A CHRISTIAN IS GOD’S SOLDIER
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)
The Christian life is a constant warfare. A thousand foes beset our pathway, and strong forces are in a perpetual struggle to gain control of our lives. The human heart is the world's greatest battlefield, and the contending forces ‑ are ever struggling for the mastery of that heart. Paul gave this command to Timothy: "Fight the good fight of faith, hold on to eternal life whereunto thou art called" (1 Tim. ).
No one ever made anything worthwhile out of his life except by struggling against the evil forces that would drag him down and make havoc of his moral nature and take from him the incentive to improve himself and all those whom he might influence. When Christ called us through the Gospel, He had a two-fold purpose: First to save us from the serfdom of sin, making us His children, His ministers (kings and priests); and Second, to use us as soldiers to fight in a warfare in which eternal principles are at stake. No one can be a true soldier without being an ACTIVE soldier, and Christ needs soldiers ‑ people of faith, courage, and devotion who will not quail at any foe, and who will be constant in their opposition to anything that would degrade the lives of men.
Whenever a war breaks out, and enlistments are sought to increase the army being raised to fight the foe, the first thought that enters the mind of the would-be soldier is in regard to the nature and strength of the enemy. To be a valiant soldier, one must know the enemy, his strength, his purposes, and his devices. Let us now learn about the devil, our enemy.
Peter admonishes us to "Be alert! Watch! The devil is your enemy. He is like a lion. He walks around, roaring and looking for some one to eat" (1 Peter 5:8). In connection with the word devil, we often find the word Satan, which means adversary. He is the adversary of both God and man. The Bible teaches that he is a creature of God's creation, for God created all in heaven and on earth, visible or invisible, "whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities or powers; all things were created by him and for him" (Col. 1:16).
Evidently the devil was at first an archangel, for he has great power, strength and wisdom! But he was not content to remain in the position the Lord placed him, but rebelled against God and sought to dethrone Him, and influenced many angels to leave the service of God, and join his unholy conspiracy. This is evident from Paul's statement to Timothy that a novice (a new convert or babe in Christ) should not be appointed to the eldership, "He might become boastful and fall into the Devil’s condemnation" (1 Tim. 3:6). PRIDE is the devil's condemnation.
If he always came to us as a roaring lion, it would indeed simplify the warfare, for all men would instinctively resist him and attempt his destruction. But Satan's wisdom and cunning is such that he knows he could not win against man if his true character and purposes were made known. He has the power to transform himself into "an angel of light," and with his deceptive words, smooth speeches, and great signs and wonders, through PRIDE he can all but deceive the very elect (Matt. 24:24).
His very first attempt at deception led Eve into sin, and thus brought death and all its sorrows into the world. No pen or tongue can adequately portray the devilish power of Satan to deceive through PRIDE. His victories equal the number of all the persons who have lived since creation, for "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Be it remembered that all sin originates with the devil, and with the exception of Jesus there has been no form so fair but sin has marred it, no life so pure but sin has sullied it, no character so strong but sin has weakened it. O that men would understand the terrible power of Satan!
REMEMBER: Our enemy is NOT “flesh and blood” – people – but Satan and his spiritual forces of wickedness (Eph. ). The devil’s only purpose is to wreck and destroy. He has no love for anyone save himself, and he only uses man to effect his own diabolic purposes and bring man to destruction and ruin. Jesus said to the apostate Jews, "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" (John ).
No words could more impressively describe the horrifying nature of the devil's character, or depict his hellish purposes. He’s a liar and the father of liars! Every tear that was ever shed, every sorrow that ever clouded a life, every evil that ever existed and every death that has broken a family circle and left a vacant chair, all had their origins in the devil's depraved and wicked heart! This is the enemy we face.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and left many of our great battleships a mass of twisted steel, causing the death of hundreds of our brave men and women, thousands of aroused American youth immediately enlisted in the Services to avenge that wanton slaughter. The dangers they faced meant nothing; only that the enemy should be swiftly punished for their dastardly crime.
