ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS

 

Whether you realize it or not, when you obey gospel and become a Christian, you also become a soldier of Christ and you are in His army. You should be ready to fight and defend the truth and continue to battle against the evil way. There are many similarities between being in the Lordís army and being in an earthly army.

 

An earthly army will usually have a banner, captain, and a temporary camping place. We also have these same three things in the Lords army. First, consider the banner. For many armies today this might be a flag or something similar, but the Christian soldier doesnít have a physical banner like a flag, instead we have a spiritual banner that holds us to a higher standard. This is how the word banner is used in the OT. For instance, Isaiah tells us what God will do for His people in:

 

Isaiah 11:12 He will set up a banner for the nations, And will assemble the outcasts of Israel, And gather together the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth.

 

God was going to set the standard for the nations and we have been given a higher standard to follow as Christians and those standards come from Godís Word. While our banner is spiritual, we can know everything about out banner by studying our Bibles.

 

It was not uncommon in war that an army would put a lot of emphasis on its banner and if someone was carrying a flag and they were killed, someone else would pick up the flag and continue marching on, and we must do the same in the Lordís army. We must have soldiers who are willing to put the banner first and are willing to pick it up and defend the banner by using Godís Word. As soon as you stop believing in Godís higher standard, you will lose your drive and your focus, and you will be defeated by the enemy.

 

Many armies will also have a Captain. This is the person that the soldiers look up to and listen to. The Captain has the experience and the knowledge of how to defeat the enemy and if you are going to be successful, you must trust your Captain and follow his orders. Well, the same thing is true in the Lordís army because Jesus is our captain as expressed in:

 

Hebrews 2:10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

 

As Christian soldiers we must put our trust in Jesus and listen to what He has to say in His Word. Jesus knows all about the devil and how do deal with him and put him in his place. So, if we want to be successful in the Lordís army, we must obey our captainís order and never doubt Him.

 

In most armies a soldier never has a place he can call his permanent home because most armies establish a temporary residence wherever they go. When it comes to fighting in the battlefield the soldiers will live out of tents, and at moments notice, they may have to pack up and move to a new location.

 

Christian soldiers are the same way because no matter where you live on this earth right now, it is nothing more than a temporary home. Even if we live in the same place for 40 years, we are just camping out because our permanent home that will last for eternity is found in heaven. This principle is taught in:

 

Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

 

Hebrews 13:14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.

 

Now that we have examined some similarities between the Lordís army and other earthly armies, letís examine some of the similarities between the duties of a soldier that belongs to an earthly army and the duties of a soldier that belongs to the Lordís army.

 

One of the duties of soldiers is for them to continue to move forward no matter what is going around them. Bullets may fly and things may blow up, but they press on, so they can advance on their enemy.

 

The same thing is true for the Christian soldiers as the title of our lesson says ďOnward Christian Soldiers. We must keep moving forward in our battle against the devil and sin. We must never stop putting one foot in front of the other because if we ever do the temptations of life will start gaining power, and they may overcome us and cause us to sin.

 

I like the example that we learn from the time of Moses. Moses and the children of Israel appeared to be trapped at the edge of the river, and Pharaoh and his men were coming after them, and Moses said:

 

Exodus 14:13 "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 "The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace."

 

While God was on their side and would help them, He did not want them to just sit there and do nothing because notice what is said next:

 

Exodus 14:15 And the LORD said to Moses, "Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.16 "But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.17 "And I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen.18 "Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen."

 

Godís wanted His people to move forward and to keep on moving and that is exactly what you and I must do. We cannot allow the distractions of the world or sorrow keep up from moving forward because we have battle to win and our soul is on the line. We need have the attitude of Paul who said:

 

Philippians 3:14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind;

 

I hope will examine yourself in this area so you can see if you are moving forward spiritually. If you are not moving forward start doing so today.

 

Another important duty of a soldier is to try and enlist as many other soldiers as you can because the more soldiers you have the more opportunities you will have to advance on your enemy. In fact, sometimes the best recruits may come from your enemyís side.

 

We can certainly see this when it comes to Christianity because all of our soldiers that we enlist comes from the enemies side in that all accountable people are sinners until they become Christians soldiers. I canít think of better example than Saul of Tarsus, but his case was a little different because he thought he was a soldier for God and he thought his battle against the Christians was the right thing to do, but of course it was not, which is why he said later,

 

Acts 26:9 "Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.10 "This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.11 "And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

 

Philippians 3:7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

 

At first, Saul was doing the work of the devil when he thought he was doing the work of God, but once he was enlisted into the Lordís army, he took his great zeal he used to fight against Godís people and started fighting back at the enemy, and he became one of the hardest working apostles for the Lord.

 

So, it is our Christian duty to enlist as many people as we can in the Lordís army from our enemyís side because not only does it add numerically to the Lordís army, you may be the person that enlist a man like Saul who has the potential to make a huge difference in our battle against the evil way. But the question becomes, are you fulfilling your duty as Christian soldier in this area by inviting people to church or by telling people about Jesus? If not, I hope you will start today.

 

Another important duty of a soldier is to obey what they are told. If they are told to climb a mountain and dig a 15 ft deep hole with their shovel, they must obey without question. If a soldier fails to obey orders, many times it can cost others their lives.

 

The same thing is important for the Christians soldier, we must obey our Lordís commands because our soul is on the line and we donít want to lose it to our enemy.

 

Hebrews 5:8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

 

The Hebrew writer makes it clear. If we want to have salvation, then we must obey the author of salvation, which is Jesus. He is not asking us to do anything that He would not do. He obeyed the Father perfectly while He lived on the earth and He wants us to strive to do the same. Sometimes we may find if difficult to obey Godís Word, divorce and remarriage, but if we want the faithful soldiers of Christ, we must obey his commands no matter how hard it may be and no matter what personal sacrifices we have to make.

