You and I have to admit: the "good fight" of faith is that of which involves meeting the needs of people.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, dear radio friends. How in the world are you? You getting along alright? Well, I know some of you are going through the wringer, as we say, and it’s not very pleasant, but you can always look up and say, “Lord Jesus, see me through this one.” And He will. For He hath said, “I will never,” never, that is, “leave thee nor forsake thee.” So that we may boldly say, “The Lord is my Helper and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” And never need to be scared when Jesus is at your side. Hallelujah for that.
Well, I’m glad that these broadcasts are a blessing to different folk, I just had a beautiful letter from a businessman who felt that the things that are said from day to day seem strangely to fit the needs that he has as he’s living a very strenuous and demanding life in business. And that’s great, I’m glad that’s so. You know I pray every day that God may put His love, and His power, and His wisdom into my voice and into the words that I say.
Well, come on, let’s go to 1 Timothy 6. Paul said, “Fight the good fight of faith.” We were talking about that the last time we got together, do you remember? The reason he uses that verb, which literally means agonize, “agonize the good agony,” if you’ll translated it literally. The reason he uses that verb is that it is a fight and you do have an enemy, his name is Satan. We talked about that for a while, do you recall?
And then just as we finished the broadcast, we remarked, you and I, that we live in bodies with an old, fleshly nature, and you never get beyond the point where you need, by faith, to commit that old nature and your tendency to sin and to fail God. You commit that to God so that He can keep you clean and pure. “You, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last day,” says Peter. “God can keep you, keep you clean, keep you pure.” There’s room for the occasional misstep. “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. But there’s no room for continual betrayal of your Lord through a life of sin.” That proclaims the fact that you really have never known him. There’s the difference.
Always and always, you have the battle with your old nature, but it is a battle that has been won at the cross and can be won experientially in your life as you trust the Lord Jesus, Who died and rose again for you. Do you get that idea? How do you fight the good fight? We dealt with the enemy whose name is Satan, now we’ve got the enemy within, your old sinful nature. How do you do it?
First of all, the Word of God in the computer of your mind, “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.” Put the Word in the computer of your mind. Memorize some portion of God’s Word every day, and go over it, meditate upon it, and let the Spirit of God apply it. Second, make a habit of instant obedience when God speaks to your heart about something. Instant obedience when God speaks to your heart about something. Third, when you’re aware of getting out of line on anything, confess it immediately and let Jesus cleanse you so that you can go on.
These are the things that work in keeping you clean moment by moment, fight the good fight of faith. Now, another reason why Paul uses this expression is because of the need of something more than good advice. There is a need for miracle power in the lives of other people. You see, a drowning man doesn’t need advice; he needs somebody to pull him out of the water. A person in the desert who’s dying of thirst doesn’t need a lecture; he needs a drink of water. And a person who has fallen across a live wire doesn’t need a lecture; he needs to have somebody turn off the power so that he can be pulled off of that wire. There’s something that has to be done aside from talk.
Years ago, the big boiler quit about 6:00 or 6:30 in the morning. The fire went out, but the motor continued to run and to pump raw fuel oil into the fire box, which, being red hot, ignited and had kind of a smoky fire going up the chimney, which, in turn, filled a lot of… a part of the building with smoke and we had quite a deal there. Well, I was on the job before the fire engines got there because I lived on campus and I have a police radio, had it right by my bed all through those years, and I heard the police radio say, “Go over and check on the college boiler house, seems to be a fire there.” And so I got there just as the patrol car came up to check on it, and sure enough, the smoke was pouring out. Well, we stood around, and the fire engines got there, and Hank Kauffman, who was then chief, fire chief, what a wonderful man… [chuckle] Well, Hank Kauffman, he jumped out and said, “Well, what’s this?” And so on.
