Let’s take a closer look at what Paul was talking about when he wrote about fighting this good fight of faith.
Compete well for the faith and lay hold of that eternal life you were called for and made your good confession for in the presence of many witnesses.1 Timothy 6:12 (NET)
Paul is encouraging Timothy to fight the good fight of faith. I have always wondered what this fight looks like. What is this fight really about? To understand the context we need to read the previous verse.
But you, as a person dedicated to God, keep away from all that. Instead pursue righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, endurance, and gentleness.1 Timothy 6:11 (NET)
This fight is about pursuing righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, endurance and gentleness so that we start experiencing this Eternal Life that we are called for (vs 12). This list that Paul mentions in verse 11, is a reflection of our identity in Christ, on how God sees us personally. Only when we recognise this truth can we start experiencing that Eternal Life.
Why is it important to recognise this truth about our identity?
Jesus defines Eternal Life as having a deep intimate relationship with the Father (John 17:3). Only two equal people in worth can have a meaningful intimate relationship. We can’t have this deep intimate relationship with the Father unless we are sure of our identity and our worth. The list that Paul mentions starting with righteousness is part of the package deal that we have already received when we heard the gospel and believed in Jesus. This is not something that we get based on our merit. We get it freely because of His great love.
So our battle is simply keeping hold of the truth and reality that we have already received in Jesus. The reason why the enemy attacks this list is so that he can make us feel disqualified from this eternal life.
The Defeated Enemy
We are often scared of the devil and his overwhelming power over us. I used to imagine that spiritual warfare is between two evenly matched forces of good and evil. But the scriptures say otherwise.
and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.Ephesians 1:19-23 (NKJV)
This clearly tells us that Christ is seated in heaven after being raised from the dead. He is seated far above all principalities and powers. His power is above every name that we can think of, including the devil’s. And the church (that is us who believe) have been given the same power and authority.
We tend to give credit to the devil (than what he deserves) for all the bad circumstances that happen to us. He has already been defeated. The only power he has is what we give him. We need to recognize our victory in Christ to stop exaggerating the power of the enemy.
I used to live in the fear of being tormented by the devil. The story of Job was my reference for how much power the devil had until I read Job 3:25 which says:
For the very thing I dreaded has happened to me, and what I feared has come upon me.Job 3:25 (NET)
Everything that happened to Job was the things that he feared would happen. He agreed with the devil in believing in what he said.
According to Galatians 6:7, we determine our own happiness or misery based on the seeds we sow. These can be positive or negative seeds. We have the authority to determine what type of seeds we want to sow. No one else can make that choice for us. We have to take responsibility for our life.
Where are we fighting?
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.Ephesians 6:12 (NET)
This spiritual battle that we fight in the heavenly realm is actually between our ears. Our mind is the battleground because it has access to the heavenly realm. The devil attacks us by throwing thoughts at us – thoughts that are contrary to the Word of God and opposite to the reality that we have in Christ. These thoughts come in all shapes and sizes but basically are doubts about our identity and worth in Christ.
for the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons, but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds. We tear down arguments and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ.2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NET)
Any thought that is not under the obedience of Christ is demonic. Our thoughts are either from the Holy Spirit or are brought up by demonic influences. He hides behind the strongholds of doubts that he creates and throws fiery darts of deception at us. When we agree to what the devil says, that’s when we fall under his trap.
It is key to understand that our battle is not external but internal in our minds.
How to fight back
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;Ephesians 6:14-17 (NKJV)
Paul in this epistle gives us an insight on how to fight this enemy. He suggests that we put on the armour of God. The armour mentioned can be categorised into two based on their usage. For one set of the armour, Paul uses the verb “having” and for the other, he uses “taking”. The distinction is that the armour that falls into the “having” category needs to be always put on. The armour in the “taking” category needs to be used as required.
We need to always put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness and feet shod with the preparation of the gospel. And use the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit whenever it is required.
We cannot afford to live outside the truth, righteousness and the gospel that we have in Christ. These constitute our identity and worth in Christ. We put on this armour by seeing ourselves the way God sees us. When we know who we are in Christ, we have all the weapons that we need to live a victorious life that Jesus already fought on the cross.
I’m not denying the devil or his power. His power has been stripped by Jesus and all he can do is to deceive us into believing that he has real power over us. We give him power over us only when we believe in his deception. Note that he is like a roaring lion pretending to be one but is not a lion himself.
We are seated with Jesus far above every principality and power. This devil is under our feet! The full armour of God gets activated when we start believing this truth.
So instead of looking for the devil behind every bad thing that happens, or difficulties we face, we need to start reigning in life.
For if, by the transgression of the one man, death reigned through the one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ!Romans 5:17 (NET)
We can reign in life through Jesus. The abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness helps us to reign in life.