Fight the good fight of the faith

by Mike Ratliff

12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12 ESV)

What is the good fight of faith and why is it necessary? The main problem is the condition of what is called The Church in our time. It is decidedly lacking in spiritual maturity and, of course, much of it is not genuine. Christian spiritual maturity is a compound of wisdom, goodwill, resilience, and creativity. On the other hand, since this is lacking big time in the visible Church, what we have in that part that claims to be “evangelical,” is man-centered, manipulative, success-oriented, self-indulgent, and sentimental. It is 3,000 miles wide and half an inch deep. It is lead by many false, manipulative men who are pushing false gospels and false doctrines while pointing people to a Jesus that is not the Jesus Christ of the Bible. Therefore, as we become more and more obedient to the Lordship of Christ, we will be called by our Lord to enter the fight as good soldiers to fight the good fight of faith. This is necessary for in this fight we become the mature disciples who bring glory to God and those who are our enemy’s seed will fill up the cup of wrath that God is preparing for them as they use deceit, lies, and all sorts of wicked things in attempts to draw those fighting the good fight into unfruitful activities where they can be silenced and shamed by injuring their consciences. In order to fight this good fight of faith we must do so according the will of God, not according to the plans and devices of men.

11 Σὺ δέ, ὦ ἄνθρωπε θεοῦ, ταῦτα φεῦγε· δίωκε δὲ δικαιοσύνην εὐσέβειαν πίστιν, ἀγάπην ὑπομονὴν πραϋπαθίαν. (1 Timothy 6:11 NA28)

11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:11 ESV)

This passage follows a dissecting by the Apostle Paul of the true nature of false teaching in the Church, what it causes, and the temptations that exist in this wicked age that can derail ministries and cause the silencing of the warriors of the truth (vv3-10). Then the Apostle gives us the proper character and motivation of true Christians, especially those in the ministry.

The words Σὺ δέ, ὦ ἄνθρωπε θεοῦ (You but, O man of God) refers to those who officially speak for God.  This would be directed to those given the spiritual gifts that are the teaching, exhorting, speaking gifts such as prophecy and teaching. All pastors, evangelists, and Bible teachers would be included in this. We are to do what? We are to ταῦτα φεῦγε (these flee) in reference to what Paul listed earlier. It is vital that we take this seriously. We cannot become slack or comfortable around the very things that cause people to become spiritually blind in their sins. The word φεῦγε describes running from or shunning in order to escape something. In v11, it is in present tense, imperative mood, and active voice. This means that this is a command to do something in the future, which involves continuous or repeated action. This is describing a way of life. The person of God should live his or her life with boundaries that they do not cross and activities they turn from and of which they never partake.

As we turn from and shun these things, we are to live our lives in a quest for godliness by pursuing (δίωκε) righteousness in all we do. Through this, we are to be marked by faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness. This exhortation covers our relationships with both God and man. Righteousness (δικαιοσύνην) means to do what is right in all of our relationships. It emphasizes our outward behavior. On the other hand, Godliness (εὐσέβειαν) refers to one’s reverence for God to the point that we take on His character by being transformed through the renewal of our minds and becoming living sacrifices who walk before His face for His glory alone.

12 ἀγωνίζου τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶνα τῆς πίστεως, ἐπιλαβοῦ τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆς, εἰς ἣν ἐκλήθης καὶ ὡμολόγησας τὴν καλὴν μολογίαν ἐνώπιον πολλῶν μαρτύρων. (1 Timothy 6:12 NA28)

12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12 ESV)

This verse tells us exactly how to accomplish the commands (flee, pursue) in v11. The verb ἀγωνίζου (fight) gives us the English word “agonize.” It was used in both military and athletic endeavors to describe the concentration, discipline, and extreme effort needed to win. In v12 this verb is also in present tense, imperative mood, and active voice so this is a command to live our lives in the only way in which we can “win the prize.” It is called fighting the good fight of faith. What is this? This is the spiritual conflict with Satan’s kingdom of darkness in which all men of God are called to partake as warriors. This is not a fight of self-aggrandizement. It is not one fought on one’s own terms or timing. This fight is “of the faith” (τῆς πίστεως). This is describing those who are in Christ standing firm and withstanding all attempts to alter the Gospel or change the focus of the Church from Christ and the glory of God to anything else.

