Some of you may remember that several months ago I brought you a sermon on "Soldiering for Jesus." And I want to bring you another message along the lines of, "Fighting the Good Fight," today. Not the same approach as the other one, of course. In fact, not even the same Scriptures. Although some obviously could be the same.
But let's think for a little while together today, and this one is a teaching sermon today. My voice is still giving me trouble, so I'll just give you a lesson from the Bible today for our message. Thinking for a little while about the good fight. The good Christian fight.
You know, a lot of Christians don't like to hear that word fight. Some Christians even try to act like the Bible teaches pacifism. And, of course, it doesn't. It doesn't teach pacifism in any way, shape, form or fashion. In fact, if you go to certain parts of the Scripture, you can show that some of God's people, in Old Testament days, were to go out and kill all the enemies of God: men, women, children, dogs and cats. But, of course, I'm not advocating that we go do that. But there are certain passages in Scripture where you can prove that to be according to God's will to do that (at certain times, places, and circumstances).
But let us read a few Scriptures together and then we will go back and be referring to these. To get our thoughts going along the right line, let's look first at I Corinthians chapter 9. First Corinthians chapter 9:24. First Corinthians chapter 9:24 through 27. "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."
Now let's go on and read another passage in I Timothy. First Timothy 1:18, and we read these words: "This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy." Now remember we, as we have been noticing in our Sunday School lessons recently, but in case you have missed that, remember who Timothy is and who is writing. This is Paul, of course, writing to his protégé, Timothy. Timothy was a great young preacher that Paul had been training for some time now to carry on the Lord's work. And he's writing this to Timothy at a time when he is away from Timothy, or Timothy is away from him on a trip. So here he says this: "This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme." So, he speaks of a couple of men there that are known to Timothy who have gone away from the faith, gone away from the truth. And so, Paul has, of course, stopped fellowshipping with them.
Now, going to II Timothy chapter 4, let's read three or four verses there beginning with verse 6. Second Timothy 4:6 --- "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
Now let us begin to think about these passages that we have read and look back at certain spots in these that we've read, and think in an organized fashion. Let's remember first about the good fight as a Christian. The Christian life is not just a little namby-pamby, go-when-you-want-to, do-when-you-want-to, live-right-when-you-want-to, and don't-do-it-when-you-don't-want-to situation. It's not that at all, is it?
You who have been soldiers or military men and who have had friends in the military, you know what would happen if a soldier decided, "Well, now today I'm not going to fight." It doesn't take much --- well, I just remembered we have a young lady here that's about to become a member of the defense force. So she'll be learning some of these things shortly. But if she decides today, "Now, I'm not going to go to my duty station," well, she'll learn pretty quick that that's "toughies." You don't miss your duty station, do you? You don't just say, "Well, I don't think I'll go today." "I don't think I'll report today." If you don't report, you better have a mighty good excuse for not doing it, hadn't you? Because if you don't, you'll be in what we used to call in Zaire, the "boloko." And that means the jailhouse. In the brig. The punishment or detention barracks. You'll be somewhere like that.
And you know, some people don't seem to realize it, but we have a detention barracks in the Lord's work, too. I don't operate it, the church doesn't operate it but the Lord has a mighty good one and He takes care of it! People who don't do their duty as Christians, He takes care of it and they have to have a detention barracks for them as well. He withholds His blessings from them. He causes things or allows things to happen to them to straighten out their thinking and their sense of responsibility and duty.
But this, we're thinking remember, is about the seriousness of the Christian life. It's not one of these little happy-go-lucky, helter-skelter, here-and-there, on again-off again, whenever-you-want-to, type of thing, is it? It is just not that way. It is a warfare. It is a battle. It's not one of these things where it's always just sweetness and light and love, either. It's not always that. The Bible teaches repeatedly that the Christian life is a constant warfare.
Now warfare, I can tell you, is not fun. When the bullets start flying or those rockets or mortars start going over and whistling and then you hear them booming over there behind you somewhere and you don't know when they're going to bring the elevation down a little bit and one of them may boom right where you are, it's no fun. It's just not any fun at all. It has to be done sometimes, but it's no fun. And so, this business of the Christian life, is a warfare. This is not just a little lark that we're on. It's not just a little holiday, a little vacation, a little happy-go-lucky time that we're in. But it's a warfare, as the Scripture repeatedly teaches. And, in fact, we've read to you two or three times already today Scriptures which show that the Christian life is a battle. It's a fight --- often a hard fight.
