Tag Archives: consecration

Soldiers of Christ

“Thou therefore endure hardness; as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”- 2 Timothy 2:3

 Our earth is a great battle ground. Some political party, some sin, some vice, insects, disease. Some make it a business to fight—the soldier. We have to fight for our daily bread. When we become a Christian we do not stop fighting, but fight harder than ever, along different lines. We fight the good fight of faith. Many enlist; the Scriptures give comfort and encouragement for such.

 Two thousand years ago the first enlistment office was opened in Palestine; since thousands and thousands have enlisted. There are many points of similarity between being a soldier in the natural army and being a soldier in the spiritual army. One may enlist

in the natural army for five years or ten years only, but one enlists in the spiritual army for eternity. Everyone and anyone cannot enlist in the natural army; they must be so tall, must have a certain degree of health, etc. Even though one might be able to fight better, if they

cannot stand the tests they won’t have them. To enlist in the Lord’s army certain qualifications are necessary. They must first have accepted the Lord as their Savior and Redeemer. No matter how many good works you may have done, how intellectual you are, you will not be accepted unless you have fulfilled this first requirement.

 What does enlistment mean? What is required in any army? You have to go to the recruiting office, sign certain papers, surrender your right to yourself, have no will of your own. Your will must be your Captain’s will, you must go where he orders.

 When you join the Lord’s army consecration is enlistment. You must give up the fight for self and fight for the Lord–whether it is honor or dishonor. When you have taken this step you are in the Lord’s army (Rom. 12:1). Some fight once in a while, suffer a little, but how many are so wholly given up that they make it their chief aim?

 What prompts us to enlist in the Lord’s army? Five things:

1. Love and gratitude for what He has done for us. How strange if we were not willing to suffer a little! If we had the proper love and gratitude no one could keep us from enlisting.

 2. Because it is in harmony with nobility of character. There is nothing grander nor better than to fight for our Heavenly Father and His Son.

 3. Because we realize the reward at the end is grander and greater than in any other fight. See what the world gives! See what we get (2 Cor. 4:17,18).

 4. Because we realize that present wages are higher and more to be desired than wages in other armies. We get a hundred-fold. Nor could any say it is all trials. We have much joy and many blessings.

 5. Because those who become good soldiers will have opportunity for blessing the world and helping those around them more than any other way of living.

Don’t think everything is to be easy, it would be the wrong way to compare it to a soldier if we didn’t have hardness to endure. Hardness offset by joys outweigh the longest battle. The words fighting and striving show it will cost something. “Fight” (agonize) indicate there

is agony in the Christian life, nevertheless we have no reason to fear the trials because of the help of Christ. Who are our enemies? If we are soldiers we must be fighting. Where is the enemy to fight? The principal one is Satan himself (Eph. 6:12). We are small and weak in comparison with this great enemy. But “Fear not, they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”–2 Kings 6:16.

 “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you,” 1 John 3:13. Shows the world is against us. “Know ye not that he that is a friend of the world is an enemy of God.”–James 4:14.

 The worst enemy is in ourselves. We want to keep the spirit of bitterness, malice, envy, from getting a hold on our hearts. Anything which has a tendency to draw us away from our Lord is our enemy, no matter in what line.

 We need instructions how to fight (Psa. 144:1). Our Heavenly Father is our teacher; He shows us what to do, how to act toward our enemy that we may gain the victory. Various things we have to learn to be good soldiers. One essential is temperance (1 Cor. 9:25). If

athletes will go through so much to get their desire, how much a Christian should be willing to sacrifice. Soldiers endure much to get away from the enemy, sometimes throw away guns and blankets even though needed for their comfort; what should we be willing to sacrifice that we might escape the clutches of Satan? 

If our religion is worth anything, it is worth everything–business, society, affections, etc. How temperate we should be, we should use self-control in respect to appetites, desire for good things to eat, wealth, ambition. “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the

things of this life.” They are generally careful to select soldiers who are single, not entangled; if their mind is not on their business they will not make a good soldier. It isn’t wrong for a Christian to marry, the Apostle and our Lord show it is right; we have no right to judge anyone, it may be right in their case; but if it is possible to remain single, how much more we can do for His service. “He that marrieth doeth well, but he that marrieth not doeth better.” It is necessary for us to keep our eyes open lest the enemy entangle us and keep us from being good soldiers. Are we ordering our affairs so as to give the Lord more of our time? Are we giving more of our affection? Is our mind reverting to how we can do more for the Lord? (1 Thess. 5:5-8.) Be sober, soldiers who carouse and drink at night are not fit for the battle in the morning.If we take our fill of pleasure and the good things of this life, we will be unable to battle and will fail to get the victory.  Therefore are other things needed, courage, earnestness and faithfulness. 

Song of Solomon 6:4, “Terrible as an army with banners.” This seems puzzling, army with banners, why terrible? I asked a soldier, When men are at the point of giving up, the enemy strong, everything about to be lost, if a couple men run to the front and wave their banners, it renews the army’s earnestness and zeal; they rally and fight like demons; there is nothing so terrible as an army with banners. What are our banners? Song of Solomon 2:4. 

