GLEN ROSE, TEXAS
Sunday, June 10, 2001
Glen River Chapel
WE WRESTLE NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD
Bible Reading: EPH 6:12
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places .
I want to direct your attention to the first part of our text. Let's center our thoughts around wrestling with flesh and blood, which is the first portion of that verse. Satan does not want you and me to know the true character of God, but God's Word does teach the true character of Satan.
Through Satan's devices, the true character of God is concealed from us. On the contrary, God's Word speaks very specifically to let us understand the true character of Satan. I believe it is very important to understand the true character of Satan, as well as the character of God.
Satan deceives his victims about the true character of God to keep them from returning unto God.
I believe deceit is something Satan will use to conceal the true character of God. This wrestling match with Satan is a sharp, life-long combat, which no Christian can escape. When scripture says, "...we wrestle not against flesh and blood." This teaches us that we are in fact wrestling. It will be a very strong combat between us and Satan. Every Christian will encounter this combat.
FOR OUR FIRST POINT, let's consider what is meant by the term "WRESTLE", and how to wrestle.
FOR OUR SECOND POINT, let's consider how we are not to wrestle.
FOR OUR THIRD POINT, lets consider the fact that we are not wrestling against flesh and blood.
The first point I want to deal with is what is meant by the term "wrestle", and how to "wrestle." Wrestling is not a team sport. You understand that in team sports, you have help as Joab said to his brother Abishai in
That is a team war.
In a ball game, you see teams. If one seems to be overcome, there is another member of the team who can relieve him from combat. Then they are able to recover strength and go again. In a wrestling match it is one-to-one. When we start dealing with this subject of wrestling with Satan, we are dealing one-on-one. There are no teams.
In 1SA 17:8, we read about Goliath and David. Stop and analyze the armies of Israel. They were confronted by the armies of the Philistines. When they were confronted, Goliath went out and asked, "Why put these armies in array? This would put our whole armies in jeopardy. Let me have one man, and I'll war with one man. If I win, you'll be servants. If your man wins, we'll be servants." Goliath suggested this in
He was saying to put the battle in array one man to one man.
That would be a very personal warfare. We have to understand that Goliath is a type of "the old man of sin." Warfare is going to become a very personal matter between you and "the old man of sin."
· You will find that you are fighting a personal warfare, one-to-one. We don't go in as an army or a unit. We don't go in to try and gain a victory as a combined, organized team. We must go alone. We find we are in a one to one battle. When an army engages in a battle, some men may come out without a scratch. When the battle is one-on-one, you are the sole object of your challenger's fury. Your challenger's fury is directed to you personally. You are the sole object.
In 1SA 17:9 we read,
Think of the challenge for David. He had to go face Goliath alone. They had the understanding that if he was slain, the armies of Israel, the armies of the Lord, would become servants to "the old man of sin." That was a tremendous challenge. He went in the name of the Lord. It will be in the name of the Lord that you and I will come against "the old man of sin." We must come against Goliath.
That battle becomes personal. It is not a team warfare anymore. It becomes very personal. "The old man of sin" in us wants to succumb to the powers of sin. This is what we mean by wrestling. We are meaning it is a one-to-one warfare.
The whole issue of your spiritual destiny is personal and particular. You must understand it is a warfare between you and "the old man of sin." The wrestling must become personal and particular. It is not what becomes of him or her, but what becomes of me. It is a one-to-one warfare.
You give Satan a dangerous advantage if you see his wrath and fury against the saints in general, and not against yourself in particular. You give him a horrible advantage, because you are caught off guard. He can have some tremendous advantages on you before you stop to realize you are his target. It is you personally. Satan hates me! Satan accuses me! Satan tempts me! We don't look at this in general terms, but in personal terms.
When we talk about "wrestling," we have to understand that it is not a team sport. It is a one-to-one battle. It becomes so personal that Satan hates me! That temptation is for my fall. The battle against Goliath becomes a warfare of mine. I have to fight with Goliath, and then I realize the magnitude of that battle. Do you know why? It's for my own eternal welfare. I'm struggling now for my own spiritual survival, so I do not succumb under the power of Satan.
· Parallel to that, Satan wants us to look at God's promises in general. We don't have to look at Satan's accusations and attacks in particular. We have to parallel that to one of Satan's attacks. He wants us to look at all the promises of God in general. We now have all the promises of the church. Does that automatically include me? No!
Thus we fail to see God's providence and promises as personal. When God's providence brings a trial in our life, we must see that God, in His providence, will bring us through the furnace. Then every promise has to become personal for me. When the Lord says, "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith," my eyes must look unto Jesus in the trial of faith He has sent upon me. It becomes personal.
· Every saint must come to say, "God loves me!" He must say, "God loves me!" Every saint must come to the point that he understands when God pardons him! He must say, "I need a pardon for my sin! I have brought reproach upon His name.
