The Man of God Fights for the Faith
Compete well for the faith
What is Paul referring to when he says, “Compete well for the faith”?
“Compete well for the faith” can also be translated as “Fight the good fight of the faith.” The man of God is not only known for what he flees and pursues but also what he fights for. Paul says, “Fight the good fight of the faith.” What is he referring to? The presence of the article “the” seems to refer to the doctrines of the faith and not just belief in God. Fight literally means to “‘keep on fighting!’ It is a word from which we get our English word agonize, and it applies both to athletes and to soldiers. It describes a person straining and giving his best to win the prize or win the battle.”6 The Greek literally says, “agonize the good agony.”
There is always a pain or agony that comes with fighting a battle; however, this fight is “good” because of what we are fighting for. Without this fight, the souls of men will be lost, Christians will be led astray from God’s best, and Satan will gain victory, even if only temporarily. Satan always attacks the doctrines of Scripture. He plants lie in people’s minds. He does this because he realizes what we believe affects how we live, and therefore if he can twist or taint what we believe, it will lead to loss or destruction.
For this reason, Timothy should guard and fight for the truth, even as Paul did. In 1 Timothy, Paul contends for the faith, as he does in most of his letters—combatting false teaching. The following verses support the importance of believers fighting for the faith:
My dear friends, brothers and sisters although I have been eager to write to you about our common salvation, I now feel compelled instead to write to encourage you to contend earnestly for the faith that was once and for all entrusted to the saints.
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Jude 1:3
The history of the Christian church consists of repeated battles where the enemy introduces destructive heresies, those heresies are confronted, and the truth is clarified and proclaimed. That’s what Paul is doing in First Timothy. Many other New Testament letters have the same polemic thrust. The great church councils and creeds, while not carrying Scriptural authority, were attempts to correct false teaching and to set forth sound teaching. The Reformation consisted of godly men like Luther and Calvin combatting the corruption and false doctrine that had permeated the Roman Catholic church and setting forth the great truths of Scripture.
In addition, many of the great men of God and their battles throughout history. To persevere, we must flee worldliness; pursue godliness; and, fight the good fight of the faith.
This is not only true on the macro-level as we consider the fundamental doctrines of the faith but any deception of Satan. When counselling or ministering to others, one must identify the lies that a person believes and insert the truth of God’s Word.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says:(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Though fighting is difficult and undesired, we must hope to be faithful like Paul. At the end of his life, he declared: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Are you willing to fight the good fight of the faith?
What are some of the major attacks on “the faith” happening in the church today? What does fighting for the faith look like practically?