“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
As a four-year-old boy, the lesson and necessity to fight was instilled in my heart through a traumatic experience. I shall never forget that day or that punch! There was a neighbor my age with a big brother. Bullies. One day while walking down the sidewalk, the big brother told his little brother to come and punch me in the face. I was too young to know what fighting was, and needless to say, New Orleans is a violent place to grow up! I went home crying and told my dad what happened, and he gave me another reason to cry (a spanking), teaching me that from then forward, I was to never ever start a fight but was to absolutely finish every fight that came my way. My grandfather was an accomplished boxer and so teaching your sons to defend themselves was a part of our family. Thank You, Jesus, and thank you, Dad for this lesson!
As God would allow, this punch to my face as the ripe old age of 4, became the launching place for me to engage in many rough sports (football, boxing, motocross) and to become proficient in defending myself in order to be ready to finish any conflict that came my way. This all perhaps contributed to my volunteering for and serving in the Marine Corps (1981-1988). After being abruptly punched in the face that fateful day, I was forced to learn to fight from that young age.
The same is true for followers of Christ. After being saved, we are innocent and believe that everything is roses as we experience a time of great grace from Christ after He saves us. But then, somewhere along the way, we stumble and fall into sin and/or someone comes along and plasters us with mockery or affliction and reality hits – the reality to fight the good “fight of faith” and “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 2:3) At the point of that rude awakening (whatever that may be), we learn to put up our spiritual dukes and get “violent” – “the violent take it by force.” (Matthew 11:12)
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12
Paul tells young Timothy to “Fight” and to “lay hold on eternal life.” If there were no reason to do these things for Timothy and us, why O why would Paul have instructed him to do such?
Whether we realize it yet or not, we are are in a war, a fight and commanded to “fight.”
Have you had that landmark, life-changing rude awakening—that proverbial or literal punch in the face?
Are your dukes up?
Are you swinging?
Are you throwing skilled punches that are landing on the jaw of the enemy?
The Scriptures paint a completely different picture than that conveyed by most pastors and authors today in the professing church world. Most of these pawns perpetrate a cross-less message of ease and self-seeking, comfort, with no affliction, warfare, violence (spiritually), persecution, or need to lay down the life and endure to the end. Such is not an accurate version of the original Gospel but rather a false representation that is misleading millions.
“Yea, and ALL that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” 2 Timothy 3:12-13
Those who are truly remnant members of the body of Christ are in Christ’s light and being attacked by the darkness of the enemy of souls (Matthew 11:12, etc.)
When Christ First Saves Us
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” 1 Peter 2:2
By nature, as a little boy, I was not postured to fight but to love. That bully’s punch, heard around the world (haha), when I was just four years old, rocked my world, forcing me into the reality of violence – the violence of this life and the need for Christ’s violence to be victor over the evil violence (Matthew 11:12; John 12:31-32). That violent event spring-boarded me into a life of vigilant preparation and defense, never again losing another street fight (and losing only once in golden gloves boxing in high school). That punch was my wake-up call, instilling within the reality that this was not going to be an easy life but rather one where others would viciously attack, and that I would have to prepared and to fight or be killed.
The same is true for the believer who is passing through this world temporarily on the way to eternal glory, where enduring to the end is a necessity – “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers (foreigners, sojourners) and pilgrims (alien, resident sojourners), abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;” (1 Peter 2:11) Christ calls us to live the crucified life He and His holy apostles prescribed, violently, mercilessly mortifying the deeds of the body as we daily “put off the old man” and “put on the new man.” (Colossians 3:9-10)
“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24
Conquer or be Conquered? Yes!
The life of the true follower of Jesus is a crucified life – where you are dead, your life is hid with Christ in God, and Christ alone reigns supreme.
