The Warrior - Portriat of a Christian

Bible Book: 2 Timothy  2 : 1-4
Subject: Portrait of a Christian; Dedication; Discipline; Christian Living; Soldier
Series: Portraits of the Saints

The Warrior

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor,

Look with me at our scripture for today, as found in 2 Timothy 2:1-4:

"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier."

Today we begin a series of messages on "Portraits of the Saints." It is interesting to note that God often chose to use descriptive images from the physical world to reveal what He desires believers to be in the spiritual realm. Christ always used images known to the common man and woman in order to teach elevated, heavenly, divine truths to help us live victorious spiritual lives. We are going to look at several of these on Sunday mornings for the next few weeks.

The first illustration of the Christian life that we are going to consider is that of the Christian as a soldier - a warrior against Satan. Paul addressed this when he penned his second letter to Timothy. He is pointing out that a believer must consider the Christian life to be a disciplined life - like that of a soldier.

"During the War Between the States," writes Gary Redding, "a Union solder from Ohio was shot in the arm during the battle of Shiloh. His captain saw he was wounded and barked an order: 'Gimme your gun, private, and get to the rear!'

The private handed over his rifle and ran toward the north, seeking safety. But after covering two or three hundred yards, he came upon another skirmish. Then he ran to the east and into another part of the battle. Then he ran west but encountered more fighting there.

Finally, he ran back to the front lines, shouting: 'Gimme back my gun, cap'n. There ain't no rear to this battle!'" When it comes to spiritual warfare, "there ain't no rear!" [Preaching, Apr/May, 1990.]

Indeed, there is no place for us to hide behind the lines in this great war that is taking place on a spiritual plane. Thus the Christian is often portrayed in scripture as a soldier. Now let me preface everything I am going to say with a statement regarding the spiritual nature of this comparison. It is very clear that the Lord does not teach us as Christians that we are to be violent in order to bring about His Kingdom on earth. Those who bomb abortion clinics and verbally abuse people who hold different views on social matters are not in the will of God. How do we discern this fact? Jesus lived in a time of unprecedented evil. Herod was on the throne in Israel and was a wicked man and a terrible criminal. In addition Rome ruled over the land and many people were treated with cruelty by them. But Jesus did not advocate overthrowing Herod or the Roman Empire with violence. In fact, when Peter took a sword and cut off the ear of a Roman soldier in defense of Jesus, our Lord rebuked him and healed the soldier. So, please be clear, our talk of military language in this message must be understood as having to do with our battle with Satan and his minions. We are speaking here of spiritual conflict and not physical, human, personal conflict with other humans.

Yet, the idea of being a soldier for the Lord is mentioned often in scripture. Let me just read a few of them for you:

In Psalm 18:39 we read, "For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me."

Ephesians 6:13 states, "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 firm."

In 2 Timothy 2:4 we discover, "No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him."

Romans 12:19, "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'”

What, then, do we intend with the military language when discussing the Christian life? Let me share with you 7 truths related to this subject.

I. The Calling of the Good Soldier

In 2 Timothy 2:4 we read that the soldier is to obey the one who is his Commanding Officer. The term used here is one which means to call an army together. It refers to one who has the authority to conscript soldiers for service.

Listen carefully, every saved person is one whom the Lord has called and has enlisted in His divine service. We have been chosen by Him and we have responded to His calling. The moment we become Christians we are enlisted in the service of the King of Kings.

Look with me at John 15:16, which reads, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name." He chose us. He called us to Himself. We have responded to that call and we are His servants.

It is imperative that we understand the servant principle. We must be called to Him, for without His call we cannot respond. You don't walk over and pick up a phone when it is not ringing just in case someone is calling. At least I hope you don't. He calls, we respond. This is how we are saved and enlisted in His army.

