Summary: One of the most challenging metaphors of the Christian life is presented in this simple passage. Here, as in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul compares Christian life to a soldier called to wage spiritual warfare. (Eph. 6:10-18)
Soldiers Of Christ
II Tim. 2:1-15
The Word of God compares the Christian life to many things. Christians are to be fishermen of men; witnessing and winning souls in the waters of the world in which they live. (Matt. 4:19, Acts 1:8)
Christians are also called to be dutiful and diligent farmers; breaking up the fallow grounds of the hearts of men, sowing the precious eternal seed of the Word of God, weeding and cultivating the field of the world and ultimately reaping and gathering in a golden harvest of souls for His eternal Kingdom. (John 4:35, Matt. 9:37-38, Psalm 126:5-6)
Christians are commanded to be builders, even master builders: skillfully laying the foundation of Christ and then wisely structuring and building their entire life into an enduring edifice that will glorify their God eternally. (Matt. 7:24-27, I Cor. 3:9-15)
Christians are enjoined to be spiritual capitalists; as good stewards of the grace of God, carefully managing and multiplying the talents God has placed into their care. (Matt. 25:14-30)
Christians are urged to be good athletes; running the race of the Christian life according to His rule book, enthusiastically and energetically and finally faithfully finishing the course He has set before them. (I Cor. 9:27, Heb. 12:1-3, II Cor. 5:10)
But one of the most challenging metaphors of the Christian life is presented in this simple passage. Here, as in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul compares Christian life to a soldier called to wage spiritual warfare. (Eph. 6:10-18) Many of the militant calls in the Bible to spiritual battle are based upon this easily understood analogy. Grand old hymns of the faith have been penned about the challenges and responsibilities of Christian soldiers.
Make no mistake about it, the battle of the ages is joined with Satan and his cohorts of evil. The war has been raging ever since his initial rebellion in the heavens. As the centuries pass, it only grows in its scope and intensity. As the population of planet earth explodes exponentially, more fodder is made available for the fight and more fuel is furnished for the fire of his fiendish, ferocious and vindictive wrath.
As the world is once more engaged in a violent and costly war, it would be well if we remember that scarcely a decade of history has passed without a major war being waged. War has torn apart nations. War has destroyed cultures and societies. Civil war and revolution have set father against son and brother against brother. Genocidal wars have virtually wiped out whole tribes and peoples. So-called religious wars have puzzled and perplexed the nonreligious and have made it difficult for true Christians in every age to effectively share the gospel of the love of God and the sacrifice of Christ Jesus for the sins of all mankind.
During the middle ages there was a One Hundred Years War in which virtually one-half the population of Europe was wiped out. In the last century, the world suffered two world wars and a number of other major conflicts. This century has begun with a war which perhaps will prove to be the most brutal, savage, deadly and longest world war of recent centuries; the War on Terror.
But even more importantly, not a moment has passed without a great epic struggle ensuing in the battlements of God's spirit universe. Great epics of literature have been written about it. Moses recognized this struggle when he drew a line in the sin cursed earth and said, "Who is on the Lord's side, let him come unto me." Elijah referenced it when he cried atop Mt. Carmel, "How long halt yet between two opinions, if God be God, serve Him, If Baal be god, serve him." Our Saviour called us to battle with these immortal words, "No man can serve two masters, he will love the one and hate the other, no man can serve God and mammon."
Poets have noted this struggle as well. Someone has said, "Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide, in the strife "twixt truth and falsehood, for the good or evil side." Someone else said, "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph, is that good men do nothing." I think it was Milton who said, "The hottest fires of hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis try to maintain their neutrality." Horace Mann is quoted thusly, "No man escapes when freedom fails, the best rot in filthy jails, and those who cried, appease, appease, are killed by those they tried to please."
Let us examine this simple challenge issued by Paul to the young pastor, Timothy, and, by implication, to every Christian soldier of every generation to come. Let us look at the qualities of the true Christian soldier who wishes to volunteer and serve in God's immortal army.