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From Chris's Heart

January 2012
The Agony of Faith
by Nick Harris

In this day and age, this time of rationalism in scientific methodology, many people are finding it very difficult to believe in spiritual things, and that includes the existence of Satan. I, for one, believe that Satan does exist, and I believe what Jesus had to say about him in John 10:10. I believe that he is a thief and a liar, and his purpose is to steal, to kill, and to destroy. In addition, I believe that he wages unrelenting warfare against the people of God. I realized that some believers referred to this combat as "spiritual warfare," but I prefer to think of it as being "war in the heavenlies." But whatever we call it, it describes the ongoing struggle between light and darkness, good and evil, right and wrong, and this struggle has never been more intense than it is today.

So, what does Satan hope to achieve by these attacks? He wants to undermine the faith of those who have believed upon Christ. The fact is this: Satan knows what the apostle Paul knew, "Without faith, it is impossible to please God." So, if the evil one can manage to undermine our faith, we become easy prey for him. He can come against us and wreck our homes, destroy our marriages, devastate our finances and wreak havoc in our lives.

It is my theory that the fight we face is two fold. In the first place, there is a fight FOR our faith; and in the second place there is a fight WITH our faith. In other words, our faith is both something we believe, and a weapon with which we fight. So, let's look first at the fight for our faith, and our faith is something for which we must constantly fight. Do you remember what St. Jude wrote to the churches? He wrote this in Jude 3:

"Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."

The Greek word translated into English as contend earnestly is the verb EPOGONIZOMAI. This is a violent term and it means to struggle for,or fight for, with every ounce of strength.

However, if the fight FOR our faith is important, which it is, then the fight WITH our faith is also crucial. The problem is this: we must first develop our faith into something strong before we can fight with that faith.

Let's be honest! It is a constant struggle to believe God today. Notice, I did not say that it is a struggle to believe in God; it is not!However, it is a struggle to believe God and by this I mean to believe the word of God and to believe the promises of God. There is the struggle! The sad truth is, most of the people sitting in most church pews today believe more in the power of their circumstances to harm them than they believe in the powerof God to protect them. In other words, they see the power of their problems as being greater than the power of their God.

So, it is a never ending war. Paul makes that fact clear in three great texts, and I want to examine all three of them.

I Timothy 1:18-20 reads:

"This charge I commit to use, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, with some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of the home are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may not learn to blaspheme."

I Timothy 6:12 reads as follows:

"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life, which you were also called and had confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."

II Timothy 4:7 reads:

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race,I have kept the faith."

The word upon which we must focus in each of these versus is the word translated as "fight". It translates a most interesting Greek word, the noun AGON. Our word, "agony," comes from this Greek noun.

I can promise you now that when we fight FOR our faith, and when we fight WITH our faith, it can be an agonizing experience. This contending FOR and WITH our faith can be bloody at times. Just ask the saints of the ages. Ask those listed in Hebrews 11. All of those saints were bloodied and wounded, yet they were victorious.

I can assure you that if you take the Christian faith seriously you will find yourself fighting in all-out wars at times. I can assure you that this warfare will not be physical in nature, the real war will be spiritual in nature and this battle will produce the AGON.

The major struggle always boils down to this: will we believe what the Word of God says or will we believe what our five senses tell us? If we choose the former we will achieve a great victory. If we settle for the latter, we will spend our lives physically and spiritually defeated. Let us be found contending for the faith, with the faith.

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