In what sense is our fight a fight of faith? First, the fight of faith is a personal struggle. When tempted by doubt and unbelief we must fight to maintain faith. This has to do with the struggle to keep on believing God and to keep one’s trust in his promises.
It’s a fight because we face contrary realities to faith. The fight to maintain faith also involves recognizing issues that will divert our path. Paul told Timothy to resist greed and to pursue “righteousness, godliness and faith.” (1 Tim. 6:11). Timothy is already a believer, so Paul is encouraging him to attain more faith and to hold onto the faith he has. Likewise, we must pursue faith. The promises of God are not passively received but rather they are actively laid hold of. Faith will not remain in our hearts without a fight against unbelief.
Why Does Paul Call it a Good Fight?
Paul told Timothy, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12). It’s a “good fight” for 5 reasons:
1. Because the enemy is evil
The enemy is unbelief and the sins that come from unbelief. It is the enemy that seduces us to trust in ourselves instead of God.
2. Because we are not left in our own strength
Paul told the Philippian Christians, “God is at work in you both to will and to do his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). When you fight the good fight, God is behind that struggle giving you the will and the power to defeat unbelief. We are not left to ourselves to sustain faith; God fights for us.
3. Because it’s a struggle to let a burden be carried for us
The life of faith is not a burdened life but an unburdened life. It is a fight to trust God with burdens of life. It can be a fight for freedom from worry. It is a fight for hope, peace and joy which doubt about God’s promises threatens to disrupt.
4. Because it involves self-humbling not self-exaltation
Most fighting is a proud attempt to prove our own strength at another’s expense. The fight of faith is a way of saying we are weak and need the mercy of God. Jesus clearly stated, “apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The essence of faith is the admission of our sinful helplessness and looking away from ourselves to God for mercy.
5. Because it is by faith that God is greatly glorified
Trusting in ourselves gets us glory. Trusting in the power of God gets him glory. Nothing is as good as the glory of God.
The fight to maintain faith and lay hold of eternal life is a good fight because the enemy is evil; the strength to fight is given by God; the faith we pursue is not a burden but an unburdening; the fight involves self-humbling not self-exaltation; and God is glorified as we learn to trust him with all our cares and hopes.