But friends, there would be no war, no crime, and
no wickedness was it not for the fact that the entire world has an
enemy more dangerous than a hundred Japans. And Christ calls for
enlistees to wage
an all out warfare against this universal foe. Christ has an organized
army, composed of all who are true Christians, the redeemed people of
God, to fight
this monster from hell. No one can be a member of that army unless he
properly enlisted, even as one cannot enter the army of the
It requires that we make a public confession of
faith in Christ. "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him
also will I confess before my Father which is in haven" (Matt. 10:32).
With the heart "man believeth unto righteousness and
with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Rom. 10:10).
This confession is equivalent to the oath each enlistee must make when
We fear there is far too little importance attached to this act of obedience. Before the Eunuch could be baptized, it was necessary that he confess his faith in Christ (Acts 8). This confession should ever be regarded as an affirmation to leave the world and all its allurements, and cling to Christ as the ruler of our lives. The vow the bride makes to "love, honor, and obey" binds her to her husband "till death do us part." Even so, the public confession each believer in Christ makes of his faith in the Son of God, should be considered the "oath of enlistment" that places him under the rulership of Jesus Christ. Let us now consider:
In every army there is perhaps no subject of conversation more spirited than with reference to the commanding officer. If he is harsh, overbearing, and unsympathetic he obtains only a minimum of obedience from his men; but if his attitude toward them is considerate and kind, and shows the qualities of leadership that leads to victory, his men will often follow him to death even though he may require the maximum of discipline and obedience.
In the person of Jesus Christ, whom Paul speaks of as the "captain of our salvation" (Heb. ), we have a Commander who by the "grace of God tasted death for every man" (Heb. 2:9). Jesus can have compassion on them that are out of the way, for He was invested in a body of flesh and "tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15). Thus He can have a perfect understanding of our needs and weaknesses. "He knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust" (Ps. 103:14).
God vested our Commander with "all power in heaven and in earth" (Matt. 28:18), so His authority to command is unlimited. He does not wage this warfare for His personal aggrandizement, for the extension of His own power or fame, but to "set the captives free" (Rom. ), and "set all people free from the slavery of fearing death all their lives" (Heb. ).
In “Commander Jesus” every soldier can have implicit trust and confidence. He has never lost a battle nor retreated a step. Alone and in hunger, He met the arch‑enemy of souls and defeated him in the world's most decisive battle (Matthew 4). He offers "eternal salvation to all them that obey him" (Heb. 5:9), and is ever ready to defend and protect the frailest and weakest in His kingdom. Any soldier of the lowest rank can approach His presence at any time and solicit His advice and assistance. He also has the means at hand to provide His soldiers with the best of equipment, to wage an aggressive warfare. He FREELY provides ALL our battle gear:
Each soldier in every army has a uniform that distinguishes him from the soldiers of other armies. It is his mark of identity. It must be strong enough for a rugged campaign and yet comfortable and convenient for his physical well‑being. The soldier dons his uniform as soon as he is enlisted.
The Christian soldier is required to "put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. ). This uniform is put on in baptism, for "as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal. ). This is the most attractive uniform ever worn by man. Christ's righteousness was without a flaw. He "did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth" (1 Peter ), and we are required to wear His sinless robe of righteousness. We are to "put off the old man with his deeds" and put on "the new man which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him" (Col. 3:9-10).
Our two sons have served in the armed services of their country, and when home on furlough we were interested in the meticulous care they gave their uniforms. The buttons were kept polished and all the clothing cleaned and neatly pressed. Christian soldiers should ever be careful to keep themselves "pure…and unspotted from the world" (1 Tim. ; James ). This is for our protection. May our conduct be such as becometh saints, and thus honor the Cause for which we strive.
No part of a soldier's duty is more important than to be properly trained. Many months of arduous toil are necessary to turn a green recruit into a finished soldier and inure him to the hardship of war. Long marches over rugged terrain, complicated drills and general physical exercises are a necessary part of a soldier's "basic training."
