WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
JULY 17TH, 2021
TOPIC: THE CHURCH AS THE ARMY OF CHRIST
BY T. O. BANSO
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 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. 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” (Ephesians 6:11–13 New King James Version).
One of the metaphors for the Christian in the New Testament is a soldier. In Philippians 2:25, Paul described Epaphroditus as his brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier. Similarly, he referred to another believer, Archippus, as a fellow soldier of the cross (Philemon 2).
Writing to Timothy, Paul said, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3-4 New King James Version).
A Christian is a soldier and every soldier belongs to an army. The church is the army of Christ and the believers are the soldiers. Whether the church understands this and operates like an army is a different matter. If an army has the mentality of civilians, there is a problem. Such an army will be a disaster.
Nevertheless, Christians are not fighting physical battles like the armies of nations but spiritual wars. Also, the weapons of a spiritual army are not the same as those of the armies fighting physical wars. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6 New King James Version).
Soldiers have a way of life, values, and principles that are different from that of civilians. They are well-trained and equipped. Otherwise, an army cannot be regarded as professional. That’s why as we read earlier in 2 Timothy 2:3-4, no one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. Comparing the Christian to a soldier, therefore, Paul said he should endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
The church as an army will not be able to win its wars unless it operates like an army. The professional army operates as a team. Soldiers work together as a team. There is no rivalry among them. There is no competition but cooperation. They risk their lives for their nation and for each other. They have each other’s back. They fight for each other. Soldiers don’t leave their colleagues behind even those who die in battles.
The professional army subordinates its interests to that of the nation. The soldiers maintain a high level of discipline, integrity, and loyalty. They are courageous, selfless, and respect others. They give their best as they serve their nation with many of them paying the ultimate price, death.
The church as an army needs to possess these ideals in fighting her spiritual wars. But do we fight as an army? Do we possess the values of the professional army? How do we fare as regards discipline, integrity, loyalty, selflessness, respect for others? Do we fight as a team? How much teamwork exists in the army of Christ, the church?
Every professional soldier belongs to a unit in the army. There are Christians today who don’t belong to any unit in the army of Christ! The professional army is well-organized into divisions, which are further divided into brigades or regiments, battalions, companies (batteries or troops), and platoons. The squads are the smallest units. No soldier stands alone; he belongs to a unit.
Every Christian soldier should belong to a unit for fellowship, service, support, etc. You won’t see one soldier fight alone. Every soldier fights in a unit. Soldiers draw strength, support, and encouragement from each other. They fight for each other. Maybe Christian soldiers have lost some battles because they fought alone, not as a team. Probably because of ignorance or lack of trust, which rarely exists in a professional army.
The church needs to fight as a team. We have a common enemy: the devil. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9 New King James Version)
The devil is our enemy. He is the one we should fight, not each other as some often do. When a soldier is wounded, fellow soldiers do everything possible to carry and take him for medical care and the army gives him the best medical treatment. If a gallant soldier pays the supreme sacrifice on the battlefield, they make every effort to recover his body for burial.
When a Christian soldier is wounded, we should do the same and not criticize him or help the devil to finish his work by killing the wounded soldier! He might have sinned, but those in the right position to help to restore him should do so and not abandon him.
Galatians 6:1-3 says, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (New King James Version).
However, the Christian soldier must be humble enough to admit he is not infallible. He should acknowledge that he needs help and respond to it “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13 New King James Version).
Dear Christian soldier, which unit do you belong to in the army of Christ? That’s how a fake soldier is identified. He may be wearing the army uniform but he must say the unit he belongs to. Every army unit has areas of specialization such as combat, engineering, intelligence, and artillery. Which one do you belong to? There is no spectator in the army. Every soldier has a duty he performs. Where are you serving in the Kingdom of God?
The church must operate truly as the army of Christ. Samson was a judge in Israel endowed with great physical strength. Sometimes, I think that, probably, he would have done greater exploits if he had raised and led an army to fight the Philistines. Judges 13:25 says the Spirit of the LORD began to move upon him at Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol. But he fought alone for the twenty years that he judged Israel. He also died alone (the only Israelite) along with the Philistines after they had captured him.
Sadly, Judges 16:31 says, “And his brothers and all his father’s household came down and took him, and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah” (New King James Version). Maybe the situation would have been different if he had raised a standing army.
Are you in the Lord’s army? Romans 13:12b says we should put on the armour of light. Ephesians 6:11–13 says, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 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. 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” (New King James Version).
The apostle Paul continued, “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (verses 14-18 New King James Version).
Also, 1 Thessalonians 5:8 says we should be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. We should contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Nevertheless, we must fight in the army Jesus Christ has enlisted in. No single Christian can win alone the war the church has to fight. Believers must fight as an army. Hebrews 10:25 says we should not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.
In Joshua 8:1-29, the Bible shows us how the Israelite army finally defeated the people of Ai as they laid ambush for them. After drawing the people of Ai from the city, those in ambush entered the city and burnt it. The Israelite soldiers who were running away turned back and their enemies were trapped between them and the other Israelites who had laid ambush earlier and gone ahead to burn the city. Through teamwork, they defeated Ai and destroyed the city despite their earlier defeat by the people of Ai.
The priority of the church as an army should not be someone’s achievement or a denomination’s accomplishment but the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Unity is important. Psalm 133:1 says how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (New King James Version). The church must fight as a team. As it is often said, “Together Everyone Achieves More” (TEAM).
Fight the good fight of faith (1Timothy 6:12a). But recognize that Christians need each other as soldiers of Christ. The body of Christ consists of many members just like the human body, and all the members need one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).
As it is in the military, there should be esprit de corps in the church, manifesting in love, solidarity, enthusiasm, cooperation, and the likes. We must endure hardship as good soldiers of Christ and not entangle ourselves with the affairs of this life so that we may please Him who enlisted us as soldiers. The church should work together to achieve her mission, especially the mission of soul-winning. Together everyone can accomplish the mission.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, grant the church the understanding that we are soldiers of Christ and to operate as an army. Enable us to have the mind and attitude of true soldiers of Christ. Help us to be loyal, courageous, disciplined, selfless, persevering, and people of integrity. Holy Spirit, help the church to work as a team for the advancement of the Kingdom of God; let us not be concerned only with what benefits each assembly or denomination.
(For over 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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