Carson Wallace - Fighting a good fight

I feel like that one brother who said, when the speaking list came out, that he was glad that he didn't have to speak first but when it came to the last meeting he said that he wished he had spoken first! I feel much the same way but so thankful for all the help that we have received in this convention. 

My thoughts kept going to what Paul wrote to Timothy when he said, "I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight and I have finished my course and I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day and not to me only but to all them that love His appearing."

Paul, when he was writing to this younger worker, he himself had come to the point that he felt that life was pretty well over. He was able to say, as he looked out into the future, that there is a crown waiting. Not for him only but for all those that love His appearing. We are glad that we can look to a great future. There may be things that we have to face between here and the crown but if we keep true to God, there is no question but that same crown that Paul was talking about, is going to be ours. He said, "I have fought a good fight ." As we know, he wasn't talking about a physical fight but he was talking about the fight that he had within himself, and we all have it. Paul, when he was writing to the Corinthians, he talked a little bit about the fight that we have to fight. He said that we are not using carnal weapons, like a spear or a gun or those kind of things, because that's not the kind of fight that we're fighting. We are fighting principalities and powers, things that try to get victory over us. Those things are prompted by the enemy of our souls and don't forget that the enemy of our soul is intent on bringing us down, making us fall.

I thought of a man in the Old Testament and I really love reading about him. His name is Naboth and you probably know him well. He had to deal with some wickedness that we probably would never have to deal with. He was dealing with a king who had lots of power. He was dealing with a man that worshipped Baal. He worshipped a false god and this king Ahab; he was married to a wicked woman, too. He came to Naboth one day and he said, “Now look, your property is right against my house and I would like to have it for a garden of herbs. I would like to plant some herbs there, something that would be good for me and good for my family and good for the kingdom.” He made it sound like it was Naboth's choice, what he was going to do. “I'll give you another piece of property even better than this one, or, if you want,” he said. “If you want, I'll give you the worth of it in money.” Now doesn't that sound like the enemy of our soul? He puts us in the position where we feel that we have to choose, when all the while it was his choice. I love what Naboth said. He said, “No, I can't do that.” He said, “God forbid me to give my inheritance to you.” When did God tell him that? Do you think God sent an angel that said, “Now Naboth, God said that you are not to give your inheritance to Ahab?" No, he didn't tell Naboth that. Naboth took the word of God that he knew and he applied it to himself. That is so safe to do that, and we can do that. As we go from here we can take the word of God that's written and we can apply it to our daily lives and do you know what it's going to do? It’s going to bring victory. It's true that we have to die to ourselves and this choice that Naboth made. He had it settled.

You know, sometimes we have watched young people. We were there ourselves. We were also young, once. We were also teenagers and we went through the same thing. Well, sometimes, it is just hard to get it settled. Just what are we going to do? Are we really going to let this truth that we know, rule our lives and bring us the peace and the rest that we really want in our souls, or are we going to just let other things rob us? Let other things take away our time and distress us? We can do that, we can allow that to happen but God has promised the strength and the grace that that doesn't have to happen. We can have the rest and the peace for our soul that He wants us to get. We can have the victory that He really wants us to have and it's there for the taking, in that sense of the word.

Well, when Ahab presented this case to Naboth, you know, by and large, it would have seemed so reasonable, but Naboth understood that this was the inheritance of his fathers. That was his because someone else had died to make it his. That's how an inheritance comes, doesn't it? We don't get an inheritance until someone dies and Naboth understood that someone else died so that this could be his. We don't want to ever forget that what we have in our souls comes to us because the Lord Jesus died. We wouldn't have it otherwise and what He has promised, like Paul said. He has promised that when this life is over it comes to us because of the death of the Son of God. Because He paid the price that no one else could ever pay and it's ours, if we will allow the word of God to control us. Sometimes it's difficult, our human nature rebels against the control of someone else. Isn't that true? Certainly, but we don't want to ever feel that the control of God is unreasonable because what He has in mind for us is the riches of His eternal kingdom. He has in mind that we would live forever. He has in mind that we can have a part in the bride of Christ. He has in mind that we can have a part in that Holy City. You can read that sometime. You remember when Jesus talked to John in the Revelation and He said, “Come and I want to show you the Bride.” In the spirit, he was shown the bride of Christ. What was he shown? A city! He was shown a city. All the streets were gold. The foundation of the city was precious stones and when you read it you get the feeling, which is true, that it was all the work of God. Every stone that was in the foundation, everything that was placed, those gates made of pearl, it was just all the work of God. No man could take any credit for any of that work; it was ALL the work of God. That's how it's going to be and it's a beautiful thought that we can all have a part in that. Sometimes we hear people saying, “We know what it means but it's not really the way it is.” We've heard people saying, “If this is all there was to it, it would be well worthwhile” but that's not true. We love conventions, we love the meetings, we love our friends, the brothers and sisters. We love all that but if that's all there was to it, the Bible teaches us that we would be of all men most miserable. What we have goes beyond this life. We read about that city, that there was no need for any light in the city because God, and His Son, were the light of it. It says that there was no need that the gates were closed at night, because there was no night there. There was no night because God and His son were the light of it. We can hardly take it in and the Bible tells us that it hasn't entered into the heart of man what God has planned and kept for those that love and serve Him. That is ours, folks. That is something that can be ours if we're true to God in our daily life. Paul, when he came to the end of his days, he wasn't saying, “Oh man, I wish I had five more years, ten more years. There is just so many things I didn't get done and I meant to do.” No, he said, “I have fought a good fight, I've finished my course, I've kept the faith.” That's the fight that he was fighting, he was fighting to keep faith in his heart and the devil knew that if only he could take it away from him then his life would be total darkness, and that's the fight that we fight. But you know, it's a fight that we will end in victory every time.