We read in II Timothy already, but let's look again over there in II Timothy at chapter 4, verse 7. And you'll see there exactly what I'm talking about. Paul here is about to be executed when he wrote this. And what did he say? He said, "Well, I've lived a long life as a Christian. I never did offend anybody. Everybody loves me." Is that what he said? No!!! He didn't say anything silly like that, did he? He knew that a lot of them hated him, didn't he? What did he say? He said, "I fought a good fight, I have finished my course. I've done the job God gave me to do to the best of my ability." "I have kept the faith." He didn't say anything about oh, he is a wonderful fellow, everybody loves him, nobody mad at him --- Nothing like that, did he?
That's not really the Christian life, is it? Not really the Christian life if everybody loves you because not everybody loves a good Christian. Now there'll be a few people who will love a good Christian. There may even be a great many other good Christians who will love a good Christian who stands for the truth and fights the battle. But most people are not going to love a man who stands for the truth. You know why people in general don't love men who stand for the truth? It exposes our own lack of following one hundred percent after the truth. That's the reason people don't love a man who stands a hundred percent for the truth.
But let's go on a step further. Not only is the Christian life serious, a battle, a strife all the way, but we find another thing in some of the Scriptures we've read. And that is that a Christian needs to be temperate in all things. Now if you read in the context here in First Timothy 9, we read to you earlier, several verses. Let's look at one verse again just to get our thoughts back in the right direction. In verse 25, "Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things."
Now what's he talking about? He's not talking about compromising when he says to be temperate. He's talking about sticking to the main track. He's talking here and comparing this with racers. We have a lot of marathon racers here in South Africa, as you know. Some of the best ones in the world are here in the Republic. And we probably have a bigger percentage of our population who engage in marathon races than any other country in the world, I would think. But here in his comparison of the Christian life or the Christian work with one who runs a race, he brings out several interesting things, including the fact that it is a race. They must run the race.
But the main point that we want to notice here is the fact that he advises that everyone who is going to have any chance of winning the race must be temperate. Now what's he talking about? Well, this fellow is not going to go out and spend three weeks in a row before the big marathon race in which he's entered, and stay up until one o'clock in the morning, is he? That wouldn't be temperate! That would be silly for a man who's going to run a big race in a few days.
Nor is he going to go out and eat a lot of the wrong kinds of foods while he's in training for this race. Nor is he going to go out and drink a lot of the wrong kinds of drinks in his preparation for this race. This is what he's talking about when he says, "Be temperate."
Comparing that to a Christian life, I've seen people who wasted all their time nearly as a Christian, yelling and screaming about something that didn't amount to a hill of beans, as we used to say in Texas. Didn't amount to anything. Now that's not being temperate, is it? The thing to do is to stick to the main point. Stick to the truth, don't compromise, but don't go off chasing rabbits, as we might say. Stay on the main track, be temperate.
Be not uncertain. Be positive. Did you ever convince anyone by saying, "Well, I think maybe it's that way"? You never did convince anyone of anything that way, did you? "I think maybe that's right", or "perhaps that's it." That's not the way you convince anyone of something, is it? You say, "I know it's that way." But be sure you do know it's that way before you say it. Then give them a few Scriptures to show it's that way. You say, "Well, that means I'd have to become a Bible student." Yes, you would. To be a good Christian you've got to be a Bible student. You can't be a good Christian unless you're a Bible student. I didn't say you can't be saved! Don't misunderstand what I said here. There is sometimes a big difference between being saved and being a good Christian --- a lot of difference in some cases.