So, something occurred to me, I said, “You know, Hank, I think that boiler is still pumping oil in there. Would it be good idea if somebody pulled the cutoff switch?” “Yeah,” he said, “we oughta do that.” “Well,” I said, “I know where it is, I’ll go do it.” So I found my way through the smoke. [chuckle] That’s the nearest I ever came to being a hero that day. [chuckle] I found my way through the smoke and pulled the switch. And the thing stopped pumping and then they could put the fire out, and everything was alright. The students could go back and finish their breakfast. [chuckle] Oh, dear. What do you have to do? You have to pull the switch. That’s what you have to do. You need somebody to do something aside from a good advice.
Our trouble as Christians is we stand around and we talk about it, but we very rarely see in these days, it seems to me, we very rarely see an outpouring of the power of God. I’m hungry for that in my own life, aren’t you? He says, “Fight the good fight of faith.” You know why? Not only because you got an enemy, the Devil, and not only because you got an old nature that needs to be kept under the constant control of the risen Son of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit, but also because of the need around you. People need not good advice, but a miracle. They need something that will change their hatred to love. They need something that will change their scar tissue hurting to calm, and peace, and acceptance. They need something that will turn them from self-pitying, defensive, inferiority complex, you name it, victims, into people who have found a purpose for living.
And you don’t do this by talk. Every counselor in the world knows that. There has to be something more than that. And that means you’ve gotta get down before God and seek Him until the precious Holy Spirit is poured out upon that person and upon that situation. “More things are wrought by prayer than this world ever dreams of,” wrote someone many years ago. Now, how do you get at that truth? Well, I think when you’re faced with a need, the first thing you do is seek God in prayer.
Evelyn Christenson, in her book, has given a very good formula. “First pray, then plan. First pray, then decide. First pray, then act.” Before you plan, before you decide, and before you act, seek God in prayer. The things that I regret doing I’ve done hastily without waiting on God. The things that I never have regretted have been actions that were taken after seeking the Lord and finding His guidance. Oh, dear friends, fight the good fight of faith.
What does that mean? There’s needs all around you. There’s a straying husband, there’s a wandering wife, there’s a delinquent daughter, there’s a prodigal son, there’s a job situation that’s impossible. There is a situation that seems to have in it all the makings of what we ordinarily call “demon possession.” It seems so strangely evil that you just can’t handle it. What are you gonna do about it? Get down on your face before God and seek Him, and call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and wait on God until the power of God is poured out and the Devil is indeed defeated.
Now and then, you find folk who know about the warfare of faith. On the mission field, of course, you come up against Satan’s power much more visibly and tragically than you do in our sophisticated society. He’s much more subtle in the way he works in our society.
I remember talking with a dear man of God who had been through a tremendous experience involving the need of someone else who was under the control of evil. And I said, “Well, how did you do it?” “Well,” he said, “we found that nothing we could say or do made any difference and so we just went to fasting and prayer.” And he said, “We prayed and fasted for a number of days, waiting on God.” And different ones taking turns in this chain of prayer.
And finally, God answered and the individual was delivered. I think you and I have to admit, don’t we, that the good fight of faith is that which is involved in meeting the needs of people whose needs are not met by good advice and preaching and counseling? Important as that is, you have to have what I call “a direct wire to Heaven.” And the interference of Almighty God in somebody’s life is the net result, the end result, of fighting the good fight of faith.
And then, of course, there’s the constant pressure of things and people around you. It does seem that just ordinary, everyday living conspires against trying to live for the Lord. Have you ever felt that way? It just seems as though… Well, it just seems as though life itself tries to keep you from walking close with the Lord. The telephone, the interruptions of various sorts, all of the constant pressure of things, and people, and engagements, and schedules. Does it ever get to you? [chuckle] I guess it does. Well, what do you do? “Thou would keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee because he trusteth in Thee.”
Now that’s where it’s at. “Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee because he trusteth in Thee.” That, my friend, is the secret. Keep your mind stayed on God, He’ll keep you in peace. In everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God and the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. That’s where it’s at.
Beloved, listen. Commit your day, commit even the interruptions to God. Keep your mind stayed on Him. He’ll keep you in peace and He’ll win the battle. Fight the good fight of faith. Believe God. Not force, not finagling, but faith is what does it.
Dear Father, today, fight through us the good fight of faith and make us winners through Jesus Christ our Lord, 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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