I’ve recently been diving into Lisa Bevere’s Girls with Swords as part of my Bible-and-a-book devotional. It was in this book that I was first introduced to the conceptual difference between soldiers and warriors. Bevere makes many great contrasts between these two classes of fighters—too many to quote here!—but one I found most interesting is that while a soldier fights for a specific cause for a specific duration of time, being a warrior is a way of life. She draws parallels to the Bushido code of the Japanese samurai and how their moral and honor code dictated their way of life both on and off the battlefield. The worst thing a samurai could be was a cast-out and masterless ronin. Death by one’s own hand was preferable to this. Because the samurai lived by one code whether in peace or at war, his conduct was trusted be above reproach in all scenarios.

Recognizing the difference between the soldier and the warrior mindset forced me to ask myself a question: am I living as a soldier of God, hired for specific battles as I see them arise, or am I living as His warrior, soul-called to the spiritual fight, speaking out against injustice, standing for those in need, maintaining morality and honor both on and off the battlefield?

The thing about being holy warriors for our God is that it is a lifetime mindset. It’s not that we perceive ourselves fighting in just one battle against the forces of darkness, but that wherever darkness is found, we plunge in and spread light. This mentality doesn’t allow for an end to our service; it ends when we do. This commitment is about so much more than agreeing to be in the trenches of spiritual warfare for any single battle that may pertain to our personal Christian interests. It takes training to adopt the endurance and dedication of a warrior, such that it impacts every frame of our lives. That sense of honor. That morality. That perseverance. That keenness to see where the conflict is, the courage to move into it at the leading of God and to come out on the other side of it prepared for the next battle. And the next.

When we swear allegiance to God and enter into His family, we have a choice: we can sit on the sidelines and let our belief carry us through; we can get our hackles up for the fights that are of personal significance to us; or we can choose to actively engage everywhere it matters, to champion the cause of Christ, to live and love in a way that is both mighty and gentle—to live as Jesus did. This is what it is to be a holy warrior, not just a soldier in God’s army, and to live by God’s code both on and off the battlefield.

It may be strict, it may be difficult to abide by, but His way is always pure, always perfect, always victorious. Will you choose to live by that code—the way of the Holy Warrior?