We are living in the perilous times Paul wrote about in 2 Timothy 3. Paul predicted a time of great danger, compromise, and catastrophic breakdown of moral character. We see it all around us in the world today. It is the evidence that God's enemies are taking over the world in unprecedented fashion. God's people are a very important part of what must happen at this time of history, "in the last days." There is only one place that God's enemies will be driven out, and that place is the church. As those enemies are being driven out, His people will become a true light to the nations and the witness of the kingdom that is coming when Christ returns.
Paul told Timothy, "Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things,"1 so that as "good soldiers" of Christ they could know how to defeat His enemies. Have you ever considered, if Yahshua won the victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil, why does the Bible say that He must remain in heaven until all His enemies are made a footstool under His feet?2
We believe that if you are a sincere Christian and you genuinely consider what Paul says in verses 2-6 you will begin to understand this seeming contradiction in the Scriptures. In other words, if He defeated the devil, why then must He remain in heaven until all His enemies are made a footstool under His feet? And who's going to make them a footstool since He is in heaven? It seems as though it has to be His followers who do it, doesn't it?3
So if we are to put all His enemies under His feet before He can return, then we need to find out how to be good soldiers so that we can conquer them. In fact, how could anything please Him more than this? Let's consider what Paul is saying and maybe we can understand a very essential thing: the difference between the life of a good soldier and the life of a civilian. We must apply the "litmus test"4 of verses 2-6 to our lives in order to know where we stand.
The "litmus test" of 2 Timothy 2:2-7 establishes whether or not a believer is a true soldier of Christ. The criterion is whether or not "one engaged in warfare entangles himself in the affairs of this life." Paul said in verse 4 that no one engaged in waging war for his commander-in-chief will get involved in the affairs of civilian life, that is, if he truly wants to please the one who enlisted him. Civilian life is what a person does every day if he is not enlisted in the military. The life of a soldier is what he does every day in preparing to go to war to defeat a deadly enemy. The sign that an enemy is defeated is when the victor puts the head of his enemy under his feet. This is the goal of a good soldier in God's army. Can you imagine a soldier trying to wage war and work in the civilian world to support himself at the same time?
We can see what constitutes civilian life by reading Matthew 6:31-32: "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles [civilians] seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things." A civilian is one who seeks his own food, clothing, and shelter. This is the civilian life of the nations of the world. This is how the world lives.
A good soldier has one purpose -- to please the one who enlisted him. A person enlists in God's army because he wants to serve Him and carry out His will. In order to be in God's army one must obey the gospel -- the terms of enlistment. He hates his life in this world that is still ruled by Satan and wants to see his rule come to an end. Every soldier in boot camp gets to know his leader by learning to obey him in every command he gives. You bring with you to boot camp only what is surrendered to the cause you're enlisting for, as Luke 14:26-33 makes clear. Soldiers of Christ don't get involved in anything of the world, for it would distract them and sap their strength away from fighting the enemies of God that they have been enlisted to defeat and put under their Commander's feet.
All believers are commanded not to love the world or the things in the world, because if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.5 You see, if a person loves the world or the things in the world (which will be evidenced by involvement in the world's affairs), he is not obeying the commands of his Commander-in-Chief. And if he isn't obeying His commands, he doesn't love Him, and therefore the Commander can't reveal Himself to him to give him understanding in all things.6 He can't teach him how to use His weapons of warfare (Ephesians 6).
The gospel can only be understood in the context of being a soldier fully engaged in fighting the enemies of his Master and Savior. This takes a total, all-out effort-- a full participation with everything we have, all our time and energy, as well as all our possessions. The enemies of God are all the ways that spirits attach themselves to our desires, the desires of our flesh. The "fruit" or outcome is obvious. It is recorded in Galatians 5:19-21. This fruit is called "the works of the flesh." We were saved for "good works" spoken of in Ephesians 2:10 which we can only do if we are obedient to the Spirit of the One who enlisted us. He has a battle plan that assures victory over the enemy. His banner is love7 and He has gone before us as our example. He overcame all His enemies and sat down on the throne of His Father. We must do the same8 now as good soldiers in order to bring this wicked age to an end.
If He truly is the one who enlisted us, then we want to walk as He did and follow His example, loving one another as He loved us. This is the path of victory under the banner of love in God's army. If we love something more, then we should go and do it as Deuteronomy 20 says, but then let's not say we know Him and are His followers. For He is engaged in winning the war and He is the supreme Commander-in-Chief and is not interested in civilian affairs. He made it clear that the world is passing away and all its fleshly desires, but the one who does His will will live forever.9 If we say we're His soldiers and that He enlisted us, then we must follow His commands, learn His battle plan and execute it with all diligence.10
If you take a look at what's being preached every Sunday in your church, you'll probably find out that the Bible is being taught from the context of civilian life in the world, applying the words of the Bible to living like the Gentiles. Remember that according to what Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:2-7 among many witnesses that "if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules" (verse 5). Interpreting the Bible in terms of civilian life is not competing by the rules. It's like an athlete winning a race only to be disqualified because he used illegal drugs in training.
We have to live for the cause He came for, lived for, and died for. He said in John 18:37, "For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." The truth in 2 Timothy 2:2-7 reveals the nature of the life of His true followers -- absolute devotion. The truth has a sting to it that exposes whether we have failed the litmus test of His word and lack revelation of the kingdom, of what we're supposed to be building on earth.
The comprehensive gospel is a litmus test with well-defined criteria. If you can understand these criteria then you can see why we in the Twelve Tribes communities live the way we do. Seeking first the kingdom as Matthew 6:33 commands us to do means that we employ all that we have in serving others. No one lives for himself, to make his own living and live in his own house with his own job. No, those with understanding are living totally for others, and all their needs are being met by their brothers and sisters. Living this way is how we can serve Him where He is and therefore be honored by our Father in heaven, as our Master said in John 12:26.
Living this way is what will drive out all His enemies that have darkened this world for 6,000 years. Following the standard of love by obeying the One who enlisted us is what exposes all these dark enemies of God to the light of His life11 and causes them to flee. This light gives illumination and hope as a beacon to all mankind and a harbinger proclaiming that the end of this age is near.12 So, let us all who are sincere join together under this banner and fight with all our might, for we have His great promises and His great victory to assure us.