Faith is the willingness to risk the situation entirely on God, His Word, and His Will.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? You doing alright today? Yes, this is your friend, Dr. Cook, and I’m glad to be back with you, and we’re continuing, if you please, in the sixth chapter of 1 Timothy verse 12. Paul says to Timothy, “Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold on eternal life where unto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” Fight the good fight of faith.
Interesting verb “fight” there,. You look it up in your Greek New Testament, you find it is related to our English word “agonize.” If you were to translate it literally, it would be “agonize the good agony of faith.” And of course, this is a throw back to the days when the gladiators used to meet in the Coliseum, and one of them would emerge victorious and the other one would be dead. And they called it… They were fighting, they were agonizing. A literal description of what happens in such a conflict.
Now, Paul uses that term when he says, “Fight the good fight of faith.” Why does he use that kind of language? We talk about the rest of faith that remaineth, therefore, a rest to the people of God. “Israel didn’t find it because they sought it not,” Paul said, “by faith.” There’s the rest of faith, where you’re perfectly at rest with God, no longer is there turbulence in your soul, but there’s the peace that passes understanding. “Return unto thy rest, oh, my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee,” we read in Psalm 116.
Now why does he talk about the fight of faith? Well, because, these are two different aspects of your spiritual life. Yes, you can be perfectly at peace within your own soul and at the same time be embroiled in a battle with evil. You know that’s true. So, let’s think about that, shall we? Why talk about agonizing, the good agony, fight the good fight? What is this business of fighting the good fight?
First of all, I think you have to realize that you’re in a battle with Satan. “Be sober,” Simon Peter says, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the Devil, is a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour.” “We wrestle not,” Paul says, “against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Satanic power, in other words. The reality of Satan as your archenemy is taken for granted in the Bible. Our Lord Jesus had a personal encounter with Satan. He never questioned the reality, the existence, of Satan because he knew from the annals of eternity what Satan was and what had had happened to him. He said, “I saw Satan like lightning fall from Heaven.” Our Lord Jesus Christ, the second person of the Godhead, was present in that dark hour when Satan said, “I will be like the most high. I will exalt my throne in the sides of the North.” And he was thrown out of Heaven, he and his demons.
So the reality of the existence of Satan as your enemy is never questioned in the Bible, and you and I are advised to be aware of the fact that he is our enemy and that he’s out to defeat us. The snare of the Devil, the wiles of the Devil, and the attacks of the Devil, are different words that are used to describe what happens as Satan attacks to tempt and to defeat the believer. So, fight the good fight of faith. Be aware of the fact that you do have an enemy, and he has sworn to defeat you, and he has never given up the fight. Yes, he’s a defeated foe, defeated at the Cross. But at the same time, he has never given up his effort to resist God and those who trust Him. Now, because that’s so, you and I need to use the only weapon that is available to us that is proof against Satan.
It is tragic to try to defeat an enemy with weapons that are insufficient. The Zulus, the king of the Zulus and others in South Africa, told me the story of what happened during their days of battle right about the time when I was born. I think their last, great, big battle was 1912, that’s the year that I came into this world. And they were telling me, when I visited them, that at that time they thought that they were invincible.
So they went into battle with their spears, and arrows, and their war costumes, and their blood-curdling war cries. And wave after wave of them went against the people who were equipped with rifles and cannon. And wave after wave of those brave Zulus were simply slaughtered as artillery fire and rifle fire felled them in their tracks. And the king of the Zulus said to me to sadly, “At that time, we decided as a nation that we were never again going to engage in war, but that we’d be a peaceful people.”