When I have wounded a brother or a sister, I must realize that I need that balm of Gilead in every wound. [It becomes personal.] I see every sin that I have committed against God's honor and every sin that I have committed against one of His saints. I see that it becomes personal. I need a pardon for that sin." This is what we need to understand. The word "wrestle" is not used in a general sense.
· Wrestlers grapple hand-to-hand. The enemy actually has a hold on you. It's not just a mystic thought of something. You're in a wrestling match and you make physical contact. That opponent actually takes hold of you; he has a hold of you with an objective to put you down and gain a victory over you. It becomes a wrestling match. You either resist or fall shamefully at his feet.
If you think you can go through these wrestling matches without resisting the devil, you are going to fall shamefully at his feet. He is going to crumble you. If you're one of the Lord's loved ones, that doesn't mean he'll eternally gain the victory. Oh, beloved, he will bring you to shame. He will bring many wounds and bruises upon you.
We have to understand what we read in :
We may not give place to the devil. How do we do this? When we allow a temper, we
· You have to tear down those strong holds of Satan instead of allowing a temper to rule your heart and to captivate your soul. If you allow these things, you aren't resisting the devil. Satan moves in close. He takes hold of your very flesh and corrupt nature. He takes hold of those corrupt inclinations within you and uses them to slaughter you. He uses your own temper, pride, and covetousness to destroy you. He gets a hold of your very flesh and corrupt nature and tears you to shreds.
This should cause you to draw nigh to God. It says in
This means we must resist the devil, and he'll flee from us. We may not give place to the devil.
· Our text says, "WE WRESTLE." The apostle thereby included himself. There isn't one person who is excluded from this. The quarrel is with every saint. Satan is not afraid to quarrel with the pastor. He is not too proud to quarrel with the poorest saint. Satan doesn't forget anybody's address.
If a pastor is preparing a message, Satan loves to get a little deceit there. He loves to see us claim a little comfort from something that is outside the Word of God.
Satan tries to keep the pastor from reproving a sin that needs reproving. Satan will caution that this can cause a stir in the church. He says, "You better not do that, that will cause dissension!" That's how he gets a hold of the very corruption in the hearts of the pastor and of the poorest saint. He knows just where to find it. He'll take a hold of that and pick a quarrel with it.
Christ does not send one part of His army into the battle and leave the other to bask in the sunshine of idleness. Every saint is going to understand what it means to "wrestle" with Satan. This wrestling match is going to include everyone.
In HEB 12:6-8 it says,
then you can't claim God as your Father.
If you don't understand what it is for the Lord to use that purging process of the furnace, then you are not to be called a son. The warfare is for the rest of your life.
In JER 15:10 it says,
If we are walking in God's favor, we become "a contention to the whole earth." Do you know why? This is because we have been in a wrestling match with Satan. He will enlist the help of everyone of his friends. He will enlist an army that will include everyone of his servants to come against God's people.
Listen to what Jeremiah says,
He is pointing out that he has not walked in sin, thereby bringing upon him the wrath of the people. Yet, it is there.
· As we grow in grace, the spiritual warfare only increases. As we go forward and become mature Christians, the warfare doesn't get won; it gets greater. In GAL 5:17 we read,
We can sit calmly and relax sometimes, picturing exactly how we would like to handle a situation. Then we get in the heat of the battle and lose our cool. Then tensions come out. Before we know it, we're not doing what we thought we would. We find that we are not able to do these things.
The Lord has a reason for this. He does this so we become more dependent upon Him. The Lord wants us to be where we are as a little child, so we learn to eat out of His hand daily. The Lord is using the process of persecution and chastisement to make us become smaller and smaller in the flesh. No condition in the flesh is a place of rest.
In prosperity, Lot's righteous soul was vexed by the filthy conversation of the wicked. We read this in 2PE 2:7-8,
He had no place of security or peace in a state of prosperity, neither did he in a state of adversity.
In adversity Job was vexed. JOB 23:8-10 reads,
Job saw that he was in the way of adversity. He was vexed. Why? The Lord had withdrawn from him. He was wrestling against principalities and power. He was threatened and he was wrestling, but not with flesh and blood.
The Psalmist understood the days of darkness and of light as a result of his spiritual warfare. Listen to what he says in PSA 139:7-11,
He saw he could not find a place where he was not under the observation of the Lord. He saw the Lord was there observing and leading him in every step of his life.
· We wrestle with the body of sin as well as with Satan. We have to understand that we have a body of sin. We don't need Satan to instigate every evil thought. We're fallen creatures ourselves. We have to understand also, that Satan likes to be the author of these thoughts.
