Keepers of the Faith

by | 04 February 2023 | Encouragement

We do a good deal of Soft Skills and Tactics (SST) training in various parts of the world. Those we train generally serve or will serve in challenging and often high risk international locations. And yet, sometimes we end up training a somewhat different group of participants. I recall one training event that took place a few years ago in the United States. Those who attended the course were not our usual crowd, and we adapted the training to their particular area of tactical specialization.

During this training myself and two others were driving from one location to another as part of the outdoor Field Training Exercise (FTX). We were sharing with one another about how much we were enjoying this group of participants, and the training event itself. One of the trainers happens to be a very well-known individual in the tactical world. He was sitting in the front seat of the vehicle. At one point he turned to me in the back seat and said something like, “You’re enjoying this FTX, aren’t you?” My answer took even me by surprise. I said, “I love doing this, yet it’s not my passion. My passion is spiritual warfare.”

The other trainer turned around in his seat and was quiet. I’m not sure he understood what I meant, and within a few minutes our discussion ended as we left the vehicle and entered a particularly exciting portion of the FTX. I think about that moment every now and then. Had I taken the time after the training event to further explain what I meant, what would I say? How would I explain what I meant when I said that my passion was spiritual warfare?

Very recently, I was reminded again about this moment in time. Over the past few weeks my New Testament reading schedule has focused on several of the books that precede Revelation. This includes 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2, John, 3 John, and Jude. These are relatively short books. It’s as if those who penned them had a short time to express extremely critical information to those who would read them. As I read these, I noticed that one theme could be found throughout these letters to the faithful. The theme was spiritual warfare.

When I use this term I’m not doing so in a way that many do. Among some the term spiritual warfare involves hunting demons and casting out spiritual enemies from a microphone that doesn’t work during a Sunday morning service. To me, these are not biblical examples of the term. After all, Jesus did not hunt demons. Those he confronted were encountered as he shared the truth with others. As for faulty microphones, it’s often found that the issue has more to do with the quality of the equipment than with spiritual warfare.

What I meant when I said that my passion was spiritual warfare was what Peter, John, and Jude wrote about. Time and again they warned their readers that false teachings would be introduced and championed by those who neither knew God nor served him. Then and now, there would be those who for a variety of reasons would seek to twist biblical faith into something that fit their particular views or agendas.

Throughout these books, and in many other places in the New Testament, genuine followers of Christ are reminded of the need to remain faithful to Christ and his teachings. We are encouraged over and over to keep the faith, to abide in Christ and his word, and to walk in the truth. These reminders are necessary. They are perhaps even more necessary today than they were two thousand years ago. This is the case because it seems evident that as the Day when Jesus returns draws ever closer, the world will grow darker. Here’s one of many passages that speak to this reality. 2 Timothy 3:1-7 (ESV) reads:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

This is the essence of spiritual warfare in the biblical sense. Standing firm in genuine biblical faith even as the world seeks to lead us astray takes incredible focus, as well as devotion to and dependence on God. The word God has given us as our guide to faithfulness has not changed in two thousand years, yet the world has. There are likely more temptations and false teachings today than there ever were in history. It’s more important than ever that we know and love God intimately, know his word, draw near to him in prayer, be guided through God’s word by the Holy Spirit, and love others and the Church as Jesus did.

In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus said:

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

As we stand firm in biblical faith and grow ever closer to God through his word and in prayer, let’s do all we can to help others. Let’s pray that they would be among those who enter the narrow gate of which Jesus spoke. With gentleness and respect let’s be faithful to share the truth as we have opportunity to do so. More than ever, those who authentically live out the Fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5 will stand out in this world. May we do so in devotion to our Lord, and may others join us. Amen!


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