I've thought about David too and that young man, when he went to see his brothers, they just despised him. That giant came out and said some things against the people of God, the armies of God. The giant was of the Philistines and this giant came out and we're going to have to face some giants. Some things in our experience that will be like a giant, but if we do what David did, it's going to lay that giant level with the ground, just like he did. That giant came out, that huge man, came out with all his armour. He was huge and the beam of his spear was huge. The shield that he had, had to be carried by somebody else, it was that big. David, he went and he carried his own shield. Where? In his heart! He went with faith and I read those verses again in Ephesians that tells us about the armour. One part of it was the shield of faith and that's what David had. When he went and that giant looked down on him, “Am I a dog that you come out to me with nothing but a sling?” David made it clear, “That's the way you see it but I'm coming to you in the name of the God of hosts. I am coming to you with all the power of heaven at my back” and soon that giant was level with the ground. David, because he had no sword, he ran and stood on that man's chest, drew out his own sword and cut off his head. That giant was put to sleep forever. He went in the power of God with faith in the word of God, faith in the plan of God, faith in the power of God and he knew there was going to be victory. He knew that.

I read that portion about Saul going to meet Amalek and God wanted him to go and meet that enemy and do him in forever, everything he had. Men, women, children, animals, everything. Do him in, he was an enemy of God and he was an enemy of God's people and God sent the prophet to tell Saul, “This is what I want.” It could have been a wonderful victory that day if he had only obeyed. You know, that's going to be our source, too. When we go out from here and we obey what God has spoken to us, placed in our hearts, there's going to be victory. It could be that your brother or sister sitting next to you won't be aware that there has been a great victory in your heart, but that IS going to bring victory, when we obey what God has revealed to us in our very own hearts. The prophet came and he told them, “This is the will of God. This is what God wants you to do.” He armed his men and he went after Amalek and there was a fight and you remember how the king saved the best sheep and cows and he brought them. Then when the prophet came, he said right off, “I have done what was asked of me to do.” The prophet then said, “Well what's the bleating of the sheep that I hear? What's that all about?” Well then he did just like we would do because he was tarred with the same human nature. He said, “The people saved the best. The people did that so that we'd have something to offer.” Then the prophet said, “No, that's not the way. You have failed and the kingdom is going to be rent from you because you have ceased from following the Lord.” Now we use that expression often, don't we? Follow the Lord, but what do we really mean? When the prophet told him, “You have ceased from following the Lord,” he said, “You've disobeyed.” We can rest assured that every time that we disobey what the Lord has laid on our hearts, then we cease following Him. We want to follow Him. We want to follow the Master and we don't want to cease following.

Jesus gave us the perfect example of how we can get the victory every time. That was when He met the devil in Matthew 4 and the devil was intent on bringing Him down. It seemed like the devil knew that this was his chance and if only he could do it now he wouldn't have to worry, and Jesus knew that too. Everything the devil said to Him, He said, “God said” or “The Word said.” We can use that same weapon. If you notice the weapons that Paul wrote to the Ephesians about, they were all defensive except one. The sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. God sends us out equipped to meet the enemy and in our hands we have His word. It's like a sword and it's not to be used on our brother or our sister. Sometimes we may tend to do that but that sword was for the enemy of the soul. We want to have it and to keep it close and we want to have it sharp so that there could be victory. God has promised the HE will give us victory, if we'll only follow Him. If we'll allow this word to rest in our hearts and keep the faith. It is a battle that is well worth fighting because, as Paul said, there is a crown of righteousness. Not only for him but for all those that love His appearing, and we do. We love the appearing of Jesus don't we? We love what we see of Jesus in others. We love the thought that someday He is coming again and we want to be ready for that day. God has given us so many things, even in this convention, that would prepare us for that day and we want our love for Him to increase so that there would be nothing to hinder when He comes again, from Him taking us back to Himself. Then we will experience forever what God has promised to those that love Him and serve Him.