Fight the good fight of faith – Part 3
(I Timothy 6:12)
By: J. C. Ryle Extract from ‘A Call to Holiness’, chapter 4 ‘The Fight’
(Part 1 reminded us that true Christianity is ‘a fight’ against the flesh, the world and the Devil. Part 2 explained how Christians are to fight and Part 3 shows that it is a “good fight”.)
“Good” is a curious word to apply to any warfare. All worldly war is more or less evil. No doubt it is an absolute necessity in many cases – to procure the liberty of nations, to prevent the weak from being trampled down by the strong – but still it is an evil. It entails an awful amount of bloodshed and suffering. It hurries into eternity myriads who are completely unprepared for their change. It calls forth the worst passions of man. It causes enormous waste and destruction of property. It fills peaceful homes with mourning widows and orphans. It spreads far and wide poverty, taxation and national distress. It disarranges all the order of society. It interrupts the work of the Gospel and the growth of Christian Missions. In short, war is an immense and incalculable evil and every praying man should cry night and day, “Give peace in our time.” And yet there is one warfare which is emphatically “good” and one fight in which there is no evil. That warfare is the Christian warfare. That fight is the fight of the soul.
Now what are the reasons why the Christian fight is a “good fight”? What are the points in which his warfare is superior to the warfare of this world? Let me examine this matter and open it out in order. I dare not pass the subject and leave it unnoticed. I want no one to begin the life of a Christian soldier without counting the cost. I would not keep back from anyone that if he would be holy and see the Lord he must fight and that the Christian fight, though spiritual, is real and severe. It needs courage, boldness and perseverance. But I want my readers to know that there is abundant encouragement to begin the battle. The Scripture does not call the Christian fight “a good fight” without reason and cause. Let me try to show what I mean.
(a) The Christian fight is good because it is fought under the best of generals. The Leader and Commander of all believers is our Divine Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ – a Saviour of perfect wisdom, infinite love and almighty power. The Captain of our salvation never fails to lead His soldiers to victory. He never makes any useless movement, never errs in judgment, never commits any mistake. His eye is on all His followers, from the greatest of them even to the least. The humblest servant in His army is not forgotten. The weakest and most sickly is cared for, remembered and kept unto salvation. The souls whom He has purchased and redeemed with His own blood are far too precious to be wasted and thrown away. Surely this is good!
(b) The Christian’s fight is good, because fought with the best of helps. Weak as each believer is in himself, the Holy Spirit dwells in him and his body is a temple of the Holy Ghost. Chosen by God the Father, washed in the blood of the Son, renewed by the Spirit, he does not go a warfare at his own charges and is never alone. God the Holy Ghost daily teaches, leads, guides and directs him. God the Father guards him by His almighty power. God the Son intercedes for him every moment, like Moses on the Mount, while he is fighting in the valley below. A threefold cord like this can never be broken! His daily provisions and supplies never fail. His commissariat is never defective. His bread and his water are sure. Weak as he seems in himself, like a worm, he is strong in the Lord to do great exploits. Surely this is good!
(c) The Christian fight is a good fight, because fought with the best of promises. To every believer belong exceeding great and precious promises – all Yea and Amen in Christ – promises sure to be fulfilled, because made by One who cannot lie and has power as well as will to keep His word. “Sin shall not have dominion over you.” – “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” – “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” – “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee: