Monday, December 14, 2020

More Than a Conqueror

A Gladiator was a man during the time of ancient Rome who was trained to fight with various weapons  for two purposes. One purpose was to fight against other men or wild animals in an arena and the other purpose was for defending or opposing a cause. On May 5, 2000 an epic historical drama film entitled "Gladiator" was released in the United States. In short, the film portrays a fictional character, a Roman general who was loyal to the emperor, who is betrayed when the emperor's ambitious son who murders his father the emperor, seizes the throne, has the generals family murdered and attempts to have the general killed also. However, the general escapes certain death, is taken into custody by slave traders, sold and forced to fight in the Colosseum in Rome as a gladiator Through all of this, the general had a cause, to make right all that had been stolen from Him. 

The Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul gives us some great insight in the letter written to the church at Ephesus concerning the dress of a Roman soldier whose dress was also worn by gladiators. Paul uses the natural to reveal an application for the believer to use in the spiritual, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:10-12) 

The believer is not to rely on his own abilities but must fully rely upon Gods ability in order to withstand the schemes of the devil, "...that we should not trust in ourselves but in God..." (2 Corinthians 1:9). Paul reminds us that the wrestling that is set against believers is not in the natural realm but in the spiritual. According to Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, the word wrestle means "to sway."  This is very key to understanding what Paul is presenting, because most believers are under the influence that they are to war or fight against the devil. In fact, to sway sheds much light on the believers position as he/she withstands the schemes of the devil. In other words, if we let him, the devil will come against us and try to sway us away from faith and into fear, doubt and unbelief. However, look what Paul continues to tells us,  "Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Ephesians 6:13) Believers are to stand their ground in faith. When we do, the devil cannot sway us from trusting God nor cause us to question the integrity of God's Word. 

When dealing with the forces of darkness believers must keep in mind what Jesus did through His death, burial and resurrection, "The hostile princes and rulers He (Jesus) shook off from Himself, and boldly displayed them as His conquests, when by the Cross He triumphed over them." (Colossians 2:15) and, "Since then the children referred to are all alike sharers in perishable human nature, He (Jesus) Himself also, in the same way, took on Him a share of it, in order that through death He might render powerless him who had authority over death, that is, the Devil." (Hebrews 2:14) Jesus has conquered the devil and his gang. He has rendered them powerless. Yes, we are in a battle. Yes, we are to put on the armor of God, but it is against principalities and powers that Jesus has defeated through His death, burial and resurrection, "And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." (Ephesians 1:22-23) 

The church is the Body of Christ and the principalities and powers are under the believers feet! So the believers focus is not fighting with a defeated enemy, but focus is to be on building and strengthening our relationship with Christ as we stand in victory over the adversary. The believers position when standing against the schemes of the devil is one of victory, "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:57) The believer should see himself as one who stands triumphant in Christ, "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ..." (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Paul tells us what the real fight believes are to engaged, "Fight the good fight of faith..." (1 Timothy 6:12) When believers understand what the real battle is and begin to appropriate what Jesus did between the cross and being seated at the right hand of Majesty on high, we will understand that we wrestle the forces of darkness by our faith in God's Word preventing them from trying to sway us from faith into living in doubt, fear and unbelief. Why is this a high priority on the devils list of lies and deception? He want to keep us in the the realm where we exercise sense knowledge faith, that is, relying on our senses and not revelation faith, that is, the kind of faith that is spiritual that believes even when there is no physical evidence. Sense knowledge faith relies solely upon what our senses can understand which is the thing hat has kept most believers (including most church leaders) believing things that is contrary to the Word of God. This is the very thing that the apostle Thomas did, even after living and traveling with Jesus for three years. He could only believe what his sense could understand. (John 20:24-25) 

Now concerning the armor of God, Paul continues, "Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Ephesians 6:14-17) Every piece of armor is important and has its place, but notice that Paul use the words "above all" in describing the last three pieces of armor. First, the "shield of faith." Faith is the channel that quenches, extinguishes, suppresses ALL the schemes of the devil. A gladiator would use his shield to suppress his opponents aggression toward him. Faith not only pleases God (Hebrews 11:6) but it also releases the power of God for the believer to do the impossible. (Matthew 17:20) 

Next, Paul tells us to "take the helmet of salvation." Naturally, the helmet would protect a gladiators head from death dealing blows, but think of the helmet of salvation for the believer from this perspective, "That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting." (Ephesians 4:14) Paul also tells us, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) Believers must keep renewing their minds with the Word of God. (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23). The Word of God will separate false doctrine from sound doctrine as well as expose arguments and renegade thoughts that are contrary to the truth. 

Finally, Paul tells us to take, "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." This was the gladiators only offense against his opponent. The believer is to use the Word of God, to uphold and enforce everything that Jesus has accomplished through His death, burial and resurrection. "For the Word of God is living and powerful..." (Hebrews 4:12) Jesus knew this and shows us the standard for striking down the schemes of the Devil. In Matthew 4 and Luke 4 Jesus is tempted for forty days and night by the devil. Jesus did not war against the devil, He simply stood His ground and use the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. In the three temptations recorded, Jesus put the devil in his place by saying, "It is written." After the forty days of being tempted of the devil were completed, the Bible records, "Then the devil departed from Him..." (Matthew 4:11) 

If you are struggling with any issue that the devil is trying to hold you in bondage to, you can be free from every one of them and walk in the liberty that Jesus has purchased for you. Be a gladiator with a cause. No longer let the devil cheat you out of your inheritance in Christ. Begin to exercise your faith, stand your ground and "hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23) God's Word never fails!!!

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