Spring 2012: The Good Battle to Believe
Author: Dan Gabbert
Publish date:

Incredible as it sounds, Alexander Whortley lived in a mini-trailer three feet wide, four feet long, and five feet high until he died at the age of 80. It was made of wood, had a metal roof, and it housed him and all his meager belongings.

No matter where he worked, Whortley chose to spend his life in that cramped space, even when larger quarters were available.

Now, it’s not very likely that any of us have chosen to live in a box—certainly not when more spacious housing is available. But could it be that we are allowing ourselves to be squeezed into cramped containers of a different sort—containers that hinder our joy and personal growth in Christlikeness?

What is it that hems us into a sewing bag of worry over what family or friends will say or do if we follow what God asks of us?

green trailer

What is it that traps us in the boxes of discouragement, unrest, and unproductivity in our Christian experience?

What is it that seals us into a coffin of a cherished idea that we’ll cling to for dear life, knowing that it’s a teaching of man rather than a commandment of the lovely Jesus?

What is it that crushes us into the egg carton of an unforgiving spirit and bitterness that may last for years and years?

What is it that suffocates us in a vacuum bag of a cherished idol that we’ll hang on to, even when we realize it could cause another brother, sister, or even a babe in Christ to stumble and fall?

Trapping ourselves in Unbelief

What is it that keeps us trapped in these unhealthy containers? I believe the predominating answer to all these questions—and perhaps many other entrapping spiritual dilemmas that may be rattling around in our minds—lies in one 8-letter word: unbelief.

In my opinion, unbelief is one of the greatest snares to a healthy walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. Since the beginning of earth’s history, one of Satan’s most effective methods of destroying humanity has been enticing people to stagger in unbelief at what God says!

That’s what he did to Eve when he countered her statement about dying with “Ye shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:2-4).

young woman trapped in a cardboard box
What caused God’s chosen people Israel to fall and fail to receive God’s rest-filled blessings? Unbelief in what God said about the situations they faced (see Hebrews 3:18-19; 4:2). Can you relate? And according to 1 Corinthians 10:11, what ancient Israel experienced is for our admonition.

Where does unbelief ultimately lead a person? We find the answer in Hebrews 3:12: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” This is why unbelief is such an incredible curse to the healthy Christian experience: it will inevitably cause a person to depart from the living God and be lost for eternity!

The Remedy for Unbelief

I am so thankful for the incredible sacrifice our loving heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ made in order that not one of us, if we so choose, need perish in unbelief. How about you? See John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21; and 2 Peter 3:9.

What is the remedy to this vicious malady called unbelief? It’s the good fight in 1 Timothy 6:12:

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

In the Bible, the word “believe” and the word “faith” are synonymous, coming from the same root word. So the “good fight of faith” can be understood as the “good battle to believe.” This battle is what gives people victory over unbelief and the tarnishing worldly effects it has upon spiritual health. John speaks of the victory this fight of faith brings: “and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

We see this faith victory revealed in Abraham’s experience:

He (Abraham) staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God (Romans 4:20).

As you read that verse, did you see what kept Abraham from staggering at God’s Word? “He was strong in faith, giving glory to God!”

Now focus on verse 21. Notice what Abraham’s faith empowered him to experience:

And being fully persuaded that, what He (the Lord) had promised, He was able also to perform.

Even though unbelief causes a person to waver at God’s promises, living faith in God strengthens a person to be fully persuaded that what the Lord promises He is able also to perform. And this is what gives us the victory over the world’s temptations that lead to unbelief.

What Does it Take to be a Good-Fight Fighter?

Are you interested in knowing a little more about how to actually get in and stay in the good battle to believe, the good fight of faith that will protect you from the devil’s devices to ensnare you?

The foundational ingredient for experiencing victory over unbelief is found by integrating two Bible texts. Here’s the first one:

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:12).

According to the words in this verse, what comprises the good fight of faith? Taking hold of eternal life! So here’s the Biblical equation: good battle to believe = fight of faith

Now notice the second text:

And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent (John 17:3).

According to the words in this verse, what is eternal life centered on? Knowing God and Jesus Christ! Now let’s put it together: If the good fight of faith consists of laying hold of eternal life, and eternal life is centered in knowing God and Jesus Christ, then the good fight of faith that overcomes unbelief is actually the good fight of getting to know God and His Son Jesus Christ.

Consider the emphasis the apostle Paul put on this concept in Philippians 3:7-10:

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know Him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death(emphasis added).

How did this mindset affect Paul’s experience? Notice the sound of victory in his testimony just prior to his death found in 2 Timothy 1:12:

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day (emphasis added).

Finding Stability

People are spending megabucks to find emotional stability. Guess what? Yours will steadily increase because, by getting to know God from His Word, you are placing yourself on the receiving end of His stability (Isaiah 26:3; John 14:27; 16:33).

You will find greater balance in your ability to cope with the pressures of life’s challenges (Psalms 56:3-4; Proverbs 1:33; Philippians 4:13,19). Your assurance in the Saviour’s ability to keep you from falling will climb (Jude 24).

Even your need to defend yourself and your rights will diminish as you experience a more intimate knowledge of the God who promises to fight your battles for you (Psalm 60:12; Isaiah 54:17).

And to top it off, the commands of God will cease to feel like a binding, dreadful set of rules one has to obey to go to heaven, and will instead become a delightful surrender to the One you dearly love and trust (Psalm 40:8; 119:97,165; Isaiah 48:18).

Surrender and Intimacy

Let nothing in your life interfere with intimate association with your Creator, Redeemer, and Friend. Fight to take private daily time to study His Word, to know Him as He really is, for this is the good battle to believe that gives us the victory over unbelief.

Wherever you’re at in your experience with the Lord, if you have been “staggering at the promises of God through unbelief,” there is only one solution that can bring relief from this conviction—only one thing that can bring true forgiveness, healing, and hope of eternal life to your heart.

Quietly turn to God in your heart, and without any excuses, confess your unbelief to Him, ask for His forgiveness and strength. And then, by His grace, determine to get in the fight to know Him personally with a determination to respond in faith and obedience to whatever He reveals to you.

Right now, in the quietness of your mind, won’t you echo this prayer?

Father in heaven, I realize that it has been unbelief in Your Word that has kept me from experiencing the fullness of the victorious salvation experience You intend for me. I am confessing my unbelief—please forgive me. I choose to believe Your promise in 1 John 1:9.

Please heal me and infuse my heart with Your victorious character of love and faith as I fight to daily, faithfully, and earnestly study Your word to know You and Your ways. Thank You for causing me to triumph as You’ve promised in 2 Corinthians 2:14. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

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