The Soldier of Christ

The establishment of the Christian in grace is necessary before he can be an effective soldier of Christ. God’s work for the believer must be rested in and His work in him must be unhindered before the soldier of Christ is fit to fight for Him. A child of God, doubting his sonship or engaged in spiritual struggles with himself cannot be an effective soldier of Christ. He may wear the uniform, but he is unable to take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and wield it in the might of the Lord, for as long as “I” is the burden of the soul, offensive warfare is impossible. One who is struggling with himself saying, “What I would, that do I not,” “but the evil which I would not, that I do,” is not standing in Christian liberty and is unprepared for spiritual conflict.
Moreover, if Christian liberty is known as a matter of faith through grace, there must be holy living in order to maintain spiritual conflict. A right state before God is requisite, as well as faith in our being blessed in Christ. Subjection to God and obedience to the Scriptures are necessities for true Christian warfare. We must walk with God if we are going to wage war for God. Suppose the Spirit who indwells us is striving with us because our ways are not pleasing to God, could we be truly contending for God at such a moment? Impossible. There may be a semblance of true conflict in such a case, but it will be but the semblance. Being a Christian soldier demands both that we have faith in what God has wrought for us and that we yield to His ways of working in us.
Courage
Soldiers of Christ, stir up the soul to courage! Christian courage has an impact on adversaries as nothing else does. Christian courage is the firstborn son of faith. Also, let us stir up our souls to endure hardness. Warriors do not fight upon featherbeds, nor are they stretched at ease in arm chairs; the Christian soldier must expect hardship. Moreover, he must not entangle himself with the affairs of this life, but please Him who has called him to be a soldier. Life’s duties must be honorably performed, but we are forbidden to entangle ourselves with them. There are many “indispensables,” as they are called, which are really entanglements and which a Christian, zealous for Christ, learns to discard. He cannot afford to be occupied with them during the few hours of active service he is called to on earth. Like the athlete, he lays aside every weight. Weights and entanglements are sore hindrances to Christian service. Anything that keeps the mind busy, to the exclusion of Christ’s interests, should be suspected.
The Front Line
In Christian conflict, the armed men proceed in the front; the others in the gathering make up the rear. God has always His front-rank men — men able to use the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God — men who expose themselves to Satan’s attacks.
A good soldier loves his profession, and a true Christian soldier loves Christian warfare; it is his joy, his delight, to take pleasure in hardships and weariness. He enjoys what featherbed Christians regard as self-inflicted penance, or as unnecessary trouble. Forward, ever forward, is his cry. It is no burden to him, but rather his happy service, to spend and to be spent for his Lord; it is heavenly rapture to him when sinners are made captive for Christ, when Satan-bound souls are loosed and pass from death unto life, from the power of Satan to God. Idleness and ease are a distress to the one who is driven by eternal prospects, energized by the Holy Spirit, and constrained by Christ’s love. “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” is his reply to the countless efforts to damp his ardor and to quench his zeal. Eternity, eternity, he whispers to himself, when his weary body almost resents carrying out the orders of his soul. Such a spirit marks the front-rank men. May God bring Christ’s soldiers to the front, and, especially, may the young Christian who reads this page be fired up by the prospects of eternity and be filled with holy zeal the entire period of his short life below.
Faith
Expectation is the offspring of faith; small expectations are born of small faith, but when God is before the soul, expectation of blessing exists, and results follow. We do not say immediate results are always visible, but working for God without expecting Him to bless is like sowing seed without looking for the harvest, or firing at a fortress without hoping to hit it.
An army without faith in its leaders is sure to be discomfited. Christian soldiers without faith in their Lord do not strike good blows. Alas for the pointless, aimless, self-satisfied routine which goes by the name of fighting for God! Such parade duty is not real warfare. The untutored eye may consider both very much alike; however, when men fall down wounded and cry for mercy, we know it is not the effect of mere human energy, but the work of God the Holy Spirit.
The notes of our trumpets of jubilee, like those of Israel, are few and simple: Christ is coming! Christ is coming! But they are notes of joy uttered from the heart by true souls who long for the Lord and His return. Even though there are great walls of infidelity and superstition of men of this world who boast of this world’s improvements and development, Christ is coming! Let reasoners say, Since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were. The answer of the Christian, to all the arguments of unbelief, is, with notes of love and joy, Christ is coming!
Victory
The power of Satan cannot be overcome save in divinely given strength, and whatever the zeal and the fervor of God’s saints, prayer is their constant need. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance” (Eph. 6:1818Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; (Ephesians 6:18)) is what God enjoins upon the soldier of Christ.
The shout of victory will soon be heard! The Lord will give the word, and then the defenses of evil will fall before Him. When men shall say, “Peace and safety,” then sudden destruction will come upon them. In the prospect of that day, let every man go up straight before Him, for there is too much of following leaders and too little of simple obedience to the Lord among the soldiers of Jesus Christ. Men crowd on one another’s steps, and the nobleness of individuality is lacking, few daring to brave the sneer of being peculiar in doing each his own duty in obedience to the word of the Lord.
H. F. Witherby, adapted