We Are In a Battle
Certainly, we're in a battle. In a battle we are going to have to have soldiers who are willing to stand and be counted on. We're living in a day when there are just too many draft dodgers. [This was written during the draft and war-time]. There are too many who are AWOL (absent without leave). There are also many who are pretending to be in the Lord's army who are AWOG (absent without God).
We need to look and see what it takes to qualify to be a good soldier for Jesus Christ. If we serve God for one day, we know we're in a battle. I didn't know how real the devil was until I was saved. I had no idea what I was bound with, how far down in sin I was, until I was saved. When I started to serve Jesus, I found out the devil was real.
Salvation is not anything that we can just lie down at or take for granted. The Word of God lets us know we need to be soldiers and do our part and make sure that we are GOOD soldiers for Christ. In order to be a good soldier for Christ, God's Word is teaching us that there are qualifications that every one who is in God's army must meet. As we look into our Scripture, the metaphor is very appropriate. Christ is our captain and we as soldiers have a standing engagement with the forces of evil without and within. One of the worst things we can do is underestimate the works of the devil. We need to see just as the devil is real, so is this battle.
Why should we worry about fighting for something? Those who fight for the devil fight without a cause, but children of God have a cause to fight for. What is the cause---their soul, their children's souls, and the neighbors' who are around them.
The reason we need to look at the qualifications for a soldier for Christ is because too many make it seem so easy to be in the Lord's army. Many are saying, "Just go to the church of your choice." In order to be a part of the family of God, we have to qualify, and not everyone who says they're a part of the family is a part of the family of God. There are qualifications to meet. The qualifications of the soldier of Jesus Christ is one who is willing to live Holy. Many are lifting up a lot of banners and proclaiming a lot of things, but one thing they cannot proclaim and they are quick to acknowledge is they don't live holy. In order for us to even qualify to be in the Lord's army, it is going to take a righteous holy life.
In Psalm 4:1-8 he said: "Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah. But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord. There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety."
God's People Are Chosen
The greatest privilege we can ever have is to be chosen of God right out of the midst of a sinful world to make up part of the family of God. Cheap religion, what man is trying to say, man-made religions, man-made ideas, man-made philosophies, men theologians, and all of their doctrines that they are advocating are just very poor counterfeits. If a man is going to qualify for a soldier in the Lord's army, he is going to have to have a desire down in his heart to quit the sin business---to forsake it all and be a child of God. Those are the only ones God chooses. Not everyone is fit for a soldier in a physical army, and likewise, not everyone is fit for a soldier in the Lord's army.
Sometimes people are prone to underestimate the abilities and wisdom of God. With our actions and everyday living, we show the attitude that we have towards God's Word. Many think God is just an old softy, He will let everyone push Him around, and that God doesn't really care how people act. This is what false religion says, "He is a God of love, and if you hit Him real hard in the face, He will just come back and love you." We need to see there are qualifications. God won't choose anyone who's not fit to be in the Lord's army.
In the army they give you a checkup, and if there's something wrong with you, they tell you they can't use you. If something happens to you and you lose a leg or become maimed, they discharge you. Many religious groups are trying to say anyone can become a child of God; just confess. I went to a church for thirteen years. They said to just stand up, shake my hand, and repeat after me, "I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God." After I did that they put my name on their membership and said, "You are a child of God. You are going to Heaven." They never once said that I had to live according to the precepts of God's Word. As a result of that teaching, there are many under the false conception that they can do what they want to do and still be in God's army.
We Must Be Set Apart
God only chooses those who are set apart (sanctified) for a godly life. "But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself..." (Psalm 4:3). This is a beautiful army because it is hand-picked. We wonder why we come together an have such good fellowship, feel such a sweet spirit, and don't have to worry about the forces of the world; it's because this is a handpicked army. God only picked those who were the best.
1 Peter 21:6-9 says: "Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."
God's People Obey
Someone may say, "It says all you have to do is believe." Read the rest of it. "...but unto them which be disobedient..." If we think He is precious, we will be obedient. Amidst all other nations, there are still people who are holy people. There are still people who want the Word of God and want to live the way God wants them to live. That's the peculiar people God has chosen. In order to be chosen for God's army, God has to be able to look down and see a spark of honesty in our heart, see that we are sick and tired of going against God.
Those who regard Christ as not being precious are disobedient. His Word becomes a rock of offence; it becomes a stumbling block. They lose their souls if they don't repent. Let's not take too lightly the privilege we have of being chosen. We need to count it a privilege.