Satan likes to seed them in our minds, but he can't cause us to act upon it. This takes our own deceitful heart. Satan loves to instigate and tempt, but we are the ones that are guilty of acting upon it. When we go forward and act in behalf of Satan's council, we have to see what it says here in ROM 7:18-20.
Christ admonished us to deal a death blow to that body of sin. Our tongue is part of that body of sin. Our hands that are swift to do and to exercise those evil thoughts that come in our minds are part of that body of sin. Our feet that are swift to run to do evil are part of that body of sin. These are all part of that body of sin. They all have to be crucified. Christ admonished us to deal a death blow to that body of sin.
Let's see what it says in MAT 5:30,
The same is true with the lustful eye. It has to be plucked out. The foot that is so swift to run to iniquity has to be cut off. That doesn't mean that we physically cut off our arm, leg, or pluck out our eye. It's the body of sin that has to be plucked out. Those members of that body of sin which draw us into those temptations have to be dealt with, and Satan will flee from us. Draw nigh unto God, and he'll draw nigh unto thee.
II. How we are not to wrestle.
· When we wrestle with Satan, we wrestle for God. When we settle into complacency, we are in a passive resistance to God. We must be very careful against wrestling against God or the things He sends in His providence.
When God sends a trial in providence, we start fighting the trial. Instead of seeing the Lord's hand in the trial and profiting from it, we are wrestling against God. You have to be careful of this. In ISA 45:9 it says,
The Lord is telling us we may not strive with the Lord's providence, which He has sent upon us. We are the clay in his hands. What He wants to make of us or do with us, we are not to resist. We may not strive with our maker. We may not strive with His providence. He says to let the potsherd strive with potsherd of the earth. Does the clay resist the hand of the potsherd? No.
We are as the clay in the Father's hand! When we resist that which He brings upon us in providence, we start striving with the Lord. We may not do this. We may not wrestle against the Lord.
· Beware of striving against the Spirit of God. In GEN 6:3 it says,
The Lord is grieved with man striving against the Spirit of God, striving against His will and Word. We may not wrestle against the Lord. At times we become Satan's strongest accessory. We start murmuring against the Lord. We murmur against what the Lord has sent upon us.
The Lord is so gracious to those whose heart is tender in His fear. We find this in ISA 30:21, "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left." When we are walking in ways that are not pleasing to the Lord, the Lord speaks by His Spirit.
We hear a word behind us saying, "Don't do that." It's an inclination in the heart, and the conscience. It's the Spirit of God. He admonished and reproves us. It is something that comes through by instinct. Sometimes it is by the Spirit passing a passage of Scripture through our heart to reprove or instruct us. That's the Word of God. We must watch that we don't strive against that. When the Lord comes and graciously directs us, we must be careful that we don't wrestle against it.
The Lord reveals His will to us as He did to Joshua. Listen to what He said to Joshua in JOS 1:7.
The point is that he shall prosper by obedience. That remains the same today in the New Testament. If we are walking in subjection, if our heart is reconciled unto the Lord, we shall prosper. The Lord said, "Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law...that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest." We may not obey Satan by disobeying the revealed will of God and expect to prosper.
When we resist that which God clearly gives us to understand, we are striving with the Spirit. In ACT 7:51 it says,
The word "circumcised" means taking away the rebellion of the flesh.
We can see this very clearly in COL 2:10. It says, "Ye are circumcised in Christ by the removing of the flesh," it is by the removing of that rebellion. The circumcision of the heart is the work of regeneration. ACT 7:51 says, "Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears."
Isn't that beautiful? This admonition against rebellion extends to our refusal to hear as well as to do. We are cautioned not to resist when the Lord speaks to us--we must hear!
There is an expression my father often used. "If you can't hear, then you must feel." In other words, if we neglected hearing his admonitions, we felt the rod. The Lord often uses the rod until we are willing to hear that voice behind us saying, "this is the way walk ye in it." This is if we hear.
If we are uncircumcised of ears, it means we refuse or rebel; we hear, but we don't do it. Jesus said in LUK 6:46,
Jesus was describing those who are uncircumcised in heart and in ears. "Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye."
The Lord has a controversy with those people who refuse to hear as well as those who refuse to do. When we question God's acts we contend with God's providence. It says this in JOB 40:1-4. "Moreover the Lord answered Job, and said, Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it. Then Job answered the Lord, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth."
Job began to understand when the Lord spoke to him that he was vile. Until then we see the lesson in JOB so beautifully. The Lord said to Satan, "Has thou considered my servant Job that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man?" This was not a righteousness with which he could obtain salvation. That took the righteousness of Christ. He could not look at his own righteousness as though it was perfect before the Lord.
Job had to come to where he saw he was vile. This is what Job means when he says, "Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee?"
Then Job had to say, "I've heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
The word "repent" means a change of mind. Sometimes the Lord leads us through a trial like He did Job. He does this to get us to repent, to change our mind, even though we thought we were right all along. Look how Job defended his integrity throughout the whole book.
