The Christian is at War

This is the seventh installment in a series of posts from Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots(Hardcopy/Kindle). J. C. Ryle’s classic book on Holiness.

Ryle starts a section of His book entitled “The Fight” with these words:

It is a curious fact that there is no subject about which most people feel such deep interest as ‘fighting.’ Young men and maidens, old men and little children, high and low, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, all feel a deep interest in wars, battles and fighting.

He clarifies that such warfare that so often produces such interest is not at all what he is talking about regarding the Christian fight:

But there is another warfare of far greater importance than any war that was ever waged by man. It is  a warfare which concerns not two or three nations only, but  every Christian man and woman born into the world. The warfare I speak of is the spiritual warfare. It is the fight which everyone who would be saved must fight about his soul.

He continues and says this:

This warfare, I am aware, is a thing of which many know nothing.

Before he gives three main thoughts regarding this fight of the Christian he connects it to the subject of holiness:

He that would understand the nature of true holiness must know that the christian is ‘a man of war.’ If we would be holy we must fight.

He then develops these three points regarding the fight for holiness:

1. True Christianity is a fight

The true Christian is called to be a soldier, and must behave as such from the day of his conversion to the day of his death.

The principal fight of the Christian is with the world, the flesh, and the devil. These are his never-dying foes.

2. True Christianity is the fight of faith.

In this respect the Christian warfare is utterly unlike the conflicts of the world.

A general faith in the truth of God’s written Word is the primary foundation of the Christian solder’s character.

As for true Christians, faith ist he very backbone of their spiritual existence.

Whenever you see a man, whether rich or poor, learned or unlearned, wrestling manfully with sin, and trying to overcome it, you may be sure there are certain great principles which that man believes.

Habitual lively faith in Christ’s presence and readiness to help is the secret of the Christian soldier fighting successfully.

Would anyone live the life of a Christian soldier? Let him pray for faith.

Would anyone fight the fight of a Christian soldier successfully and prosperously? Let him pray for a continual increase of faith.

3. True Christianity is a good fight.

  • The Christian’s fight is good because fought under the best of generals.
  • The Christian’s fight is good, because fought with the best of helps.
  • The Christian fight is a good fight, because fought with the best of promises (Rom. 6:14; 16:20; Philippians 1:6; John 10:28; 6:37; Heb. 13:5; Rom. 8:38).
  • The Christian’s fight is a good fight, because fought with the best of issues and results (Rom. 8:37; Heb. 11:10; John 18:9).
  • The Christian’s fight is a good fight, because it does good to the world.
  • The Christian’s fight is good, because it ends in a glorious reward for all who fight it (1 Peter 5:4).
He closes this section with these words about the great fight of the soul:
1. It may be you are struggling hard for the reward of this world.

Perhaps you are straining every nerve to obtain money, or place, or power, or pleasure. If that be your case, take care. Your sowing will lead to a crop of bitter disappointment.

2. It may be you know something of the Christian warfare, and are a tried and proven soldier already.
Let us remember that if we would fight successfully we must put on the whole armour of God, and never lay it aside till we die.
Let us remember the solemn words of an inspired warrior, who went to the rest 1,800 years ago: “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a solder” (2 Timothy 2:4).
Let us remember that some have seemed good soldiers for a little season, and talked loudly of what they would do, and yet turned back disgracefully in the day of battle.
Let us never forget Balaam, and Judas, and Demas, and Lot’s wife. Whatever we  are, and however weak, let us be real, genuine, true and sincere.
Let us remember that the eye of our loving Saviour is upon us, morning, noon, and night (Heb. 4:14).
Let us remember that thousands of soldiers before us have fought the same battle that we are fighting, and come off more than conquerors through Him that loved them (Heb. 7:25; 6:12).
Let us remember that the time is short, and the coming of the Lord draweth nigh (Rev. 21:7).
He concludes with this admonition:

May we never forget that without fighting there can be no holiness while we live, and no crown of glory when we die!

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