September 29, 2013

Are You 4F, AWOL, MIA or A POW – Philip Strong

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

The word “soldier” does not occur in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (in the NASV), but a good portion of chapter six is filled with the imagery of armor and warfare.  He writes of: “the full armor of God, vv.11,13; “our struggle” (or “wrestle” in some versions- to fight), v.12; “loins girded with truth,” v.14a; “the breastplate of righteousness,” v.14b;  feet “shod with the preparation of the gospel,” v.15; and “the shield of faith,” v.16.  And then, of course, there is “the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God” in v.17.  So even though the word “soldier” is not present, there is no doubt that being a Christian is supposed to involve us in warfare- a fight against the “schemes of the devil,” v.11, and “world forces of darkness” and “spiritual forces of wickedness,” v.12!   But does it always?  The answer depends on the individual soldier!   For instance …

Are you “4F”? This is the military designation given to those “not qualified for service in the Armed forces” because of “physical, mental, or moral” unfitness.  Though physical fitness is not nearly as important in the Lord’s army as in Uncle Sam’s, mental and moral fitness are vital to the soldier of Christ!   Intimate knowledge of the weapon itself, and its capabilities and limitations, is crucial to the proper use of the “sword of the Spirit, which the word of God”!   Hebrews 5:12 highlights the importance of good training with the sword in preparation of its proper use, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for some one to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God….”.  Thus, mental fitness is important for the soldier of Christ- but, so too, moral fitness is required.  Note 2Timothy 2:21 in this regard, “Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.”  The “things” from which Paul urges us to cleanse ourselves are further clarified in the context as “wrangling about words,” “worldly and empty chatter,” “ungodliness,” “wickedness,” and “youthful lusts,” vv.14,16,19,22.  Given these things, are you “4F,” or physically, mentally, and morally fit for service in the Lord’s army?

Are you “AWOL”?  This is the military designation for those who are “absent without leave.” It means they left their post and/or duties without permission to do so. This is a problem in the Lord’s army too!  On a local level, the church is plagued by AWOL members who think nothing of absenting themselves for weeks at a time from the assembly, and its fellowship and duties, without a word to anyone.  If questioned about it, they sometimes bristle and become indignant at the question, or pass it off with something along the lines of, “Oh, we’ve been really busy lately.”  Can you image an infantryman explaining his being AWOL that way?  No one is suggesting that local church members need some sort of advanced “permission” to be out of town for business or pleasure.  But at the same time, shouldn’t members feel some sense of obligation to their local church families?  What happens to our responsibilities to assemble with one another for worship, and to teach, admonish, and encourage one another when we choose to be AWOL for weeks at a time? Do we expect God and our brethren to just “suspend” our responsibilities because we prefer to be somewhere else doing something else? Please consider 1Corinthians 11:18-34; Ephesians 5:18-21; and Hebrews 10:19-25 in these regards.

Are you “MIA”? This is the military designation for those who are “missing in action.”  I suppose the correlation this case would be comparable to a church member being away from his own “regiment” (local fellowship), but still working for the Cause.  That is, he may not be with his own congregation, but he is assembling with and encouraging others wherever he is to be “strong in the faith.”  Is this the attitude you have when away from home- to find brethren that you can help to strengthen and encourage with your presence and participation?  Or, is it more along the lines of, “I’ll go somewhere for worship if it’s not too far and I’m not too busy or tired.”?   The first one is MIA- the second is probably just AWOL!

Are you a “POW”?  This is the military designation for those who are “prisoners of war.”  Unfortunately, in physical and spiritual wars, there are captives.  There are some who, despite their efforts to “fight the enemy,” fall prey to them and become POWs.  They become entangled in the defilements of the world and the affairs of this life and are overcome, cf. 2Timothy 2:4; 2Peter 2:20.  In short, they are overrun by sin, Hebrews 12:2, or caught/captured by trespasses, Galatians 6:1.  Is this you?  Are you a POW?   If so, you’re supposed to have fellow soldiers out diligently searching for and rescuing you, Galatians 6:1ff; Hebrews 12:12,13,15!

What about it?  Are you 4F, AWOL, MIA, or a POW?  Or, are you still a “hard-fighting soldier” in the Lord’s army?


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