Fighting the Good Fight
by Dr. Ken Matto
(2 Tim 4:7 KJV) I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
If anyone knows what a fight of faith is, it was the Apostle Paul. He not only faced physical foes but he faced a multitude of false gospels which plagued him wherever he went. He faced the false teachings of Diana at Ephesus, he faced the Judaizers at Galatia, he faced a multitude of church problems at Corinth, and he faced occultism head on at Philippi which almost cost him his life. Yet he continued to go forth and was not deterred by any of these events which were life threatening.
What was Paul’s secret to holding on to a good testimony and not compromising? The Bible is very clear on that and Paul tells us himself through the Holy Spirit what kept him going. (2 Tim 1:12 KJV) For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
First of all, Paul was not ashamed of the gospel. He knew that the true gospel was the only hope for the people he was sent to. If a person feels shame for something, this will bog them down. If a person does not feel shame for something but holds it in high regard, they will boast all over creation. This was the attitude of the Apostle Paul, no matter where he went he taught the true gospel even when his own life was in peril. Today, we change the gospel by watering it down and adding or subtracting things to make it more palatable. Whenever we change anything in the Scripture to please others we are showing shame and contempt for the very thing which has saved us. You cannot change anything in Scripture without altering the description of the characteristics and personality of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, the Bible nowhere teaches that God loves everyone, yet when Scriptural meaning is changed to universal love, it modifies the teaching that God is a passive God toward everything and that His love will override His plan of justice and recompense of reward to the unbeliever. We must never change the meaning of Scripture for any purpose whatsoever, then we will be found wanting. It is better to have no friends on earth and have God, than to run with a crowd and be found in error.
Secondly, Paul knew his God. The word "know" is the Greek word "oida" which means not only to know but to know fully and understand. Paul knew the Hebrew Scriptures well and I am sure that he was fully cognizant of the following passage in Daniel 11:32, "And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits." Paul was strong in the Lord because he was kept by the power of God through all the trials and tribulations he encountered. Whenever we go through trials and we fully know our God, we know that those trials will grow us in the Lord and make us stronger in the faith. Every trial we endure should make us stronger. These hardships we face are specifically designed for each and every Christian by God to grow us not to break us. If a trial causes us to fail or to question our Christianity or some other negative effect, then the trial has succeeded in surfacing an apparent weakness in our faith, and it is here where God will help us repair the breach so we may once again join the advancing army of the true church. The hymn "Onward Christian Soldiers" is not for the corporate church but for the true church of the living God. As we continue to study the Scriptures and work out our own salvation, we too, like Paul, will know whom we have believed.
Thirdly, Paul says in this verse that he has been persuaded that God can keep him until that day. The Lord Jesus Christ gave us a great promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us. "Persuaded" is a perfect tense verb which means that it is a completed action with an ongoing effect. Paul was so sold out to the gospel that there was no deviation in his dependence upon God to keep him in every situation until his home going. Paul worked with this understanding and this is why he did not shirk any of his responsibility of delivering the gospel wherever he went, even in the face of the hatred of the enemies. Our minds must be set like Paul’s in the deliverance of the duties which God assigns us in this life. Our time on earth is very short and the job we have is very big.
In our theme verse, we saw that Paul said he finished his course, he did not say it was completed because he knew that he would have to leave the job of spreading the gospel to those of future generations along with the warning that after his departure grievous wolves will come into the church and they will bring in all kinds of damnable heresies which have plagued the church right down through the ages up to today. It is through these times of heretical attack that we are more pressed upon to hold to the true gospel and not bend to every wind of doctrine that blows our way. It is easy to give in to intellectual fortitude which normally shrouds the truth of Scripture but we must remain faithful to the truth if we are to keep the faith and run the course with all diligence giving heed to the doctrine we teach. For what we teach, not only affects us but others around us, not only to truth, but to damnation also.
Sometimes we feel that there are those who are better equipped to face the lion of false teachings simply because they have been trained to do so. This is a false statement because normally those who are trained are the biggest violators of biblical truth. If we think like this, then we will sit on the sidelines instead of getting involved and that is the only way to sharpen your spiritual gifts and talents.  (3/11/01)