The following article by Dwayne appears in Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox, Issue #371. This is an excerpt from Pure Praise: A Heart-focused Bible Study on Worship. Specifically, this is taken from Day 1 of Week 9 called Finishing Well.
If we are to finish well the mission God has given us on this earth, one very important principle we must employ is to keep fighting.
“I could still hold my weapon. I could still walk. My legs weren’t blown off. I wanted to finish the mission.” That was Lance Cpl. Jaime M. Magallanes’ attitude when he was wounded by an enemy sniper while on a patrol in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, March 23, 2003. Amazingly, the young warrior ignored his injury and turned his concerns toward his fellow Marines and their mission. “We wiped his wound down and dressed it,” said a Navy lieutenant. “We also listened to his lungs to see if he was breathing fine. He was cool and calm and said he wanted to return to the fight.”
Well has it been said that all Christ followers must recognize that the Christian life is not a playground but a battlefield where conflicts are won and lost in real spiritual battles. No matter how difficult the fighting becomes for us, as Christians we must never quit. Alfred Plummer observed that “Military service is either perpetual warfare or perpetual preparation for it…The soldier, so long as he remains in the service, can never say, ‘I may lay aside my arms and my drill; all enemies are conquered. There will never be another war.'”
Recognizing the battlefield
Of course, the enemies we Christians are battling are not other people, especially not other Christians (although it may seem that way at times). There is nothing good that will come from waging war against each other in the family of God. The “good fight” Paul fought was one “against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12b NLT). When Paul said he had “fought the good fight,” the Greek word he used for fight gives us the English word agonize and was used in military endeavors to describe the concentration, discipline, and extreme effort needed to win.
For the follower of Christ, pressures and difficulties are inevitable. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NKJV). Charles Stanley wrote, “Somewhere we have gotten the erroneous idea that our ultimate goal as Christians is to come to a place in our lives where we are never tempted. Ironically, the very opposite is true. The more godly we become, the more of a threat we become to Satan. Thus, the harder he works to bring us down.” That’s why Jesus said we must constantly “keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Mark 14:38 NLT).
According to 1 Peter 5:8, Satan is determined to destroy God’s people. And on our own, we are simply no match for Lucifer and his evil forces. When John wrote, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4 NKJV), he was saying, by implication, that without Christ we are less powerful than the devil.
So what’s to keep us from feeling outmatched, giving up, and jumping headlong into the depths of sin when temptation comes our way? Sigmund Freud wanted us to believe it is our “ego” (self-control) and “super-id” (conscience) that keep us in check. But no amount of determination, moral ethics, or societal pressures can help us “keep our dukes up” day in and day out. No, it’s not the super-id that will help us overcome; it is the supernatural, superpower of Jesus.
Using the weapons of our warfare
When Paul described the “whole armor of God” needed “to stand against the wiles of the devil” in Ephesians 6, every piece he listed is defensive except one. The one offensive weapon we have is the Word of God – the Spirit’s sword that can utterly annihilate the enemy. When we hide God’s Word in our hearts and quote it aloud to our adversary during times of temptation, we will “not sin against [God]” (Psalm 119:11). More so, the truth of Scripture will force the powers of darkness to flee.
In 2 Chronicles 20 the “weapon” the children of Judah used as they marched toward their enemies was praise. Their praise was effective because it was based on the truth of God and his Scripture. Likewise, our biblical praise frustrates and confuses those imps of the dark world. Thus, the next time you’re tempted to get discouraged or frightened or rebellious, turn your eyes upward toward heaven and Jesus. Praise him fervently and know that your invisible enemies are scurrying away in horror and defeat.
The people of Judah didn’t lay down their weapons of worship once their enemies were slain. Rather, they continued to praise “with harps and lutes and trumpets” right into “the temple of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 20:28). The people of Judah kept on doing what they were supposed to do even after they had won their battle. That put them in a fine position to potentially and eventually finish well. If we have aspirations of finishing our lives well, we, too, must keep on doing what we’re supposed to do — for one, we must keep fighting the good fight of faith.
Excerpt from pp. 147-148 of Pure Praise: A Heart-focused Bible Study on Worship by Dwayne Moore (Group, 2009)