Sabbath School Lesson 1 - The Good Fight
At the moment when man yielded to sin and became a slave of evil, a conflict ensued that has continued ever since. From one generation to another, the forces of good and evil have contended with each other with mixed results, awaiting the time when the great Conqueror and Saviour would appear. Referring to the enmity and stern conflicts that would characterize the story of God’s people and the victory of God’s Son, the prophecy given in Eden stated: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15.
The first of the woman’s seed to fall victim to the violence of the enemy was innocent Abel, followed by a long line of others. Over the centuries, they “were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented.” Hebrews 11:35-37. Nevertheless, despite the bitter conflict and suffering they endured, the report is that they were victorious and by faith obtained promises, despite enmity, opposition, and conflict.
“In all ages,” writes the Spirit of prophecy, “the wrath of Satan has been manifested against the church of Christ; and God has bestowed His grace and Spirit upon His people to strengthen them to stand against the power of the evil one.” –The Great Controversy, p. ix.
“… When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son,…” Galatians 4:4. He overcame the forces of evil on every front. From the manger to the desert and from Gethsemane to Golgotha, in all circumstances, cities, and villages, there were clashes with the forces of evil; but the Son of God was victorious. Full of joy, He could say, “I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Thanks to Him and His blood, we can also be overcomers. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Revelation 12:11.
“ ‘These things I have spoken unto you,’ He said, ‘that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’ John 16:33. Christ did not fail, neither was He discouraged; and the disciples were to show a faith of the same enduring nature. They were to work as He had worked, depending on Him for strength. Though their way would be obstructed by apparent impossibilities, yet by His grace they were to go forward, despairing of nothing and hoping for everything.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 23.
After the intense struggle won by the Master, the conflict continued for His disciples and His church. Indeed, the closer we come to the end, the more intense “the good fight of faith” will become. Scripture warns: “The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of
Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17.
“The condition of the world previous to the first appearing of Christ,” writes the Spirit of prophecy, “is a picture of the condition of the world just previous to His second advent. The same iniquity will exist; Satan manifests the same delusive power upon human minds…. He is securing his army of human agents to engage in the last conflict against the Prince of life, to overthrow the law of God, which is the foundation of His throne. Satan will work with miraculous presentations to confirm people in the belief that he is what he claims to be–the prince of this world–and that victory is his. He will turn his forces against those who are loyal to God; but though he may cause pain, distress, and human agony, he cannot defile the soul…. The people of God in these last days must expect to enter into the thick of the conflict, for the prophetic word says, ‘The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.’ ” –(Review and Herald, October 29, 1895) Christ Triumphant, p. 259.
How can we face this battle? How can we be sure of victory? What armor should we wear? To these serious questions the reassuring answer is given: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” “Therefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10, 11, 13.
May the Lord bless every student to learn the lessons necessary to have the whole armor of God, to fight valiantly, and to gain the promised reward.
–The brothers and sisters of the General Conference
and the Ministerial Department
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Special Sabbath School Offering for
God bless your loving sacrifice for Him!
Sabbath, July 7, 2018
“When we accepted Christ as our Redeemer, we accepted the condition of becoming laborers together with God. We made a covenant with Him to be wholly for the Lord; as faithful stewards of the grace of Christ, to labor for the upbuilding of His kingdom in the world. Every follower of Christ stands pledged to dedicate all his powers, of mind and soul and body, to Him who has paid the ransom money for our souls. We engaged to be soldiers, to enter into active service, to endure trials, shame, reproach, to fight the fight of faith, following the Captain of our salvation.” –Evangelism, p. 618.
A personal battle
1. What counsel that is for every Christian did the apostle Paul give to Timothy?
1 Timothy 6:12; 1:18, 19 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…. 1:18This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; 19Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.
“The Christian life is a battle and a march. In this warfare there is no release; the effort must be continuous and persevering. It is by unceasing endeavor that we maintain the victory over the temptations of Satan. Christian integrity must be sought with resistless energy and maintained with a resolute fixedness of purpose.
“No one will be borne upward without stern, persevering effort in his own behalf. All must engage in this warfare for themselves; no one else can fight our battles. Individually we are responsible for the issues of the struggle; though Noah, Job, and Daniel were in the land they could deliver neither son nor daughter by their righteousness.” –The Ministry of Healing, p. 453.
2. What fight is every soul who decides to leave the enemy’s camp inevitably involved in? How long will this conflict continue?
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.
“No man can serve God without uniting against himself evil men and evil angels. Evil spirits will be put upon the track of every soul that seeks to join the ranks of Christ, for Satan wishes to recover the prey taken from his grasp. Evil men will give themselves over to believe strong delusions, that they may be damned. These men will put on the garments of sincerity and deceive, if possible, the very elect.” –(Testimony Treasures, vol. 1, p. 590) Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 595.
“If Satan sees he is in danger of losing one soul, he will exert himself to the utmost to keep that one. And when the individual is aroused to his danger, and, with distress and fervor, looks to Jesus for strength, Satan fears he shall lose a captive, and he calls a reinforcement of his angels to hedge in the poor soul, and form a wall of darkness around him, that heaven’s light may not reach him. But if the one in danger perseveres, and in helplessness and weakness casts himself upon the merits of the blood of Christ, Jesus listens to the earnest prayer of faith, and sends a reinforcement of those angels which excel in strength to deliver him….
