In 1940, Britain stood alone against the might of Nazi Germany. Winston Churchill set about inspiring the people to endure the struggle. They were at war. It was not a war they wanted, but whether they liked it or not, they had to fight. And it was a good cause, – their freedom was a stake; and so therefore it was a good fight.
But let’s not be under any illusions. This was not a simple case of the good guys versus the bad guys. Britain was no sweet smelling rose; it was not without its faults. It did not become the British Empire and rule more than 1/3 the globe through kindness. Concentration camps were not invented by the Nazi’s – the British were the first to adopt them in their war against the Boers. And Britain fought the war against Germany the way any country fights in any war – with all the deceit and lies and underhanded means possible.
Be that as it may – in 1940, Britain had to fight the good fight. They had to fight on every front possible. When Churchill met his Cabinet on May 13 he told them “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” For the first time, the people had hope but Churchill commented “Poor people, poor people. They trust me, and I can give them nothing but disaster for quite a long time.”
You know he made many famous speeches – I always think the best speech he made was his first as Prime minister.
“We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realised; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal. But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, “come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.”
There is much in the spirit of those words that capture something of our Christian policy and aim. The Scripture says, “fight the good fight of faith.” Paul said later – “I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith, I have finished the course.” But we, as we face a new year, must remind ourselves that our fight is not yet over. We are not yet at the place where we can say “I have fought a good fight” – and so our policy must be to fight on. It is to wage war, with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human history.
Well you don’t need to look far. Your enemy is closer than you think. You only have to reach out and lay your hand upon your own heart. We have no greater enemy than ourselves.
It was not w/o good reason that our Lord said in Lu 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” Now it is all very well to say, the Lord is speaking comparatively only; that He never intended us to hate anybody; and neither He does. But we do the text a great injustice, if we do not realise He calls us to hold ourselves & anyone else with the greatest suspicion if they interfere with our loyalty to Christ. If we are His followers He calls us to deny our self. Jesus said, “He that seeks to save his life shall lose it.” We have no choice, but to be at war with our self.
Peter begs Christians to take this seriously. 1Pe 2:11 “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.”
I have already quoted our Lord’s words – “Except a man deny himself…!” – In simple terms that means saying “No!” It is like starving our flesh to death. “Put to death your earthly members – make no provision for the flesh – flee youthful lusts.” These are all Biblical examples of Christian warfare.
What do all these verses mean? If you’ve trusted Christ as your Lord & Saviour we still have an old nature to contend with. Peter says, it wars against the soul. Our old nature is dedicated to selfishness. It is looking out for our own best interests, our own comfort. This is our worst enemy. Self-centeredness within us and it is one of the most difficult sins to overcome. It reminds me of the story about the mother preparing pancakes for her 2 little sons. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson and said; “If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, ‘Let my brother have the first pancake; I can wait.” The 5 year old turned to his younger brother and said, “You be Jesus!” We can know what we ought to do and still struggle to do it.
Scripture speaks of the devil and the many fallen angels. These deceivers are waiting for just the right opportunity to make us feel useless and ineffective in our faith. They know what it takes too. This is what Ephesians 6:11 calls the “devil’s schemes“.
So we are to fight the good fight against the things that oppose us, which means we begin with ourselves. And we are to remain strong in the fight never thinking of retreat. We are given weapons to use. They are listed in Eph.6 – 14 “the belt of truth – the breastplate of righteousness – your feet fitted with the gospel of peace. The shield of faith – the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And praying in the Spirit with all kinds of prayers and requests.”
Our Lord Jesus is the Captain of our salvation. He has shown us how to fight. When He was tempted, He resisted – “It is is written….!” That was His defence. We need Scripture in our heads & hearts. We need verses to quote when we are tempted to lust – the path of drunkenness – bondage to some drug – temper rising to anger – “fight the good fight of faith.” Just some further closing remarks to take to heart.
That might seem like a bit of a cop out, but it is true. Just as Britain had to fight a war which was not their making, so we are engaged in a war which was thrust upon us. We inherited this war. It was passed onto us by our parents and by their parents.
There is nothing gained in shaking your head and saying in exasperation – “why am I like this? Why does it have to be so hard? Why does temptation have to be so delicious. Paul said “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” – He said, “the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” Why? What made him this way? – He tells us – “It is sin that dwells in me.” We did not start this war, but we are in it, whether we like it or not. We either follow our Master, & pick up the weapons and fight, or we get swept along with the current, and are destroyed.
Some started well, but like Demas, they loved this present world. I have just finished reading through the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah, and a number of them began well, then in their old age, went completely astray. Uzziah was 16 yrs old when he began to reign and he did what was right – the Lord prospered him – he had a long reign of 52 years – he became famous – then crash – he violated God’s law by offering incense & became a leper.
King Asa was a good king, then he made an alliance with apostate Israel, and was rebuked by the prophet. He was furious & imprisoned the prophet. Bad move – he became diseased in his feet and died in torment. Some started well then failed. It is not for us to ask – were they saved in the first place. God alone judges the hearts & secrets of men & women. – “If any man thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall.”
Jesus said, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch, and is withered.” Would we want that for ourselves?
Now we may say – we believe in eternal security? I know I certainly do. Are we not told that we will never perish? No one can pluck us out of our Lord’s Hand. There is nothing in all creation that can separate us from the Love of God…!
Yes we believe in eternal security. But this security does not occur in a vacuum. The Bible says – “The Lord knows them that are His, and let those who name the name of Christ, depart from iniquity.” The two always go together. We have a war to fight. There is an enemy that would destroy us, and if we belong to the Lord, our pedigree mark is that we are engaged in this warfare, and we must not give up the fight.
Paul said, – “I keep my body under, lest…!” One of the conditions of the NT covenant of grace, – “I will put my fear within them…!”
If we fail to do so, we fail in every other duty, including our duty to love our family & our neighbour as our self. How can we know how to love another, if we do not know what our first duty is to ourselves?
Churchill is often portrayed as the hero of WW2 – but he was a man like any other – he had his faults. He was one eyed. He saw everything only in terms of what benefitted Britain. He had a faithful admirer in Robert Menzies. Menzies was mesmerised & fascinated by the British Empire. In Menzies eyes, they could do no wrong. He was willing to place everything in Australia at Britain’s disposal. And of course, Churchill took advantage of that. He was willing to sacrifice Australia to the Japanese, in order to use the Australian military in defeating Germany.
That was, until in 1941 when I think, the greatest Prime Minister Australia has ever seen came to power. (that is my lowly opinion of course.) The Labour Government were elected to parliament under John Curtain.
The Japanese were making their great push toward Australia. John Curtain wanted the Australian forces returned from the Middle East to defend us. Churchill said “Absolutely Not.” Curtain was not intimidated. He had a duty to his home. He put his foot down and said “No!” to the great Churchill. In defiance of everybody he ordered Australia’s forces back to Australia, in order to defend our homeland against the Japanese. That is our first priority – our duty is 1st to ourselves. If we fail here, we have lost everything. – “What does it profit a man if he gain …!”
We need to be godly. Not for the sake of our wife; or for folk here; they will all benefit if we are, but we need to be godly for our own sake. Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” Someone could say – ‘There is a lot of “I” in that. Three times. In this fight, we must put ourselves first. You have it again in 1Cor.9 – “I keep my body under, lest, after I have preached to some, I myself am a cast away.”
We read & study the Scriptures, first and foremost for our self. “Your word have I hid ….!” Why? – “that I sin not against You.” May God stir us up to face this new year with this resolve – fight the good fight of faith.