Among the last words written by the apostle Paul are these:
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
The Abandoned Apostle
9 Be diligent to come to me quickly; 10 for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me.
The apostle Paul has come close to the end of his life and he knows it. He is about to be martyred. But he has no regrets. He can say that he has fought the good fight, he has finished the race and that he has kept the faith.
If there is such a thing as human achievement, then truly keeping the faith is foremost among these things. We know that without the grace of God we would surely fall. We need God's empowering and divine action to do the will of God. But it is possible to "receive the grace of God in vain" or to "believe in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:2,10). This happens when a person gives up the faith. When they "depart from the faith" (1 Timothy 4:1) and when they do not return. These are the branches who do not abide in the vine (John 15). It seems that Demas, who loved this present world, was one such person. Though he undoubtedly was selected by Paul as a fellow gospel worker, at some point his heart became discouraged and he decided to follow after the things of the world rather than the purposes of God.
Paul talked about having "kept the faith" as if this was a major achievement, along with "finishing the race". I don't think Demas could say the same thing at the end of his life.
It has been said that if God fights ALL our battles for us, there would be no reason for him to ask US to put on the whole armour of God, or take up the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-20).
We are in a battle for faith. Satan is going to fight us.
I am sorry if this doesn't please you: but whether you like it or not, you are in a warfare – a spiritual warfare – and you have a real enemy who wants to KILL YOU. He still wants to get you to renounce the love of God in favor of the love of the world, compromise your soul, and take you to hell to suffer regret, anguish and pain forever. But this enemy – Satan – is not going to be upfront about this. Instead, he works subtly, with deception, with half-truths. He draws your attention to certain things and creates certain suggestions in your mind so that you will get your mind off Christ and His promises.
To resist Satan effectively, and to keep the faith, we must learn to monitor our thoughts and realise when what is playing in our mind is contrary to God. Then we need to take up spiritual weapons and bring these thoughts down.
Thoughts are powerful. What you think about determines your life, character, actions and destiny.
The Bible says: "As a man thinks in his heart, so he is" (Proverbs 23). Paul said that the spriritual weapons God gives us are designed to cast down strongholds and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3,4).
Don't think of "thoughts" as something weak, minor or insignificant. They are super important and if you can control them as a Christian you are on your way to having a powerful and effective walk with God. It is the distracting thoughts we consider that somehow take our minds off Christ and make us vulnerable to discouragement, temptation or fruitlessness. Let's learn then how to fight for a godly thought life.
Chief among our weapons in the Word of God. The Word of God – the Scriptures – can be utilised in a number of different ways to cast down strongholds. We can:
read the Word of God – it will wash us as we read it.
speak the Word of God – this can be done in a number of different ways.
study the Word of God – you need to know what the words there mean
meditate on the Word of God – ponder and reflect deeply on it until its truths move you emotionally
Sing the Word of God as praise to God – praise is a powerful weapon that attracts God and destroys Satan's works
preach the Word of God – dramatically emphasise its truths to your hearers
teach the Word of God – expound it fully so people understand what it means to them
listen to the Word of God – hear what others are understanding from it and just hear what God is saying to you from it
confess the Word of God – personalise the promises of God and make them your own by speaking them out repeatedly until you really believe they are for you
pray the Word of God – use the Word of God to make prayers that you know are in God's will
All these things are inter-related but work in different ways. If we truly love God we will find different ways to centre our life and our thoughts around the Word of God. When you speak and declare God's Word, God's declarations, it is really hard to listen to the suggestions of the devil or your flesh at the same time.
Making yourself to focus on the Word of God is a discipline at first, but it results in tremendous blessings and is a key to avoiding major disasters and loss both in this life and in the life to come.
I urge you therefore to seriously take up the Word of God in your life and do as the apostle Paul – not as Demas. Fight the good fight, finish the race and keep the faith.
God bless you.