These things are no less important to the
Christian. We are required to "endure hardness, as a good soldier of
Jesus Christ" (2 Tim. 2:3) so that we might war a good warfare. Here is
Soldiers are not trained in the science of war at the dining table! They are not even trained in the lecture room. Occasional lectures are given, but then they are required to go out on the drilling grounds and demonstrate the truths learned. Yet in the majority of so‑called churches of Christ, the only training a Christian soldier receives is to listen to the "The Minister" preach.
Paul wrote to Timothy: "And the things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2). That requires ACTIVE participation in the public work of the church. We sometimes wonder what would be done with a soldier who when ordered to go out on maneuvers, would say to his Officer, "Oh, I just have no talent for drill work, I can't handle a rifle nor a machine gun, I can't drive a tank nor even a half‑track, so you'll just have to leave me here in camp." Would not such a soldier be summarily thrown into the guard house?
Yet thousands of recruits are excused from all public work because they have not the training received by "The Minister." All they do is listen to the "The Minister" preach! It would be a strange army that is never drilled, never trained, and never taught how to fight. Every soldier in Christ's army should be willing to take up any work that will enable him to "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter ). Christ will supply every soldier with the means and methods by which he can wage an aggressive warfare with the least danger to himself. Let me now speak the most IMPORTANT part of our battle gear:
Paul to the Ephesians said, "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph. ). An armour is for protective purposes and each separate piece is essential for full protection. We are admonished to "Put on the whole armour," not just part of it. Our soldiers fighting in foreign lands, when equipped with bullet proof vests, are far more aggressive than they would be otherwise, and so the entire armour must be next considered.
The Girdle of Truth
The ancient soldier wore about his loins a heavy leather girdle that furnished much protection: "Stand firm, using truth as a belt around your waist" (Eph. ). "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (John ). Lies and falsehood is the devil's best weapon. He told a lie to Eve in the beginning, and in believing it she brought to the world its burden of sin and sorrow. God's people are to be protected through the truth.
If we wear the girdle of truth then we are encompassed with the truth, which means we are to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Falsehood can never be profitably used in a righteous cause. To the extent that Christians are concerned for their salvation, to that extent they will ever be concerned in "speaking the truth in love" (Eph. ). They will believe the truth, accept the truth, and obey the truth without hesitation or reluctance. Jesus prayed: "Sanctify them through thy truth. Thy word is truth" (John 17:17). The truth revealed in God's word will perfect the man of God "unto all good works" (2 Tim. -17).
The Breastplate of Righteousness
The Commander tells His soldiers to “Put on the chest-plate of righteousness” (Eph. ). The ancient soldier covered his chest with a heavy piece of leather which was covered with squares of metal that fully protected his chest against the darts and spears of the enemy. A spiritual breastplate is important to the Christian soldier. Our breastplate is not material; it is the principle of righteousness, which simply means "right doing." As long as we are always busy in the work of God, we will have no time to do wrong.
The old saying is true: "The devil always finds something for idle hands to do." A thousand temptations come to the idler that never reach the man busy in noble work. When Christians are trained to "be godly" (1 Tim. 4:7), they will always find spiritual work to do that will honor their Lord and beatify their own lives. Paul gives this admonition "Rich people should do good things. They should be rich in good deeds. They must be generous and want to share" (1 Tim. ). Christ became poor that His people might be rich (2 Cor. 8:9). Christ "went about doing good" (Acts ) and all His followers should emulate His example to their own happiness and to the blessing of others.
The Gospel Shoes
Soldiers on the march, traveling over rugged or rocky terrain, need good strong shoes. Did you ever see a soldier on duty wearing house slippers? We are to have our feet shod "with the preparation of the gospel of peace" (Eph. ). With shoes on your feet, be ready to tell the Good News about peace. Many professed Christians often sing with much spirit, "I love to tell the story of unseen things above," but never once in their lives do they tell that story to their friends and neighbors.
