Attaining Victory in Christian Warfare
If carnal warfare were outlawed tomorrow, the Christian would go on fighting. Why? How?
NO LONGER can war be considered “a medium of practical settlement of international differences. The enormous destruction to both sides of closely matched opponents makes it impossible for the winner to translate it into anything but his own disaster.” “Science has clearly outmoded it as a feasible arbiter.” So declared General of the Army Douglas MacArthur.
Even if scientific realism forces the abolition of war, still the Christian soldier must go on fighting before final victory is attained and realized. His warfare cannot be abolished in this world or by it. His is a continual, lifelong conflict, a daily battle, with no furloughs, no truces, no armistices. While Christians “pursue peace with all people,” they are, nevertheless, the greatest warriors the world has ever known. Their fight is in the interest of that which is good, true, noble, pure and godly. Theirs is a battle for righteousness. And they are encouraged by the apostle Paul to “contend for victory in the right contest of the faith.”—Heb. 12:14; 1 Tim. 6:12, NW.
Who are these fighters whom Paul calls upon to fight? They are men and women of all walks of life who have given themselves over to God in full dedication. These recognize the King’s authority and commands. Paul was not addressing the world in general, nor was he addressing Christians in name only who have never dedicated themselves to God to take up the fight of faith. Paul’s appeal was directly to those of faith, wholly devoted to Jehovah. It is to these that the instructions come respecting the fight that is now on.—2 Tim. 2:19, NW.
Against whom do Christians fight? Their battle is not against their fellow creatures nor with carnal weapons. They are commanded to love one another and do good to their enemies, to keep themselves “restrained under evil, instructing with mildness those not favorably disposed, as perhaps God may give them [the evildoers] repentance leading to an accurate knowledge of truth.” Christians are commanded to return good for evil, gentleness for rudeness, kindness for discourtesy; that the wicked world may discern that there are such things as the spirit of God, the spirit of love, generosity, kindness, and that not all are actuated by the malevolent spirit of selfishness that controls its degraded systems.—2 Tim. 2:24-26; Matt. 5:44, NW.
The Christian’s fight is against all unrighteousness, which is sin. For six thousand years sin has been paying regularly the terrible penalty death, with all its accompanying woes of sickness, pain, sorrow and trouble. Yes, sin is a formidable enemy. And the one who influenced the first man into sin and slavery is another adversary of ours, namely, Satan the Devil. Not that Christians directly battle with the Devil. He is a mighty spirit angel that could reduce them to nothing in no time. Their fight with him is by resisting his influences, deceptions and endeavors to mislead them back into sin, hence against God. Paul makes this point plain, saying: “We have a fight, not against blood and flesh, but against the governments, against the authorities, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.”—1 John 5:17; Eph. 6:12, NW.
Yes, Satan is a mighty foe. He is the great instigator of all the various influences with which the Christian must battle. It is his cunning, his wiles, that supervise the war against the devoted servant of God. This servant must battle against the spirit and disposition of the world under satanic control. The world’s mind, the motives that actuate it, its ambitions, its pride of life, the deceitfulness of riches—all these things, these wrong views of matters as seen from a purely worldly standpoint, he must resist and fight against if he would attain victory. This is his daily warfare.—1 John 2:15-17.
Finally, he must fight against flesh—his own flesh. Ever since Adam’s fall from perfection the flesh has been conducive to mental, moral and physical degradation. Its tendency is toward bad continually. And only as the warrior of Christ gets rid of the blinding influences and perverted tastes and desires, ambitions and hopes and loves, which sin cultivates in the flesh, only in proportion to that will he get to see matters in their true light and begin to have a conception of his own degraded condition and thereby be in a more favorable position to combat it.—Gen. 6:5.
