I took on my friend Luthor. Once. He was youth pastor where I served. He had been wrestling some of the high schoolers and said to me, “Let’s go.” I was a decent athlete, so I figured I had a chance against this state champion. Wrong. When I was worn out after four minutes, he decided to pin me–and it was over.
The Bible says that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood,” but we do wrestle. I want say two things: whom we wrestle and how. Important. Wrestle the wrong person and lose–like me. Wrestle the right person the wrong way–still lose. Wrestle the right person the right way–have fun winning!
Whom do you think? The pastor, the partner, the government, the boss? They can be used by the enemy–they are not the enemy. The more we fight peripheral battles, the more Satan wins. The reason the people of God are often ineffective against the darkness is because they are not engaged against the darkness. They think their biggest fight is next door, or the person at church who neglects them. Listen to yourself talk. That can tell you whom you are fighting.
Now listen to Jesus and the apostles: The “thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10a). Sounds like the enemy to me. Peter wrote, “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). He’s bent on devouring you. I’d call that an enemy. Let me say it plain: you are wrestling Satan, not saints.
The mindfield. How you think determines winning or losing. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” The mat is the mind. We are commanded to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
So how does Satan wrestle? With accusation, intimidation, temptation, and deception.
He accuses us to make us feel guilty, so we hopefully get discouraged and lose the match. He’s so bold that he even accuses God. When going after Eve, he asked cynically, “Did God really say…?” When God bragged about Job to Satan, he responded with, “Does Job worship God for nothing?”
He intimidates us to make us run. He uses fear tactics: “You’ll never get over that problem.” “You’re a wimp, and everyone knows it.” When we agree, fear and guilt control our lives, and we are neutralized in the battle.
He tempts us like he tempted Jesus. He deceptively offers us pleasures that turn out to be prisons. Short-term gain means long-term pain. Notice that Satan does not use physical force. We are not coming against raw power; we are in a thought battle.
He deceives us by offering one thing and giving another, by telling us lies hoping we will believe him. He changes the price tags. Eve bought the lie and bit the apple. Disaster. Sin weakens us and brings us into Satan’s playground. When he deceives us into getting angry, it gives him a foothold (Eph. 4:27). When he deceives us into withholding forgiveness, we are tormented (Matt. 18:34) and rendered ineffective. He fights dirty and tricky, and the naive lose. Those who know who to fight and how will win! Be a winner!