Sabbath, September 22, 2018
Lesson 12 – Am I a Good Soldier?
“The Lord has honored us by choosing us as His soldiers. Let us fight bravely for Him, maintaining the right in every transaction. Rectitude in all things is essential to the warfare of the soul. As you strive for the victory over your own inclinations, He will help you by His Holy Spirit to be circumspect in every action, that you may give no occasion for the enemy to speak evil of the truth.
“We are soldiers of Christ. He is the Captain of our salvation, and we are under His orders and rules. We are to wear His armor; we are to be marshaled only under His banner…. We are to keep on the whole armor of God, and work as in view of the universe of heaven.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 37.
1. Is it wise to consider everyone in Christ’s army a loyal soldier? Because one can make mistakes, what does the apostle Paul urge?
2 Corinthians 13:5. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
Galatians 6:4. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
“All the members of the church, if they are sons and daughters of God, will have to undergo a process of discipline before they can be lights in the world. God will not make men and women channels of light while they are in darkness and are content to remain so, making no special efforts to connect with the Source of light. Those who feel their own need, and arouse themselves to the deepest thought and the most earnest, persevering prayer and action, will receive divine aid. There is much for each to unlearn with respect to himself, as well as much to learn. Old habits and customs must be shaken off, and it is only by earnest struggles to correct these errors, and a full reception of the truth in carrying out its principles, by the grace of God, that the victory can be gained.
“I wish I could speak words which would impress us all that our only hope as individuals is to connect with God. Purity of soul must be obtained; and there is much heart searching to be done and much obstinacy and self-love to be overcome, which will require constant, earnest prayer.” –(Testimony Treasures, vol. 1, p. 564) Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, pp. 485, 486.
Self-denial and endurance
2. What important principles guide the Christian soldier?
Colossians 3:23. And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.
2 Corinthians 12:9, 10. 9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Romans 12:11. Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.
“Those who enlist in Christ’s army are also expected to do difficult work, and to bear painful trials patiently for Christ’s sake. But those who suffer with Him shall also reign with Him.
“Then who of us have entered the service to expect the conveniences of life, to be off duty when we please, laying aside the soldier’s armor and putting on the civilian’s dress, sleeping at the post of duty, and so exposing the cause of God to reproach? The ease-loving ones will not practice self-denial and patient endurance; and when men are wanted to make mighty strokes for God, these are not ready to answer, ‘Here am I; send me.’ Hard and trying work has to be done, but blessed are those who are ready to do it when their names are called….
“We are now on the battlefield. There is no time for resting, no time for ease, no time for selfish indulgence. After gaining one advantage, you must do battle again; you must go on conquering and to conquer, gathering fresh strength for fresh struggles. Every victory gained gives an increase of courage, faith, and determination. Through divine strength you will prove more than a match for your enemies.” –Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 34.
3. What other essential counsel was given by the apostles Paul and John?
2 Timothy 2:3, 4. 3Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
1 John 2:15-17. 15Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
“The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought. The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God, requires a struggle; but the soul must submit to God before it can be renewed in holiness….
“In giving ourselves to God, we must necessarily give up all that would separate us from Him. Hence the Saviour says, ‘Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple.’ Luke 14:33. Whatever shall draw away the heart from God must be given up. Mammon is the idol of many. The love of money, the desire for wealth, is the golden chain that binds them to Satan. Reputation and worldly honor are worshiped by another class. The life of selfish ease and freedom from responsibility is the idol of others. But these slavish bands must be broken. We cannot be half the Lord’s and half the world’s. We are not God’s children unless we are such entirely.” –Steps to Christ, pp. 43, 44.
Obedience, consecration, and courage
4. As the perfect example of obedience, what does Jesus tell every Christian?
John 12:25, 26. 25He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. 26If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
“Every good soldier is implicit and prompt in the obedience he renders to his captain. The will of the commander is to be the will of the soldier. Sometimes the soldier may be surprised at the command given, but he is not to stop to inquire the reason for it. When the order of the captain crosses the wishes of the soldier, he is not to hesitate and complain, saying, I see no consistency in these plans. He must not frame excuses and leave his work undone. Such soldiers would not be accepted as fitted to engage in earthly conflicts, and much more will they not be accepted in Christ’s army. When Christ commands, His soldiers must obey without hesitation. They must be faithful soldiers, or He cannot accept them. Freedom of choice is given to every soul, but after a man has enlisted, he is required to be as true as steel, come life or come death.” –Evangelism, p. 648.
5. Can one expect to reap a bountiful harvest if he sows the seed sparsely? How should one work?
2 Corinthians 9:6. But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
1 Corinthians 15:58. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Ecclesiastes 11:6. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.
“We need to break up the monotony of our religious labor. We are doing a work in the world, but we are not showing sufficient activity and zeal. If we were more in earnest, men would be convinced of the truth of our message. The tameness and monotony of our service for God repels many souls of a higher class, who need to see a deep, earnest, sanctified zeal.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 417; Christian Service, p. 230.
“True holiness is wholeness in the service of God. This is the condition of true Christian living. Christ asks for an unreserved consecration, for undivided service. He demands the heart, the mind, the soul, the strength. Self is not to be cherished. He who lives to himself is not a Christian.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 48, 49; Christian Service, p. 235.
“No man can succeed in the service of God unless his whole heart is in the work, and he counts all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. No man who makes any reserve can be the disciple of Christ, much less can he be His co-laborer.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 273; Christian Service, p. 236.
Tenderness, gentleness, and kindness
6. How does a Christian act when he is defending the truth?
James 3:13, 17, 18. 13Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom…. 17But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
Colossians 3:12. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.
“A tender spirit, a gentle, winning deportment, may save the erring, and hide a multitude of sins. The revelation of Christ in your own character will have a transforming power upon all with whom you come in contact. Let Christ be daily made manifest in you, and He will reveal through you the creative energy of His words–a gentle, persuasive, yet mighty influence to re-create other souls in the beauty of the Lord our God.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 129; Christian Service, p. 241.
7. How will the Christian soldier overcome obstacles?
Deuteronomy 31:6, 8. Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee…. 8And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.
2 Samuel 22:29-31. 29For thou art my lamp, O Lord: and the Lord will lighten my darkness. 30For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall. 31As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.
“Hope and courage are essential to perfect service for God. These are the fruit of faith. Despondency is sinful and unreasonable.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 164.
“Courage, energy, and perseverance they must possess. Though apparent impossibilities obstruct their way, by His grace they are to go forward. Instead of deploring difficulties, they are called upon to surmount them. They are to despair of nothing, and to hope for everything. With the golden chain of His matchless love, Christ had bound them to the throne of God. It is His purpose that the highest influence in the universe, emanating from the Source of all power, shall be theirs. They are to have power to resist evil, power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master, power that will enable them to overcome as Christ overcame.” –Gospel Workers, p. 39; Christian Service, p. 235.
For additional study
“The Christian life is a life of warfare, of continual conflict. It is a battle and a march. But every act of obedience to Christ, every act of self-denial for His sake, every trial well endured, every victory gained over temptation, is a step in the march to the glory of final victory.
“When difficulties arise, as they will, remember that Jesus is by your side, a very present help in time of need. To meet trial bravely is part of the Christian warfare, and in this warfare all heaven is interested. Christ knows what temptations you will meet. He knows that when one accepts the truth he or she will have a cross to lift, and He is ready to give the needed help….
“At the moment when you are offering your prayer for help, you may not feel all the joy and blessing that you would like to feel; but if you believe that Christ will hear and answer your petition, the peace of Christ will come.” –Christ Triumphant, pp. 204, 205.