But be not uncertain. Be positive. And stand fast or steadfast for the truth and in the faith. In I Corinthians again, in chapter 15, we find a good verse in connection with this. Paul again advising the church at Corinth when he said these words, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
Now what did he say there? He said a lot!! The first and foremost emphasis, of course, of that passage is on being steadfast and being unmoveable in the truth and the faith. That is the first and foremost emphasis. But also, there is an emphasis in the same verse on abounding in the work of God. Don't just be believing the truth, don't just be standing solidly for the truth but be practicing the truth as well. It is important that we go ahead and practice the truth. Rather than just believe the truth or defend the truth, let's practice it as well. Practice it, teach it, spread it, abounding in the work of the Lord because of what? Because we know, not that we hope, but because we know that our labor is not in vain in the Lord.
First Corinthians again, in chapter 14, verse 8 is a good verse for us to think about in passing. First Corinthians 14:8 --- "For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?" Here again he is comparing this to a military situation, which is what our whole lesson today is about. The Scriptures often, as we have said, compare the Christian life to a military situation, to a battle. What would happen back in the good, old days before we had radiocoms and so forth for military activity, what would happen if the trumpeter got up there and gave the wrong signal? It would be tough, wouldn't it? A lot of men might die because the trumpeter gave the wrong signal. And, of course, we could modernize that and say, "Well, now what if the signal man sends out the wrong signal on the radio communications?" It could still cause a lot of good men to die, couldn't it?
That is what Paul is talking about here. He says, "Be sure you give out a distinct, clear message because if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who's going to prepare himself for the battle?" And, of course, back in the days when the Israelites were moving into the Promised Land, they used these ram's horn trumpets. Usually for two purposes. In fact, almost entirely for these two purposes: to call the people to worship or to call them to battle. And they had to have a distinct signal coming out so that the people would know which it was when they gave the signals, whether it was the call to battle or the call to worship. And that's what he's referring back to here when he says, "If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for the battle?"
Our message must be not uncertain, it must be positive, as we've said. It must be a clear, plain, simple, straight-forward, un-convoluted message. Something that we can find in the Scripture, prove it by the Scripture, and then stand on it. Not these, "I think so and so," or "I hope so and so," types of messages because they just don't get the job done. Be positive. Be not uncertain. Because if we're uncertain, then no one will prepare for the battle properly.
The good fight or the Christian life, we must remember, is and will be warfare. A lot of people who say they are Christians, (some no doubt who really are Christians) don't understand this yet. They just can't stand any kind of conflict situation. And, of course, this is not proper. Conflict is part of life, isn't it? The only time you avoid all conflict is when you're dead or when you're doing nothing. And as long as you're living, the only way you avoid conflict is to run away from everything --- withdraw within yourself. And that is certainly not a Christian warfare or Christian living, is it? To withdraw within yourself and have nothing to do with anyone else or the world.
But it's going to be a warfare, as we saw in I Timothy 1:18, and some other verses in that passage. Let's look at that one again. In I Timothy 1:18, "This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before thee, that thou by them mightest," do what? Don't offend anybody. Don't bother anybody. Don't stir anybody up. Don't disturb them. No! He does not say that. He says, "That thou mightest war a good warfare."
Fight the battle as a Christian should. Stand for the truth. He goes ahead and explains that a little further down in the same passage. You say, "Well, you've convinced us that it's a warfare, that the Christian life, a real Christian life should be a battle and is a battle, but now who are the enemies?" When you go into battle, you've got to be able to identify the enemy, haven't you? Otherwise, you can't fight a battle. You might kill a friend if you didn't identify the enemy.
So who are the enemies in this Christian battle or in the good fight of faith? Well, the Bible tells us quite a lot about these enemies. And, of course, we know the old, general behind the whole opposing force is the devil. But it's divided up into several different uh, types of statements in Scripture, telling us who are the enemies that we're fighting.
And the very first one we find is the world. Yes, the world, or we could say the world system if we want to. That's the very first enemy that we find. You say, "Well, we can't go out of the world, we can't go out there into outer space and have our own little Christian colonies and—and be separate where we can properly battle against the world." No, that's not what we're talking about. But the world is and the world system is our number one enemy in living a proper Christian life.
If we look at I John chapter 2, we find a good passage in connection with this. First John 2, beginning at verse 15: "Love not the world," now remember who wrote this? Who wrote this book? He's the man who's famous all through Christian literature from the time of Christ until now as what? The apostle of love. That's who his is, the apostle of love. That is his famous reference title, all the way through Christian literature from the time of Christ until now, he is known as the apostle of love. Now listen to what he says, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 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. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time."