 

The apostles are great examples of this because it would have been easy for them to be silent and not speak about Jesus in public like the Sanhedrin council wanted them to, but they wanted to put God first no matter what the cost, and when they were asked why they disobeyed the orders of the Sanhedrin council they said:

 

Acts 5:29 We ought to obey God rather than men.

 

What kind of soldier have you been in this area? Have been obedient even when it hurts to do the right thing, or have you found yourself doubting and being disobedient? If you have been doubting and have been disobedient, I hope you will realize that Godís wisdom surpasses all understanding and that we must trust in His judgment no matter what the situation because He is right and we are wrong and He wants the best for us. If we continue to be disobedient, we are going to find ourselves fighting on the wrong side and we will lose the battle and our soul to the devil.

 

Another duty of a solider is to endure hardship. When soldiers are fighting for their country sometimes they have endure extreme weather conditions, exhaustion, and hunger. Some of them press on even though they have been injured because they are willing to endure so their country might win.

 

Christian soldiers should be willing to do the same. As Paul said:

 

2 Timothy 2:3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.

 

When you live the Christian life there are going to be times when you have to be willing to endure and fight the good fight of faith. The ole devil wants you give up and yield to your temptations, but you must not listen to him, and you must not listen to the world. Instead, you should focus your attention on being pleasing to your captain Jesus Christ. As James says:

 

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

 

Another area we must endure and contend with is our past failures. Again the devil would love it if you start thinking about your past failures because if you start dwelling on the past, you will not move forward, which is why Paul said:

 

Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 

How about you, are you willing to endure the hardships of life for the sake of your soul? Are you willing do what it takes so that you can receive the crown of life that God offers every faithful Christian in heaven? If you havenít been enduring, then the devil has you right where he wants you, so I hope that you will start enduring today.

 

Another duty of a soldier is to be strong and courageous. When men and women train to be soldiers in the army they have to go through rigorous training, so they will have the strength to press on and the army does everything they can to instill courage in their soldiers because when strength and courage are combined you will have a solider that will give his all for his country.

 

Christian soldiers are the same. We should all be training and working so that we can be strong and courageous spiritually. As Paul said:

 

 

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

 

The stronger we become spiritual in handling Godís Word the more courageous we will be. Godís Word is called the sword of the spirit, but if we donít train with that sword and learn how to use it, we might as well go to battle with a butter knife. We must not neglect studying Godís Word, and we must stop being cowards when it comes to telling people about Jesus and what His Word says. We should always do our best to aim for peopleís hearts so it might be pricked by the truth. We need to take the advice God gave Joshua in:

 

Joshua 1:7 "Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.

 

As soldiers in the Lordís army, we must learn to be strong and courageous for the Lord by keeping His commands and not turning to the left or the right, and we need to say:

 

Hebrews 13:6 The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

 

If you are struggling in this area of your life, pray to God for strength and courage and immerse yourself in the Word of God, and I promise you that you will become strong and courageous for the Lord.

 

Another duty of a soldier is to be alert. If you are not paying attention, your enemy can sneak up on you and destroy you.

 

The same thing is true for a Christian soldier. If you keep you head buried in the sand and you only look up long enough to eat and work, you are making yourself weak, and you are not helping the kingdom of God. When we fail to listen to what is going on around us and we choose to stay ignorant, sin can sneak in the back door of our lives and also into the church. Jesus gives us some good advice, He says:

 

Mark 14:38 "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

 

As good soldiers, we must pay attention to our surroundings and renew our strength by praying to God. As Paul said,

 

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.

 

Not only do we need remain alert for ourselves, we need to remain alert for our congregation because when Christians stop paying attention false doctrines can enter the church. You must understand that false teachings donít happen overnight it is a gradual process that flies under the radar. Notice how Paul points this out to the Ephesian elders in:

 

Acts 20:28 "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.29 "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.30 "Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.31 "Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.

 

If you have not been paying attention to your life or what is going on around you, start paying attention because if you donít it could lead you to sin, and corruption could enter church without you even knowing it.

 

I want to look at one last duty of a soldier and that is a soldier must be a positive influence on his fellow soldiers because if he is scared and full of doubt, he can pass his doubt and fear to the other soldiers. But if he is confident and courageous, he can pass that on to his fellow soldiers. Donít ever underestimate the influence you have on others.

 

The same thing is true when it comes to the Lordís army. We must encourage one another and build each other up because when we do we make each other stronger and more confident in the Lord. However, if someone starts sowing discord or starts bringing people down, it will weaken the Lordís army and the Lord cannot use soldiers that have lost their trust in God or who are entangled in useless arguments.

 

If a person does start sowing discord or starts causing problems they need to be dealt with because just like one rotten apple can make a whole barrel full of apples turn rotten so can a Christians soldier who has turned negative. Left alone, they can influence the whole congregation and bring the work of the church to a halt. Usually a person that does something like this has some sin in their life and because they donít want to deal with it they want to bring everyone else down to their level. As the writer of proverbs says:

 

Proverbs 6:14 Perversity is in his heart, He devises evil continually, He sows discord.

 

So, as a Christian soldier always do your best to be a positive influence on your fellow soldiers in Christ and donít ever allow a fellow soldier to sow discord for very long or else he or she could divide the church or negatively influence the other soldiers in Christ, which would bring the work of the church to a halt.

 

As we have learned in this lesson there are many similarities between being in the regular army and the Lordís army. Of course being in the Lordís army is far greater because we are fighting for God Almighty and for the salvation of our souls. I hope if you have been struggling with any of these things I have covered today that you will make the effort to make the necessary changes in your life so that you can be a faithful Christian Soldier for the Lord. I want to end my lesson with the words of Paul in:

 

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints