April 26 & 27, 2008
1 Timothy 6:12
“Dropping the F-Bomb Series: Fight”
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. The bible is full of fighting and so too is our world. (1 Timothy 6:12) When I was a young man, every night you turned the TV on it was filled with the Viet Nam War. Wounded and bloody solders hobbled across the screen. Napalm tore a fiery trail over the green jungle. Sometimes you could hear the actual fighting and men yelling and screaming. Today the TV takes this generation to the streets of Baghdad and almost involves you in the fighting, too. The President talks of sending more troops to win the war. Some politicians talk of pulling out and deserting the fight. It’s hard to know who’s right and who’s wrong. We have several young men associated with this church in uniform and many who have taken the fight to Iraq and Afghanistan. Bible prophecy has come true that there will be “wars and rumors of war”. We live with it.
In Korea, for the first time in our history, we left without clearly winning. In Viet Nam we left clearly defeated. In Mogadishu some of our elite troops be killed when a Black Hawk went down. A lot of people are used to defeat and it doesn’t bother them too much. And I suppose there are some battles you should walk away from. There are some fights if you lose - it won’t matter much. But this morning I want to talk about three battles you must fight and three battles you must win. I’m talking about the fight for control of body, mind and spirit.
Some of you may be shocked that I will be talking like you are a soldier. You may consider yourself the farthest thing from a soldier. But the fact of the matter is that you are in a war – a war for your very life; a war for your destiny; a war for your soul. And you shouldn’t be too surprised. God’s people have always been warriors. God’s people have always come under attack. And some have been the most unlikely – like King David. He was a great warrior king – but he didn’t look anything like King Saul, the one he replaced. The Bible says, “...Saul was the most handsome man in Israel. And he was head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land!” 1 Sam 9:2 I imagine Saul looked the part. Tall, handsome, a born leader. David was a little different. “He was a fine looking boy, ruddy-faced, and with pleasant eyes...” 1 Sam 16:12 “... was not only a talented harp player, but was handsome, brave, and strong, and had good, solid judgment. "What’s more," he added, "the Lord is with him." 1 Sam 16:18 David seemed a gentle spirit. He was a musician. He was good looking. He was smaller than his brothers. But he was a fighter. David reminds me of Audie Murphy. He was short, good looking, and you wouldn’t think he would be much of a soldier. But Audie Murphy was the most decorated soldier of WWII. He was fearless in battle. The point is that looks don’t really matter. Physical size doesn’t matter – unless you count the size of the heart. Someone said, “It isn’t the size of the dog in the fight that matters – it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” That’s true of people, too. How much heart do you have? How much fight is in you? Paul spoke often to Timothy about fighting, Earlier in 1:18 Paul said: “Now, Timothy, my son, here is my command to you: Fight well in the Lord’s battles, just as the Lord told us through his prophets that you would.”
Whether you like it or not – you are in a war. Whether you like it or not – you are a warrior. Whether you like it or not – you are under attack. The Bible says, 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
^ Pogo, in the cartoon strip, said: “We have met the enemy – and he is us!” If we are going to be winners we have to win the battle of the body. The problem is that we are fallen creatures. God created Adam and Eve perfect in every way – but when they willingly rebelled - their natures were twisted out of shape, they lost God’s blessing, and the human race has degenerated ever since. And you and I have inherited this propensity to sin. Our natures are twisted. We are born rebellious. We rebel against our parents, our brothers and sisters, and all authority – if we think we can get away with it. It’s our nature. We are born selfish and self-centered and we want the world to revolve around us. We want pleasure – sometimes at any price. We want our will done. We want our way and we want it right now! Paul said, “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Roman 7:21-24)
Do you know what Paul is writing about? Have you ever been a slave to something? You really wanted to stop. In your heart you want to quit- and you tried over and over again. But time and again you failed. Maybe it’s porn on the internet. Maybe it’s over eating or gossiping. Perhaps it is something as simple as the need to be liked, approved of. But suffice it to say, I believe every person knows what it is to be a slave in your body.
I want to give you hope. You can win this battle – but not on your own. A soldier is a part of an army. If the enemy isolates him, he can easily be defeated – even if they say he is an army of one. One can do a lot with the technology of today – but when you have an army behind you – you will win. Your army is the church family you are a part of. We pray for each other. We protect each other. We support each other. When you are under attack – get your army behind you. Get your church or youth group behind you. More than that – we have a secret weapon. Paul wrote: “I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” (Phil 4:13) “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” It answers it in the next verse. “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24-25
It is through Jesus that we can get the strength to overcome our addictions and weaknesses. If you struggle with pornography, lying, cheating, drugs, alcohol, or any sins of the flesh – your strength is in Jesus. Every addiction you can think of, some person has broken it – with the Lord’s help.
^ There have been many books and publications written with that title. I have read some of them. The fact is that there is a battle going on for your mind. Whoever controls your mind – controls you. Satan is certainly vying for control of your mind. Certain politicians and philosophers and after control of your mind. But I think the biggest battle is going on right in our own head. What you think about – you will become. Because of our fallen nature we struggle with depression, discouragement, low self esteem, laziness, disorganization, and so on. So it is so important to fill our minds and thoughts with good stuff. The Bible tells us to meditate of the right stuff.
“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him...” Psalm 37:7
"Be still, and know that I am God...." Psalm 46:10
“Stand before the Lord in awe, and do not sin against him. Lie quietly upon your bed in silent meditation.” Psalms 4:4 (Living)
We need to control our minds and think about the right things. When the wrong things pop into our minds the Bible tells us what to do about it. It says:
“... we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
When that wrong thought come into your mind – control it. Pray, quote a Scripture, put your fingers into your ears and say, “lalalalalalal!” Do whatever you have to do – but control your mind. Discipline your mind. How do you do that? Many years ago I read Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”. It was a revolution for me at that time. I was 19 years old, working full time, going to school, dating Gayle and I actually typed up one of the pages and put it on my mirror. I dug it back out for you today. It was entitled “Just for Today” it goes like this:
“Just for Today”
1. Just for today I will be happy. Happiness is within. Happiness is a choice.
2. Just for today I will try to adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my family, my business, and my luck as they come and fit myself to them.
3. Just for today I will take care of my body. I will exercise it, care for it, nourish it, not abuse it nor neglect it, so that it will be a perfect machine for my bidding.
4. Just for today I will strengthen my mind. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.
5. Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways; I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out. I will do at least two things I don’t want to do. And I will talk to Jesus about my thoughts and my day.
6. Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress as becoming as possible, talk low, act courteously, be liberal with praise, criticize not at all, nor find fault with anything and not try to regulate nor improve anyone.
7. Just for today I will try to live through this day only, not to tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do things for twelve hours that would appall me if I had to keep them up for a lifetime.
8. Just for today I will have a program. I will write down what I expect to do every hour. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. It will eliminate two pests, hurry and indecision.
9. Just for today I will have a quiet half-hour all by myself and relax. In this half-hour sometimes I will think of God, so as to get a little more perspective into my life. I will read a chapter in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament and think about them and talk to God about them.
10. Just for today I will be unafraid, especially I will not be afraid to be happy, to enjoy what is beautiful, to love, and to believe that those I love, love me.
Control the battle for your mind. Work on it. Think on the right things. You all kniow that one of my favorite Scriptures is Philippians 4:8, I quote it all the time: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Think on the right things. Fight for your mind.
^ “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26. One of the most important things you can realize is that you are an eternal creature. You will spend eternity somewhere – either in heaven or hell. And there is a battle going on for you. Jesus loves you so much; He values you so much; He desires you so much; that He was willing to die for you on the cross of Calvary. But God created you with a free will. He has given you free choice. God wants a loving relationship with you – and that requires free choice. Sometimes people says to me, and I have even said myself, I wish God would just make me what He wants me to be. But He can’t. What He wants us to become requires that we have freedom to choose. He wants us to love Him. Love can’t be forced. What if I forced my wife to kiss me when she didn’t want to? Even though we are married – forced love is not love at all. It’s ugly and repulsive. When you force someone to do something they don’t want to do – even if the act is an act of love – it isn’t love. We call it unwanted. We call it abuse. We call it assault. We call it rape. So God can’t force us to love Him. We have to come to Him freely and willing. That’s how the battle for the soul is won.
Jesus stands outside your heart’s door, gently calling; gently knocking. In Revelation Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Rev 3:20 We need quit fighting Jesus and start fighting the battle for our bodies, our minds and our souls. Just for today, open the door- and let the Lord come in. He won’t force you. He won’t demand. He only gently invites. Do you see where we have come? From our F-bomb of fight to the greatest F-bomb of all history, fellowship with Jesus. Just for today and every day after this one be willing to pray this prayer: Jesus, Thank you for loving me. Thank you for wanting me. Thank you for dying for me and paying the price of my sin. Forgive me for my rebellion. You know the things I have done and thought. Forgive me. From now on I will live for You. From now on I will face life’s battle with You. Help me to overcome all my enemies.
In Jesus’ Name