Now this word antichrist is used in more than one way in Scripture. It is used principally in two—two ways. There is a "last days time" when there will be a literal man who is called "The Antichrist" in Bible --- The Antichrist. He is an evil, wicked, world dictator in the last days, called The Antichrist. And the word is used that way, of course, quite a few places in Scripture, referring to this evil man who will be a last days dictator with worldwide power, who will set himself up as God on earth eventually. A world government, in other words, with a dictator at the head of it.
But this word is also used in several other places in Scripture referring to anything which is against Christ. Or to any system which is against Christ or against Christianity, we might call it today. The antichrists, plural. So, in at least those two senses, the word is used in Scripture.
And here, John says that even now there are many antichrists. That is, many who are against Christ, who are opposed to Christ and to Christ's work. Now, if they're against Christ and we're for Christ, that makes a conflict situation immediately, doesn't it? It makes warfare unavoidable unless we surrender, and we're certainly not going to surrender! It makes warfare unavoidable. So don't let anyone convince you. And I know this is very popular today, this that I'm fixing to say, so many people believe that a Christian is just one of these nice, little, unobtrusive people that never says anything that might possibly offend anybody. He never says anything that might possibly stir anybody up. He never says anything that might conflict with anybody's ideas. He just rolls along in peace and quiet in a passive fashion. But that is not a description of a Christian at all. You can not find a description like that in the Bible of a Christian engaged in the Lord's work --- NOT ONE. You can find many descriptions which show the Christian life as a contest or as warfare or as a battle or as a struggle to be won --- to live and serve the Lord properly.
So, one of our great enemies is the world --- Our number one enemy is the world. The world's system is also our enemy as I mentioned. If you look at Matthew chapter 6:33 and 34, there is a good passage that some of us have memorized in Sunday School class and it's a good one to memorize and remember. In Matthew 6:33: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." And he's talking about the necessary things of the world. Things that the world system can supply. "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." So the world's system is also our enemy and is to be fought. Do not get yourself, as a Christian, into a position where you are controlled and dominated and tied to the world's system. You can destroy yourself as a Christian and your usefulness to the Lord and His service by doing that.
I know that we all have to earn our living. The Scripture teaches that we must work to earn our living. The Scripture also teaches that these bums who won't work shouldn't eat. It teaches that very clearly. This is not talked about very much anymore by politicians. They don't want to remember that part of the passages which teach that. They want to buy votes with your money, most of them do. But the Christian can easily destroy his opportunities of service for God by getting so involved in the material world's system that he just doesn't have time for God anymore. He doesn't have time to serve God anymore. He doesn't have time to worship with his family anymore. He doesn't have time to witness to his friends anymore. He doesn't have time to worship with his fellow church members.
He is just too involved in this world's system trying to make a buck, as we would say. But he just can't spend any time with his family, and with the Lord, with reading his Bible, in prayer, in Christian fellowship, and in witnessing to others and serving the Lord as a Christian should. It's so easy to get in that position. And so, the world's system, we need to remember, is our enemy.
Of course, the old evil rascal behind the whole thing is our number one enemy, the devil himself, who is in control of the rest of our battles that we have to fight, and of the ones who are fighting against us. The devil does all kinds of things to be our enemy. In the first place, he perverts the Scriptures. Yes, the Devil quotes and perverts the Scriptures.
You know, that's one of his main attack points today on the Lord's work --- he is working overtime these days to twist the Scripture so that it doesn't say what God said. That is, to put out false Scriptures I should say. The Devil works to twist the Scripture so that it no longer says what the real Scripture says. Every little while now we have a new translation of the Bible coming out. We've had many in the past few years, these new translations of the Bible coming out. And you say, "Well, they're just making it into modern language." NO --- THAT IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE, and they are lying when they say that!
