Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:12 that we have to “fight the good fight of faith”. To fight the good fight of faith means that we keep on obeying Gods Word in faith, no matter what we feel, think or understand. Jesus said, “If you keep on obeying what I have said, you truly are my disciples.” John 8:31 -(CEV).
Fight the good fight of faith: Do not let sin rule
It is written, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”. We have sinful desires in our human nature that want to do the opposite of what is written in this verse. Our own human understanding says, “This is not possible; then people will think that they can keep treating me the way they like, they will treat me badly,” etc. But Paul tells us: “You should see yourselves as being dead to the power of sin and alive with God through Christ Jesus. So, do not let sin control your life here on earth so that you do what your sinful self wants to do.” Romans 6:11-12 (NCV).
To fight the good fight of faith means that with the help of the Spirit, we keep ourselves firmly to what is written in God’s Word, seeing ourselves as dead to what we feel and understand, and not letting sin rule in our bodies by obeying its sinful desires. We have to do what Jesus says: We must deny ourselves, give up our own will, take up our cross daily, and follow Him. (Luke 9:23, NLT.) Paul also says the same thing: “But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13.
The only way for this to happen, is through a fight and sufferings. Peter says it like this: “Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same understanding – because the one who suffers in the flesh is finished with sin …” 1 Peter 4:1 (CSB). So, if we want to stop sinning, we must suffer in the flesh. “The flesh” is not our physical body, but it is the sinful desires in our human nature. There will be sufferings in the flesh if we, with the help of the Spirit, say No to the things that come from our sinful human nature, so that these sinful desires are not allowed to rule. When you let sin rule in your life, even if your conscience warns you not to do it, then you get a bad conscience – you suffer in your conscience.
Fight the good fight: Slavery or freedom?
Many people do not want to accept that it takes a fight and suffering. It is very normal for preachers to speak in such a way that the Christian life looks as easy and wonderful as possible. They explain how Jesus has done everything, and now we don’t have to do anything. They say, “Jesus has suffered for us; He died for us, and He has completely saved us from sin. We must only believe that He did everything for us, and then we will automatically live an overcoming life. As long as we just look up to Jesus, the fruit of the Spirit which we read about in Galatians 5:22 will come.”
They tell people about “full freedom” in Christ, even when they see that the people they preach to still keep living in all kinds of sin, and even when they themselves still live in sin. They love money, they are jealous, they commit adultery. They have come into a false liberty (a false freedom) and are using God’s grace in the wrong way, so that they can do what they want. (Jude 4.) They don’t accept the true teaching that is written in the Bible because they have turned away from listening to the truth and started to listen to false stories. (2 Timothy 4:2-4, NCV.)
Fight the good fight: A call to action
If you are faithful to the truth, you will know that living a life where you overcome sin and have the fruits of the Spirit, does not happen by itself. Therefore the Bible speaks about a narrow way, about taking up your cross and denying yourself, giving up your own will - suffering and death. The Bible is full of very serious exhortations, such as: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling …” Philippians 2:12. Work hard to enter the narrow door …” Luke 13:24 (NLT). “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine [to what is written in the Bible]. Continue in them …” 1 Timothy 4:16. “Train yourself in godliness.” 1 Timothy 4:7 (CSB). “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness …” 2 Peter 1:5 (NIV). “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election …” 2 Peter 1:10 (NIV). Jesus sent the Holy Spirit just for you so that you will have power to fight the good fight of faith.
But when people hear that they have to fight the good fight of faith, so that they can obey God’s word and become more sanctified, they cry out: “Slavery! Fighting in your own strength! You want to sanctify yourself!” etc. They don’t want to take up their cross. You can see that in the way that they behave. (Philippians 3:18-19)This is why they do not have fellowship with one another just as the Father and the Son have fellowship. In spite of this they do not want to believe what is written in James 4:1-4. They don’t believe the truth, but they believe the lie. They do not have a healthy faith. (Titus 1:13.)
Good, healthy exhortations
Let us rather choose to hear the true and clear teachings that are written in the Bible, the healthy faith, and Paul’s good and healthy exhortations!
“But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue [run after] righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I urge [command] you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing.” 1 Timothy 6:11-14.