By Jay Pearson


I would like to start by telling a story. I spent the longest one minute segment of my life in 1969 at Colorado Springs. Actually I spent three of my longest one minute segments there. I was in the Indiana National Guard on a summer camp training mission. My longest minutes ever were spent in a sectioned off boxing ring before an audience of over 200 men. At 24 years of age I thought I was in pretty good shape. However many factors play a part in preparation for a contest. As contenders my opponent and I traveled from 500 feet above sea level to one mile high in one short day. We entered the ring with only one day to adjust to the altitude. If you have ever hiked in the mountains you will agree that it is a challenge for one not trained at that elevation. In a matter of only seconds into my first one minute round I realized I was not ready for this. I had not been tried, tested, or exercised for this contest. Fortunately my opponent hadn’t either. I learned a very valuable lesson in each one minute segment of that contest. I only realized the true benefit of it much later in life, years later.

To be a top contender in spiritual warfare, preserving the earthen vessel with which you have been entrusted, you must be exercised in the use of the gifts of the Spirit. My opponent in Colorado was a good person, possibly even a Christian. The opponent we are contending with today is not good, not even close. On the contrary he is very vicious. He is trained and commissioned to steal, kill, and destroy and has been exercising for centuries. Open your eyes, wake up, and look around you.

Romans 13:11-12:
And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

Wake up and look around you. Your opponent lurks. He wants to shift your attention away from the Lord. He wants to cause you to doubt your calling. He wants to show you an easier road so he can ambush you; so he can steal, kill, and destroy your fellowship, breath life, and your crowns for the Master. There are two things he doesn’t want: one is for you to count on the Christ that is in you, and the other is for you to count on God working in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Jude 1:3:
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

To be a top contender requires an effective exerted effort. Any one can swing a punch. Not everyone can connect with dramatic results that will affect the outcome of the contest. The apostle Paul didn’t fight as one that beateth the air. We are exhorted in scripture to follow his example.

1 Corinthians 9:26:
I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

Paul stayed in communication with the Father.

1 Corinthians 14:18:
I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:

He knew he was in a contest and he knew his opponent. He connected with each punch he delivered. He did not judge the contest nor did he judge his actions. He did not second guess his actions, but pressed toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 4:3:
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.

My personal observation is that many Christians spend more time looking at what they have done and less time looking at what they are doing. Paul did not wait to get hit. He did not dance around the ring to avoid confrontation. Instead of waiting for the fight to come to him he took the fight to the opponent.

Acts 20:24:
But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Paul knew he was in the battle and he didn’t have to guess. He knew he was always in the ring, the battlefield of the boxer. There are differences between the contest which takes place in the boxing ring and that which takes place on the battlefield of the Christian. At the end of each boxing match, the boxer exits the ring and goes the locker room to rest or maybe even celebrate. In contrast the Christian enters the ring or battlefield for an around the clock confrontation. This contest begins when he accepts Jesus Christ as Lord. The contest doesn’t end until his earthly life is over. Another difference is that the Christian’s opponent is already defeated. This opponent tries to convince the saved Christian that he, the devil, can win the battle, when in truth he can only score points in a situation. The great thing is that no matter how many points he scores, he will never be the victor. The outcome has been judged, and the award has been presented to Jesus Christ, the victor over darkness. Our adversary can only seek to instill darkness in a Christian’s life. He does not have the power to extinguish the light, the eternal life of the Christian. The light is God himself and he has long ago extinguished our adversary’s light forever.

Ezekiel 28:15-16:
Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

Your most important battle is and will be held in your promised land. As Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and the children of Israel were given a tangible promise land, you are given a tangible earthen vessel which is your promised land here and now. You are commissioned to go in and possess the land, drive out the inhabitants, throw down the high places, destroy the idols of the old inhabitant, and mortify the old.

2 Corinthians 5:17:
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Ephesians 4:22-24:
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5:
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

You can not allow your mind to be the old man’s hideout or the devil’s gymnasium. Any one can throw a punch. This new spirit mind set, the mind of Christ, will prepare you to deliver with precision a power punch on target. A Top Contender’s mind and heart is full of "IT IS WRITTEN." His hands are wrapped by God. Jesus Christ is in his corner.

Psalm 144:1:
Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:

For a boxer to be a top contender he must utilize all his weapons. He must use them effectively, listening to his corner man. By reason of use he will have exercised these weapons: his hands, feet, legs, torso, and his head and mental skills. He may use these both for offense and defense. He must use his heart when he is running out of gas or energy. His heart supplies the extra effort needed to be courageous and conquer. The Christian must put on the whole armor of God to be a top contender and he must rely on his heart to supply the energy to overcome and the strength that reaches beyond his strength. The heart of the Christian is the Lord Jesus Christ. Without him you can do nothing, but with him you have overcome. You will finish your course. You will have fought the good fight of faith that Paul spoke about and lived for.

2 Timothy 4:7:
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

1 Timothy 6:12:
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.

The good fight of faith always comes down to a single choice. Believe God or something else.

Joshua 24:15:
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Will you serve the gods from before your baptism or the gods of the old man in whose land you now dwell? NO! NO! Praise the Lord Jesus Christ as for us we will serve the Lord. Be a Top Contender for THE TOP CONTENDER, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ. Amen.



From the May 2006 issue of The Vine & Branches