A Call to Arms: No Surrender!
And nail it to the mast.
No surrender; no compromise!
We’re fighting to the last!“
Raising the banner of Christ is risky; it involves a certain element of danger. By raising Christ’s banner over our lives, we identify ourselves as a target for enemy attacks. Indeed the Bible warns us that “…everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (2 Timothy 3:12)
But we will “…nail it to the mast…“
This phrase stems from the age of sailing ships and magnificent nautical battles on the high seas. Often times, ship captains, before going into a battle against difficult odds, would remove the flag from the halyard and nail it to the top of the mast. This action served a double purpose: it served as a visible sign to the crew that surrender was not an option. There was no hope of life save by victory. This encouraged every man to fight with all his might and main. Each man knew that he had nothing to gain by cowardice and everything to lose!
We should have this same attitude with the banner of Christ flying over our lives. We must make a firm decision to nail the flag to the mast, to refuse surrender. In our case, we have nothing to gain by surrender, because we have assurance that our final victory is sure! Our Captain has already triumphed over our foe (Colossians 2:15), and though the battle continues today, our enemy’s doom is certain. “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelations 20:10)
“No surrender; no compromise!“
What is meant by “surrender“? In what ways do we, as Christians, surrender? Our lives are secured in Christ. Having been saved by Him, we are held firmly in His hands, and no one can snatch us away from Him (see John 10:28-30). How then can we surrender to the enemy?
This phrase is referring to small daily surrenders, to anytime we do not live worthy of the calling we have received. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:2, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Every time we give into temptation, every time we allow fear – fear of others, of being different, of men – keep us from living as Christ lived, then we have surrendered. We have lowered the flag of Christ, and in its stead raised the white flag of surrender. When we allow the things of this world to interfere; when we remove our eyes from Christ and become distracted by everything around us, when we no longer seek God, then we relax our weapons and abandon them on the ground. And again, we will have surrendered.
An excerpt from the prayer journal of one who recognized a tendency towards this surrender in her own life:
“Lord, so often I find it easier to rely on You for strength, to seek You and study Your word, when I’m in the midst of a trial or when life is difficult. I know that I cannot make it on my own and so turn to You for help. But when life is smooth and everything seems to be going well, then, it is easy to forget entirely about the battle. I am still caught up in the midst of it, but it is harder to see. My strength seems sufficient – surely I can manage on my own! Then the distractions set in – they are not all bad, but the way they pull and shove me this way or that, takes my eyes off of You and eternity, and refocuses my gaze on the now and the temporal. I find myself spending less and less time in Your word, less time with You, my Savior, the Creator of the Universe! How is it that I am too busy for Thee, my Lord! A strange complacency sets in and I begin to make excuses. “Surely I am not as bad as others.” “I will not be harmed by missing another day in God’s word” – oh pride! – “There are so many other things to do…” And caught up in the business of my schedule and my pleasure, I forget the battle and abandon my weapons.
“Then I awake one day and hear Your voice calling my name. I look up to see the white flag of surrender flying over my head, and my weapons discarded on the ground. Lord, help me to tear down that flag and rend it to pieces, that I may never fly it again. Let me raise instead the banner of Christ, and fly it over my life! Keep my eyes fixed on You, Lord, and never let me forget the blood that You shed for me! Keep me ever leaning and relying on You, and never let me become proud or complacent! Keep me from being distracted by pleasures, but instead let me find my true joy in loving and glorifying You!”
The writer of that passage recognized that it is only by Christ’s strength, not our own, that we will be able to fight on and not surrender. Ephesians 6:10 tells us to: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.“
“We’re fighting to the last!”
The words of Paul in Philippians 1:27 echo and resound across the field, like the passionate exhortation of a commanding officer to his men before the battle. “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Worthy of the banner flying overhead; worthy of the calling we have received.
In Hebrews 12:4, we are encouraged to fight to the last: “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” Do not give up easily; fight until the very last drop of your blood is spilled, but do not surrender! I Corinthians 16:13 exhorts us, saying “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”
And yet, as we were reminded in the passage above, we do not fight alone, or on our own strength. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” And again in Philippians 4:13 “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”
Paul realized that when he was weak and relying on Christ for strength, then he was strong. The same is true of us. When we realize that we cannot do it on our own, that even our greatest strength is too weak (I Corinthians 1:25), when we turn to Christ and rely upon His great strength, trusting in Him to help us, then we are strong!
I Corinthians 15:57-58 states “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm! Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
It is all the easier to stand firm when we remember the great assurance which we have: that God gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Our ultimate victory is certain. Our enemy’s defeat is inevitable! So, why should we be afraid? Stand firm, then, my dear brothers and sisters, let nothing move you; give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord!”
~ A Servant of the King
“To the praise of His glory.”