The gospel means "good tidings" ‑ Good News - and glorious indeed is the news it reveals! How eager we should be to carry the good news to souls facing eternity, “having no hope, and without God in the world" (Eph. ). There is nothing that will make a Christian stronger than to work for the salvation of others. "How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things" (Isa. 52:7; Rom. ). There can be no conquest of the devil unless we bring freedom to those taken captive by him (2 Tim. -26). This is a vital part of our warfare and is a work that should be done by all members of the church, not just "The Minister." Christ came to preach "deliverance to the captives" (Luke ), and that same preaching is the world's greatest need.
The Shield of Faith
"Above all, take up faith for a shield. With this, you will be able to put out all the burning arrows of the evil one" (Eph. ). The shield used by the ancient soldier was generally as long as his body, oval in shape and made of metal. He carried it with his left hand, holding it before him as he advanced into battle. It gave splendid protection in the most spirited conflict.
Our shield is Faith. "Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Heb. 11:6), and that faith means far more than merely believing in God. It means taking God at His word! And faith is never passive. It is always ACTIVE. That is why Paul speaks of "the obedience of faith" (Rom. ). Faith leads to action! No noble work is ever accomplished without faith. It is the motive power back of all progress: morally, spiritually, or physically.
Remember, Paul said, "Above all, taking the shield of faith" (Eph. ). This is of supreme importance. How disgusting to listen to “Christians” talk discouragingly of any effort to establish the cause of Christ in a new place. They seem to think God is dead and Christ dethroned, with the result that the devil now has a stranglehold on heaven as well as earth. When members indulge in such talk, we know the devil has a stranglehold on them.
They remind us of a little boy who went to Sunday School and was given a beautifully decorated card on which was printed in large letters, "Have faith in God." Riding home on a bus a gust of wind snatched the card out of his hand and through the open window. He rushed to the driver frantically crying, "Stop the Bus, I've lost my faith in God!" And that sums up the condition of too many professed Christians, whose faith is too weak to permit them to undertake any real work of the Lord.
They deliberately ignore the truth that "this is the VIVTORY that overcometh the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4). Such unhappy characters need to have written on their hearts, "Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Heb. 11:6). They only please the devil. He is always happy to have some murmurers and complainers throw a "wet blanket" on any proposal for the advancement of heaven's truth. Despondency or discouragement is another well used tool of the devil against Christians. He cannot reach them on a moral issue, but if he can get them discouraged and thus lose faith, they became utterly useless to the Lord.
"O for a faith that will not shrink, though pressed by every foe; That will not tremble on the brink of any earthly woe." Dare we forget the words of Christ: “If your faith were the size of the small seed of the mustard plant, then you could say to this mountain, Move from here to there! And the mountain would move. Nothing would be impossible for you” (Matt. ). My wife and I have the faith that leads us to believe that the cause of Christ can be established in every village, town, or city if a determined effort is properly made. In such an effort, we can always have the assurance of the Father's approval. The man of faith is the invincible man.
The Helmet of Salvation
"And take the helmet of salvation" (Eph. ). Elsewhere Paul describes our helmet as "the hope of salvation" (1 Thess. 5:8). The modern soldier when in battle wears a metal helmet on his head which adds much to his protection. The Lord does not leave His soldiers unprotected, and there is no greater protection in the hours of trial and temptation than the hope of heaven. How wonderful it is in the midst of life's greatest trials, to say, "It is better farther on."
Paul declares, "we are saved by hope" (Rom. ). Life is filled with many trials and sorrows. Truly, "Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble" (Job 14:1). If the conditions of this life are the best we can ever expect as a reward for a righteous life, the prospects are not too alluring (cf. Rom. ; 1 Cor. ). But we live “in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began" (Titus 1:2).
A man without hope is a man without strength or character. The true and sincere Christian always has a vision of the splendor of a golden day! A body enfeebled by age and beset with many infirmities, will be exchanged for an incorruptible body, made like unto the glorious body of our Lord (Phil. 3:20-21; cf. 1 Cor. 15:42-54; 1 John 3:2). A transient home, often marred by grief’s and sorrows, will be exchanged for that "city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. ). Such a hope is worth more than all of Satan's allurements, for he promises nothing beyond this life. It will be of small profit to exchange such a glorious hope for only a "grave in the dark." Christian soldiers, keep, that hope before you. It will protect you from every danger.
