Warfare is a concept and a reality that has existed for centuries. Many wars have been fought for justifiable reasons and there have been many wars that were unjustified. However, in every war that has taken place, the element of defending one’s position and territory has been at the forefront of the war itself. The objective of any war is for one side to be victorious over the other, however, the common factor is that both sides are usually defending what they are in pursuit of.
To defend territory or a position is to actively stand against an adversary who threatens to advance which means gaining control or power. In Christendom, a popular scripture that is often quoted comes from Ephesians 6:12 which says:
(KJV) “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
The above scripture is meant to focus on the aspect of warring or fighting a spiritual battle. This part of life is something that we are engaged in daily which is a spiritual battle. However, there is another aspect that we are to focus on as Christians even in the realm of spiritual warfare and that is ‘defending the faith.’ What is defending the faith and what does the Bible tell us about it?
1 Peter chapter 3 and verse 15 references the term ‘defense’ and the concept of defending the faith. The term ‘defense’ is not necessarily used in every translation but the concept remains the same. The context in this part of the chapter was to encourage Christians to defend the faith regardless of the opposition from unbelievers. The Apostle Peter wanted Christians to know that in the event that persecution occurs we are to defend what it is that we believe and our stance in Christ.
(ESV) “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”
Peter says we are to “always be prepared to make a defense” which means we who are in Christ are to stand against the opposition. The fact is that Christians are given a charge to defend the faith which is an active stance against those who oppose. Many have unfortunately taken the position of restraining or containing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In today’s social climate, it has become the norm to relegate one’s belief or stance to oneself rather than imposing on anyone else.
However, the imposition of the Gospel or the faith is not to be squelched but to be shared with the lost. We should defend the faith because in such a defense we are showing forth our allegiance unto God and the things of God. There is a term that also aligns with defending the faith and it is ‘apologetic.’ This is a theological term which means to give a rational defense for the Christian faith. The word ‘apologetic’ can be broken down into the Greek form which is ‘apologia’ which means to give a reason or defense.
When we as Christians are challenged by the culture, we are not to run unashamedly nor are we to capitulate with what the social and even spiritual climate dictates. We are living in a time period in which the false doctrine both in many churches and even in society has become acceptable. Secular humanism, the influence of Islam, agnosticism and various religions have become taken as truth rather than seeing each as an extension of what satan wants to use to pervert and ultimately deceive.
However, those who are truly in Christ must be willing to defend the faith and stand for God’s truth regardless of what the cost may be. However, notice how we are to do so according to verse 15:
“yet do it with gentleness and respect”
Even in speaking the truth to those who are in darkness we must do so with gentleness and respect. Calling something out for what it is can be done respectfully because it means that it is being done in love towards the person. Many have embraced the belief that mentioning Hell and even the aspect of sin should be avoided. Not telling a person who is in danger of destruction is much worse that the backlash and opposition that will be given.
Instead, Christians are called to defend the faith or to give a reason as to why we believe. We are also called to give those who are lost the truth of Jesus Christ. However, we must do so with gentleness and respect which means that our tone should be truthful but also with a caring disposition which emanates from our relationship with Christ. The fact about eternal damnation can be given to the world without it utterly destroying the person in the process.
The goal of reaching those in Christ isn’t to speak with words of vitriol but to simply give those in their sin the lifeline who is Jesus Christ. The truth of God will convict which is the job of the Holy Spirit. Our responsibility is to deliver the message as it is by giving the consequences of what will occur if a person in sin does not receive the intervention of Jesus Christ. We are not to add or remove anything from the the Word of God.
At the end of the day, the defense of the faith is necessary because both salvation and the reality of Hell and eternal separation from God are crucial nuggets of truth for every person. While our society continues to erode in sin, there must be those who are willing to stand firm and defend the truth of God. Not to do so would mean that we as Christians have given up not only our position but our territory to the enemy.
Satan wants to eliminate every opportunity for someone’s eyes to be opened to the truth. We as Christians must give the world a reason as to why it is that we believe in God. Why should holiness and an abstinence from sin be the way that we as Christians live? Why is it that social issues such as homosexuality and abortion should be openly addressed by those who are in Christ instead of remaining in silence? Why is it that God’s Word and an adherence to it is to be applied to one’s life?
For every Christian, the answer lies in verse 15 in which Peter says, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy.” This is not only expected of each Christian, but it is a command. The reason is because everything that we do we do so out of reverence unto Jesus Christ because He is Holy. With honoring His holiness, there is an expectation that we would then defend the truth of God in the midst of opposition and deception. The point is to go after those who are in their sin and give them God’s Word.
Our concern isn’t whether or not someone is offended by God’s truth because believe it or not there will be those who find God’s truth offensive. This is not contradictory with the statement of being gentle and respectful. The reason is because those who are in their sin will naturally reject any truth that God provides. It is only when a person’s heart is open and a choice has been made to surrender that such truth will convict and open their blinded eyes.
The concern of every Christian should be to model the example of Jesus Christ and to give the Gospel to all of humanity. Many have unfortunately remained in silence for a fear of rejection and not wanting to be challenged by those in sin. However, the defense of our faith requires that we challenge the opposition since the opposition is so adamant about challenging those in Christ.
Jesus Christ is the lifeline for every lost soul, but it is a choice that one makes to accept or reject the gift of life. Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If not, then you are in sin and you need a savior. Jesus is the one and only one who can save you from your sinful condition. Accept this gift of life and allow your life to be made whole through the redeeming power of the cross.