And so they have been through the decades that have gone since that time. Largely rural, largely agrarian, as they still have their tribal customs, but they’re a graceful, beautiful people, and many of them are believers. I had prayer and fellowship with King Goodwill and his court as we visited them about a couple of years ago now. And then he came over and visited us in America here last year. They know and love the Lord Jesus Christ. But they remember in their history a time when they tried to fight a battle with weapons that were not sufficient. You can’t go up against Satan with your own brains and your own ideas. He’s too smart. You can’t go up against Satan with your own power, he’s too powerful. You can’t marshal enough influence from others to help you because these are not the weapons. “The weapons of our warfare,” says Paul in 2 Corinthians 10, “are not carnal but spiritual, and mighty through God to the tearing down of strongholds.”
And so it is that you and I, as we approach this whole matter of fighting the good fight of faith, we have to realize that we’re up against a tremendously powerful and crafty enemy and that he has sworn to defeat us. Now the other side of it is that he’s already defeated at the Cross: our Lord Jesus, it says, made spoil of him. That’s an old-fashioned term that says the battle was won and the troops made off with the booty. Our Lord Jesus has won the victory when He cried, “It is finished,” the victory was won.
But Satan is still allowed in the Providential plans of Almighty God to roam this whole world, and until His final judgement, which may not be too long in tarrying now, thank God, until His final judgement, he is allowed to roam this world and our universe. He’s known as the tempter. He’s known as the accuser of the brethren. He sets the snares for the unwary. He is our enemy. The only way to defeat him is to have the right weapons.
Now, what are they? Well, he says fight the good fight of faith. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world. And so, we start from an entirely different point of view then. Faith is the willingness to risk the situation entirely on God and His Word and His Will. Faith is the willingness to risk the situation on God. And so, we are reduced to the position that the ancients had when they prayed, “Oh, God, our eyes are upon Thee. It is nothing with Thee to help whether with many or with them that have no power. Help us, oh Lord, our God, for we rest on Thee.” That was the prayer that the ancient kings and their people prayed, and God answered their prayer and delivered them.
So it is with you and with me. We must pray the prayer of faith. The prayer that refuses to try again on our own. The prayer that reserves no rights of any kind for ourselves, but gives to God the privilege of controlling the situation entirely. Well, when you do that, then you are under the protection of One far more powerful than Satan ever could be.
Our Lord Jesus said, “My father Who gave them Me is greater than I and no man is able to pluck them out of His hand.” You’re held in Divine hands and your faith, then, in God makes it possible for you to overcome. So that John, the apostle, writing in the book of Revelation, says, “They overcame him, that Satan. They overcame Satan by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony-” see, that’s their faith- “and they loved not their lives onto the death.”
Three things contribute to victory over Satan. One is the shed blood of Christ that was shed for you and that ensures for you complete victory over sin and Satan. The second is your word of faith, your testimony of faith, in the Lord Jesus Christ. The third is your willingness to lay down your life for Him, to live your life or to die your death for the Lord Jesus Christ. These three things put together ensure a perfect victory over Satan at any time, under any circumstances. Fight the good fight of faith.
Why else does he say fight the good fight? Not only because you have an enemy whose name is Satan, but you live in a body with a nature that is fallen. Your old flesh is always opposing spiritual matters. Be you ever so spiritual or ever so mature in the things of God, you will never get beyond the time when you need to be aware that there is an old nature, and it will always move in the direction of selfishness and sin. He said, “Crucify the flesh with the affections and lust, and make no provision for the flesh to satisfy the desires thereof.” That’s what Paul said. Fighting the good fight of faith involves bringing your old nature by faith to God so that He can control you absolutely and that the in-dwelling Holy Spirit can guide you in God’s perfect holy Will.
Now make no mistake about this, you’ll never come to the place where you’re so perfect that you never need to worry again about the impulses of your old sinful nature. You’ll always need to depend upon the precious Holy Spirit and upon the Word of God to keep you clean, and to keep you safe, and to keep you in the Will of God. That’s what we call “fighting the good fight of faith.” Oh, there’s a couple of more thoughts about that and I’ll get to it the next time we get together, God willing.
Dear Father, today, fight the battle with us and through us and make us victors, in Jesus’ name, I pray this. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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