A soldier who strives only to protect himself can never conquer the enemy. Christian soldiers need a weapon of great strength and power to overcome the power and might of our enemy. Paul speaks of, "The sword of the Spirit. This is the message of God" (Eph. ). "For our fight we are not using weapons which come from this world. No, our weapons come from God. They are powerful enough to break down strong forts. We break down false logic and anything which rises up against what we know is true about God. We capture every thought to make it obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5).
When Jesus met the devil in that pitched battle in the wilderness, He parried every thrust of Satan's keenest blade with a quotation from God's word. "It is written" (Matt 4:4, 7, 10) was sufficient to rout the devil and drive him from the field. "God’s message is alive and active. It is sharper than any sword with two sharp edges. It can slice between the soul and the spirit or between the joints and bone marrow. It can tell the difference between the desires and the intentions of the human mind" (Heb ). With that sword the soldier of the cross is "prepared for any good work" (2 Tim. ).
But before the soldier can use it effectively, he must have an excellent working knowledge of its truths. This is of supreme importance in our warfare against sin (Ps. 119:11); and it is at this very point where the church today is making a great failure. With the One Man “Pastor” system, the general tendency is to leave all the study of the Bible to "The Minister" for he is "especially educated for that purpose," so they say. And thus, the ignorance of the Bible on the part of the average member is appalling! They have little incentive to study for their own improvement. "Leave it to ‘The Minister.’ He can answer all the questions," is the all but universal tendency.
In a secular army there is no part of a soldier's training of more importance than to learn to handle his rifle efficiently, and it would be a strange army in which the commissioned officers were the only ones who knew how to handle the weapons! What are the "foot soldiers" for if not to take the weapon of the Lord and put the enemy to rout?
We know that this objection will be met with the plausible argument that "We do have training classes and Bible studies." Perhaps so, but you will notice they are never trained to take the place of "The Minister." He is the one indispensable man! The congregation must have him regardless of the training given the "foot soldiers." If "The Minister" is the only one who can edify the church, and generally he is the only one permitted to do so, there is little purpose in teaching the other members the word of God. They will never have the right incentive to know the Bible unless they are given the opportunity to use it against the wiles of the devil.
When a war breaks out the main thought is of victory. How soon will we win? 'The V sign of victory, used so often during the World Wars, doubtless gave great encouragement to all and built up the morale of civilians and soldiers alike. The sign of victory ever before them was a stimulation that caused them to exert themselves to the utmost.
In our spiritual war, against the strongest foe of all time, there will be occasions when the progress we make seems insignificant, and the difficulties insurmountable, and many will be tempted to fall by the wayside. Jesus spoke of those who endure for awhile "but when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by they are offended" (matt. ). Our victory is not won in a day nor a year, for the promise is "be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Rev. 2:10).
The victory is sure if we with patience continue our opposition to all that which is evil. We have this assurance, "For he (Christ) must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (l Cor -26). The devil's doom is certain: "And the devil that received them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Rev. 20:10). O Glorious Victory! In that wonderful day when the soldiers of the cross can "lay our armour by and rest in peace at home." Is not this worth striving for? "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son" (Rev. 21:7).
In that day, all heaven and earth will shake under the mighty impact of the marching victorious hosts, and thousands upon thousands of the redeemed shall join the angelic chorus in singing the song of victory before the throne of God and of the Lamb! The victory of Christ is certain, but your victory depends on your efforts to live righteously and walk humbly before your God. So, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil ). If you will not "endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" and faithfully keep His commandments, your doom will be the devil's victory even in his hour of utter defeat.
I am a hard fighting soldier on the battlefield…
Lord, I’m a hard fighting soldier on the battlefield…
Yes, I’m a hard fighting soldier on the battlefield,
And I’m bringing, souls to Jesus, by the service that I yield.