Christian Warfare

LIFE IS A BATTLE. We see among the brute creation the constant struggle for existence, and also with humanity. The Lord’s people—the good soldiers of Jesus Christ—are recruited from those who are fighting under miserable conditions, which are so prevalent in the world. But now a different warfare is theirs altogether. It is a conflict against selfishness, avarice, covetousness, and all unrighteousness—a war against unloving methods, and all sin.

Christ Jesus, the Captain of our salvation, is our Exemplar, whose methods of warfare we are to copy. Although he was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, he was a determined and uncompromising foe of sin, and laid down his life in opposing it. All who would be accepted by him must follow his example, and be faithful, even “unto death,” (Rev. 2:10) if they would gain the great prize, the “crown of life.” These soldiers of the cross should very highly esteem the great prize for which they are called to fight the “good fight of faith”—the prize of “eternal life.”—I Tim. 6:12

In becoming a soldier of the Lord, we realize that the term of enlistment is not for a period of time, but for life. We are called not merely to participate in a few battles, but to fight the good fight, faithfully and continuously, until death.

It is necessary at the onset for each one to make a full consecration to the Lord, a full enlistment of every power and talent of mind and of body. Struggles with the human will then cease—the decision having been definitely made to serve the Lord.


Throughout our earthly conflict it is a vital necessity that each soldier of the cross have on “the whole armour of God.” Details of this armor are given in Ephesians 6:11-18, as follows:

A girdle—symbolizing servitude. Since it is a girdle of Truth, this means we are to be faithful and zealous servants of the Truth, shining as lights in the world, holding forth the word of light and life.

A breastplate—This covers the vital organs of the body, particularly the heart. It is a breastplate of righteousness, hence we keep a pure heart, for “out of it are the issues of life.”—Prov. 4:23

The sandals of peace—Our feet are shod with readiness of the glad tidings of peace. We should be ever ready to witness, and to “follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”—Heb. 12:14

The shield of faith—We are kept, or guarded, by the power of God through faith. This is “the victory that overcometh the world.” (I John 5:4) With this shield of faith we are able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the wicked.

A helmet—It is a helmet of salvation, which represents the intellectual understanding and appreciation of the Holy Scriptures, which makes “wise unto salvation.”—II Tim. 3:15

The sword of the Spirit—This is the Word of God. It is Divinely powerful for the demolition of fortresses; demolishing reasonings; and every height rearing itself up against the knowledge of God. The Truth is used in repelling all adversaries.


The faithful, good soldiers of Jesus Christ are well-practiced in the use of this ‘whole armour,’ which God has supplied. They also watch and pray—“Praying at every season, with all prayer and supplication in Spirit, and keeping watch for this with all perseverance and entreaty for all saints.” (Eph. 6:18, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott) The armory from which these articles can be obtained is the Word of God, which is so well stocked that “the man of God may be complete, thoroughly fitted for every good work.”—II Tim. 3:17, WED

The soldier of Jesus who rushes into the fight without waiting to hear the Captain’s command, and neglecting to put on the whole armor provided, is risking defeat and disaster. Many soldiers, lacking a knowledge of the proper use of the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” (Eph. 6:17) spring recklessly into the fight to the injury of their neighbors, their friends, and their fellow soldiers in the Lord’s army. This is a great mistake.

Those around us who uphold error, and those who despitefully use us and persecute us because we are on the Lord’s side, are blinded by ignorance; and it is not the Lord’s intention that we should fight against them. Rather, we should fight for them, to lift them out of their ignorance, blindness, and superstition.

Our real opponents are the Adversary and other fallen angels, the demons. Our poor, fallen fellow human creatures who oppose us, and who oppose righteousness, do so because they are under the power of Satan, more or less blinded by his deceptions. “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.”—II Cor. 4:4

Our good fight of faith, as the apostle explains, consists to a considerable extent in our defense of the Word of God which includes also our defense of the character of God. “Earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude, verse 3) This will mean our willingness to stand for the Truth at any cost, and against any number of assailants—against the creeds and theories of men, which would misrepresent the good tidings of great joy which the Lord and the apostles have announced, and which shall yet “be to all people.”—Luke 2:10


While there are the outward battlings of the Lord’s soldiers, there are also the more secret drillings and fightings which come to each individual soldier, to test his loyalty, and to develop his character. Having regard to the fact that the ‘soldier’ is the ‘New Creature’ and not the flesh, the enlistment does indeed involve a full surrender of the fleshly will, and the acceptance of the headship of the Redeemer.

