Ephesians 6:10-11; How to fight the good fight / stand firm.
Sunday April 10,2022
So, we will see in these passages that reveal the “fight” that it is very much in harmony with standing firm.
But flee from these things [false doctrines, speculations, the contention they cause, and the love of money], you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which He will bring about at the proper time — He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords; 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.
This, and many other passages, clearly reveal to us the means by which we fight or stand and the weapons that we use. The example is always Jesus Christ and His victory over sin and death are always the means and motivation for our fighting.
What is Timothy to pursue, take hold of, keep, wait for?
Nothing in the passage seems to tell Timothy to go and get and destroy the enemy. He is to pursue something, and it is not his enemy, but righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. He is not to grab the devil by the throat and bind him somehow, but he is to take hold of something – eternal life to which he was called by the grace of God as are all believers. Timothy is not to keep evil and sin out of the world, but he is to keep something – the commandment, and with purity. He is not to wait for his own enemies to repent and apologize, or die at his feet, but he is to wait for something – the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Fight the good fight is aggressive in taking hold of eternal life (spiritual life) within and it is passive in resisting and standing against sin and evil.
But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
9 Make every effort to come to me soon; 10 for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service. 12 But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. 13 When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds [fighting the good fight is leaving others in the hands of the Lord]. 15 Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching. 16 At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me, in order that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was delivered out of the lion's mouth. 18 The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
“fight” – agonizomai = to contend in the public games, to contend perseveringly against opposition and temptation.
It is important to understand how the NT uses the word “fight” in our translations and normalize that with the word “stand.” These words encompass the same truth. The believer fights so as to destroy lies and false doctrines with the truth, and that with gentleness. The believer puts on the full armor of God so that he is able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil, and so the believer’s faith and confidence in the truth is not knocked over.
In a first-century battle line where one phalanx stood against another, standing firm was a huge part of success, but if both sides only did that, nothing would be accomplished; it would always be a tie. One line had to fight and break through, or out-flank, or push back the other line in order to gain victory. So, we should understand clearly what we are to do under God’s will.
We could study the committed pacifist Christian groups and contrast them with the very aggressive Christian groups, and although it would be interesting, but I don’t think now is the time for it. I think it is important to know that throughout church history, some groups have been extraordinarily passive and others as far over to the other side of the spectrum. The lessons of the past are to interpret the Scriptures literally and to be careful to only exegete, receive only what the Scripture says, and not to eisegete, add into the Scripture our own ideas.
Agonizomai – the task of faith in persevering amid temptation and opposition. To take pains, to wrestle as in a prize contest, straining every nerve to the uttermost towards the goal [Cremer].
It sounds a lot like standing, and it is. By also using the words “fight the good fight,” God is showing us that there is also a conquering as well as a standing, but it is not conquering the foe or enemy, Christ did that already.
The goal or prize is to have a soul/heart in the condition of Christ; strong, confident, joyful, loving, compassionate, righteous, just, forgiving, truthful, faithful, etc. The goal is also to expose the lies for what they are and be a light to the world with the gospel of peace.
It is conquering self for putting on the new self and taking off the old self. It is conquering the flesh and the world through the Spirit and truth by faith and faithfulness and obedience and love. If it makes sense, we are aggressively gentle, humble, meek, gracious, and loving. We are aggressively overcoming our inner selves through the Holy Spirit and the truth.
Uses of agonizomai (Luk 13:24; 1Co 9:25; Col 1:29; 4:12; 1Ti 4:10).
Let’s look how agonizomai (struggle, fight) fits into the main theme in each passage. We find in these passages that we have to fight to fulfill our ministry, fight for our effective prayer life, fight to remain well-devoted to God, fight to serve others, and fight to finish our own spiritual growth. The obvious lesson is that these wonderful things do not just come naturally. If we do not strive, remain alert, increase our knowledge and understanding, pursue them with vigor, they simply will not become a reality in our lives. In this world there is everything against us and only a few things for us. However, of the things that are for us (this includes some people and things), the one who is constant and overwhelming is God. My point is that there are many small things against us and one infinite One for us. So the eyes of our heart must be focused.
1Co 9:25, Fight to gain the victory of spiritual adulthood, conformity to the image of Christ.
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.
The one who “fights” in the games exercises self-control.
Col 1:29, Fight to fulfill your ministry.
And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
Remember, it’s not people who are ultimately going to judge your good and bad works. Jesus is going to do it (2Co 5:10). We must have as our ambition to be pleasing to Him. It is easy to get into a rut and ignore a great deal of our ministry, which is the body of works that God has predestined and called us to do, and it’s easy to justify that with various excuses and find the support of others for them. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2Co 5:10).
Col 4:12, Fight to have an effective prayer life.
Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.
We are going to do a study on prayer at the end of our passage in Eph 6:10-20. Prayer is such an important aspect of our lives and our fulfilled experience of walking with God.
1Ti 4:10, Fight to be and remain well-devoted (godly) to God.
On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. 10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.
And 1Ti 6:12; 2Ti 4:7 “fight (agonizomai) the good fight” we have already looked at.
The noun “fight” is agon, and it is also used in several places that help us to understand our subject. It means to be in a contest or conflict, and the Bible tells us that whether we like it or not, we are in a fight. “Don’t be surprised by the fiery ordeal among you that has come upon you for your testing” (1Pe 4:12).
“Fight the good fight [agon]:” agon – contest, conflict.
The noun agon is used in these two as “the [good] fight.” Its origin is interesting. In classical Greek it referred to the gathering that met to watch the games and eventually evolved to mean the place (arena or stadium) and the spectators, and eventually to describe the participants in the games who contested with one another. The meaning of the noun became “struggle.”
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.
Which of these words is the translation of agon? Hint: Remember it in the background of the Greek games.
“race” – argon = fight, conflict, and here a direct reference to the games including the discipline (lay aside), endurance, and focus (fixing our eyes) that an athlete needs for victory.
The victory in this race is tied to endurance, discipline, and focus. The focus of our eyes cannot be upon ourselves, or others in the way of comparing or judging. We must have our eyes upon Him, which demands a daily alertness and prayer (in my opinion) that keeps the eyes of our heart looking at the right place.