I can take every one of these modern translations and show you that they have done several things to the Scriptures. They have downgraded the Deity of Christ. They have downgraded the blood atonement. They have in some places in the Bible, completely eliminated the Deity of Christ. But every one of them, even the best of these modern ones have all downgraded the Deity of Christ and the blood atonement --- Every one of them. They have also downgraded the authority of the Scriptures as the very Word of God --- Every one of them does that. All of them have either added to or taken out certain portions --- Every one of these modern translations has done that. They have either added something in that wasn't in the manuscripts or have taken some out that was in and thrown it away. And you can just go on and on and on with that but the devil definitely perverts the Scriptures. That is one of his main points of attack.
Even there when he tempted Christ in Matthew 4:6, the Devil is trying to twist the Word of God! Remember how the devil took him up on a pinnacle of the temple: "And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God." Well, he has already twisted the Scripture in the very first statement there "If thou be the Son of God." Even the very first part of the first sentence that he says, he's twisted the Scripture, hasn't he? Because it doesn't say, "If thou be," it says He is the Son of God. "If thou be the Son of God," now here he really twists it some more, "cast thyself down." Now listen to what he's going to twist here. "For it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone." Now he's taken a little bit of Scripture and twisted it and bent it around to make it say something it did not say.
That is what the devil did right there, talking to the Lord Himself. And he certainly does that today, with a lot of good people, a lot of people who are sincere Christians. He takes a little bit of the Scripture and he twists it and bends it and then it doesn't even mean the same thing anymore. And if you bend it the least little bit, it doesn't mean the same anymore because did you know that every word in the original Scriptures was God-breathed? That is the meaning of the word inspiration of the Scriptures. God-breathed! That is, each individual word is the word God chose. So you can see that when you change one word, you've changed God's Word.
If you realize that God gave each word the way He wanted it and that Jesus Himself and Paul and some of the other apostles in the New Testament showed in their references back to the Old Testament that they accepted the Old Testament as word by word the Word of God, not just thought by thought or sentence by sentence or passage by passage, but rather they accepted it as word for word, one word at a time God's word. That is the reason we believe in verbal inspiration. That is, the literal, verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. Word by word. Plenary, verbal inspiration of the Scriptures.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines PLENARY as: "Entire, absolute, unqualified." I so not see how that could be more clearly stated.
But the devil perverts the Scriptures --- he opposes God's work. We have a lot of references on that. I won't read them all to you. There is a good one in I Thessalonians 2:18 showing that the devil opposes God's work. He hinders the gospel and Christian work. You say, "Well, how can the devil hinder the gospel?" Turn to Matthew 13, and read verse 19 with me. We have here a parable in which it illustrates how the devil does hinder the gospel. "When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one," (who is the wicked one? -- the Devil.) "And catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side." This is the Lord's explanation of one of His parables of the kingdom, specifically about the sower. So He shows very clearly that the devil comes to people and snatches the truth out of their heart when they've heard it but not yet believed it and accepted it. He snatches it out of their heart --- He hinders the gospel.
Again in II Corinthians, we have another reference that shows that the devil can and does hinder the gospel. Second Corinthians 4, read beginning with verse 3. "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world," now that god of this world, of course, is the devil, "hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." The devil has blinded their minds and spiritual eyes so that they cannot really see and truly believe the truth of the gospel until the Spirit of God comes and opens their eyes so that they can see, and hear, and believe.
Another thing we want to look at quickly in II Corinthians, as we begin to wind up a little bit. In II Corinthians chapter 11, verse 14, we see a verse which is very appropriate for today, this day in which we live. We have so many people in the world today who are false prophets, who are preaching another gospel. They are not preaching the gospel that Christ gave to us. They are not preaching the gospel that is taught in the Scriptures --- they are preaching another gospel. And this reference here in II Corinthians chapter 11, verse 14, is a good one to keep in mind. Reading with verse 13 as well: "For such are false apostles," he's just been talking about people who've been preaching something that's not true according to God's Word, "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel," he says, There's nothing amazing about this, "For Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." He appears as a brilliant and scintillating personality. An angel of light to many people. "Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
Another place the Scriptures teach us that these false prophets or these false ministers are not ministers of God, they're not servants of God but they're servants of their own bellies. Now that's a crude way to say it but that's what the Scripture says. They are servants of their own bellies. In other words, they're just after the money. That's what the Bible says about these false teachers. It says they are just after the money. They are servants of their own belly. They are not servants of God at all, nor ministers of the truth.
