Along with knowing about spiritual warfare, weapons, authority, and armor, a closer look at the military man himself is helpful in understanding whether a battle will be won or lost. As Christians, we are called to fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:12). In the preceding verses, we are exhorted to “run for our lives” from those who are argumentative, puffed up with conceit, crave controversy and quarreling, and all things that produce envy, slander, dissension, and constant friction among people (1 Timothy 6:4-5). After all, if soldiers can’t get along, how effective will their unit be?
The MESSAGE version says, but you, Timothy, man of God: Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life — a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:11-12). There are things we should run toward and others we should run from. What will be an accurate compass to keep us running toward the right things and pursuing a righteous life? How can we be sure we’re keeping in step with our Commander-in-Chief and staying in top spiritual shape as military men and women?
Two things will strengthen even the weakest military man in God’s army: the peace of God and the Word of God. Something quite remarkable happens when the supernatural peace of God settles over us. When turmoil or calamity comes upon us, and we cry out to the Lord for help in our weakened, fearful state, His peace steadies our hearts and minds. His strength comes into us. The shaking needle in our compass stabilizes. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT). In fact, peace is something we are to chase after. Hebrews 12:14 says, pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord. The NLT says, work at living in peace with everyone.
When I received the call from my doctor saying I had stage IV cancer, the needle in my compass initially went crazy—like a Geiger counter wildly clicking inside a bomb. At that moment, I was not running toward a life of wonder, faith, love, and steadiness. I had to have God’s supernatural peace to make it through the battle. After turning my heart and thoughts toward Him, His peace came. The needle stabilized, and my compass directed me to His promises and His Word. It was easier to calm my family’s concerns and fears once peace was established within myself.
The Word of God is life-changing. It keeps our hearts soft and pliable, not hard and militant. Being militant is necessary in times of battle, but not within our unit. It means being aggressive, combative, feisty, confrontational, and warlike. Sounds like the very qualities we are to run away from, but in spiritual warfare, it is imperative that when we discern what our real enemies are (demonic powers, principalities, and wickedness in the heavenly places), we face them aggressively—even viciously—and take authority over them to strip them of their power to cause trouble in our lives and spheres of influence.
When we read the Bible, the Bible reads us. It’s like a mirror reflecting what we look like on the outside while at the same time shining God’s light on what we look like on the inside. It changes the way we think and act while softening our hearts to the things that matter to the Lord. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does (James 1:23-25 NIV).
If we allow it, the Lord will correct, adjust, and encourage us as we read and study His Word. All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16 NIV). The New Living Translation personalizes that verse so well: All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. That is how a military man or woman in the Lord’s Army stays soft, moldable, and sensitive to the Voice of the Commander-in-Chief. Without the Word of God, we are left to our own thoughts, ideas, plans, and schemes which often amount to nothing more than a selfish attempt to make things happen outside of the will of God.
Battles are not won by military men who break rank and fight the enemy on their own terms using their own strategies: chaos, confusion, and defeat result. Life is much the same; many plans that are forced end in chaos, confusion, and defeat. When faced with trouble or an overwhelming situation, seek the peace of God and the richness of His Spirit of Counsel in the Bible. It is far better to surrender a hard-nosed, I’ll-do-it-my-way attitude of superiority when difficulties arise and instead embrace the Lord’s way of getting through the battle. Remember His God-breathed advice in Isaiah 55:9, “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Expect the Lord to give you His peace that passes understanding so that you may live at peace with others and share it. Chase after it! At the same time, go to the Word and search out scriptures that help solve current dilemmas, big or small. You will soon be one of the few good men (and women) the Lord is actively recruiting!
© 2022, Chris Werre