Last weekend, I had the opportunity to watch the Union County High School wrestling team win its ninth state championship. As I watched the exciting matches from the stands, I couldn’t help but think about a well-known Bible scripture that refers to wrestling. The apostle Paul declared, “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” (Ephesians 6:12, KJV).
When Paul wrote these words in his letter to members of the Ephesian church, he wanted them to realize they were fighting a real enemy. However, the enemy they were fighting was not a physical one but a spiritual one. The same is true for us today. Our real enemies are not people but spiritual forces of darkness.
What does it really mean to “wrestle” against spiritual forces? Well, after watching dozens of intense wrestling matches over the weekend, I can tell you a few things I noticed about wrestling that apply to our spiritual lives.
For one, wrestling is a continuous battle. There is rarely a point in a wrestling match in which an athlete just stops and gives up. For the entire match, both wrestlers are continually grappling, maneuvering, and fighting for the victory.
In the same way, we will never reach a point in which we can just kick back, relax, and stop fighting in the spirit. There is a reason the writers of the New Testament referred to the Christian life as a fight, a race, and a battle. The Christian life isn’t easy; it requires a constant resisting against a relentless enemy, the devil. The good news is that we are assured of the victory, but that victory is not attained with a nonchalant approach to life, especially spiritual matters. To see victory, we must constantly be on guard and willing to fight.
As I watched our wrestlers, it was also very apparent that the matches were not merely decided on the mat. In large part, the outcome of each match was determined by the degree of preparation each wrestler experienced before the match. It is no secret that one reason Union County’s wrestlers are so successful is that they are better prepared than most of their opponents. All the months and even years of intense training, conditioning, and skill development show up in a huge way when they step onto the mats.
In the same way, our victory over our spiritual enemy is in large part determined by our preparation. You see, we should not wait for a time of crisis to develop a relationship with God. We should constantly build our faith through prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with other Christians. The Bible teaches that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Our faith grows as we hear the word of God over and over again. We should not be satisfied with just hearing a good word every once in a while. We must consistently read and study the Bible and listen to the preaching and teaching of the Word … even when we feel like we don’t need it. That way, when we find ourselves in the middle of a battle, we will truly be prepared.
So, I encourage you to take the lessons I observed on the wrestling mats and apply them to your spiritual walk. Let’s learn to prepare ourselves for the day of battle and never give up the fight of faith.