From the moment of complete surrender to the Captain—being enlisted under his orders, in the service of righteousness—the New Creature experiences a conflict with his mortal body and its weaknesses, passions, and tendencies for sin. The new will cannot free itself from the fleshly body, and although the reward promised in God’s Word is a new spiritual body, nevertheless the new will is required first to demonstrate its loyalty to the Captain, and to righteousness, by its faithful combat against the selfish propensities of the flesh.

Here is a great battle! There are fightings without and within. No saint is without experiences of this kind. It must be a fight to the finish, or the great prize for which we strive will not be gained. We all need to follow the Apostle Paul’s course as expressed in his words, “I severely discipline my body, and make it subservient; lest possibly, having proclaimed to others, I myself should become one unapproved.” (I Cor. 9:27, WED) And in Galatians 5:24, Marginal Translation, we read, “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the passions and lusts.”


These battles of the new nature against the flesh are a “good fight” in the sense that they are fightings against sin and weaknesses that belong to the fallen nature. They are a fight of “faith” because the entire course of the New Creature is a course of faith. (I Tim. 6:12) “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (II Cor. 5:7) It is a fight of ‘faith’ also in the sense that no one could keep up this battle against his own flesh, its natural tendencies and desires, and come off victorious, except as he can exercise faith in the exceeding great and precious promises, and in the Lord as his helper.

He that hateth his brother is a murderer (I John 3:15), hence those who enlist as solders of the cross are not only to hate murder, but are to hate also the murderous spirit, and to cast it out entirely. They should have nothing but love in their hearts for all, even their enemies. The well-trained soldiers of the Lord know unmistakably that anger, malice, hatred, strife, envyings, and evilspeaking are all the works of the flesh and of the Devil.

How terrible is the thought, that any of the Lord’s brethren should, at any time, speak evil of one another! To do so would be entirely contrary to the scriptural instructions to us. How awful to think that such an evildoer would lose our Captain’s favor, and ultimately, if this course be pursued, would be cut off completely from all relationship with him, and with the church, which is his body.


Combativeness is not a bad quality. On the contrary, it is a good acquirement, and actually indispensable to the attainment of the prize set before us in the Gospel. All who are called now to be of the elect church are required to be overcomers, victors; exhorted to stem the popular tide, and fight the good fight of faith and obedience. Those who are totally lacking in firmness, combativeness, or character, cannot possibly comply with these conditions.

If we possess the spirit of combativeness, resulting in a contentious, wrangling disposition, let us take courage, being careful to see to it that this contrary disposition is brought into accord with the spirit of love. That wrangling disposition must be subdued, and the combativeness must be turned properly in another direction. The quality of combativeness, to be of value, must be rightly directed. As soldiers of Christ we know that our fighting qualities must not be exercised against God, or by resisting his will. On the contrary, we are to make a full surrender to him of our thoughts, words, and deeds. Nor is our combativeness to be used toward the brethren; for to fight the brethren is to fight against God.

How then, and against what, shall we exercise our combativeness? It is to be turned against sin; and its first encounter must begin with one’s own self. The battle with self is a great conflict. “He that ruleth his spirit” is better than “he that taketh a city.”—Prov. 16:32


We even need to be defeated in some of our battles with self, in order to have a clear appreciation of our own inability to overcome. This will compel us to go to the throne of heavenly grace to obtain mercy, and find grace to help. We need this because, as the apostle intimates, it is when we are weak that we are truly strong. When we are strong in self-confidence and therefore negligent in going to the Lord, then we are weak, and liable to have failures in the battle, or to be overcome by the enemy.—Heb. 4:16; II Cor. 12:10

There must be victory over self. The new mind has, by the Lord’s grace, put a garrison in every quarter of the conquered body to guard it from rising in insurrection, and to hold it in subjection to the King of kings and Lord of lords. Then all the remaining energies will find ample opportunity for usefulness in battling for the Lord, for the brethren, and for the Truth. We are to fight against error and all the wiles of the Devil; for, as the Apostle Paul declares, “We are not ignorant of his devices.”—II Cor. 2:11

As the eyes of our understanding are opened wider, we see the great conflict that is progressing throughout the world between righteousness and sin. Many who are deceived by this world ignorantly think that they are doing God service, and are often found fighting against the Truth, and against the true soldiers of the cross. So it was in the case of Saul of Tarsus. The Scriptures reveal how he persecuted the church, misusing his combativeness. In Saul’s case, after the eyes of his understanding were opened, the combativeness which formerly made him a violent persecutor of the church, by the Lord’s grace, made him one of the most valiant of the apostles in the defense of the Truth.