Christ is not the captain of anyone who doesn't live godly, righteously, and holy. They are not in His army. They are fighting against Him. Jesus said in Luke 11:23, "...he that gathereth not with me scattereth." In order for us to gather with Christ, we are going to have to be willing to quit the sin business.
Paul encouraged Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:1, "Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." God's army is a powerful army. God's army never has to be defeated. God has always had a people. We can be strong in the Lord. We don't have to give in to the enemy. We can stand and be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
How do we do that? By drawing close to Him, by communing with Him, by just being around the Word of God. False religion is endorsing anyone to be in God's army. I am thankful to report that God's army is still a select group. The first qualification is: we must be accepted. How do we know we are accepted? When Christ chooses us. According to the authority of His Word, He doesn't accept anyone who does not want to live righteous, holy, and godly.
Regardless of the popularity of false religion, what our best friend may say, how nice they may be to us on the job, how loving they may be in the neighborhood, if they are not living holy, if they are not godly, they are not in God's army.
Isaiah 4:1 says, "And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach." In other words, we acknowledge that we are eating our own doctrines and wearing our own righteousness, but we still want everyone to think that we are marching in the name of the Lord; we wouldn't have too many people follow us if we said that we were marching in the name of the devil.
Let's Say "Amen" to God's Will
The truth of the matter is this: anyone who is not living righteously, holy, and godly is not on the Lords' side. They are on the devil's side. For acceptance into the Lord's army, there needs to be a heart that says "Amen" to God's will. It has to say "Amen" before we can ever be saved. We have to continue to say "Amen" in our heart in order to stay saved.
In John 6:34 when Christ was preaching, they said, "...Lord, evermore give us this bread." Christ continued to give them more light and understanding. What did some of His disciples say in verse 60, "...This is an hard saying; who can hear it?" Verse 66 says, "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." In order to stay a soldier in the Lord's army, we need to take God's Word as the final authority. It is the authority. The heart that said "Amen" to His will when they were saved needs to keep a fresh "Amen" right down inside.
Let's Not Become Entangled
2 Timothy 2:4 says, "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier." We need to be accepted by God, chosen by God. The second thing we need to do in order to qualify for the Lord's army is to separate ourselves. The Scripture says that "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life..." A person who is not entangled, is a person who is separated. It is a person who is not bound. It is a person who is free. It's someone who is not dictated by the standards of this world. They are not dictated by how false religion looks at things. It is someone who stands alone. It's someone who is not entangled by the affairs of this life.
Paul said, "No man [No soldier who is really a good soldier] entangleth himself with the affairs of this life..." The affairs---that takes in everyday things. What do we mean being entangled? Being entangled is when we are all wrapped up and can't get loose. What could we be wrapped with? We can be wrapped with our job, our house, our daily activities.
Paul said, "No man that warreth..." What is he saying? He is free to do battle for the Lord every day of the week, whenever God calls. He's separated---free. We can get all wrapped up in our wife. She can get all wrapped up in us. What do we mean? We can get so wrapped up in those things that are everyday that we are not free to pray and work for God. That's taking more people than what we want to acknowledge. Just the everyday things as in Noah's day: they build, they plant, they do this, they do that. Everyday things---they get all entangled with them where they are not free to work for God. The reason more are not getting help is because they aren't asking for it. Do you know why a lot of them are not asking for it? They are entangled in the affairs of this life.
The devil has this world on a fast track. We can shop, work and do almost anything we want "twenty-four" hours a day. It used to be when Sunday was a day that one hardly did anything, but the devil has got in there. Sunday is just like any other day as far as the world is concerned. They do everything on Sunday that they do every other day. People are getting all entangled in this, and we wonder why they're not at camp meeting and in the services. The truth is, they're all wrapped up in just everyday things, and it has a grip on them and they can't free themselves to fight for God. A good soldier is one who separates himself for the call of duty.
Lazy and Lukewarm
It's a lazy age. People would rather do nothing than do something. They just want to sit down and do nothing. We're living in day when people don't want to get involved with God, but they get entangled with everything else. May God deliver us from that! Are we going to be a good soldier? We're going to have to be separated. We may say, "I don't sin any more." It goes deeper than that. We must be separated from the affairs of this life.
What do we mean separated? Not that we quit our job. When we say being entangled with the affairs of this life, we're dealing with something that can get very close to us---everyday occurrences that before we know it, have a stranglehold on us. We don't know it, but every day we just get a little more wrapped up in it, and the next day a little more.
