2 Timothy 2:3
You therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
I. A SOLDIER MUST BE ENLISTED.
II. THE SOLDIER AFTER HAVING BEEN ENLISTED HAS TO BE DRILLED — that is to say, he has to learn his business. A good soldier is not to be made in a day; there must be time and pains spent upon him; he must be trained and taught, and that very carefully, before he is fit to fight against the enemies of his country. And it is just the same with Christian soldiers. They have to learn to act together, so as to support and help one another in the conflict with evil. And then they have to learn the use of their weapons — of one more especially, which is called the "sword of the Spirit."
III. WE HAVE ENEMIES TO FIGHT WITH — real enemies, not imaginary ones: "the world, the flesh, and the devil." In order to enable you to understand what is meant by fighting against the "flesh" and "the devil," I will tell you a story, or rather, two stories, both of them true. Some years ago there lived a good and holy man, who was a most useful minister of the gospel. This good man's Christian name was William. Now when he was a little boy, about four or five years old, he one day was left in the dining-room alone, and on the table was a plate of sweet cakes, of which he was particularly fond, but which he had been forbidden to touch. Somebody coming quietly into the room found the boy looking at the cakes, his little hands tightly clasped together behind his back, and saying to himself over and over again, as if he were saying a lesson, "Willie mustn't take them, 'cause they are not Willie's own." Now this was a victory over the "flesh." The flesh said, "These cakes are very nice, Willie; just smell them. No one will see you, Willie, if you do take one. Mamma will not miss the cakes, Willie, there are so many of them." But little Willie would not do wrong, although he was sorely tempted to it. He fought with the "flesh," and came off conqueror. But there was one sad occasion on which Willie, now grown up to be a tall, handsome lad of seventeen, was beaten by the enemy. There was a servant in the family who was a wicked man; and wicked men, whether they know it or not, are agents for the devil, and do his work. This servant, annoyed at his young master's goodness, said once, in a sneering sort of way, and in William's hearing, "Oh! as for Master William, he's not man enough to swear." The taunt — it was just like a fiery arrow shot from Satan's bow — stung the young lad beyond endurance; and for the only time in his life, I believe, he took God's holy name in vain, and swore a terrible oath. Whenever William spoke of the matter — years, long years, after — it was with expressions of the bitterest regret, though he felt in his heart that God had forgiven him. Well, that was a fight with the devil in which the devil was the victor. The Christian soldier was beaten, for the moment. Satan, through the mouth of one of his servants, triumphed over him.
IV. THE APOSTLE TELLS US THAT WE ARE TO BE GOOD SOLDIERS OF JESUS CHRIST. A "good" soldier obeys orders strictly; does not get tired of his duty, but sticks to it; and never dreams of turning his back and running away when the enemy is coming.
V. AND NOW LET ME TELL YOU BY WHAT MEANS WE ARE TO BECOME GOOD SOLDIERS. A good general makes good soldiers. He infuses his own spirit into them, and leads them to victory. And we have a good general, the Lord Jesus Christ. Put yourselves, then, into His hands, and He will make you what you ought to be. I wish you especially to notice that you cannot be a true Christian warrior without possessing that loyal devotion to Christ which springs from love.
(G. Calthrop, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.