The church is spoken of under different figures. It is referred to as: a body
with Christians as members (I Cor. 12:12-27; Rom. 12:4-5); a vineyard with Christians
as workers (Matt. 20:1-16); a temple with Christians as worshipers (Eph. 2:21;
I Peter 2:5).
One of the most striking pictures of the church is the simile of the body of Christ depicted as an army. There is to be a militant spirit characterizing the church as each member marches loyally under the banner of their Heavenly King. The purpose of this conflict is to become conquerors over Satan and evil.
The warfare spoken of is not carnal. It is a moral conflict. This is a conflict of truth against error, of knowledge against ignorance, of light against darkness, of righteousness against unrighteousness, of Christ against Satan.
In the battle against false ways and evil forces we must “put on the whole armour of God” (Eph. 6:11), “war a good warfare” (I Tim. 1:18) and “fight the good fight of faith” (I Tim. 6:12). The purpose of accomplishing these things is that we may one day be able to enjoy the bliss of heaven. This is the end that Paul had in mind when he wrote “to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11), “to withstand in the evil day” (Eph. 6:13) and “to lay hold on eternal life” (I Tim. 6:12). We do not have the option to enter this battle and to leave it at our own discretion and be pleasing to God. Those who are his New Testament people are either with him or against him. In this conflict between righteousness and unrighteousness, neutrality is out of the question (cf. Matt. 12:30).
As this article begins to set forth certain features about this spiritual army, let it be pointed out, with sadness, that some of our brethren are no longer fighting. Please consider the following features of this army:
THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THIS ARMY IS CHRIST
The commander of our salvation is without spot and blemish. He is a perfect commander (Heb. 2:10; 4:15; 7:26; I Peter 2:22). He has all power in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18). He is the head of all things to the church (Eph. 1:22-23). We make no mistake by following Christ (Heb. 12:1-3; I Cor. 11:1). To follow Christ means that our God will supply for us that which is necessary for our protection in this conflict with evil (Eph. 6:10-17). We must put on the armour, unsheathe the sword of the Spirit and engage the enemy head on. To follow Christ means also that we are to be praying soldiers (Eph. 6:18), adding the Christian graces (II Peter 1:5-11), maturing in the Christian life (Heb. 5:12-14; II Peter 3:18) and willing to examine self (II Cor. 13:5). With such information before us, we can say with Paul, “For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (II Tim. 1:12).
THIS ARMY IS MADE UP OF VOLUNTEERS
One is not drafted into this army, but it is for “whosoever will come”
(Rev. 22:17; Matt. 11:28-30). No one is forced to serve God. Before entering
this army one must decide if the cause is worth fighting for and will there
be victory. The apostle Paul has well supplied the answer to such questions
in Romans 6:23. Here we read, “For the wages of sin is death; but the
gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Salvation
is in Christ (Acts 4:12; II Tim. 1:10).
In order for the volunteer to become a part of Christ’s spiritual army, he must possess faith (Rom. 10:17), he must repent (Acts 17:30), he must confess faith in Christ (Acts 8:37) and he must be baptized for the remission of his sins (Acts 2:38). He who will do this and be a loyal soldier, has in prospect a glorious retirement in death (Rev. 14:13).
ONE OFFENSIVE WEAPON IS TO BE UTILIZED BY THIS ARMY
Every observation thus far suggests an army that is unusual in its makeup. In this main point we learn that the one offensive weapon is also unusual. The weapon referred to is the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). This instrument of spiritual battle is sharper than any literal two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12). This sword will lay bare our false pride, prejudice, compromise and friendship with the forces of evil. When the nomenclature of this weapon is very familiar to us, and then with proper use, we will be victorious over unrighteousness. When attired with truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, the broad shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, we become heaven’s most powerful argument against sin. However, be it known, that God knows what we are doing and what we are not doing with that which he has supplied us with (cf. Job 34:21; Prov. 15:3; Heb. 4:13).
A FURLOUGH IS UNKNOWN TO THIS ARMY
In the army of the land, one may take a furlough and do or not do as he pleases.
In this army, however, we are always, under normal/general conditions, to be
available to worship God.
Christians can take vacations and be gone from home, but this does not relieve them of their responsibility to worship (Acts 2:42; I Cor. 15:58; Gal. 6:9; Heb. 10:25; John 14:15). How sad it is for a Christian to think he has the right to put God out of his life for two weeks (or more) every year. Deserters from this army, without repentance, face a punishment that no court martial could ever declare, the eternal Gehenna (II Peter 2:20-22; Rev. 21:8; 20:15; Mark 9:43-48).
SATAN IS THE DEADLY OPPONENT
There are a number of names found in the Bible for this evil opponent. The word Satan means adversary. This term is used in the Old Testament 19 times with 14 of them found in the book of Job. It is used 35 times in the New Testament. Satan is an adversary who lies in wait. The term devil means slanderer or false accuser. In considering just these two names we can easily see and know that we must never let our guard down. To remove the sentry while the enemy is near would render us foolish (I Peter 5:8; Eph. 6:11; II Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:15-17). May we continually be mindful of Peter’s words in reference to the devil, “Whom resist steadfast in the faith” (I Peter 5:9).
One day there will be a great reunion for the faithful soldiers of Christ when He comes to take us home (I Thess. 4:13-18). The crown will be awarded because we “fought a good fight, finished the course, kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:7).
By Lindon Ferguson
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