“Fight the Fine Fight of the Faith”

CAN you imagine any soldier in wartime who would be unhappy to be instructed: “You are to return home and spend some time with your wife and family”?

A soldier in the time of King David of Israel received such a directive. Uriah the Hittite was summoned by the king himself and encouraged to return home. Yet, Uriah refused to go to his house. When asked about his unusual behavior, Uriah replied that the ark of the covenant, representing God’s presence, and the Israelite army were on the field of battle. “And I,” he asked, “shall I go into my own house to eat and drink and to lie down with my wife?” To Uriah, this was unthinkable at such a critical time.​—2 Samuel 11:8-11.

Uriah’s conduct raises important questions, for we too are living in a time of war. A war is currently raging unlike any that the nations of the world have fought. It makes the two world wars seem inconsequential by comparison, and you are involved in this war. The stakes are great, the enemy formidable. In this war, no shots are fired, no bombs are dropped, but war strategy is no less intense.

Before taking up arms, you must know whether it is morally  right and what you are fighting for. Is the battle worth the price? The purpose of this unique fight is clarified by the apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy: “Fight the fine fight of the faith.” Yes, in this war you must defend, not a fortress, but “the faith”​—the sum of Christian truth as revealed in the Bible. Clearly, you must believe “the faith” implicitly to fight for it and win.​—1 Timothy 6:12.

A prudent warrior strives to know his enemy. In this fight, the enemy has years of experience in war strategy, with tremendous resources and weaponry at his disposal. He is also superhuman. He is vicious, violent, and unscrupulous; he is Satan. (1 Peter 5:8) Material weapons as well as human cunning and trickery are useless against this adversary. (2 Corinthians 10:4) What can you use to wage this war?

The primary weapon is “the sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word.” (Ephesians 6:17) The apostle Paul shows how effective it is: “The word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints and their marrow, and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) A weapon so sharp, so precise, that it can pierce into the inner thoughts and motives of an individual must surely be used with skill and care.

You likely know that an army may have the most advanced weapons, but those weapons are useless if its soldiers lack the skill to use them. You likewise need instruction to use your sword effectively. Happily, training by the most experienced fighters is available to you. Jesus called these fighter-teachers a “faithful and discreet slave,” entrusted with the responsibility of providing timely spiritual food, or instruction, for his followers. (Matthew 24:45) You can recognize this collective slave by observing its industrious teaching and timely warnings of enemy tactics. The evidence points to the spirit-anointed members of the Christian congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.​—Revelation 14:1.

This composite slave has done more than instruct. It has shown the spirit of the apostle Paul, who wrote to the congregation in Thessalonica: “We became gentle in the midst of you, as when a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, having a tender affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not only the good news of God, but also our own souls, because you became beloved to us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8) It is up to each Christian soldier to make use of the loving training provided.

The Full Suit of Armor

A full suit of figurative armor is provided for your protection. You can find an inventory of this suit of armor at Ephesians 6:13-18. A wary soldier will not venture out if some of his spiritual armor is missing or in need of repair.

A Christian needs all his protective armor, but the large shield of faith is particularly valuable. That is why Paul wrote: “Above all things, take up the large shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the wicked one’s burning missiles.”​—Ephesians 6:16.

The large shield, which could cover the entire body, represents the quality of faith. You must have strong faith in Jehovah’s direction, accepting without doubt that all his  promises will come true. You should feel as though those promises have already been fulfilled. Do not doubt for a moment that Satan’s entire world system will soon be destroyed, that the earth will be transformed into a paradise, and that people loyal to God will be restored to perfection.​—Isaiah 33:24; 35:1, 2; Revelation 19:17-21.

In the current extraordinary fight, however, you need something more​—a friend. In wartime, close bonds of camaraderie are formed as fellow fighters offer encouragement and mutual protection, at times even saving one another from death. While companions are valued, to survive this fight, you need the friendship of none other than Jehovah himself. That is why Paul concludes his list of what makes up the suit of armor with these words: “While with every form of prayer and supplication you carry on prayer on every occasion in spirit.”​—Ephesians 6:18.

We love to be with a close friend. We seek out his company. By regularly talking to Jehovah in prayer, he becomes real to us, a trustworthy friend. The disciple James encourages us: “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.”​—James 4:8.

Enemy Tactics

Contending with this world can at times be like walking through a field sown with land mines. Attack can come from any quarter, and the enemy tries to catch you unawares. Rest assured, though, that Jehovah has supplied all the protection you need.​—1 Corinthians 10:13.