Many are lukewarm. What causes them to be lukewarm? They are wrapped up in easy living. They don't want things too hot; they don't have need of anything. The first thing we need to war against are those things that are everyday occurrences, letting our jobs take priority. I don't mean we can't work. I mean, let's not let our work get us to the place where we can't serve God. What do we mean serve God? I don't mean just attend the services. That's not serving god. Serving God is when we're doing something FOR God, when we're contributing to the cause of God, when we can be counted on to be active in the work of God.
If we get all entangled in the affairs of this life, our war is over. We've been captured. "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life..." We need to be separated. Let's separate ourselves from anything or anyone that entangles us. That's the way Christ preached it. Jesus said in Luke 14:26, "If any man come to me, and hate [love less] not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." We need to be careful that we don't get wrapped up in things that are close to us and become ineffective in the things of God.
Guard God's Standard
We need to make sure we are separated from the standards of this world. We need to make sure we don't get entangled with that. We need to be careful what we watch and what we listen to. It is so easy to "get entangled". We think we can always let it go whenever we want, but instead of our having a grip on it, it has a grip on us.
The qualifications of a good soldier are: first, he must be accepted, and secondly, he must be separated. Just ask anyone who has been in combat...what they had on their mind when the enemy was firing at them. It was making sure they didn't get killed, that they did their very best to guard the post that they were supposed to guard. They didn't get entangled with what this fellow said or that fellow said. They were just concerned about how they were protected from the enemy, and that's exactly how we need to be. A good soldier is one who is consecrated to the one thought that may please Him who has chosen him to be a soldier. Their very motive is that they might please the Captain.
When the battle gets hot and some fall, they don't say, "I'm going to turn and run. I'm going to quit because So-and-so quit. I'm going to give up." They are consecrated to the very cause---"I don't care how many fall, I'm going to stay here because I'm not fighting just for me. I want to please Him Who has called me. I want to make sure He is satisfied with my service."
Let's Be Consecrated
A consecrated person is not a self-pleaser. A consecrated person is one who gives himself wholly for the cause he is involved in. Whether there are three thousand in the midst or three, he won't try to put on an act, but will fight. Not to show everyone else, but he has consecrated to the cause of God because he wants to please Him Who has chosen him. A consecrated person is a faithful, consistent, and content person.
A soldier of God is one who is chosen, concerned, content, and consecrated. A consecrated person is someone you can count on. A consecrated person is someone whether the battle is soft or hard he is still there. A consecrated person is still right there regardless of how hot the battle is or of what people say. He endures hardness as a soldier for Jesus. A consecrated person has emptied out himself and has made no allowances for the flesh. A consecrated person is one who knows no limitations to what he will sacrifice for the One he dearly loves.
Romans 12:1-2 reads: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world..." Let's not let the world shape us, but be so consecrated to the cause of God that the Word of God shapes us. If we want to look more like Christ, then we need to let God's Word shape us. There are too many being conformed to this world.
We need not underestimate the tremendous impact and the influence of this world. As a result, it's moving in upon those who aren't really good soldiers in the Lord's army. That's the reason the Apostle Paul said, "Thou, therefore...be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:1).
Do We Qualify?
If we will do the things that God would have us to do, when our life comes to an end, we can have a testimony that we can have confidence in. What is a testimony that we can have confidence in? A life that God has definitely put His approval on.
The Apostle Paul brings us right to that thought. He said in 2 Timothy 4:6-8: "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight [I have continually warred. No place have I compromised. When the world set a standard, I still held the standard. I got involved. I stayed involved. I didn't just start and then stand on the side and say, 'God get them.'] I have finished my course [I didn't let up. I didn't detour. I did not sidetrack, but I have finished my course.], I have kept the faith [The cause has been the same all the way through.].
"Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day..." Every good soldier takes courage when the flag goes up, because it is a sign of victory. When we put it in the enemy's camp, it's a sign of victory. The Apostle Paul could say, because I have fought a good fight, because I have finished my course, because I have kept the faith, henceforth I can see a banner. It is a crown of righteousness, and not only for me, but for all those who will be good soldiers and war against the enemy of their souls, all those who will not get entangled in the affairs of this life and are willing to do those things with a wholeheartedness that God has called them to do.
The qualifications of a good soldier are qualifications that every one of us can attain. However, God not only sets the qualifications , but God gives the grace for us to meet them. Just as God has explicitly laid out the qualifications through His Word, the Spirit of God has let everyone know we can qualify for a soldier. We can qualify because He will provide us with all the talents, credentials, or well-being that it takes in our soul to be a good soldier.
The question is this: "Do we really want to be a good soldier, or do we just want to go along in life without having a real cause in fighting for God's army?" The most important thing in every one of our hearts and minds ought to be, "I want to be a good soldier for Jesus Christ." We can be if we want to, but we must meet the qualifications.