3) The Fight - The Fight is Spiritual
I Timothy 6:6-12
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
Fight Legends Example: Wrestling
We like watching it, something fun about it
2x4’s hitting people over the head, chair bashing, enjoyable to watch people get hit
But let me be an ambassador of truth – it’s not real, careful choreography, well-rehearsed
I am a football and baseball fan.
Every time I watch I’m amazed at what these human beings are able to do and accomplish on the football field or baseball diamond.
Apart from all the animosity about enormous salaries and prima donnas I must say that I admire these men who keep themselves in top physical shape.
The things that they need to do on a daily basis in order to stay competitive at that level must be astounding.
Their diets, exercise, sleeping, their whole life is strictly regimented so that their bodies are at their peak.
I even heard this week about a major league baseball team that has a breathing coach.
But in our text for this morning the Apostle Paul encourages us to be like professional athletes.
We too have a struggle before us and we need to be in shape.
Our duty in this fight is to guard the gospel.
In order to fight the good fight, we need to be in good shape.
Good spiritual shape.
To get in good spiritual shape we need to begin by disciplining ourselves.
If we are going to fight this battle we need to be in top spiritual shape.
Train yourself faithfully and diligently.
Self-discipline is necessary if you want to succeed in this spiritual competition.
The stakes are high.
To those who don’t succeed the punishment is severe.
Discipline yourself so that you are in top spiritual shape.
Be offensive as you train and compete so that you may be given the prize.
Be offensive in the way you train.
Paul tells Timothy that we are different from the rest of the world.
We are different because we are men of God.
He gives us some good advice in verse 11 when he says, “Flee from all this…”
As we train and as we compete we need to flee from temptation.
The devil is wise and cunning.
Our best defense, in this case, is being offensive, in other words not hanging around and exposing ourselves to temptation.
Instead, get away from the temptation, and flee from it.
We will also be offensive as we go about acquiring the skills needed to fight this battle.
Paul tells us to be offensive when he commands us to, “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.”
These are the things which we should desire.
These are the qualities and the skills which we will need in battle.
These are the things which we will pursue.
As we compete we need to focus on the prize.
That prize is eternal life.
That prize is our motivation to struggle.
That prize needs to be the center of our attention.
It is the reason why we struggle, why we fight the good fight of faith.
I think of the many high school athletes in our nation.
Why do they work, train, and practice as hard as they do?
In order to win the prize – whether that is a victory in a game, a tournament, or a state championship.
These athletes are motivated by their desire to win the prize.
That prize is ours.
The prize is ours because of the confession that we too have made in front of many witnesses.
The confession which Paul is referring to is our baptisms.
In baptism, we made the confession that we are Christians.
We confessed that we have put our trust in God’s promises.
God promises that through our baptism we have been cleansed from our sin and we are given and strengthened in our faith.
Our baptism provides us with reassurance that we will be successful in this fight
Why will we be successful?
Because Christ made the good confession before Pilate.
What do I mean by that?
When Christ confessed that he is a king but his kingdom is not of this world, he confessed that he has all authority in his heavenly kingdom.
He made that confession knowing that as a result he would be sentenced to death.
He made that confession because it was the only way in which he could offer us the prize.
Through his suffering and death, he has won the prize for us.
Now he offers us the prize through faith.
If our trust is in him and we pursue the things which he has commanded us to go after there isn’t anybody or anything which can keep us from taking hold of the prize that our Savior has won for us.
Grab hold of that prize – and don’t let go.
We must be offensive in the competition.
We have been given a solemn duty to carry out this spiritual competition.
That duty is to guard the gospel.
God has given us this tremendous gift.
The gift of his Word – the Bible.
This is the only book that reveals the things God has done for us.
The only book which moves us to fight this spiritual battle.
He has given us this tremendous gift – he commands us to obey and guard it.
We are to keep it without spot or blemish.
This means that we must be faithful to what it says in our own lives.
We need to read and study it.
We need to put it into practice.
We do this for good reason.
Our appreciation and love for our Savior, the one who gave his life for us motivates us to do this.
Keeping the gospel without spot or blemish also means that we will be faithful in proclaiming the pure message of the Bible to others.
There are many in this world who like to use the Bible as a tool for their own personal gain or to advance their own personal agenda.
They twist the meaning of the words of the Bible, they make the Bible subject to their human logic and reason, and some even remove parts or add things to what the Bible says.
That isn’t guarding the gospel – that’s destroying it.
We must be very careful in handling the Word of God.
We must be careful to proclaim the pure truth of the Word.
That is why we train young men and women to be pastors.
We give these people the opportunity to learn how to properly use the Word of God.
But this job of protecting, of guarding the gospel is the duty of all Christians not just pastors.
We all need to study the Word of God.
We need to know what it says.
We need to test those who teach us.
Compare what I say with what the Bible has to say.
Do the things I’m telling you to fall in line with what the Bible has to say?
This is your responsibility – it is your duty.
Just like the Bereans, about whom Paul writes, they diligently checked the Scriptures to make certain that they were being taught correctly.
Gladly take this responsibility – it is key in preserving the truth about your salvation.
Our duty to guard the gospel is for a limited time.
We have this duty until Jesus’ second coming.
We don’t know when this will be – only God himself knows.
When this time does arrive all nations will recognize Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
For those who have fought the good fight of faith this day will be a joyous one.
For those who have put their trust in wealth and earthly possessions, this will be a day of reckoning.
We guard this gospel with great zeal because it comes from the One True God.
He is the immortal God, who lives in unapproachable light.
The God who had never been seen or could be seen.
This same powerful, eternal, holy God is the one who has made himself seen through the Gospel.
He is the God, who made Himself flesh, so He could give His life for His people.
We hold onto this precious gift because it is the one book that contains the truth.
The truth about God, the truth about us, the truth about our Savior, and the truth about our salvation.
These truths move us to give praise to God the same way in which Paul gave him praise.
As Paul says, “To him be honor and might forever.”
Our God is worthy of praise.
He deserves our praise every single day of our lives.
Our God the great and mighty maker of the universe is also the God who cares for you and me – not just for this life, but also for all eternity.
As we reflect on God's things for us, we can’t help but praise him.
Just like the athlete who is in the heat of competition, we too have a battle on our hands.
Everyone is engaged in it.
There are some who choose not to fight but concede to the desires and temptations of their sinful nature.
May we never become part of that group.
My friends – Fight the Good Fight of Faith so that you can take hold of the eternal prize. Amen.