“But I keep (continually) under my body (the flesh), and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” 1 Corinthians 9:27
The United States Marine Corps teaches to “kill or be killed.” In this fallen world, “conquer or be conquered” is a kingdom truth. The “violent” must “take it by force” – the kingdom of Christ, pressing into it – or they will be destroyed (Matthew 11:12
“The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” Luke 16:16
Scripture teaches initial and final salvation – enduring to the end or losing out (Matthew 10:22; 24:13, etc.). The born again believer must “abide” (continue) in Christ, pressing into the eternal kingdom.
Ease or Agony? Amost wrote “WOE unto those who are at ease in Zion (among God’s people)” and Jesus says:
“Strive (agonize) to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence (where) ye are: 26 Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. 27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence (where) ye are (your current spiritual state); depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. 28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. ” Luke 13:24-27
When you let Jesus speak for Himself by diligently studying His Word daily, a completely different picture will emerge, will arise in your heart – different from the falsified message propagated by the epidemic of self-serving, business building false leaders of today.
Either the disciple of Christ will consent to dying to self, putting off the old man and all its sins, or he will be conquered by sin and Satan and “fall away.” (Luke 8:13; Romans 6; 1 Corinthians 9:27; Hebrews 2:1-3; 3:6, 12-14; 10:26-39, etc.). The Heaven bound disciple must choose to have root in himself – to be resolved to follow Christ no matter what, cutting off the hand, plucking out the eye that offends lest his whole body be eternally cast into hell (Mark 9:43-49). Such action is violent, a violent cutting off of that which contaminates our relationship with He who is “Holy, holy, holy.” (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8)
You must die to be dead to sin! Life can only spring out of victory. The only way up is down in Christ’s kingdom!
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.” Romans 6:3-7
Has sin punched you in the face?
Are you living the crucified life Jesus says you must live to follow Him (Luke 9:23-24)?
There are no shortcuts. You must die, and as you do, Jesus will reign in your life, bringing forth His victory over Satan and sin!
In the spiritual war we are fighting, the flesh must be daily conquered by the cross in order to conquer the spiritual darkness and the prince of darkness, Satan.
The great apostle tells us that THIS—the cross—is our victory over sin and Satan! This is the spiritual fight we are engaged in and win, when we do it God’s way! Listen saints, as Paul uses track and field and boxing to illustrate this war we will win:
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 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. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I (boxer illustration), not as one that beateth the air: 27 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.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Not Home Yet!
“For here (on earth) have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” Hebrews 13:14
Jesse DeGrazio writes: “It would be easy to state something like, ‘Yeah, I will just knock that ol’ devil right upside the head.’ However, if a believer is not walking with Jesus, not full of the Holy Spirit, not taking up the daily cross, and not in the Word daily, he is not a real danger to the forces of evil. Their complacency becomes fodder for the evil one’s minions. Stay strong and dressed for success in the FULL ARMOR of God. ‘And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?’ (Acts 19:15)”
Earth is the battle ground.Satan was cast down, invaded and caused the fall.We are redeemed and called to fight the good fight of faith and we will win if we do.Heaven is the eternal rest – rest in their beds.The New Jerusalem awaits all who know Christ and abide to the end in Him!Someone has wisely stated that: “We are kings kids but we’re not home yet!”
“The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. 2 He (the righteous) shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.” Isaiah 57:1-2
The God of Restoration and Second Chances!
David got punched in the face when he neglected to be vigilant and fell into sin! Psalms 51 is the record of his repentance, restoration and wake up call!
Peter slept when he should have been diligently praying and so as a result of his disobedience he was spiritually weak and fell, denying Christ profusely (Mark 14). He was then restored to Christ who was praying for Him (Luke 22:31-32). Soon after denying Jesus, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and leading thousands to Christ! (Acts 1-3)
If we take this moment to truly repent and lay down our lives, our best days of Christ’s victory lie ahead!
