Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:25-27 NLT
I am familiar enough with the military to know that basic training is difficult. In basic training, you learn the basic skills necessary to be successful to enter military service–in a vacuum, I might add. The key things you learn during the process are discipline, endurance, and faith. But the process prepares you for battle, and for more learning.
This is a time of warfare friends. The Gospel being preached now doesn’t prepare us for the attacks of the enemy and his forces. Let’s be clear, we do have an enemy. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."(NASB) This tells us that he is here, in our lives, operating through the people we work with, hang out, sometimes live with, and even fellowship with. We have to seek God with such fervor so that we can be trained properly on how to deal with him. This training enables us to pass the tests and be promoted in rank, which of course, has more training and more tests.
So then, what is basic training for a Christian? First, you must accept Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. (see John 14:6,7,13) Jesus is the way to the Father, and if you ask anything in His name, He will do it, so that the Father is glorified. Next, feed on pure spiritual milk. (1 Peter 2:2) But allow God to grow you. Next, study the Word, call on God, and seek divine wisdom! (see Jer 33:3, James 1:5) As babies grow and mature to understanding, so must you. Study, says Paul to Timothy, to show yourself approved, rightfully dividing the Word of truth. (paraphrasing 2 Timothy 2:15) After you have studied, you must become trained in what weapons are available for your use–see Ephesians 6:10-18. You can know the Word but not putting it to proper use won’t do you any good! You have to know to protect yourself and others with the Word. You have to know that calling on God in prayer and seeking wisdom for how to deal with the situations that will come is the strategy, something that you learn from studying and becoming well versed in the use of the weapons. These situations come to test you and sometimes to break you.
After basic training, the enemy is sure to come; he knows that God has a purpose for you and so he will come at you more intensely. So using that wisdom and discerning the attacks of the enemy–whether it be through things that happened in the past or unforeseen circumstances that will arise–you can rest in God knowing that He will give you the tools necessary to succeed and He is sure to guide you into deliverance. Like the enlisted soldier, once you pass basic training, you are ready for deployment to gain the specialized skills necessary for walking in your purpose. Don’t make the key mistake of failing to train; because when the heat turns up, you will be put to the test!
Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad–for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. 1 Peter 4:12-13 NLT
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory; 1 Peter 1:6-8