The enemy may aim a blow by attacking Bible truths that are fundamental to your faith. Apostates may use smooth words, flattery, and twisted reasoning to try to defeat you. But the apostate does not have your well-being at heart. Proverbs 11:9 notes: “By his mouth the one who is an apostate brings his fellowman to ruin, but by knowledge are the righteous rescued.”

It would be a mistake to think that you need to listen to apostates or to read their writings to refute their arguments. Their twisted, poisonous reasoning can cause spiritual harm and can contaminate your faith like rapidly spreading gangrene. (2 Timothy 2:16, 17) Rather, imitate God’s response to apostates. Job said of Jehovah: “Before him no apostate will come in.”​—Job 13:16.

The enemy may try a different tactic, one that has met with a measure of success. If an army on the march can be lured to break rank to pursue licentious, immoral conduct, this can cause disorder.

Worldly entertainment, such as immoral films and television shows and wild music, is effective bait. Some claim that they can watch immoral scenes or read immoral literature without being affected. But one person who regularly watched sexually  explicit films frankly admitted: “You never forget those scenes, the more you think about them the more you find yourself wanting to do what you’ve seen . . . The movie makes you think you’re really missing out on something.” Is it worth running the risk of being wounded by this subtle attack?

Another missile in the enemy’s arsenal is the lure of materialism. The danger can be difficult to discern because we all have material needs. We need a home, food, and clothing, and it is not wrong to have nice things. The danger lies in one’s perspective. Money may become more important than spiritual matters. We could become lovers of money. It is good to remind ourselves of the limitations of wealth. It is transitory, whereas spiritual riches last forever.​—Matthew 6:19, 20.

If an army’s morale is low, the chances of victory decline. “Have you shown yourself discouraged in the day of distress? Your power will be scanty.” (Proverbs 24:10) Discouragement is a weapon that Satan has used effectively. Wearing “as a helmet the hope of salvation” will help you to combat discouragement. (1 Thessalonians 5:8) Try to keep your hope as strong as Abraham’s. When asked to offer up his only son, Isaac, in sacrifice, Abraham did not hesitate. He believed that God would fulfill His promise to bless all nations through his offspring and that God could raise Isaac from the dead if necessary in order to fulfill that promise.​—Hebrews 11:17-19.

Do Not Give Up the Fight

Some who have fought bravely for a long time may be growing weary and are therefore not fighting with the same vigilance. The example of Uriah, mentioned at the outset of this article, can help all engaged in the fight to maintain the right perspective. Many of our fellow Christian warriors have to endure privations, are exposed to dangers, or suffer from cold and hunger. Like Uriah, we do not want to think about all the comforts we might enjoy now or to give in to a desire to lead a life of ease. We want to remain with Jehovah’s global army of loyal fighters and keep up the fight till we can enjoy the wonderful blessings in store for us.​—Hebrews 10:32-34.

It would be dangerous to let our guard down, perhaps thinking that the final attack is still far in the future. The example of King David highlights the danger. For some reason he was not with his troops in battle. As a result, David committed gross sin that  caused him anguish and suffering for the rest of his life.​—2 Samuel 12:10-14.

Is it worthwhile to engage in this fight, face the hardship of battle, endure ridicule, and forgo questionable worldly pleasures? Those who are carrying on the fight successfully agree that what the world has to offer could look attractive, like glittering tinsel, but on closer examination, it has little substance. (Philippians 3:8) Moreover, often those pleasures end up causing pain and disappointment.

The Christian in this spiritual fight enjoys close companionship with true friends, a clean conscience, and a wonderful hope. Spirit-anointed Christians look forward to immortal heavenly life with Christ Jesus. (1 Corinthians 15:54) The majority of Christian fighters hope for perfect human life in an earthly paradise. Surely such prizes are worth any price. And unlike worldly wars, the outcome for us in this battle is assured as long as we remain faithful. (Hebrews 11:1) The outcome for this system under Satan’s control, however, is total destruction.​—2 Peter 3:10.

As you carry on in this fight, remember Jesus’ words: “Take courage! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33) He conquered by remaining vigilant and keeping integrity under trial. We can do the same.

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No shots are fired, no bombs are dropped, but war strategy is no less intense

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The outcome for us in this battle is assured as long as we remain faithful

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The helmet of salvation will help us combat discouragement

Use the large shield of faith to ward off Satan’s “burning missiles”

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“Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you”

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We should have faith in the fulfillment of God’s promises