On occasion, the apostle Paul used the imagery of warfare to depict the Christian life. He reminded the Corinthians that though it is not a carnal war, nevertheless we do engage in warfare, spiritual warfare against spiritual powers (II Cor. 10:3,4). At the close of his life Paul would say he had fought a good fight (II Tim. 4:7). He warned us to put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:16). And when he wrote to his friend and young gospel preacher, Timothy, he warned him to war a good warfare (I Tim. 1:18) and to fight the good fight of faith (I Tim. 6:12). Furthermore, he urged him to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ (II Tim. 2:1-4). With this imagery in mind, let us observe that good soldiers keep in S. T. E. P.
First, good soldiers of Christ are Strong. Paul admonished Timothy to be Strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (II Tim. 2:1). To be strong, we must exercise ourselves unto godliness (I Tim. 4:7,8). We do this as we study to show ourselves approved unto God (II Tim. 2:15). Also, we grow in strength when we go through trials (II Cor. 12:10), as the trying of our faith works patience (James 1:2,3). Remembering that God does not want us to have the spirit of fear but of power (II Tim. 1:7) because, as we grow in grace and knowledge, we know that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (II Pet. 3:18; Phil. 4:13).
In the second place, good soldiers of Christ Teach others (II Tim. 2:2). This is the plain where battles are fought and won in the Christian’s life. It is the human mind and heart which are affected in this battle. The sword of the Spirit, the word of God, is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of he heart (Heb. 4:12). When the gospel is heard honestly, it affects the heart (Luke 8:15; Acts 2:37). Our mission is to teach all nations the gospel of Christ (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16).
In the third place, good soldiers Endure hardness (II Tim. 2:3). In all war, combat conditions are never pleasant. This is true of spiritual warfare, as well. So Paul informs us that all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (II Tim. 3:12). If we are not suffering persecution, then we are not living godly in Christ. Jesus said beware when all men speak well of you (Luke 6:26). Peter warned first century Christians that they would face severe, fiery trials but that they should not think of that as being strange or anomalous to the Christian condition (I Pet. 4:12).
Finally, Paul said that a good soldier Pleases Him who called him to be a soldier (II Tim. 2:4). A soldier is not a free agent. He is not only a soldier but a servant and amenable to his Master’s will. “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (I Thess. 2:4). “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him” (II Cor. 5:9). Therefore, we cannot afford to get entangled in the affairs of this life lest the cares, the riches, and the pleasures of this life choke the life out of us (Luke 8:14).
A good soldier, then, keeps in S. T. E. P. He is Strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus. He Teaches the gospel to those with whom he comes in contact. He Endures the hardships that living the Christian life will bring. And he Pleases the Lord as he strives to carry out His commands.
Onward Christian soldier; keep in S. T. E. P.
Eric L. Padgett