Read and reflect on 2 Timothy 4:6–8.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. – 2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV)
Call me crazy, but I tend to make important life decisions from what I call “the deathbed perspective.” I imagine myself on my deathbed, looking back on my life. At the end of my earthly sojourn, would I regret this decision or rejoice I chose to go that route?
Of course, we know when faced with a decision, we can always ask God for wisdom, and He’ll oblige (James 1:5). Perhaps this is God’s way of giving me that wisdom, because from the deathbed perspective, my priorities are clear, and I know the way I should take. So far, I’ve never regretted a decision made from the deathbed perspective.
In his second letter to the young pastor Timothy, the apostle Paul also had a deathbed perspective—and it truly was his deathbed. He was in his last days on earth—imprisoned in a cold dungeon, chained like a common criminal, alone, as he awaited his martyrdom.
Here he penned the words I told my husband I wanted on my tombstone: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
But those aren’t just words to die by—they’re words to live by.
This week we’re going to look at the first part of that verse: I have fought the good fight.
This tells me the Christian life is a battleground not a playground. The life of faith is a fight because faith doesn’t come easy and it doesn’t grow easily.
As believers we are in a war with God’s infernal enemy, and we do battle daily in three arenas of warfare: the world, the flesh, and the devil (yes, he does exist).
The world is the spirit of the age, the anti-Christ attitude, the realm of the God’s enemy. Paul accurately described the spirit of the age in his letter to Timothy (read 2 Timothy 3:1–5).
The second arena is the flesh—our human, or carnal, nature, prone to sin, which is constantly at war with our spiritual nature (John 3:3; Romans 7 & 8; 1 Corinthians 2:6–14). Just look at the temptations to sin you face daily. This war will rage until our spirits are freed from our earthly bodies.
The third arena is the devil. When you receive Jesus as your Savior, you immediately switch sides in a war that goes back to Lucifer’s rebellion in heaven (Isaiah 14:12–15; Ezekiel 28:11–19; Luke 10:18). The enemy has been prowling around ever since, seeking the destruction of believers (1 Peter 5:8).
But we are not left without weapons.
First, put on your armor (Ephesians 6:10–18). After all, why would the Word advise us to put on our armor if we weren’t to do battle?
Second, pray. A praying Christian terrifies the enemy.
Third, know God’s Word. It is your sword (Ephesians 6:17). Learn to use it and use it often and well.
Fourth, resist. The Word tells us to “resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:9).
Fifth, remember that “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world”(1 John 4:4).
Finally, remember the war is already won. It was won when the Son of God died in your place on a Roman cross then burst out of a sealed tomb three days later. Don’t believe me? Read Revelation.
I know, there are times you feel anything but a victor. You feel beaten, weak, small, forgotten, and alone.
But you’re not. Remember these verses:
When you feel beaten: You are more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37).
When you feel small: You are loved by the God who created the universe (Psalm 36:5). You are the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8). You are engraved on the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16). You are precious to Him (Isaiah 43:4).
Onward and upward, soldier. Keep fighting the good fight.
Remind me, Father God, I’m in this world not to frolic but to fight the good fight of faith. Help me to use my weapons often and well. Amen.
NOTE: Next week, we’ll look at the second part of that verse: “I have finished the race.”
From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.