(J.C. Ryle, "The Fight!")
"Fight the good fight of faith." 1 Timothy 6:12
True Christianity is a fight!
True Christianity! Let us mind that word "true." There is a vast quantity of religion current in the world which is not true, genuine Christianity. There are thousands of men and women who go to churches and chapels every Sunday and call themselves Christians. They make a "profession" of faith in Christ. Their names are in the baptismal register. They are reckoned Christians while they live. They are married with a Christian marriage service. They mean to be buried as Christians when they die.
But you never see any "fight" about their religion! Of spiritual strife and exertion and conflict and self-denial and watching and warring--they know literally nothing at all. Such Christianity may satisfy man, and those who say anything against it may be thought very hard and uncharitable; but it certainly is not the Christianity of the Bible. It is not the religion which the Lord Jesus founded, and His apostles preached. It is not the religion which produces real holiness. True Christianity is "a fight!"
The principal fight of the Christian is with . . .
the flesh, and
These are his never-dying foes! These are the three chief enemies against whom he must wage war. With a corrupt heart, a busy devil and an ensnaring world--he must either "fight" or be lost!
To be at peace with the world, the flesh and the devil--is to be at enmity with God and in the broad way that leads to destruction! We have no choice or option. We must either fight--or be lost!
It is a fight of universal necessity. No rank or class or age can plead exemption, or escape the battle--all alike must carry arms and go to war.
All have by nature a heart full of pride, unbelief, sloth, worldliness and sin!
All are living in a world beset with snares, traps and pitfalls for the soul.
All have near them a busy, restless, malicious devil.
All, from the queen in her palace down to the pauper in the workhouse--all must fight, if they would be saved.
We may take comfort about our souls, if we know anything of an inward fight and conflict. It is the invariable companion of genuine Christian holiness.
The saddest symptom about many so-called Christians, is the utter absence of anything like conflict and fight in their Christianity. They eat, they drink, they dress, they work, they amuse themselves, they get money, they spend money, they go through a scanty round of formal religious services once or twice every week. But of the great spiritual warfare--its watchings and strugglings, its agonies and anxieties, its battles and contests--of all this they appear to know nothing at all.