Along with the plain and simple, there are some strange and interesting things in these verses. For example, Paul “beseeches” us – that is certainly not unusual in itself. But we have to look hard to see about what it is he is beseeching us. He doesn’t say, “I beseech you to serve the Lord.” We have to find it by reading between the lines. “I beseech you that you won’t force me to be bold when I return to Corinth.” But it is more than that. Usually, when Paul beseeches us it is about something which is important. And it is usually based upon – founded on – something authoritative and substantial. This time he bases his plea towards us upon the MEEKNESS and GENTLENESS of Christ. When had he ever done this before. This isn’t based upon the authority of Christ; the deity or Christ or the return of Christ. “Based upon the loving and gracious character of our Saviour, I encourage you…” And what is that Paul? What would you like us to do? “I beseech you to fight the good fight of faith.” “To fight the good fight and war a good warfare for Christ.” Based upon the non-military MEEKNESS and GENTLENESS of our Savior, he is urging us to fight. This is strange.
Bible tells us that we are in a spiritual conflict. Over and over again, military words are used to describe our daily lives. Paul says, “I see another law in my members WARRING against the law of my mind, and bringing me into CAPTIVITY to the law of sin which is in my members.” “For we WRESTLE not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual weakness in high places.” “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by faith WAR A GOOD WARFARE.” “FIGHT the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life whereunto thou art also called.” “No man that WARRETH tangleth himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a SOLDIER.”
We are told that our adversary, Satan, wars against the Saints – Revelation 12:1 and I Peter 5: 8. You may not like the idea of taking up arms against the Lord’s enemy, but the fact is he has taken up arms against you. As I said on Wednesday, you may not have chosen to make him your enemy, but he made that choice against you. Then somewhat differently, Peter tells us to “abstain from fleshly lusts that WAR against the soul.” And John says, “I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have OVERCOME the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have OVERCOME the wicked one.” That Greek word “overcome” is also translated “conquer.” We have a multitude of enemies, and it is important that we strive to conquer them. Some of them are in the world, some are in our society – and some of them are within ourselves.
Of course, we serve the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Creator of the universe. He is, by right, owner, ruler and Lord of it all. All homage and tribute should be given to Him by every living creature. And someday it shall be so – “every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father.” But that day is yet future, and in the mean time Satan has introduced anarchy, rebellion and warfare. Satan has introduced and promoted sin, rebellion and unbelief within God’s creation. Because saints are servants of Jehovah, we are automatically drafted into the war against God’s enemy.
Of course, God could destroy all his enemies by His simple will – without the use any secondary means And yet, He almost always uses some sort of tool – some means of judgment. As we see on several occasions in the Old Testament, Jehovah can send fire out of Heaven. Fire in those cases was a means to judgement – a tool. And He used a fissure in the ground to swallow up others – a crevasse was God’s tool. He, who can say to the fig tree “wither and die” and it was done, could certainly put a stop to all of Satan’s foolishness in this world. But it is not God’s desire at this time to destroy His enemies with fire or the word of His mouth. When Peter drew his sword and cut off the high priest’s servant’s ear, the Lord showed to all of us that the sword is not the method of the Lord’s warfare. On two occasions the Lord Jesus himself laid siege against the glorious temple of Herod. He attacked the sin within its walls with whips, but it appears that in no time the sin had flooded back in again. It was like beating back the waves of the sea with a stick or a whip. I think that in the cleansing of the temple Jesus was giving his disciples an object lesson. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit saith the Lord of Hosts” – Zachariah 4:6.
In Grace, God has chosen to defeat Satan’s current dominion in a completely different way. God is snatching souls from Satan, not the other way around. And we have a part to play in this battle. Not only in evangelism, but in the fight against Satan’s dominion in our own hearts. Grace is the offensive weapon designed to storm the gates of hell. “And the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Here we have OUR WARFARE.