“And when angels, all-powerful, clothed with the armory of heaven, come to the help of the fainting, pursued soul, Satan and his host fall back, well knowing that their battle is lost.” –(Review and Herald, May 13, 1862) Messages to Young People, p. 53.
Indispensable strength and grace to defend the truth
3. What is the dual nature of this battle?
Philippians 3:12-14 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 4:10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
“It is not enough to merely profess to believe the truth. All the soldiers of the cross of Christ virtually obligate themselves to enter the crusade against the adversary of souls, to condemn wrong and sustain righteousness.” –(Testimony Treasures, vol. 1, p. 329) Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 254.
“When souls are converted their salvation is not yet accomplished. They then have the race to run; the arduous struggle is before them to do, what? ‘To fight the good fight of faith,’ to press forward to the mark for the prize of the high calling which is in Christ Jesus. There is no release in this warfare; the battle is lifelong, and must be carried forward with determined energy proportionate to the value of the object you are in pursuit of, which is eternal life. Immense interests are here involved. We are made partakers of Christ’s self-sacrifice here in this life, and then we are assured that we shall be partakers of all its benefits in the future immortal life, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end. Think of this.” –My Life Today, p. 313.
4. What is absolutely indispensable?
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
“Faith is what you need. Do not let faith waver. Fight the good fight of faith and lay hold on eternal life. It will be a severe fight, but fight it at any cost, for the promises of God are yea and amen in Christ Jesus. Put your hand in the hand of Christ. There are difficulties to be overcome, but angels that excel in strength will cooperate with the people of God. Face Zion, press your way to the city of solemnities. A glorious crown and a robe woven in the loom of heaven await the overcomer. Though Satan would cast his hellish shadow athwart your pathway and seek to hide from your view the mystic ladder that stretches from earth to the throne of God, on which ascend and descend the angels who are ministering spirits to those who shall be heirs of salvation, yet press your way upward, plant your feet on one round after another, and advance to the throne of the Infinite.” –Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, pp. 462, 463.
5. What will God give every Christian soldier so he will be able stand?
Psalm 27:1; 28:7 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?… 28:7The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.
2 Timothy 2:1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
“If the Christian feels his weakness, his inability, by putting his trust in God, he will find the grace of Christ sufficient for every emergency.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 260.
“The soldier of Christ must meet many forms of temptation, and resist and overcome them. The fiercer the conflict, the greater the supply of grace to meet the need of the soul…. The true Christian will understand what it means to pass through severe conflicts and trying experiences; but he will steadily increase in the grace of Christ to meet successfully the enemy of his soul…. The darkness will press upon his soul at times; but the true light will shine, the bright beams of the Sun of righteousness will dispel the gloom; and … through the grace of Christ he will be enabled to be a faithful witness of the things which he has heard from the inspired messenger of God…. By thus communicating truth to others, the worker for Christ obtains a clearer view of the abundant provisions made for all, of the sufficiency of the grace of Christ for every time of conflict, sorrow, and trial.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 260.
“All our powers of soul, body, and spirit, must be engaged in the Christian warfare. We must look to Christ for strength and grace, and we shall gain the victory as surely as Jesus died for us….” –Messages to Young People, p. 115.
Examples from the past
6. Of what do some examples in the Old Testament remind us? What did the believers achieve through firm faith in God?
Hebrews 11:29-32 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. 30By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. 31By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. 32And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets.
“There are lessons for us to learn at this time from the experience of those who labored for God in past generations. How little we know of the conflicts and trials and labors of these men, as they fitted themselves to meet the armies of Satan. Putting on the whole armor of God, they were able to stand against the wiles of Satan….
“These men who in the past gave themselves to God and to the uplifting of His cause were as true as steel to principle. They were men who would not fail nor be discouraged; men who, like Daniel, were full of reverence and zeal for God, full of noble purposes and aspirations. They were as weak and helpless as any of those who are now engaged in the work, but they put their whole trust in God. They had wealth, but it consisted of mind and soul culture. This every one may have who will make God first and last and best in everything. Although destitute of wisdom, knowledge, virtue, and power, we may receive all these if we will learn from Christ the lessons that it is our privilege to learn.” –Messages to Young People, p. 33.
7. What will be the result of the fight of faith for those who, like the apostle Paul, endure faithfully to the end?
2 Timothy 4:7, 8 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
“There is a rich and abundant promise to those who overcome. It is not enough to enter upon this warfare, we must pursue it to the end. We must know nothing of yielding. We must fight the good fight of faith to the very end. To the overcomer is promised the triumphal victory. ‘To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.’ ” –Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 361.
“If we are overcomers at last, there are battles for us to fight, and we will find that the flesh warreth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. It is for us to say which will triumph.” –Christ Triumphant, p. 211.
For additional study
“We have before us a warfare–a lifelong conflict with Satan and his seductive temptations. The enemy will use every argument, every deception, to entangle the soul; and in order to win the crown of life, we must put forth earnest, persevering effort. We must not lay off the armor or leave the battlefield until we have gained the victory, and can triumph in our Redeemer. As long as we continue to keep our eyes fixed upon the Author and Finisher of our faith, we shall be safe. But our affections must be placed upon things above, not on things of the earth. By faith we must rise higher and still higher in the attainment of the graces of Christ. By daily contemplating His matchless charms, we must grow more and more into His glorious image. While we thus live in communion with Heaven, Satan will lay his nets for us in vain.” –Messages to Young People, p. 104.