Do you have a story? Do you have a former foe (in your past) or teacher, coach or parent who helped you learn an essential lesson? Have you been punched in the face by a fist, event, or circumstance? If I had the chance, I’d give a big hug and a big “Thank you” to that now grown man who punched me in the face when we were just four years old! As we read in Romans 8:28, “All things” truly do “work together for good to them that love God.” That boy, in his evil action, launched my heart and life into war, ultimately leading to a vigilance I would not otherwise have in the spiritual war Jesus’ people face, as His light shines in us every day in this dark world (Ephesians 6:12).
For each of us, there comes that punch in the face that wakes us up to the reality that we are in a war! Have you experienced your punch? Have you had that punch heard around the world—the one that awakened you to the reality of war?
Like it or not, YOU have an enemy! He’s the enemy of your Savior and your soul!
Like it or not, we/you are in a war—for your own soul and the souls of others!
Now, as adults, the fight is different and eternal. Daily laboring and fighting the good fight of faith, helping the eternal souls of men to be one with the LORD Jesus, is the fight of all fights. Yet, it is a real fight!
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12
Why are so few today vigilant and fighting?
Exactly like the false leaders exposed by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, the false leaders today teach their prey an ease, a lax lifestyle of lavish lusting after the things of this sinful world. These wolves teach the Satanic, heretical doctrine of OSAS (once saved, always saved = eternal security), which has clearly fostered in the hearts of their willingly deceived prey, a lukewarm disposition and lifestyle that will lead to eternal damnation (Amos 6:1; Revelation 3:15-16). The prey has no excuse. ANY person who is deceived is WILLINGLY, DELIBERATELY deceived—because we all have a Bible (Psalms 119:105, 130; 2 Timothy 2:15).
Fight to the finish or lose all, is a kingdom reality!
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. 36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” Hebrews 10:35-39
Losing Sight of the Fight
“Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” Ephesians 5:14
Recently I confided with a dear pastor friend of mine, telling him that I often forget that this is a fight—a real fight—and one that will not be won unless the believer gets and keeps his dukes up and keeps swinging!
What happens when a boxer isn’t swinging? He’s losing!
“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12
There is a violent, relentless attack against Christ and His disciples in this fallen world.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9
There was a progression in David’s victories. Goliath was not his first victory.
When the God of Israel was being taunted, most of His people cowered. They were not denying self, taking up the cross and following the LORD. Instead, they were “at ease in Zion,” or “lukewarm,” and therefore weak and not fit for battle (Amos 6:1; Revelation 3:15-16). Let’s peer into the action:
“And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. 34 And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: 35 And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. 36 Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. 37 David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.” 1 Samuel 17:33-37
Like David, we must have killed the lion and the bear before the LORD can use us to slay the Goliaths! Even though David was young in years, he’d been faithfully worshiping the LORD in that pasture, intimately fellowshipping with God and tending to His sheep. David, a man after God’s own heart, had been worshiping the LORD in private and was now drawn out onto a much larger stage (Acts 13:22). He worshiped God in private and now was fit to be used of the LORD in public. Isn’t that exactly what Jesus taught us? (See Matthew 6:6.)
After awakening to the reality of fighting, with that punch in the face at the age of four, it prepared me to successfully defend myself against several foes to come—who would come along and start a fight.
Are you faithful to the LORD today?
David, when facing the giant, recalled the victories the LORD gave him over the bear and the lion, which David slayed with his bare hands (1 Samuel 17). When we are faithful to the LORD, there will be an increase in His power working in our lives.
How powerfully can God use you? How much are you giving to Him in your daily life? Are you truly “crucified with Christ” and being raised up by His Holy Spirit? (See Luke 9:23-24; 2 Corinthians 4:10-12; Galatians 2:20, etc.)
“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21 IF (IF, IF) a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet (fit, prepared) for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:20-21
Can the LORD use every one of His people the same? No.
Jesus teaches us that when we are faithful in the little He’s given us to do, that He will make us ruler over more.
“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Matthew 25:21