Christian Soldiers

WHEN the Lord used the illustration of the life and service of a soldier to picture certain truths concerning the Christian life, he did not imply that a Christian should use carnal weapons, nor smite and destroy his fellow man. There are, however, certain characteristics of a soldier which aptly illustrate the necessary qualifications of the Christian life.

It is true that the Christian must strive in so far as possible to live peaceably with all men. He is not to be a promoter of strife, nor of ill will. His words and actions should be of such a character as to promote peace, especially among peace-loving and righteous people. However, his efforts will be misunderstood, and because of this he will find himself at enmity with the world.

The Christian will have certain enemies whom he is not to fight; rather, he is to love and bless them. Thus it is clear that the soldier illustration does not show the Christian’s attitude toward individuals, especially in its use of offensive items of warfare.

There are other enemies, nevertheless, which the Christian can and should engage in battle. One of these is his own fallen nature. Here is an enemy which should be kept down, and under control. The Christian will find that in order to do this he must be continually on the alert. Indeed, it is a lifetime task for the new creature to successfully give battle to the old nature, which ever insists upon rising up and interfering with the doing of the Heavenly Father’s will.

Closely allied with the flesh as an enemy is the spirit of the world. We are to fight against the selfish spirit of the world—its lust, its insane desire for pleasure, its intolerance, and all of its other ugly manifestations of ungodliness. Care needs to be exercised, of course, in fighting the spirit of the world and of the worldly, that we do not find ourselves fighting the individuals who possess this spirit. These we are to love and to help, not by agreeing with them and working with them, but by precept and by example endeavoring to show them the better way of the Lord.

We have a third enemy—from some standpoints the most formidable of them all—which is Satan, the Devil. He is the commander of our other enemies. He actually employs the world and its spirit and subtly works through the fallen tendencies of our flesh to ensnare and overcome us. Against this powerful and ingenious Adversary we must give strenuous and determined battle day by day. Only through the grace furnished by the Lord can we ever hope to gain the victory over such an enemy—yea, we might say, over such a powerful combination of enemies as is arrayed against us as Christians in this unholy trinity of the world, the flesh, and the Devil.

Characteristics of Faithful Soldiers

There are certain characteristics of a well-trained soldier which the Christian can emulate with profit. The true soldier does not debate his cause. He is rightly supposed to have settled its justice and righteousness before he enlisted as a soldier. Just so with the Christian. He, too, should have counted the cost, and have determined that the course upon which he is entering is a proper one; one that is worthy of giving up all that he has and the exercise of all the energy he can muster. The terms of his enlistment require that he surrender his own will to do the divine will, hence to debate the wisdom of anything the divine captain exacts from him is to manifest a quality of unfaithfulness as a soldier.

Furthermore, a soldier expects to make sacrifices. He does not expect to enjoy the comforts of home and other pleasures of life that are customarily enjoyed by those who are not soldiers. The Christian presents himself a living sacrifice to God, and from that moment onward he has no right to complain of any hardships which may be imposed upon him by the carrying out of his consecrated privileges. The true soldierly spirit in him causes him to exclaim:

“I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,
I’ll say what you want me to say.
I’ll do what you want me to do, dear Lord,
I’ll be what you want me to be.”

Another characteristic of a faithful soldier is the spirit of obedience which is represented in his willingness to use the weapons which are given to him. This is most important with the Christian soldier. The Christian’s main weapon of offensive warfare is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. No matter how precarious a situation may be, no matter how threatening his enemies, he is not supposed to resort to carnal weapons of any kind, but to rely wholly upon the sword of the Spirit.—Eph. 6:13-17

The Word of God is also one of the defensive weapons to be faithfully used by the Christian. The truth of God’s Word is to him an armor of righteousness. It is an armor which protects the head as well as the heart. Paul tells us of the “breastplate of righteousness.” He speaks also of the “shield of faith;” and of the “sandals of peace,” which, he declares, are a preparation of the Gospel of peace. Properly analyzed, it will be found that each of these pieces of the Christian’s armor from one standpoint or another represents the import and value of the truth of God’s Word in the Christian life.

The true spirit of Christian loyalty, therefore, demands that we give all diligence to put on the whole armor of God, and use it in the way that God intended. This means that we will endeavor to have on the helmet of salvation; that is, in so far as possible we will endeavor to obtain and maintain a clear knowledge of God’s plan as outlined in his Word, and particularly the manner in which that plan is related to his will for us as individual soldiers of the cross. But we will not stop with the helmet, but rather will endeavor to make a personal application of the truth, accepting and applying it by faith so that it will become to us indeed a shield of faith and a breastplate of righteousness.

Nor will we forget the girdle of truth, which is that part of the armor which represents the importance of serving the truth. If we are to experience the full protecting value of the truth in our lives we cannot hold it in selfishness. Hence it is only from the standpoint of love, and the blessings it will bring to other hearts as we endeavor to make it known to them, that we can experience the full advantage of the protecting value of the Word of God.

Another thing a loyal soldier will not do is to fraternize with the enemy. So the Christian soldier is advised that he must not love the world, neither the things of the world. Nor can a Christian afford to be sympathetic with that enemy which is his flesh. And above all, the loyal Christian will ever be on the alert to resist every effort on the part of the Devil to become friendly with him.

In other words, the true Christian and soldier of the cross will not compromise his standing in the Lord’s army by in any way entering into fellowship or friendship either with Satan and his many schemes, or with the world and its spirit of selfishness. Nor will he yield to the fallen and depraved desires of his own nature, which is reckoned dead. He will employ the various weapons provided for him through the Word of God, both for defensive and offensive purposes, in order to give effective battle against all the forces that are opposed to him, not for a moment yielding either to their show of strength or to the cunning of their flattery.

Finally, the true soldier will be obedient to superior officers. Jesus is the Captain of our salvation, the Scriptures tell us, and surely no Christian can be said to be a good soldier if in any way he is disobedient to his Captain. To be truly obedient we should be on the alert to hear and to obey every wish of our Captain, irrespective of the cost or hardship involved. Indeed, we will expect hardship because, as the apostle tells us, even Jesus, who is our Captain, was made perfect through suffering. As soldiers in his army we cannot expect to be above him. He suffered, and we will suffer with him, joyfully enduring hardship as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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