When he comes to the end, Job says he is vile. He can now see himself as the sinner. He no longer pointed the finger at someone else. He admitted he was vile. This is contending against the Lord if we don't see these things.
A heart that loves the Lord thinketh no evil of Him, even when He comes with a chastening hand. Then we'll be able to kiss the rod. Then we'll see there is honey on the rod. There will be such sweetness in the things the Lord has done to chastise us, because we see it was for our own good.
In HEB 12:11-12 it says,
If you have a family of children, what's the purpose of chastening? Isn't it to conform their will to your will?
"No chastening for the present is pleasing, that seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it will yieldeth the peaceable fruits of [conformity of life to the divine law] righteousness."
That's the effect that we get from chastening. It brings our hearts in surrender to the will of God. Our heart becomes reconciled to the will of God. We have no will of our own. We only want to know His will. This is so beautiful! Afterward it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness unto those which are exercised thereby. "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees."
If we see a brother or a sister whose hands are hanging down or look feeble, this is because they're starting to faint in their mind. Their mind and their eyes are not fixed on Christ.
"Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself," HEB 12:3. We lift up those feeble hands. We encourage them to look up to Christ.
I spoke with a young man a while ago. I pointed out that what you have suffered becomes so small when you start to look unto what Christ has suffered for you. When our heart is in the right place, it produces those peaceable fruits of righteousness. Then our hearts will melt in the will of God and we are not contending with God.
· We wrestle against God when we wrestle by our own rules. If you're going to be a professional wrestler, there will be rules you'll have to go by. Sometimes we forget those rules. We start wrestling according to our own rules. Then we get ourselves into trouble.
2TI 2:5 says,
We need to strive according to the Word of God. The Word of God beautifully sets forth every weapon we use. They are the Word of God looking onto Jesus. This is the purpose of all these things. We must strive lawfully.
· Some, while they wrestle against one sin, will hide another. We need to examine our hearts for this. Sometimes we are struggling with such a monster of a sin that we use another sin to try to overcome it. You may hide your wrath but never forgive.
Others wrestle with sin, but do not hate it. You may act very loving and peaceful, but in your heart you've never forgiven. Then you are using one sin to hide another. This false love is also sin.
· We can wrestle with sin, because we can see its consequences, but if there were no consequences, we could cherish it with our whole heart. What do we have? We have a legal religion.
We are only concerned with going to heaven so we can escape hell. We want the blood of Christ to pay the penalty of sin, so we can escape the consequences. If there were no heaven or hell, we could enjoy that sin and drink it in with delight.
A legal repentance is evident if we never have learned to hate sin. Until the love of sin is quenched in the heart, the fire will never die out. That sin has to be hated. The fire of that sin will kindle in our hearts until we learn to hate it.
We will never get Satan to flee as long as he knows that in the inner thoughts of our hearts we still love him. As long as we cherish a sin in our hearts, we really do not understand what it means to hate that sin.
Only the love of Christ can quench the love of sin. ROM 2:4 says,
It is the love of God that gives us the power to quench sin. We need the Lord's help to wrestle.
If we can venture without Him, we have more courage than Moses. In EXO 33:13-15 it says,
Moses could not go and conquer the nation with an angel before him, he needed God's presence. He said, "If thy presence go not with me, carry me not up hence." If we can go to conquer the promised land and venture against sin in our own strength, then we have more courage than Moses. We are fighting a losing battle.
Jacob turned to the Lord for help to overcome Esau. When he came against Esau, he came, in GEN 32:11 saying,
· We cannot come against our enemy bare handed. We cannot conquer the old Goliath, "the old man of sin," without the strength of the Lord. When David went forward, he went forward in the name of the Lord.
Listen to what we read in GEN 32:24-26.
Jacob could not go forward to fight his own war. Jacob needed the help of the Lord. He saw that it was the Lord that brought him into this trial. Jacob saw that it was the Lord that told him, "return onto thy land and thy kingdom."
This became his pleading ground. Jacob said , "Lord, I am doing what you told me to do. I'm returning to my land and to my kindred. Here comes Esau and four hundred men with him. Deliver me I pray, from the hand of my brother." He saw that he needed the Lord's help.
David enlisted the Lord's help against Ahithophel. Listen to what we read in 2SA 15:31.,
Ahithophel hung himself. He did this because his advice went unheeded.
Heaven said, "Amen," and David's foe hanged himself, when David prayed saying, "O Lord, I pray thee turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness." See the power there is when we are not wrestling against the Lord. When we see the purpose the Lord has in these trials, we have Him on our side.
Strive to put off that old man by wrestling in prayer. In PSA 18:32 we read,
It is the Lord's hand we need to help us.
III. We are not wrestling against flesh and blood.