During the Gulf War, UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher penned the famous phrase “No Time to Go Wobbly” regarding her conversation with President George Bush in August of 1990. She praised him for his resolve in passing a Security Council Resolution enabling the British to enforce the embargo against Iraqi shipping.
Physical warfare and resolving conflicts among nations require a firm position and holding ground against political enemies. Similarly, spiritual warfare requires that we stand fast, knowing what and Whom we believe (1 Corinthians 16:13; Galatians 5:1; Philippians 1:27; 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:15). This was a guiding principle that the apostle Paul stressed in his letters to Timothy and to Titus as he instructed them in how to lead churches.
Titus was Paul’s convert, or son in the faith, whom he left in charge of the churches in Crete (Titus 1:4-5). Although originally a pagan Greek, Titus was saved by Paul’s preaching of the common faith, meaning the plan of salvation open to Jews as well as Gentiles who trusted in the death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) of Jesus Christ as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6).
Soon after his conversion, Titus accompanied Paul and Barnabas on missionary journeys (2 Corinthians 7:5-7, 13-14; 8:6, 16, 23; 12:18) and also to the Jerusalem council (Galatians 2:1-3). There Paul persuaded the church elders that salvation is by God’s grace through our faith alone, and not by any works such as circumcision or baptism (Ephesians 2:8-9). Thereafter, Titus was responsible for building and leading the churches Paul planted in Crete.
At that time, Crete was ruled by Nero, a cruel, deranged Roman emperor who persecuted the Christians and had them fight to the death for his amusement. It was an especially difficult time to be a Christian, as it is even today. We are blessed thus far in the United States to be able to worship freely, but Christian persecution is rampant and festering in many regions including the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Headlines (more so from Christian sources than from mainstream news) inform us of Coptic Christians and even children beheaded for refusing to recite the Islamic creed or to renounce Jesus Christ. We should not be surprised if persecution increases as the End Times draws near (1 Peter 4:12-16).
The letters of Paul to Titus and Timothy therefore have special relevance today, because the devil knows that his time is short and is doing what he can to destroy Christians, their families, and their churches (1 Corinthians 10:10). Now more than ever we must know what we believe and pass it on to our families and communities directly and through our churches.
No wonder Paul urged Titus and Timothy to hold firmly to the truth Paul had taught them, so that by preaching sound doctrine they could overcome the damage done by false teachers, encourage the faithful, and even convert the false teachers to the truth of God’s Word (1 Titus 1:9; 1 Timothy 1:15; 4:6; 2 Timothy 3:14).
Effective spiritual warfare requires putting on the whole armor of God, each piece applied with prayer (Ephesians 6:10-17). We must resist the devil (James 4:7) as he attempts to seduce us into compromising our position. Just as he deceived Adam and Eve into eating the forbidden fruit by twisting God’s Word (Genesis 3:1-6), he will try the same trick on us if we believe his lies (Revelation 12:9).
Satan attacks us through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16) Sometimes he attacks believers in general through false teachers (2 Timothy 4:3-4; 2 Peter 2:1) or through worldly distractions, and sometimes he aims his fiery darts (Ephesians 6:16) directly at our own unique weaknesses and areas of vulnerability.
When Satan strikes, as he will in the life of anyone who is saved, we must stand fast to resist him. This involves being aware that he seeks to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8), not believing his lies, and remaining firm in our beliefs taught in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16) and in our commitment to continue in God’s work and will for our lives.
Once we are saved and become productive for God, Satan does all he can to bring us down, undermine our testimony, and stop our work for God. Just as we laid down our sin burden at Calvary’s cross, we must hand over all our fears (1 John 4:18) and doubts (which are sins also) to Christ so that His love and His completed sacrifice can remove them (1 Peter 5:7-11).
1 Cor 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.
Paul urges Christians to be as firmly planted in our faith as a statue, or a wrestler or warrior standing his ground against the enemy. May none of Satan’s weapons keep us from our purpose of serving God in all that we do (Colossians 3:23).
Even when no one seems to appreciate our efforts and the devil tries to discourage us, God notices our service and will reward us for it (1 Kings 7: 13-22), sometimes here on earth, and ultimately in Heaven when we hear Him say, Well done, thou good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21).
Hebrews 6: 10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
Let us learn from Paul’s letters to Titus and Timothy the importance of souund doctrine in our hearts, minds and churches. Like Paul, let’s keep the faith, finish the race, and fight the good fight (2 Timothy 4:7) until Christ comes again!
© 2017 Laurie Collett