It was also so with the others of the apostles. Peter, for instance, full of combativeness—at first misdirected it to smite off the ear of the high priest’s servant. He was very valiant subsequently in the proper use of his talents to the Lord’s praise.

James and John were two others highly favored and recognized of the Lord, and specially used in the service of the Truth. They also were of combative dispositions, so much so that they were known as “The sons of thunder.” (Mark 3:17) It was these two who were so incensed at the Samaritans who refused to receive our Lord into their village, and so full of love and zeal for the Master, that they inquired, “Master, dost thou wish that we command fire to come down from heaven, to consume them?” (Luke 9:51-55, WED) They had combativeness, courage, and zeal, but they had not yet learned how to direct these qualities.

Later, when they were anointed with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they understood better how their combativeness and zeal were to be used. Hence we find them loyal soldiers of the cross, shunning no danger. They endured hardness as good soldiers of the Lord Jesus, holding high the banner of Truth even unto death.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”—II Cor. 4:8-11


Holy and unholy influences are in conflict one with the other. The spirit of evil and malice and error triumphed against the holy influence, or Spirit, to the extent of achieving the crucifixion of our Lord. Similarly, it has triumphed against all the faithful members of the body of Christ—misrepresenting, slandering, and evilly entreating them, variously, according to time and circumstances.

The object of these attacks of the spirit of evil and its servants upon the Spirit of holiness and its faithful, is ever the same—to undermine the influence of the Spirit of the Truth. It is to make the holy appear unholy; to cause the pure and unselfish to appear selfish and impure; to put darkness for light.

Nor do the servants of unholiness always realize what they do. Becoming imbued with the spirit of evil, the spirit of hatred, malice, envy, strife, it blinds them so that they do not realize their evil disposition and often, evidently, “think that he doeth God service.”—John 16:2


We know, however, that this apparent triumph of the evil spirit over the holy is merely a seeming defeat, and not an actual one. Actually the spirit of holiness has been triumphing, and its twofold mission during the Gospel Age is being well accomplished.

First, it (the Holy Spirit) was to be in God’s people according to the degree of their consecration and zeal toward God and his righteousness. The evil in the world about them was to prove a test of their characters, present conditions demanding that whosoever would “live godly” in this present time must suffer persecution. Sometimes “all manner of evil” would be falsely spoken against them, yet they must take it patiently, as did their Master, continuing faithful to the Lord and his cause at any cost, and counting not their earthly life dear unto themselves.—II Tim. 3:12; Matt. 5:11; I Pet. 2:23; Acts 20:24

Second, the light of the Holy Spirit in God’s people was to so shine forth upon the world that it would attract some of these not thoroughly blinded by the perverse spirit of the Adversary. It was to shine into the darkness of sin reprovingly, witnessing against all unrighteousness, thus, if possible, to awaken the conscience of even the blinded to a realization of responsibility to God and a future day of reckoning. Hence our Lord instructed his followers that after receiving the Holy Spirit they were to witness to the Truth amongst all nations. This has to be done whether the people hear, or whether they do not.

The Holy Spirit has triumphed in both the objects for which it was sent. It has selected a faithful ‘little flock’ of ‘overcomers,’ followers of the way of righteousness, and soon the last members will be fully tested and made perfect through sufferings for righteousness’ sake. It has also triumphed in respect to witnessing to the world, and today, the true Gospel of the kingdom is being beamed forth in all the world as never before.

We, as New Creatures in Christ Jesus, are very gratefully encouraged with every better understanding of our Captain’s word and will respecting us. We are full of confidence in his wisdom and in his grace—that he is willing and able to bring us off conquerors, and even more than conquerors, if we are obedient to him.

Individually, we are to strive so that, at the close of our earthly experiences, we may be able to say, in the words of the apostle, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept [guarded] the faith.” Then, by the Lord’s grace, it will be our joy beyond the veil, to receive the promised “crown of righteousness,”—“the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”—Phil. 3:14; II Tim. 4:7,8

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