Never in Christian warfare must the flesh be underestimated as a potent enemy. It is to its degraded desires that Satan appeals. These he seeks to encourage in their warfare against the renewed Christian mind. It is through these warped desires that the spirit of the world gains closest approach, that it captures and leads the soldier of Christ back to the slavery of sin. Christians are, as it were, beset on every hand with enemies, plotting their disaster and re-enslavement. They, therefore, must fight and keep on fighting. They must fight for themselves, fight for their right to preach, fight for victory over their own weaknesses, fight against delusions and snares of the adversary. No wonder, then, that they are urged to be continually watchful, to be on guard, and are constantly admonished to “put on the complete suit of armor from God,” lest they become careless with their freedom and fall victim to the adversary and lose out on victory. Aware of the enemy flesh, Paul said: “I browbeat my body and lead it as a slave, that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.” All faithful fighters imitate Paul. They keep strict watch over their flesh.—Eph. 6:11;1 Cor. 9:27; Rom. 7:14-25, NW.
SUPERIOR LEADERSHIP AND WEAPONS
Without the superior leadership of Jehovah God and Christ Jesus and the warring equipment that these provide for the Christian soldier, the contest would be a very unequal and fruitless one indeed. Therefore the warrior of Christ says, Thanks be to God for the Captain of our salvation, Jesus Christ, who redeemed us from slavery of sin with his own precious blood. Thanks be to God for the great armory of his Word, from which we obtain the helmet of salvation. Thanks be to God for the breastplate of righteousness, for the shield of faith, of trust, of confidence. Thanks be to God, he says, for the sandals, the preparation to endure hardness patiently. And thanks for the sword of the spirit, the Word of truth, which is a defense by which we can resist the adversary and come off completely victorious through him that loved us.—Acts 2:37-39; Rev. 19:11-16; Eph. 6:13-20; Rom. 8:35-39, NW.
Christians fight not only for themselves, but for their brothers too. They are ready and willing to die for their brothers if necessary. They are ready to assist, to encourage, to help them in little acts of service as well as in larger matters. They also find great pleasure and profit in defending the honor of Jehovah’s name and the majesty of his righteous government. They are valiant and fearless in battle, carrying the fight into the strongholds of the enemy to release all who are yet held captive by Satan’s wicked organization.—Neh. 4:14.
They wage war in a systematic and intelligent manner, fighting strictly according to the directions of their Captain Christ Jesus. They fight the good fight of faith by making their minds over, by putting away and utterly routing from their own hearts and dispositions all wrath, anger, injuriousness, abusive speech, obscene talk, “every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in God’s fear,” by stripping off the old personality with its practices and clothing themselves with a new personality, which, through accurate knowledge, is being renewed according to the image of the one who created it.—2 Cor. 7:1; Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:17-32; Col. 3:2-10, NW.
Theirs is a fight of faith in every respect. It is a fight under an unseen leader and against an unseen foe; only by faith do they recognize the Captain of their salvation, and only by faith in his Word do they recognize the wily leader who opposes them. By faith they accept God’s Word and its conclusions. Christians fight for a freedom and a glory of the verity of which they have no knowledge except as they accept it by faith. And it is against this Christian faith that the whole ungodly, satanic world, plus sin and the weaknesses of fallen flesh, are allied. Therefore, only by having the faith that God inspires will the warrior of Christ be able to stand and come off victorious. “This is the conquest that has conquered the world, our faith.”—1 John 5:4, NW.
It is not enough just to enlist in Jehovah’s army, but it is mandatory to go to his armory, his Word, the Bible, and there painstakingly put on the whole armor that he has provided. Whoever does not follow this course will be sure to fail in battle. Armor alone does not secure victory. More is required. With the armor on the Christian must fight as God through Christ directs, remaining loyal even unto death.—Rev. 2:10.
Remember always, victory in Christian warfare must come through faith in Jehovah God and Christ Jesus. Therefore, with a view to ultimate victory, we join Paul in saying: “Thanks to God, for he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”—Heb. 2:10; 1 Cor. 15:57, NW.