Let’s open our Bibles (God’s Word) to 2 Timothy, the second chapter:
“Thou therefore my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 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 be a soldier …”
If you haven’t noticed, our world is becoming more violent. Even here in the United States, we are seeing things we never imagined would take place — people without natural affection, that have had their conscience seared with a hot iron.
Morality has been under attack as never before. I believe we are seeing, in Christianity, the wheat being separated from the chaff.
The Apostle Paul knew there would be hard times that would come, and he describes here the duty and activity of the believer as the end time approaches. He tells Timothy (and us) to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
How do we stay strong? It is not by gritting our teeth or to go out and live the Christian life on our own. Try that, and you’re in for a big disappointment. Nor can we follow a few rules or gimmicks; if we do we are rooted in legalism.
Remember, we are saved by the grace of God through faith, and were to live by the grace of God and be strong in his grace (see Ephesians 2:8-9).
When people tell me they are Christians because they don’t do this or that, it’s easy to recognize that they know very little about the grace of God. They are trying to live the Christian life in their own strength.
At times one may develop an Elijah complex. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah had just defeated 400 prophets of Baal, and Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah by the next day. What did Elijah do? He turned and ran, wanting to die, thinking that all had forsaken God but him. But God had seven thousand in Israel that had not bowed the knee to Baal.
Friend, God still has a remnant that refuses to bow down to laws and rules that clearly go against the Word of God. As people of God stand firm, we must be concerned about our father’s business. The main business is getting out the Gospel of Christ, for it’s the power of God unto salvation.
If you have been born again (saved), then you are a soldier. The last chapter of Ephesians tells us the believer is fighting a spiritual battle and needs to put on the whole armor of God: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
True Christians are to recognize that the Christian life is no playground; it’s a battlefield.
What is a “true Christian”? True Christians know they have sinned against God. They have asked Jesus Christ to forgive them on the basis of what he did at the cross, to save their soul, and have committed their lives to Him.
The battles we face each day cannot be won without God’s help. Jesus Christ’s hands are outstretched to you this very minute; won’t you take his hand and trust in him today?
Lance Stevens pastors at Huntsville Evangelical Community Church in Pendleton. He and his wife, Judy, live in Greenfield. This weekly column is written by local clergy members. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.