By Elizabeth Prata
Here is an excerpt from a sermon by Charles H. Spurgeon, Delivered On Lord’s-Day Morning, June 26, 1870, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
We have become used to the ‘you’re enough God is love, no judgments, flowers and rainbows’ kind of Christianity that once in a while I feel it’s important to push back against that by reminding us that Christians are at war until the day we die. We war against our sin, we war against temptation of sinning with others, we war against the principalities and powers of the dark prince of the air. War. Here’s Spurgeon, then I’ll have a comment at the end.
“A good soldier of Jesus Christ.” 2 Timothy 2:2,3.
“Paul does not appear to have pictured true Believers as sluggards sound asleep upon the downiest beds. His description of a Christian in the text is that of a soldier. And that means something far different either from a religious fop, whose best delight is music and millinery, or a theological critic who makes a man an offender for a word. Or a spiritual glutton who cares for nothing but a lifelong enjoyment of the fat things full of marrow. Or an ecclesiastical slumberer who longs only for peace for himself. Paul represents him as a soldier and that, I say, is quite another thing.
For what is a soldier? A soldier is a practical man, a man who has work to do, and hard, stern work. He may sometimes, when he is at his ease, wear the fineries of war, but when he comes to real warfare he cares little enough for them. The dust and the smoke, and the garments rolled in blood—these are for those who go soldiering. And swords all hacked, and dented armor, and bruised shields—these are the things that mark the good, the practical, soldier. Truly to serve God, really to exhibit Christian graces, fully to achieve a lifework for Christ, actually to win souls—this is to bear fruit worthy of a Christian
A soldier is a man of deeds, and not of words. He has to contend and fight. In war times his life knows little of luxurious ease. In the dead of night, perhaps, the trumpet sounds to boot and saddle—just at the time when he is most weary—and he must hurry to the attack just when he would best prefer to take his rest in sleep. The Christian is a soldier in an enemy’s country always needing to stand on his watchtower, constantly to be contending, though not with flesh and blood—with far worse foes—namely, with spiritual wickedness in high places.
The Christian is a self-sacrificing man as the soldier must be. To protect his country, the soldier must expose his own bosom. To serve his King, he must be ready to lay down his life. Surely he is no Christian who never felt the spirit of self-sacrifice. If I live unto myself I am living unto the flesh, and of the flesh I shall reap corruption. Only he who lives to his God, to Christ, to the Truth of God, to the Church, and to the good old cause—only he is the man who can reckon himself at all to be a soldier of Jesus Christ.
A soldier is a serving man. He does not follow his own pleasure. He is under law and rule. Each hour of the day has its prescribed duty. And he must be obedient to the word of another and not to his own will and whim. Such is the Christian. We serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Though no longer the slaves of man so as to dread his frown, we are servants of Christ who has loosed our bonds.
The soldier is full often a suffering man. There are wounds, there are toils, there are frequent stays in the hospitals— there may be ghastly cuts which let the soul out with the blood. Such the Christian soldier must be ready to suffer, enduring hardship, not looking for pleasure of a worldly kind in this life, but counting it his pleasure to renounce his pleasure for Christ’s sake. Once again, the true soldier is an ambitious being. He pants for honor, seeks for glory. On the field of strife he gathers his laurels, and amidst a thousand dangers he reaps renown.
Paul does not exhort Timothy to be a common, or ordinary soldier, but to be a “good soldier of Jesus Christ.” For all soldiers, and all true soldiers may not be good soldiers. There are men who are but just soldiers and nothing more. They only need sufficient temptation and they readily become cowardly, idle, useless and worthless. But he is the good soldier who is bravest of the brave, courageous at all times. He is zealous, does his duty with heart and earnestness. He is the good soldier of Jesus Christ who, through Divine Grace, aims to make himself as able to serve his Lord as shall be possible.
Before I proceed fully to open up this metaphor, let me say that though we shall use military terms this morning, and stirring speech, it should ever be remembered that we have no war against persons, and that the weapons which we use are not such as are forged for the deadly conflicts of mankind. The wars of a Christian are against principles, against sins, against the miseries of mankind, against that Evil One who has led man astray from his Maker. Our wars are against the iniquity which keeps man an enemy to himself. The weapons that we use are holy arguments and consecrated lives, devotion and prayer to God, teaching and example among the sons of men.
Spurgeon then goes on for 12 pages, lol, and he begins his conclusion this way;
“A crown is prepared for that head though it is now made to ache with care for the cause. There is a palm branch for that hand which now toils in the fight. There are silver sandals for those feet which have now to march over weary miles for Christ’s sake. Honor and immortality not to be imagined till they are enjoyed await every faithful soldier of the Cross!”
“No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” 2 Timothy 2:4
My dear sisters who are reading this or listening to this, we are not civilians anyway, we’re not like unbelieving humanity. We are a peculiar people, dressed in battle gear, wielding the sword of the spirit and enacting the weapon of prayer. We are holy islands fighting to maintain the ground on which we stand- salvation, This blood-soaked ground on which Jesus died.
Now, I love flowers as much as anybody, but when it comes to women’s ministries, the flower covered Bibles, journals, bookmarks, etc are fine, but what about a sword, or a shield, or depictions of the struggle with sin, or armor? We are in a war: war against sin, war against principalities and demons, war against encroaching world views trying to capture us. It does us good to be reminded of that once in a while. Hence, today’s blog.
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