You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. – 2 Timothy 2:3-4 NKJV
Barriers in this life
God has already given you the victory, but are you willing to endure to have that victory? For us to enjoy the victory that the Lord has guaranteed to us, we must first endure. I want you to notice that the Apostle Paul mentions to Timothy, his spiritual son, the word ‘warfare’. You will recall that I preached last week about spiritual warfare and I have also recently posted a bible study about spiritual warfare. This warfare is something that we, not as believers, but we as a people should not take lightly.
I want you to also notice that Paul mentions to spiritual son, Timothy, the “hardship” of a “good soldier of Christ. He refers to Timothy, a believer in Christ as a soldier of Christ. Have you ever realized that you, as a believer, are in an army? You’re in the army of Jesus Christ! We as believers ought to want to be the best soldier we can be in the army of Christ.
However, Paul tells us that because we are soldiers in the army of Christ that we ought to be prepared to endure hardships. In other words, we must be ready to endure hard times; we must be ready to suffer. Just because we are in His army, that does not mean that times are going to be easy! We must be ready for a tough life; a grueling battle in this life. As Christ suffered in this world, we must also be ready to join Him in suffering. The servant cannot be greater than the Master (John 15:20).
When we think of the suffering of Christ, I believe our minds first go to Jesus on the cross – we think of His passion. We must also remember that Jesus suffered in the flesh – He was born into this world. Jesus, who came from eternity, came down to this world and dwelt with mankind. Jesus suffered in the flesh because He had to dwell in a world of sin.
We now live in a world of sin, as I am sure you are aware of – this is no mystery. Because of sin, we already can expect that this life is going to be difficult. You can be as peaceful, as gentle, and kind as you want to be but sin will find a way to pop up and make life difficult for you; yet, we must endure.
Sometimes, it feels like things just pop up out of nowhere, doesn’t it? You ever feel like there are barriers that come up out of nowhere in your life? One minute, while you’re walking along on your journey, minding your own business, all of a sudden something seemingly blocks your path: ever had that feeling? These barriers, it feels, block you and hold you down, but we still must endure.
I want you to keep in your soul (in your mind) that the Lord your God has already given to you the victory! Keep in mind that God has already given us the victory, but Paul says that we must endure the hardships of this life. We must endure the daily barriers of spiritual warfare; we must endure the devil and his demons; we must endure this world of sin! Are you ready to endure the hardships as a good soldier of Jesus Christ? I want to show you what an example of enduring can do for you.
Example through Israel and Jericho
Israel was promised a promise of the Promised Land, but we often overlook the barriers that faced Israel in seeing the promise realized. Let’s remember that firstly: Israel had to first endure bondage in Egypt. Secondly: Israel had to endure the wilderness. Thirdly: Israel had to endure the failure of a whole generation. I want you to understand that Israel had to endure quite a bit just to see the promise of the Promise Land.
Moses could not enter the Promise Land because of his sin, so the Lord put Joshua in the position to lead the Israelites into the Promise Land. I want you to notice that even after the Israelites crossed the Jordan into the Promise Land, they had to look ahead and endure. Israel was to remove all the people of the land of Canaan from the land and the first city they come across was Jericho.
Scripture shows us (Joshua 6:1) that the city was securely shut up because of the children of Israel. We know of the great wall surrounding Jericho, but that’s not what was shut up here – the people were prepared and ready for Israel. I want you to pay real close attention to what the Lord says to Joshua in the next verse.
And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor.
Joshua 6:2 NKJV
God, again, is telling one of His children that I have given you this victory; meaning the battle has already been won, but we still must pay attention to the fact that Israel still had to do work – they still had to endure. The Israelites had to walk around the city once a day for six straight days, and on the seventh day, they had to walk around the city seven times. After enduring these days of walking around the city, the walls of Jericho fell down and the children still had to move to take the city!
The Lord told Joshua the city was already theirs to take – the victory was theirs. However, the Israelites still had to grind; they still had to endure – they still had to do work. Why do we believe we do not have to endure or do any work for our victory? We have the impression in our mind that we can be lazy while God does the all of the work.
I want you to understand, God does not ask us to knock down the spiritual barriers, but He has never told us to be lazy! Yes, we already have the victory, but we cannot sit around, being lazy, and expect to realize the victory. The victory that the Lord has given us is an eternal victory – salvation!
Salvation is not a myth, but a promise from God. Israel was promised a piece in which they still had to do work, but Christ came promising a heaven in which nobody had to do any work once they got there. Israel still had to endure once they got into the Promise Land, and they are still enduring in that land to this day. However, when we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we will sing and shout the victory! We will not have to endure anything once we get to heaven; the key is “once we get there”.
Following that example
Life is not easy, but we must endure hardships as a good soldier of Christ. Sometimes we have to walk around our barriers as the Israelites had to walk around the outsides of a whole city. Too often we try to rush over or through the barrier without the Lord’s help; it is possible that God wants you to walk around that barrier instead of rushing in. I am not smart enough to tell you why God had them walk around the city of Jericho, outside of the idea that this sounds like good mind games being played.
Also, we must notice how the Israelites had to blow the horn and shout just before the wall came down. I want you to know that you have a horn and that you can shout as well. Your horn and your shout is both your faith and your prayer. It was only after the Israelites blew their horns and shouted that the wall of Jericho came crashing down.
You see, it is only when we blow our horn and shout out to the Lord that the barriers about us will come crashing down all around us. Those same barriers that seem to come up out of nowhere can be removed out of your life just as fast – I truly believe this! Whatever barrier that you feel is blocking you or holding you back, blow your horn and shout to God about it.
In last week’s sermon, we saw that God is our weapon and that the Christian weapon is mighty, through God, and is capable of bringing down strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4). Your weapon, the Christian weapon, is capable of bringing down strongholds – strongholds that are specifically prepared for you by that devil.
The Lord gives voice before His army, For His camp is very great; For strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; Who can endure it?
Joel 2:11 NKJV
Scripture says (Joel 2:11) that the Lord gives voice before His army and that His camp is great! We, believers, are great because of Him and not because of anything that we have done. Understand this, the devil has his army and they are specifically preparing for us – they see us on the hill. The devil and his army marches all about us, all the day long it seems at times, but the camp of God is mighty and great. We can endure the wiles of the devil because God is with us, but they cannot endure the might of God.
Joel says, “strong is the One who executes His word.” Joel is not talking about a man in this scripture; he is talking only about God. You see, God will execute His word – there is no doubt about that. God is the One who says we have the victory. “Whoa, in this camp,” is a phrase my dad would often say because of how swiftly and mighty the Lord moves through His camp of soldiers. God is constantly moving to remove the barriers of our life. Our blowing of the horn and shouting is not to let Him know, but more of a sign of our faith in Him.
Do not allow the barriers to stand in your way – blow your horn and shout for the Lord.