Join the Battle—and Sing

singing

Everyone is eager to point out the current difficulties of life in a broken world. Railing against oppressive circumstances is natural. But certainly, these are not just difficult times. They are also very important times. How many of us will look back on this season and say, “I fought the good fight and was faithful to God’s calling on my life”? Isn’t that the goal?

For the Christian, life is a battlefield. Why? Two reasons: we live in a world full of the deadly effects of sin, and we ourselves still sin. So, the battlefield is a spiritual battlefield, and we are waging a spiritual war against sin. No one will emerge from this battle victoriously in his own strength. So, what help do we have in battle? We have the witness of the saints, the victorious power of Jesus, and we have singing.

The Witness of the Saints

The author of Hebrews says that the Christian who pitches an all-out battle against sin looks to others who have done it, who have fought the fight, finished the race, and entered their rest. “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). The success of the saints should inspire our battle with sin.

Singing hymns is one of the ways we can join the battle. We remember those who finished the race victoriously and join with earnestness the battle they fought. We sing:

We bear the torch that, flaming
Fell from the hands of those
Who gave their lives proclaiming
That Jesus died and rose
Ours is the same commission
The same glad message ours
Fired by the same ambition
To Thee we yield our powers [1]

The Victorious Power of Jesus

By God’s grace, we have more than the memory of triumphant saints to strengthen our resolve. Hebrews 12:1-2 exhorts us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

We battle sin with the knowledge of past victories that were achieved against all odds, and we fight in the strength of Jesus, the true Champion of all those victories. He was victorious in His battle against sin and death, and He promises to share that victory with us, who fight our battle against sin after His example and in His power. Again, singing hymns can help us remember these truths.

We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him, our soul’s reward
Till the race is finished and the work is done
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight [2]

The Role of Singing in Battle

Singing plays a bigger part in our battlefield life than any of us realizes.

Just look to the Old Testament for stories about the role of music in worship (2 Chron. 5:12-14, 29:25-29), in comfort (1 Sam. 18:10), in ceremony (Josh. 6:4; 1 Chron. 13:8), in consecration (2 Kings 3:15), in battle (Num. 10:9; 2 Chron. 20), and in celebration (Exod. 15; 1 Sam. 18:6). God has ordained music for these things!

Indeed, music is an important part of worship in every generation, especially as it stirs hearts and reveals faith. Faithful singing pleases God in many ways.

1. Singing helps us remember who God is and stirs our hearts to desire Him.

Beautiful Savior, Wonderful Counselor
Clothed in majesty, Lord of history
You’re the way, the truth, the life
Star of the Morning, glorious in holiness
You’re the risen One, heaven’s champion
And you reign, You reign over all [3]

2. Singing calls to our minds what God has done.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ [4]

3. Singing reminds us of what God is doing now.

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great High Priest whose name is love
Who ever lives and pleads for me [5]

4. The Holy Spirit often uses a song to rescue the tempted sinner.

Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished [6]

5. Singing gives courage to the faithful for battle, where fear is an enemy.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee and cause thee to stand
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand [7]

6. Music eases the suffering of this life, which is the context of our fellowship.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come
Let this blest assurance control
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And hath shed His own blood for my soul [8]

Good songs point us to Christ and sing of His death and resurrection. Further, they apply those essential truths to life and theology. Good songs declare God’s faithfulness, in order that the singer might commit himself to God’s commands. Good songs celebrate the truth and authority of God’s Word and ask that the Holy Spirit would apply it to our hearts. Good songs describe God on His throne, creating in us a hunger for future glory under the righteous reign of Christ.

What better than a Word-filled song to help us remember the love, grace, power, and faithfulness of God?

It is right to pray for an end to our present crisis. But it is good to remember that there will be another crisis after this one, and then another. Let’s train our hearts to rejoice in our sufferings (Rom. 5:3-5), and to be faithful to God in our current battlefield and in those to come. Our ongoing trials can lead us to think ahead to all that is waiting for the believer in eternity, when all suffering will cease.

This is a good time for singing!

[1] Frank Houghton, “Facing a Task Unfinished” (OMF International (UK), 1930).
[2] Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, “By Faith” (Thankyou Music, Getty Music Publishing, 2009).
[3] Stuart Townend, “Beautiful Saviour” (Thankyou Music, 1988).
[4] Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, “In Christ Alone” (Thankyou Music, 2001).
[5] Charitee Bancroft, “Before the Throne of God Above” (Public Domain).
[6] Stuart Townend, “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” (Thankyou Music, 1995).
[7] George Keith (attributed), “How Firm a Foundation” (Public Domain).
[8] Horatio Spafford, “It Is Well with My Soul” (Public Domain).

This article originally appeared here.

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Dan became a Christian in 1992 and poured his life into the Church. In the spring of 2000, he began full-time ministry at the Evangelical Free Church in Orange, California, where he served until God called him to the Chicago area in the fall of 2007. Since then, he has served as worship pastor at The Orchard Evangelical Free Church. Trained in music at UCLA, Dan holds bachelor's and master's degrees in composition and piano performance. He has been married since 1995 to his wife, Midge, and they have three grown children.