But even the devil himself appears as an angel of light as we just read to you. He's the father of lies, John 8:44 tells us. Let's look at that one quickly. In John 8:44 the Lord here is, as you may remember, rebuking the Pharisees who've been trying to trap Him with trick questions. You know these tricky religious questions. That's what they've been trying to work on Him. And so what did He say to them? He said, "Oh, now, you mustn't do that. That's naughty." No. He didn't say that at all, did He?
What did He say? He said, "Ye are of your father the devil." That' is what some of these ministers today are, too. They are of their father the devil. "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." So He really told them how it was, didn't He? He said, "You're of your father the devil, and he's a liar and the father of all liars. And a murderer from the beginning," He says.
And that could certainly be said about some of these false teachers today. They're murdering worse than the body of a man when they mislead him in matters of salvation or in matters of God. They may be murdering his soul by leading him astray from the way that would have led him to salvation in Christ. That is the worst kind of murder.
Resist the devil's wiles, the Bible teaches us in many places. Galatians 1:6 through 9, and Galatians 6:16 are good references in this connection. Then also I Peter chapter 5, verses 8 through 11. Let's look at that last one. First Peter 5:8 through 11: "Be sober, be vigilant." That's a necessity for a proper soldier to be vigilant and to be sober, isn't it? (Remember, we are talking about fighting the good fight). "Because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen and settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever." He is the one for whom we're fighting, isn't He?
Paul in another place speaks of the fact that the Christian soldier should fight a good fight remembering Him who has called you or chosen you to be a soldier. Let us remember Him who chose us to be a soldier. It was a common thing back in those days.
The reason perhaps that Paul used that expression is that it was a pretty common thing back in those days in the Roman military service for a great military leader to be given the authority or a writ from the military commanders to form his own military unit. And he would choose his own men. And some of those were real tigers. Those groups that fought like that were real tigers because they were chosen --- hand picked by the great military leader who was allowed to do this. And that is the way we need to think of this because Paul uses that same expression, "Remember him who hath chosen you to be a soldier." We ought to be real tigers in the battle for the Lord because of this. He chose us and He's the great leader --- we should happily fight like tigers in His service as did those especially chosen Roman soldiers!
"It is necessary to keep the faith that was once delivered to the saints." We've already read that to you in I Timothy 1:18, but let's look quickly at Jude, verse 3. Jude is the last book of the Bible except Revelation as you perhaps remember, and only has one chapter. In verse 3, "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend," (that word contention again, or contend) "for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." That's what false teachers are doing.
It is necessary to keep on the course. Not only to be steadfast and faithful to the faith that was delivered to the saints, but it's necessary to keep on the course as well. He speaks of this in II Timothy chapter 4, verse 7. It is necessary to stay on the course. "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course." Now if a racer out here --- if he's on that Durban to Pietermartzberg marathon, (one of the most famous marathon's in the modern world at original time of preaching this sermon) and he decides he'll go off by way of Hluhluwe or something, he's not going to be in the race at all, is he? He just won't be in the race. You've got to stay on the course. And the same way out here Kialami, for example. These motorcycle races or these automobile races of various kinds that they have. If a fellow didn't stay on the course he wouldn't be in the race, would he? He'd just lose out completely. So it's necessary to keep on the course.
But let's close it with this thought --- for those who do fight the good fight of faith, there is a crown of righteousness for all them that love His appearing. Second Timothy 4:8 speaks of that, and I Thessalonians chapter 4, verses 16 and 17 --- we'll close with that passage. Remember that Paul has already spoken of the crown of righteousness as we read to you earlier in II Timothy 4:8. "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
Just remember, Christian, that WE ARE TO FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT.
We are to REMAIN STEADFAST IN THE FAITH.
We are to STAY ON THE COURSE --- DON'T GET OFF THE TRACK SOMEWHERE. Don't get side tracked because that does not do you nor anyone else any good.
And remember that there is LAID UP FOR YOU A CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS which the Lord the righteous judge shall give you in that day. And not to you only, but to all them that love His appearing.