Love for Him, for the cause; there is no fear in love. Obedience is required, not only obedience but prompt obedience. Many are obedient but do not see the value of promptness to obey, don’t hesitate–promptness in practice, prompt in battle. If we cultivate the spirit which instantly obeys it will be easy to gain the battle. If the Lord commands us to do some little thing, if we lack the promptness we will fail when a decision is required. Study 1 Cor. 9:26. We are not to fight in any kind of a way. When two men are fighting one might gain the victory though the weaker, because his blows were studied, not in the air. Look and see what blows the Lord wants us to strike. Don’t think any kind of activity counts.–2 Tim. 2:5. 

What are our weapons? (2 Cor. 10:4,5.) Our weapons are not carnal, we are not to fight with bitterness, malice, etc., we are not to hurt others. “Casting down imaginations” (Eph. 6:11). “No weapon formed against thee shall prosper” (Psa. 149:6; Psa 144:2). A fortress,

who needs a fortress? Only a soldier and all others things our Heavenly Father will supply. A commissary department is run only for the soldier, all others will be turned away. Many want to know why it is they go to the Bible and can’t see these wonderful things that

others see. The Bible is food for the soldier and no other can enjoy it until he becomes a soldier (1 Cor. 9:7). Do they go at their own charges? Doesn’t the government provide? 

And will the Lord not provide for us? “My God shall supply all your need.” 

It would be a great blessing if we could realize what a fortress we have in our Heavenly Father. Many have trust, but do we have great trust? We should have. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Why no one can. Is not Satan against us with all his forces? He means to be against us, but in reality is for us; he is trying to injury God’s people, but he helps to develop us; his opposition stirs us up and when resisted we are strengthened and helped; he is really polishing us (Psa. 2:1-4). They might as well try to blow the sun out of existence; they can’t hurt the sun, neither can they hurt the plan. He laughs when He thinks of puny man trying to overthrow His plan. 

Soldiers are happy, light-hearted, with beautiful uniforms, but when hard work comes they don’t look so happy. We are light-hearted, but when more severe experiences come we may not feel so happy, but we may be just as determined to do the Lord’s will as ever. We don’t

have severe fighting at first, but must first practice before being sent out. It doesn’t matter if he hit the mark then; but he is supposed to do his very best. The zeal with which he practiced will tell in the great battle. The way we gain the victory in little things shows if we are going to gain in the big battle; great victory is made up of little victories. What makes us gain the victory? Faith, faith in the promises, God has put in His Word. 

The first victory gained is the victory gained at consecration. The Adversary and all our enemies will strive to prevent our making a consecration, and it is a question of how we are going to gain the victory. If we have faith in the Scriptures we see it is a reasonable service, we are not willing to do unreasonable service. If the Lord says it is reasonable we will do it. What gained the victory? Faith. It sometimes seems as if we can’t do it, are we going to gain the victory over that discouragement? It depends on faith. How? If we have faith in it, it will gain the victory. If my Heavenly Father has made provision for covering my imperfections, He knows I need it. There are battles in other lines–Pride–“Pride goes before destruction.” If we believe it we will try and put pride away. God gives us the victory. How? He gives us the promises. We want to understand what victory means. It does not mean to get the best of an argument. If I could get him to acknowledge he was wrong and I was right, would

that be victory? No. We may have had to say some very unkind things. The convincing of that man has lost the victory if we have been a little sarcastic, etc.; it wouldn’t be Christ-like, and even at that expense he may not be convinced. Our greatest defeats are often our

greatest victories. Does knowledge of the Bible gain the victory? No. If we come off victor we may not have known as much of the Bible as we might otherwise have known. Should we spend the time in studying if we have opportunity to go in the work? When have we

any time to study; if I stayed at home that would have cost me the victory. I might have known more about the letter of the Word, where the verse was, etc. 

Victory means in every case to put the Lord’s will first; it is a secondary matter what the result is. The Adversary is very wise and crafty, he tries to attract us from some important attack to some minor attack. Pay tithe of mint, or anise, and cummin, and omit the weightier matters of the Law. They didn’t know the first principles of what the Lord required of His followers. We should fear lest the Adversary defraud us out of the fruits of the fight. At the beginning of a war they were very strict in regard to desertion, in the latter part they gave men chances to desert. Why? All the men who deserted, though they fought all the four years lost an honorable discharge and a pension. If they fought only the last three months they got an honorable discharge and pension. The parallel is–At first the Lord hedges us in, though he doesn’t interfere with our free will; He has special care over the babies, but in time the Lord withdraws barriers and gives us a chance to desert; but it means the loss of all. Remember, there are two things every soldier has to learn:

First–To attain the mark. 

Second–To retain our position. Lay hold on eternal life. Keep on faithful unto the end.