D. L. Moody, the great American evangelist from another generation, once said, "If a man is stealing nuts and bolts from a railway track, and, in order to change him, you send him to college, at the end of his education, he will steal the whole railway track." (Ravi Zacharias, "The Lostness of Humankind," Preaching Today, Tape No. 118.) In other words, it is not who we are or what we know that makes us useful to our Commander and Lord; it is His call to us and our willingness to follow Him that makes us capable of doing spiritual, divine, lasting, eternal work.

We must have his call and conversion in order to have our lives changed, but once we have been called, and once we have responded to Him, we are fully enlisted  in the army of the King.

Also, we need to understand ...

II. The Commander of the Good Soldier

Look at Hebrews 2:10, which states that Jesus is the Author, which also means the Captain, of our Salvation. 2 Timothy 2 tells us that we are to obey Him who called us, the One who chose us. A soldier is first and foremost to be obedient. He does as he is commanded. A good soldier of Jesus obeys the Commander. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey me." Love is not merely a word only but must lead to a commitment in spirit and in deed.

In his book 'Fresh Bait for Fishers of Men,' Louis Albert Banks tells of an incident that clearly illustrates what it means to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ. On one occasion while Sir Henry Brackenbury was a military attaché in Paris, he was conversing with the distinguished statesman Gambetta, who said to him, "In these days there are only two things a soldier needs to know. He must know how to march, and he must know how to shoot!" The Englishman quickly responded, "I beg your pardon, Excellency, but you have forgotten the most important thing of all!" The Frenchman asked, "What's that?" Brackenbury replied, "He must know how to obey!"

Indeed, that is our duty. We must know how to obey!

Also, we see ...

III. The Commitment of the Good Soldier

Look again at our text. In verses 3 and 4 we see the call to commitment in the life of the believer. This call to commitment is similar to that of the call to commitment in the life of a soldier.

An American soldier takes a vow, a pledge, to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America and to defend the nation against all enemies, domestic and foreign. Likewise, the believer pledges to follow our Captain and to stand for Him at all times.

Look at Ephesians 6:10-12. Note that we are called to stand, and having done all to stand. In John 15:19-21 we read, "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me."

We are not better than our Lord. We must be ready to serve Him in a world of hatred against Him and against us. This calls for a deep and abiding commitment on our part. It is not easy. It is a dedicated, desciplined and devoted love that we are to show through absolute obedience and commitment.

Now take note of ...

IV. The Conditioning of the Good Soldier

We read in 1 Timothy 4:8, "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." We are to be conditioned for the battle. This means that knowing God's manual for spiritual military action is of great importance.

Look at 2 Timothy 2:15, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."

Again, we read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

When I joined the Army back in 1963, I was immediately sent to basic training. Attention to details, obedience to all orders, the rigors of training the body for war, the use of tatics and weapons, and the understanding of what is at stake in case we are needed at a moment's notice is what we had drummed into us day after day. In some ways it became boring. Later, in 1965, I was sent to Vietnam. I can tell you one thing for sure, once I was in the place of war I was thankful to the core for every person who trained me. I could see why everything they told us and all they required of us was important. Life and death hung in the balance.

We are conditioned in God's service by studying and living the Word of God. It may at times be boring, but I would caution you to pay attention, take notes, seek to obey, for one day the enemy will attack you when you least expect it. Satan will push you against the wall with temptation and the lazy, indifferent, arrogant Christian will fall flat on his or her face. In fact, Satan is looking for the Christian who is either indifferent or the one who thinks he knows it all.

But also, we are conditioned by enduring trials. That is how our text from Timothy began. 2 Timothy 4:5 tells us to endure afflictions. If aren't prepared for trials, we will tend to doubt God when we can't explain why something bad is happening to us. There is so much more I could say here, but let me move to the next issue.

We must consider ...

V. The Comrades of the Good Soldier

The Christian soldier must take into consideration his fellow soldiers. Many are those who are counted among the number of commissioned saints. We are on many battle fronts for Christ all over the world. No matter where we are, we all serve the same Commander, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Note what Paul wrote on one occasion, as recorded in Philippians 2:25:

"But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs."

