Paul was a fanatic religious Jew who wanted to kill Christians. He was full of enthusiasm, but had wrong motives. He wanted to spread the religion and prove that his faith was the perfect and only way to God.

But you know it is not religion but your relationship with God which will save us. Religion will make you rigid, but relationship with God will make you righteous. It is not the fanaticism but a real living faith in God that will save us. It is not the thoughts of man, but the Word of God which will save us. 

Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus experience and changed him from a fundamentalist opponent to the faith-filled Apostle of Jesus Christ. He got a purpose in his life. This is his last letter which he wrote before he was executed in Rome at the time of King Nero. Looking back at 30 years of his labor (36-66 AD), he was writing this letter to young Timothy who was taking care of the church at Ephesus. Now having finished the God-given purpose of his life, he is satisfied and with full confidence he encourages Timothy to carry on the ministry with full of zeal. From this verse we learn     a threefold purpose for a believer's life.

I   FIGHT A GOOD FIGHT .  Most people want to excel in a bad fight, but  this is a good and honorable fight. In 1 Tim. 6:12 Paul tells Timothy to fight a good fight of Faith. This is also clear in 1Tim 1:18      "This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,…" Whether you agree or not, believe or not, want or not, the Christian life is warfare and if you are a believer you are in that warfare. When you believe in Christ you are clothes with Christ. we are not fighting men but…

1. Satan. In Ephesians 6:10-13 Paul writes "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."

James 4:7 writes "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." 2 Cor. 10:3-6 "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,  casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled."

2.   Sin . This is a war against sin, worldliness, social evil system, beliefs and superstitions.

Apostle John writes in his epistle 1 John 2:15 "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever."

3. Self. This is a fight against our own self and selfish desires. Jesus said, if anyone wants to be my disciple "let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Paul writes in 1 Cor. 9:27 "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."

II. FINISH THE RACE.   Let me tell you a purpose driven life is not a lazy life of idle faith but an active, energetic race to run. It is not an optional morning or evening walk, but a definite race with a purpose. Of course you know a racer has to discipline himself, he has a goal which he has to complete within set rules and regulations. Paul clarifies this in the following verses.

1 Cor. 9:24-26 "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air."

Acts 20:24 "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."

Phil. 2:16 "Holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain"

Gal. 2:2 " And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain."

Heb. 12:1 "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…"

III. KEEP THE FAITH    In order to fight and run, you would need to have faith and lots of perseverance, because this is not going to be an easy journey but rather full of struggles at every step. One thing is sure if you have fixed your eyes on Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, victory belongs to you. If God is with us who can be against us.

The Living Bible puts this way 2 Tim. 4:7 "I have fought long and hard for the Lord, and through it all I have kept true to Him…" It is not how we start, but how we end is what matters. If your beginning was not good, don't worry about your beginning, your past doesn't have to decide your future. The past is history you can't change, but you can change your present that will determine your future. Therefore, take heed to the warning in Rev 2:7 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." Rev. 3:11 "Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown."

There was man named Saul in the Old Testament who was the first king of Israel. He had a very good beginning. He reigned Israel for 40 years, and he fought many wars and won in the name of Yahweh. But the later years of his life he began to rely upon his own strength. He even started neglecting the priests of God and consulting divinations. Henceforth, God left him and an evil spirit began to torture him. Unfortunately at the end of his life he was killed by his own sword. He had a very good beginning, but a bad end.

In contrast, Paul of the New Testament had a very bad beginning: killing Christians and hating Christ and the Church. But one fateful day, a supernatural encounter with the Jesus Christ  transformed a hateful sinner to a humble saint. He had a very vile beginning but a victorious end.

Beloved, keep on doing good and remember that the God who started this good work in you will bring in to completion. You are made for eternity; walk seriously with God. Whatever you do now will affect your life eternally. You can't change your past, but you can change your present by turning to God and your present will change your future forever.

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