STAND FAST IN THE FIGHT
A summary of Paul’s message to young Timothy in the two letters could be “stand fast in the fight.” As one reads between the lines it would appear that Timothy was somewhat timid and needed encouragement. This may be why Timothy received two letters while the more bold Titus received but one and a very brief one. Note these verses in First and second Timothy: “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy…that thou…mightest WAR a GOOD WARFARE (1 Tim. 1:18)…FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT of faith (1 Tim. 6:12)…Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that WARRETH entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to a SOLDIER (2 Tim. 2:3-4)…For I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand. I HAVE FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT, I have finished my course, I have dept the faith (2 Tim. 4:6-7).
WHY STAND FAST IN THE FIGHT?
Surely this question came to Timothy’s mind, and to ours as well when the battle waxes hot. Paul give him three very impelling reasons. Jesus Christ becomes our example as we behold Him standing fast in the fight.
First, He stood firmly before Pontius Pilate for the Truth (John 18:23-38). Paul referred to this as he wrote to Timothy. “I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and BEFORE CHRIST JESUS WHO BEFORE PONTIOUS PILATE witnessed THE GOOD CONFESSION (or profession)” (1 Tim. 6:12)
Secondly, Christ stood firmly even to the death of the CROSS. It is interesting to see that the words STAND FAST—STEDFAST—STAKE (or CROSS)—all come from the same Greek root. In Luke 9:51 we read, “And it came to pass, when the time was come that He should be received up. He STEDFASTLY SET HIS FACE TO GO TO JERUSALEM.” He of course went in Jerusalem to die on the CROSS or STAKE. The Cross was a stake driven into the ground to hold its victim STEDFAST. He willingly stood stedfast until He committed His spirit to His Father.
Thirdly, Timothy was encouraged to stand fast in the fight because of the Glory of Christ and His ultimate victory. “That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the APPEARING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST; Which in His times He shall show, Who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man hath seen, nor can see: to Whom be honor and power everlasting, Amen” (1 Tim. 6:14-16).
Each of these three reasons to stand fast in the fight applies to each of us also, as believers in this world. When we received Christ as Lord and Saviour we had PEACE—we were no longer at warfare with Him—but we immediately entered into The Good Fight of Faith. The Christian life is a constant conflict against Satan for the Truth of God.
FOR WHAT SHALL WE STAND FAST?
Again Paul gave Timothy three things for which to stand and fight.
First, we must stand fast in the fight for THE FAITH. “Fight the good fight of THE FAITH…I have kept THE FAITH” (1 Tim. 6:12, 2 Tim. 4:7). According to Galatians 3:23-25 is that body of truth concerning Jesus Christ from His virgin birth to His resurrection and ascension. Many whole denominations and religious leaders reject THE FAITH today. They have a “a form of godliness but denying the power thereof, from such turn away” (2 Tim. 3:5). Let us thank the Lord for many who still stand the THE FAITH. These are the fundamentalists and evangelicals who believe the Bible to be the Word of God and Christ as the eternal Son of God. In these dark days we must stand together in the fight, rather than fight one another. Though we may not agree on many interpretations of the Word let us say with Paul, “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife, and some also of good will…When then? Notwithstanding every ways, whether in pretence or in truth, CHRIST IS PREACHED, and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice” (Phil. 1:15-18). Our missionaries in faraway places stand fast in the fight WITH others who rejoice in THE FAITH, against the darkness of this world. Here at home we can also stand fast for THE FAITH with other members of the Body of Christ as we labor together in Youth for Christ, Child Evangelism, The Gideons, Billy Graham and man other such activities. In this we need in no way compromise our own view of dispensational truth and Pauline revelation.
Secondly, we must stand fast in the fight for the MYSTERY OF THE FAITH. Paul told timothy, “Holding the MYSTERY OF THE FAITH in a pure conscience.” Certainly this mystery or SECRET OF THE FAITH is that body of truth committed to the Apostle Paul concerning the One Body and the One Baptism in this dispensation of the Grace of God. We love this truth which tells us of our position in Christ and makes all the Bible understandable as we rightly divide it. We are to “make all see” this truth but it cannot be done by force or or bitterness but by love. Paul had many among the believers who rejected his apostolic authority and special revelation of truth. He graciously but firmly dealt with them from the Word. He did not seek a fight with the believers, but when they opposed the truth of the dispensation of the grace of god he stood fast in the fight in love fore every blood-bought soul. When our hearts are thrilled with the blessed unity with God and completeness in Christ we will seek to share this in love with other Christians. If the truth of our position in Christ in the heavenlies is but a doctrine for which we contend rather than a daily living experience, we shall be cold and bigoted in a fight which is certainly not THE GOOD FIGHT. Just as sinners must be WON to Jesus Christ so Christians must be WON to the MYSTERY of the faith. One of the best ways to win them is by living before them a truly VICTORIOUS LIFE which certainly should be the fruit of understanding the One Baptism. Romans 6 vividly expounds this truth.
Thirdly, we then can STAND FAST IN THE FIGHT for a VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIFE. In 1 Timothy 3:15 this young man was told to know how to behave himself in the House of God. Surely this was not a temple or church building, but the Body of Christ, the true House of God. “Be thou an example of the believers, the word, in conversation, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity,” declared Paul (1 Tim. 4:12). Also in 1 Timothy 2:22 we read “flee also youthful lusts, but follow righteousness, faith, love, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
WHO THEN IS OUR ADVERSARY IN THIS FIGHT?
2 Timothy 2:26 says, “And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the DEVIL, who are taken captive by him at this will.” As we stand fast in the fight may we also recognize our three opponents as the WORLD, THE FLESH AND THE DEVIL. The battle is not against fellow Christians but against the system of the world, our own flesh received from Adam and the personal Devil.
HOW ARE WE TO STAND IN THE FIGHT?
2 Timothy 1:19, “HOLDING FAITH and a GOOD CONSCIENCE which some having put away concerning THE FAITH have made shipwreck.” We must HOLD firmly to THE FAITH in this day of unbelief and doubt, and so live that our CONSCIENCE is GOOD. Then in 2 Timothy 2:15 he was told, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” Again our question is answered in three ways: HOLD THE FAITH, HAVING A GOOD CONSCIENCE and RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORLD OF TRUTH. Paul wrote to Philippians (1:27-28), “Stand ye fast in ONE SPIRIT with ONE MIND STRIVING TOGETHER for the faith of the Gospel, and IN NOTHING TERRIFIED BY YOUR ADVERSARIES.”
If we so STAND FAST IN THE FIGHT we need not fear the foe, “for I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep persuaded that He is able to keep that which I HAVE COMMITTED UNTO Him against that day: (2 Tim. 1:12).
“For on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to STAND against the wiles of the Devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against…the rulers of the darkness of this world…Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God…STAND therefore having your loins girt about with truth and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shed with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; Above all taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the S;pirit, which is the Word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication FOR ALL STAINTS.”