our armor, but not having a useable weapon is how it feels some days. Because of where I work I cannot have a bible on my desk or always use scripture in conversations. People I work with know I am a believer. This can be tricky for me. Last week I was told (not in a disrespectful or mean spirited way) at work by one of my bosses “not everyone can be happy every day like you” and on a different day another boss told me “how can you always see the glass half full?” At that point I thanked God that he designed us in a way that we cannot read each other’s minds. In my head at work I am often thinking about the negative attitudes of those around me. Each day I do my best to put on the armor and start off the day by praying and reading my devotional. At times I don’t know if it is the enemy feeding me the negative vibes at work or God telling me to wipe the dust off my feet and walk away.
As Christians not only is God watching us but those around us are watching. So thank you Pastor Dave for reminding me how important it is to be that solider who has all the necessary equipment ready and available to use. What an amazing blessing to have the body of Christ here at Harvest working so hard to live for Him
Amen We need the word of God to get us through this world with all its negativity. So
What a beautiful testimony for the Lord, of the joy you carry inside of you, Mary!
I have to say that when I have days that I don’t read the Word I definitely feel like a soldier in a war with no way to fight. Out in the middle of the war zone, helpless. The same things happen weather I read it or not but my response is completely different. It rains, whether I read it or not, but on the days I DONT read it, the rain seems like such a nuisance, I complain and allow it to affect my mood, on the days I DO read it, I look at rain and appreciate Gods masterful works of nature, I listen to the relaxing sounds of it hitting the roof or watch my daughter who LOVES puddles! My life is so much better on the days that I have the weapons to battle and the perspective that comes from spending time with God in His word!
Adam you are so right the day is so much better when we are in the word. Because I know when I’m not I feel the same way. So it is so important to me to pray and do my devotional before I leave the house put on the armor so we can fight back . Amen brother
Yesterday I needed to encourage an elderly friend who is going through a very tough season. I went to visit wondering what I could say that I haven’t already said. Well, I was armed with my Bible, the little book…God’s Promises, and an old copy of Our Daily Bread. When I arrived she was at Bingo, which was already a blessing as she seldom wants to participate in the activities. As we sat in her room and I listened to her woes once again, I wondered where to start. Then SHE asked me about Sunday’s message. I often see her after church so she often will ask about it. Praise be to God, I had listened to the message before I visited her (I was upstairs in the nursery on Sun AM ). And it was a wonderful jumping off point to remind her of just how OVERWHELMED we should be by Jesus’ teachings and his promises. And then I read her some of those promises, and reaffirmed that she believes that Christ died for us, for HER. And then I reminded her that the same awesome power that raised Jesus from the dead lives inside of us, lives inside of HER! She was listening so intently to all I said and I was so thankful that I had that Word of truth to comfort and encourage her. I will trust the Lord to do the rest! He has already sent our sister Kathryn to sow and water alongside me! This experience has bolstered my resolve to always be ready!
I thought a lot about this–about God’s word, about Jesus and His emphasis on the truth–John 17:17 Jesus prays that God the Father would sanctify us in the truth, your word is truth. We are set apart in the truth–set apart to accomplish God’s purposes. In John 8:31-32 Jesus said that the truth will make us free. So not only will it set us apart for God’s work–and equip us to accomplish it–but it sets us free. The flip side of that is that the enemy of our souls is a liar (John 8:44) and the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10)–Jesus said he comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Believing a lie can put us on a path to sin–and “everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34) Not knowing the truth can actually lead to bondage to sin and the enemy creating strongholds in our lives.
If I am not in God’s word–thoroughly rooted and grounded in His truth–how likely am I to fall for a lie? “God can’t use you after what you did, don’t even bother.” But if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)
“Even God can’t reach that one, he is too far gone.” He is able to save and save to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25) – Was Paul too far gone after presiding over the martyrdom of Steven? Was David too far gone after committing adultery and conspiring to murder the unsuspecting spouse?
“If God loved you, if He were truly good, would He have let this happen?” For we know that God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) In this world you will have tribulation, but take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
Knowing the truth is vital. Even though Satan is a defeated foe, he knows our weaknesses. If we are not full of truth, he will find the gap in our armor and specifically whisper lies that fill us with shame and can neutralize us as servants and disciples.
So today, I am reinvigorated to pursue the truth with devotion. I don’t want to be an easy mark for the enemy–I want to be a useful tool in the hands of my Master.