Epaphroditus was called a "fellow soldier" of Paul. How fitting. We who are saved are fellow soldiers of Christ.

You will recall that Moses thought of his fellow believers in making decisions about his own service to God. We read in Hebrews 11:25 that he chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. We are to stand together or we will fail and fall alone.

Even the fallen soldier, the one who fails the Lord, must not be forgotten. Look at Galatians 6:1-2:

"Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."

We are to help in restoring the person who has been "overtaken" by the enemy. We are to act in compassion and concern toward our fallen brothers and sisters. It is not our place to gossip and ruin a fallen Christian, rather we are to pick them put and carry them back to the Lord. That is what soldiers do in battle. Many a soldier has gone right into the line of fire to pull a wounded soldier out of harm's way. Christians often shoot their wounded rather than assisting them when they are down. That is a shame and has caused great harm in the cause of Christ.

Furthermore, we need to understand ...

VI. The Conflict of a Good Soldier

We are definitely in a war - a war in a spiritual realm.This is not a physical war but a spiritual war.

Look at Ephesians 6:10-12:

"10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 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."

Paul spoke in this passage of the battle the Christian faces with Satan. It is not a battle against people, but a battle with the unseen enemy. Our enemy is powerful and seeks to rule the principles, philosophies and practices of each age. But, in our Lord we are greater. We have the "power of His might." We simply need to dress up for battle in His armor and take our stand - God will do the rest.

Our duty is to move forward with the Lord and for the Lord. We are not to hold the fort, but to storm the enemy camp.

Mary Lou Carney had to pick up her daughter at O'Hare International Airport one evening when the traffic was terrible. It was bumper-to-bumper for miles. The next day she complained about it to a friend who worked near the airport and had to cope with that kind of traffic everyday. "It was awful," Mary Lou said. "I was barely moving." Her friend smiled knowingly and said, "The rule of the commute is this - ANY forward movement is good." That is sort of like traffic here in Atlanta on Interstate 85 - right? I love it when some visitor talks about how hard it is for them to drive here on vacation. Those of us who live and drive everyday just smile when they complain. They are visitors to Atlanta but we are "soldiers" on the highways and streets. That is how it is to be with us in our walk with God.

We are soldiers for Christ. We don't complain about the hard work of serving God. We don't complain about giving his tithes and our offerings. Any forward movement is good in God's work. We are to keep on keeping on when there seems to be little progress. Sadly, too many in God's army are AWOL, in retreat and just sitting still.

Now finally, note ...

VII. The Culmination of a Good Soldier

Paul was a good soldier. Hardly anyone would think to argue with this fact. Look at the culmination of his life in the very same book where we began this message:

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

Galatians 6:9 reminds us not to grow weary in doing the right things, for in due time we will reap a harvest.  A Christian leader from another generation said,

"Some want to live within the sound of chapel bell,

I want to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell!"

  • Our task is tough
  • Our work is critical
  • Our time is short
  • Our numbers are few
  • But our Savior is mighty indeed

So, let us rise up and follow our Leader, Jesus. We must do this as good soldiers of Christ. We must remain faithful, just as He was faithful to take that cross up the hill to die for our sins. We are to be good soldiers of Christ.


Issac Watts wrote these words back in 1724:

"Am I a soldier of the cross?

A follower of the Lamb?

And shall I fear to own His cause

Or blush to speak His name?"

"Must I be carried to the skies

On flowery beds of ease,

While others fought to win the prize

And sailed thru bloody seas?"

"Are there no foes for me to face?

Must I not stem the flood?

Is this vile world a friend to grace,

To help me on to God?"

Sure I must fight if I would reign -

Increase my courage, Lord!

I'll bear the toil, endure the pain,

Supported by Thy Word." (Issac Watts)

Will any Christian re-enlist today? Let us return with a fresh commitment to serve our Lord faithfully. No deserters here! In our midst, only dedicated and determined soldiers of the cross. That is the need of the hour. How many will stand forth today with loyalty to our King?