In order for us to fight this good fight of the faith, we must take hold of (ἐπιλαβοῦ) the (τῆς) eternal (αἰωνίου) life (ζωῆς) to (εἰς) which (ἣν) you were called (ἐκλήθης). What is Paul telling us here? What does it mean to “take hold of the eternal life to which we were called?” This is an admonishment to us to get a good grip or hold on the reality of everything associated with eternal life. Why? This gives Christians the right perspective in which they must minister. Those fighting the good fight do so with heavenly, eternal perspective (Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:2). Those who are “ministering” in those churches that are “3000 miles wide and a half inch deep” have forsaken or altered the gospel. They focus on God’s love and never talk about sin and repentance. They never talk about the necessity of Penal Substitution, the atonement accomplished by Christ on the Cross. Their focus is everywhere but where it should be. The genuine Christian must stand against this as a good warrior. Those with this genuine faith were effectually called (ἐκλήθης) by God’s sovereign call.

Why is the fighting the good fight necessary? When we see what it really is then we know that God knew all along that The Church would be under continual attack from the forces of darkness. These multi-manifold attacks have one goal. That is to put as many false professors in the visible Church as possible in order to confuse and discourage those in the invisible (genuine) Church. These bring dishonor on the Body of Christ and cause those who are in the world to see Christianity as nothing but hypocrisy. God is allowing this for those who truly belong to Him are called to stand up and fight the good fight. Why? This causes them to be taken through the fiery trials of sanctification and this prepares them for glory.

The pagans and atheists are easy to spot and they have absolutely no foundation on which they can stand to resist God’s truth. However, the false Christians are much more difficult to withstand and rebuke. Why? To them their Christianity or salvation comes to them because of what they have done. On the other hand, the genuine Christian knows that they are in Christ because of what He has done and that God has effectually called them. They know they are completely unworthy of it. They know that God did it all.

When confronting those who call themselves Christians who prove they are not by their lies, deceit, and heretical doctrines we must understand that they must attack the pure and precise truth from God’s Word because only a loosely held and flexible version of the Gospel and God’s truth will work for them. Why? The deeper we go into God’s Word, the more we see His sovereignty in all things and that eliminates the ability to be a Christian on ones own terms. Therefore, they respond to any attempt to be precise and clear with God’s Word with accusations of arrogance claiming we are misinterpreting the Word of God. This is only smoke and noise in order to confuse and hamper God’s truth from being manifest both internally and externally by the Body of Christ in all its parts.

My brethren, we must fight this good fight of faith. The numbers are against us, but never forget that we do not collect our reward in this life, but in the next.

Soli Deo Gloria!

7 thoughts on “Fight the good fight of the faith

  1. Mike, would you go to the elders and tell them what God thinks of a government run franchise called church? Or would you just leave and stay at home? Would you tell them that a remarried elder is unfit as far as the Bible is concerned? Would you tell them that it’s hypocrisy not to allow women speak, but sing uninspired hymns written by women? (BTW I am against women speaking). Would you tell them that “God is not God of confusion but of order” but there is much confusion when a preacher preaches on a word or phrase that is in his Bible but not in mine or vice versa? Is this a spiritual fight or sowing seeds of discord among “brethren?” Or would you just stay at home and worship The Lord to the best of your abilities? I guess, I need help to apply this teaching.


  2. Agree, none of those things are allowed by the elders in our church. Women speak only in a non-teaching role, etc. I would not be part of church that allowed any of that.


  3. One can exhale in RELIEF that one IS reading and comprehending the Bible correctly in contrast to the popular, current ” feel good christian” propaganda. What a blessing this post is. AS for women teaching men… cut it, slice it, dissect it any way one wants…HE said No. End of story and it is not “up for interpretation” as too many like to toss when this subject comes up. As a women, I have enough on my head; its a RELIEF and a BLESSING not to have my husbands spiritual (or lack of) relationship with God heaped on it too. GOD is Good!


  4. Very, very good post! The truth of God’s Word is being twisted to suit what those with itchy ears want. I see it so very much. I am a disabled grandma who doesn’t drive and I live alone. The community I live in offers but one local Christian non-denominational church. I had to leave because of a mixed conglomeration of several post-modern theologies.
    I praise God for His Word, the Holy Spirit’s discernment and a local radio station that stands on the Word for everything they program–even when it’s not the popular thing to do.
    I do have fellowship with three of my 7 children who walk with the Lord and are fighting strong.
    Be blessed Mike.


  5. I feel for you, Stephanie. Here in my country, I’ve grown up with, and, as a believer the last almost five years, seen such a spiritual barrenness that I feel Ichabod is written over England. I’m also alone, no church, living with a situation there is no help for and fighting to stay spiritually alive.

    Which is why I read blogs like yours, Mike! Keep ’em coming, long as you are able, as we spiritually deprived need to thrive somewhere. Where would we be without the written word of God, and the teaching of it?


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