Training for Reigning - 35 - Go to war soldier

THAT WE CHRISTIANS are likened to soldiers is clear from 2 Tim. 2:3-4. But "war" is an ugly word since, in the physical realm, it calls to mind so many indescribable horrors. Thus it scarcely seems a suitable word to describe the conflicts of the human spirit. Nevertheless, to those who are in dead earnest about the business of conquering self, and bringing themselves into total subjection to the Lord, there is a genuine war going on, all right? Also, the effects of it will reach out into "the ages to come."
(Note: Possibly I should warn the reader that unless, he or she, is interested in this subject it might be well to turn over to some other chapter. I fear it won’t be found flattering to the ego. Besides, to any who are anxious to make the most of this world, and let "the ages to come" take care of themselves, the following paragraphs may turn out to be somewhat disturbing).
Perhaps it is because some of us sense the disruptions that will take place in our ways of thinking and acting, if we really should dare to "yield ourselves unto God" (Rom. 6:13), that we hesitate, and draw back from the conflict. ("Desiring conditions of peace," was the Lord Jesus’ estimate of the trouble. You will read about it in Luke 14:31-33). We tell ourselves that we are what we are, and we can’t help it. Certainly we are thankful we are saved from hell, and do find some satisfaction in doing service for the Lord. But this thing of yielding oneself to the Lord-well, we aren’t all made the same. It may be all right for preachers and missionaries; but for ordinary people to whom a sensible amount of self-pleasing appears reasonable, natural, comfortable, and, yes, a practical way of living, this yielding business seems rather visionary, somewhat risky-maybe even a bit fanatical?
The truth is, of course, human nature fears, as well as dislikes, alterations to its manner of life. It is opposed to change- "afraid of the unknown," the psychos tell us. And "human nature" may be considered for present purposes as the self-life; and the self-life is called in the Bible, the flesh.
Taking all things into account, then, we may safely point out that the flesh is the worst enemy we Christians have to face. It is the internal foe, the traitor inside the city, our spiritual "fifth column." For it is only as it provides the openings that the external enemies, the World, and the Devil, get opportunities to build in their ideas of what is most pleasurable, of what matters most. Hence it is of the greatest importance that we should understand as much as possible about this deceptive antagonist, and so be helped to "get on with the war."
"Now the works of the flesh are these," we read in Gal. 5:19. Then follows a black list of evil deeds. But the expression "and such like" (vs. 21) shows that the list is not complete. Following this we have the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit described; and at once it becomes evident by contrast that everything that is opposite to this nine-fold fruit must be recognized as fruit of the flesh. For verses 16, 17 make it clear that it’s one or the other! Thus we would have for flesh-works a list something like this:
-Not love, but lovelessness. Self-interest the chief consideration. "I . . . Me . . . My."
-Not joy, but joylessness in the Lord, in His Word, in doing His will. "Who wants to be obedient all the time?"
-Not peace, but a restless, dissatisfied spirit. "I can’t wait any longer. I want to see some action?"
-Not long-suffering, but an "I’m-not-going-to-take-that" spirit. "If they are asking for trouble they can have it."
-Not gentleness, but a "why-should-I-care?" attitude. "It’s their concern, not mine. They got themselves into this; let them get themselves out of it. Am I my brother’s keeper?"
-Not goodness, but: ‘Oh, they’re so pious!- so good you can hardly live with them. Well, at least, I’m no hypocrite."
-Not faith but: "Oh, I don’t know. People talk about getting answers to prayer, but I never seem to get anything I ask for. So I figure if the Lord wants me to have it, He’ll give it to me; and if He doesn’t what’s the use of asking for it?" (By the way, have you noticed 1 John 5:14-15?).
-Not meekness, but rebelliousness. "That’s not what I expected. It’s all right to talk about the Lord’s will for me. But if I can’t have what I want, then I don’t want anything. No one seems to care what I think about things, anyway."
-Not self-control, but acting as we feel like acting, regardless. "It’s no worse for me to do it than it is for some other I know."
My list is not pleasant reading, perhaps; but some of those attitudes do seem rather familiar, don’t you think? So let’s do some hard thinking about them. We really must recognize our enemies if we are to put up any sort of effective battle against them, you know. As for the counsels of the Lord, Eph. 4:17-32 might be a good portion to read at this point, while His promise found in Joshua 10:25 will "nerve our faint endeavour" and strengthen our spirits for the struggle. So relying on the power of His might, let us say to ourselves, you and me - and say it over and over:
"GO TO WAR, SOLDIER!.. . with yourself."
LET ME ASK you young people to ask yourselves this question in order that you may get your objectives set forth clearly before your minds. A good plan is to take a pencil and make a list of the things you feel you need to make life worth-while, more satisfying, more complete. When finished, cross off the less important items, one by one, until only one is left. If you do this, you will discover what you really want from life.
It may take you a while to decide the relative value of certain items; but in making the decisions you will be clarifying your thinking. Some will desire adventure, others, romance and a home. Some yearn for more happiness, more enjoyment of life, others for more education, or technical skill-more ability to earn a living. Not a few will long for deliverance from physical handicaps, or limitations imposed by circumstances that hinder their dreams from coming true.
I feel pretty sure a car would loom large in certain young persons’ Wants and Wishes column. Or could it be a pretty head, a good figure, smart clothes? (They do attract attention to one’s self, you know). Others might feel they could be satisfied had they a better job, "decent" wages, holidays, opportunities to go places and do things.
Young folks living on farms may try to visualize a well-equipped farm-modern implements, modern conveniences in the home; while others, their means of earning livelihood based on fisheries, forests, mines, or transportation systems, et al, will have ever present before their minds their own special angles of things desirable. But whatever your position in life may be, let me urge you to endeavour carefully, prayerfully, to find out what you want from life-even if it be a million dollars, or pounds! Make your list and check it off, as I have suggested. Then you will discover the real driving power behind your thinking, the compulsion that conditions your present way of life, perhaps quite unconsciously.