As the apostle Paul was coming towards the end of his life in a Roman prison he reflected upon his spiritual life and relationship with God. Paul knew that he had always done what he thought was right according to his understanding of the will of God. “Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, ‘Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day’” (Acts 23:1). Paul was speaking to the Jewish council that he had been brought before and in an effort to help them understand the path of his faith spoke these words. Paul was well aware that there was a time in his life when he had not completely understood who Jesus was, and because of that persecuted the church and in doing so sinned and needed to repent of that sin which he did (Acts 9). Since that time Paul had given his all for Christ and wrote these words to the young preacher Timothy; “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race (course), I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). The inspired apostle mentions three things that he had done in order to overcome the challenges of life itself and the Christian life. He wrote that he had “fought the good fight” that is that Paul had put forth an aggressive effort in a spiritual sense. There had been both personal and spiritual challenges throughout his Christian life (1 Corinthians 2:1-5, 2 Corinthians 11:22-33). Second Paul says that he had finished the “race” or the “course”. Simply put Paul had come to the end of his life and he had not quit. He had not given up. Paul would pass from this life continuing to “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7-9). How disheartening it is when brethren see other brethren leaving the light and going into the world (1 John 2:15-17) or following after the false doctrines and teachings found among the “religious” (1 John 2:3-6). The third thing that Paul mentions is that he had “kept the faith”. Paul had maintained his own personal faith in God, Jesus, and the will of God because he had “kept THE faith”.
The coronavirus and all that is associated with it such as the physical distancing, some being out of work, not being able to visit with family or friends, and the fear of contracting the virus by simply going to the grocery store or shaking someone’s hand. These are genuine concerns and they do affect even Christians at various levels and one of those levels may be one’s personal faith. The apostle Paul certainly had his own trials and concerns on many levels, so how was Paul able to overcome these daily challenges that he faced and not give up his personal faith? Paul wrote; “…I have kept the faith.” As Paul wrote these words he was thinking about the faith that it was “the faith” that he had kept as opposed to his personal faith. Oh yes he had maintained a personal faith, never losing that faith, and he was able to do that because he had “kept the faith” that is the sound doctrine of Christ. There are many during this century that place doctrine and even sound doctrine on a sublevel as it is secondary in the life of the Christian. It is because of the sound doctrine that one is a Christian and continues to be able to live the Christian life or as Paul wrote “the faith”. It was that sound doctrine that taught Paul to give his life in service to Jesus, to love his brethren, to sacrifice his life time and time again to be able to serve the Lord and his brethren. It was Paul who wrote the great chapter on love (1 Corinthians 13), and it was because Paul had “kept the faith”. The word “kept” carries with it the idea of more than just having it, more than just casually believing it, but the word “kept” means “preserve” the faith and in this case preserve the faith (doctrine of Christ) in Paul’s heart, mind, and soul because there is where one loves and obeys God (John 14:15, Matthew 22:37-38). As we keep the faith in our heart, mind, and soul then we will be able to be carried through whatever crisis may arise in our life and even the coronavirus. May the Word of God continue to provide us the strength needed (Psalm 119:105).