Your Reasonable Service

living-sacrificesPaul wrote “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, which is your reasonable service” Rom12:1

We would do well to constantly keep in mind those words of encouragement and exhortation. That word reasonable means rational. Based upon what we know, based upon the hope set before us, based upon the ultimate sacrifice that was made on our behalf, to live our lives, as a living sacrifice is indeed the rational outcome. We are no longer our own, we have been purchased at a great price. More than this we were dead and are alive in Christ. Our past life should be gone, the old man must be crucified and the new man grow in the image of Christ. Paul wrote:

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” Phil 2:5

Paul was uncompromising in what he wrote. There are no if’s and but’s, no could or might, but a definite this is what you should do! There is a tendency in our day and age to avoid confrontation, to avoid directness and sometimes the result can be a dilution of the message. Paul however makes a very clear declaration as to what our correct attitude of mind must be.

Now this concept of our lives being living sacrifices is further expanded in verse 2, ‘be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’. Now conformed means to be in harmony, to be in submission. That is something we plainly cannot be for there is no harmony with, and no submission to the world and its ways. There are no halfway measures, no compromise. Yet conformity and compromise is what we naturally tend towards. Our human nature tends towards the world and all it holds, for such things are natural to us.

On the other hand our minds need to be transformed, changed and remodelled. This is a process as Paul states by the renewing of our minds. The antagonism between what is natural and this renewal process is the inner battle that we all face daily. Paul wrote eloquently of that inner dialogue in Romans 7:14-25. Paul writes:

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Rom 7:14-19

O how we can all echo those sentiments! What we know to be right, what we want to do, we do not do. What we know to be wrong, what we desire not to do, those things we do.

Wretched indeed is our state, unless we offer our lives as a living sacrifice, unless we are transformed in our thinking and attitude. There is no mystery as to how we do this; there is no mystical way it will happen. The manner of our renewal is perfectly clear, put on the mind of Christ! To do this takes effort. As we read the scriptures, as we understand and learn, as we grow in love for our Master, that transforming process will take place.

On the other hand if we conform to the thinking and ways of the world, we shall be ‘still born’. The transformation will not take place and our lives will have been lived in vanity.

The principles of scripture are directly opposite to the conformity to human nature. Paul writes:

“I say (through the grace given unto me) to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.”

Now conformity to the world teaches self-elevation, ambition, self-assertion, self-reliance and self-confidence. The transformation by taking on the mind of Christ teaches, humility, trust, faith, self-effacement and service. It is an attitude of mind that carries out honest self-examination and weighs self against the example of Christ. Nevertheless, this is only the beginning of the process, for self-examination must then lead to action by making the necessary adjustments to change our disposition to be more Christ like.

In other words we must “think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” No matter what we consider to be our abilities, skills, knowledge or status in a worldly sense, we have come to Christ and a measure of faith in spite of these, not because of them. Further, in a spiritual sense, we have no abilities, skills, knowledge, or duty that has not been given to us! What we most certainly do not have is status!

It is well within the capacity of every single brother or sister, no matter what his or her abilities, to keep the Truth bright, alive and shining in their lives. It lies within the capacity of all to have a living faith. That living faith will be an example to those about them, both within the Truth and without. A living faith manifested by giving that ‘reasonable service’ Paul speaks about will be demonstrated by the works of faith. James states quite plainly that faith without works is dead!

Our Heavenly Father is just; He has not called us to failure, but rather to inherit eternal life. He has seen fit to extend His mercy towards us, to call us out to have a part in His purpose. He will not test us beyond that which we can bear, He is not willing that any should perish. The only source of failure is us! Yet we all have the potential to be transformed from something ignoble, into a vessel fit for use.

Now we need to be clear that to live a life as a ‘living sacrifice’ does not imply a disregard for temporal things, for indeed diligence in daily life is part of our reasonable service. Indeed Paul tells us “to provide things honest in the sight of all men.” We need to provide for families, for work in the Truth and for all the many things needed in service to the Lord. But we do these things recognising that ultimately it is God that provides and in all things giving thanks unto Him. In all that we undertake, we must act as ‘ambassadors’ of the Truth setting an example for those about us, but at the same time maintaining a distance from conformity to the world.

If we daily contemplate the mercy and blessings that our Creator has graciously bestowed upon us, being thankful for each new day of life and opportunity, then that transformation of mind will gradually take place. Our perspectives will change, our values will change and our aspirations will change. We will live each day of our lives as ‘living sacrifices’ to the Lord our God.

The effort required now, will pale into insignificance when compared the eternal joy of being invited to take a place in that glorious Kingdom to come. When we are permitted to see the Masters smiling face and “to see the King in all his beauty and view that land that stretches afar” it will be all worthwhile.

Therefore despite our frailty and weakness let us all hold fast, continuing instant in prayer and striving to be faithful in all things, for great indeed is the life set before us. Life as it was meant to be. Life in harmony with our Creator, life in harmony with His great purpose, life in harmony with creation. When we consider how undeserving we are, O how we are moved to say with Paul:

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” Rom 8:33-36