Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

Index by Subject

A Militant Faith

A peculiar aspect of our culture is a tendency to shy away from any reference to militancy as a positive characteristic. I suppose that there has been so much violence that people are uncomfortable even entertaining the concept of a legitimate use of force — i.e., a defensive application.

And yet, scripture commonly makes use of the concept.  For example, Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of faith…”  In another place, Paul described the characteristics of the mature Christian in militaristic terms, exhorting the Ephesians: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-13).

The “whole armor of God.”  Paul wants his readers to understand that they were at war with Satan and his minions. He wanted them to know of the danger; to know of the stakes; to know what it would take to defeat the devil.

“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 6:14-7).

So, God’s call for Christians to have a militant faith is both clear and defensible. Of course, when we use the term militant, we refer to the positive attributes of forcefulness, activity, strength of conviction, unwavering loyalty, diligence and a willingness to defend what is right.  We do not condone belligerence or an aggressiveness that finds its expression in physical violence or hateful action.  But, the faithful child of God does not apologize for going into battle for the Lord!  The need for militancy on the part of God’s people is needed in the following areas:

Christians should be militant in obeying (applying) the truth.

This is found in an insistence upon obeying God as a part of our message to sinful man, and in a consistent, personal effort on our part to conform our will to His.  The militant Christian accepts John’s words: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked (1 John 2:3-6).

This is most important in the defense of morality.  The moral standards of the world are not the same as God’s standard for man.  The militant Christian does not quibble about moral questions, he seeks to be pure and righteous in his life.  “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:34).

Christians should be militant in contending for the faith.

God and His people have many enemies.  Paul talked about his “many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:8-9) who opposed him in his ministry to the Ephesians.  And so, he determined to fight for His Lord.  He fought against the Jews who denied the Lordship of Jesus.  He fought against the Judaizing teachers who sought to destroy his influence, and bring Christians into bondage.  In fact, he fought every false teacher, refuting the teaching and marking the man.  Jude exhorts us to do the same, “…I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

Christians should be militant in resisting the devil

There has to be an unwavering commitment to resisting the advances of our adversary.  Peter exhorted, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9).  Unceasing vigilance is the watchword of the militant Christian. He knows that tolerating sin brings corruption among God’s people.  He knows his own “good habits” can be tainted by “evil company” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:33). As such, he is unwilling to “give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27).

Conclusion

Ultimately, the call is to stand our ground as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.  “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).  We are to maintain zeal for that which is good and true (cf. Galatians 4:18).  We are to be aggressive, yea militant, lest we be destroyed.  We know we are at war!  “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).