Good evening ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to the fight of your life, barks the announcer. The most important bout in the annals of your personal history is about to begin. Presenting in the near corner, dressed in a red cape and weighing in at 500 pounds (approximate weight of a “roaring lion”) the Heavyweight Champion of this world ľ Satan the Devil, alias our Adversary.
In the far corner, dressed in deceitful gray, the Light Heavyweight Champion of this world, Mr. Human Nature, alias “Old Sidekick.” And in the third corner wearing colorful eye-catching, glittering clothing, the Middleweight Champion of this world, Mr. Worldliness, alias “Old Pow” (pulls of the world).
Tonight they are fighting the undisciplined, untrained, out of shape (spiritually speaking) Flyweight Champion of his or block, Mr. or Mrs. John Q. Average-Christian, alias “Push Over,” or sometimes known as “Old Easy Prey” by their opponents.
Farfetched? Not at all! Each of you is in a battle, pitted against three tough, sly and clever opponents who are literally after your spiritual life! Your relentless foes are three seasoned veterans. Numerous victory cups adorn their trophy rooms. Many spiritual wins are posted in their record book, the book of death! They never plan to retire as long as you are alive.
Are you in serious all-out spiritual training, preparing to struggle and fight these three formidable foes? Are you striving to win? Or have you already been losing out, not fully realizing what is going on?
Your spiritual battle is different from most bouts. In any average fight the contestants know months in advance the exact day of their bout. When the long awaited day of their bout came it was no surprise.
However, your struggle began before you were fully aware of it. The bell which signified the start of the bout rang loud and clear the day you were baptized. Did you hear it?
You’re in a “Title Bout” where there are no time-outs, no quitting, and no rescheduling for a more convenient time. In the eyes of your enemies you are the underdog. And remember, losers in this fight get nothing.
Your ruthless opponents fight a tough, dirty fight. They jump you repeatedly anytime, any place, whenever they feel like it. Satan controls and influences Mr. Worldliness and stirs up Mr. Human Nature. The fearsome threesome work hand-in-glove with each other, using gang tactics, three against one odds, combination punching, or perhaps one on one, depending upon the circumstances.
The brutal bullies’ specialty is to buffet you about when you least expect it, when your spiritual guard is down and your mind preoccupied with the material things of this life.
Needless to say, your enemies don’t fight according to standard or orthodox boxing rules. These battle-wise veterans make their own rules to suit their own particular personal style. The ugly three will attack you in the ring, out of the ring, in the alley, or better yet when your back is turned. They will attempt to bloody your nose by causing you to sin, or knock the wind out of you, spiritually speaking.
Once you have been softened up and worked over by your nature (Old Sidekick), Satan wants to give you a “knock-out-punch.” He wants to leave you spiritually mangled and broken.
Some boxers have a “glass jaw. What’s your biggest weakness? Soft flatulent stomach, in other words just plain lethargy? Perhaps it’s one or two rolls of spiritual midriff fat, problems that stick with you that you can’t seem to shed. Feeble constitution? Moodiness? Depression? Lack of self-control? Or a thick groggy head with no mind control? Do you just get frustrated and give in and let your body rule your mind instead of your mind ruling your body with self-disciplined character?
How is your previous fight record? Have you won some of your fights, or have you lost them all? Is your best a draw, or have you been awarded several decisions? Whatever your record, realize the fearsome threesome know your every weakness and where each punch will do you the most spiritual damage.
Wherever you live, work and play, that is the ring. But though sadly outnumbered, you do have every chance to win.
The arena is jam packed with spectators. Your limited ears and other senses can’t pick up the sound of their rooting and fanfare. But God’s righteous angels are all there, concerned and pulling for you. The referee is God the Father, Jesus Christ is your spiritual coach, trainer and teacher. Both dearly desire that you be the victor in this all-out, no holds barred fight, but neither can do all your fighting for you. You have your own part to do.
You have the best coach and trainer possible. Do you pay close attention to Him? Do you study diligently the coaching manual, the Bible? If you do, your Savior “is able to keep you from falling” (Jude 4).
All three of your seasoned and rugged foes fight dirty. Each should be considered extremely dangerous. You can defeat them only if you are in shape, train properly, and listen to your coach.
Let’s analyze some of the tactics your foes use against us. Vicious and clever, Satan has a blacklist of your weakness. So the tempter will aim to “set you up” by putting trying circumstances before you; then enemies two and three can do their dirty, below-the-belt work.
Satan is notorious for “behind-the-scenes work” carried out in unseen ways. He specializes in beating on your head by triggering wrong thoughts. Satan likes to divert your mind and attention from God’s Kingdom, giving doubt and discouragement an opportunity to enter. He knows your human nature and its desires; he understands your thoughts and actions. Block his attacks and never give him any room. Never “give place to the devil” (Eph 4:27). How? Don’t let discouragement or evil thoughts take root in your mind. Push them out before they get a start!
Satan also delights in delivering knock-out blows when you are down, discouraged, when you feel like giving up and “throwing in the towel.” So always be on guard against him!
“Old Sidekick” is also deceitful and sneaky! He uses “psychology” (rationalization appeals to fleshly desires and emotions) frequently, so beware. He will persuade you that you never had a better “friend.” Steer clear of his fancy footwork, excuses, justifications, white lies. He’s been with you a lifetime. He knows exactly when and where to strike, and when to retreat and hide.
Even though Mr. Sidekick has been near you all your life, he is really hard to get to know. He is deceitful, crafty, and extremely selfish (Jer. 17:9). He hates authority, especially that of God (Rom. 8:7). But due to familiarity, you are apt to leave your guard down around him and relax. You just can’t imagine a close “friend” like that would want to hurt you.
The FBI has a list of its ten most wanted criminals, but your personal Public Enemy Number One is your own human nature! You are literally your own worst enemy! Think about that. Are you always on guard against your human nature? Or are you a sitting duck for its feints, jabs, left hooks and right crosses? Does it always have you reeling on the ropes?
“Old POW” (pulls of the world) is no pushover either. He becomes stronger the longer you look at him. His glamorous allure is like a constantly pulling magnet. Look out for his strong pulling personality. He has hustled many suckers!
Mr. POW’S favorite tactic is distracting your mind by colorful and attractive objects (sin looks good). He tries to get your attention by bright lights, arouse your curiosity, and then your nature jumps in to soften you up even more. Soon the strong fist of Satan will come crashing in on an unprotected body or head.
Beware of POW’s street fighting techniques. He usually attempts to pull his opponents down into the gutter, the muck and mire of the world (sex, sins, bars, topless dancers, etc.). He also realizes whether your reaction time and reflexes against sin have slowed down since the day you were baptized.
Old POW really gets around. You’re likely to meet him just about anywhere you travel, so beware and always keep your guard up? But exactly what can you do to insure victory over these three rugged opponents?
To begin with, you must set your will to discipline yourself and be willing to admit the sad shape in which you probably find yourself. Realize it’s natural to be soft on ourselves and to shun a fervent, zealous spiritual “workout.”
Begin immediately and diligently to “work out” in your local training camp. How do you do this? Attend weekly Sabbath services and Bible study regularly. Listen attentively to your instructors, God’s ministers. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls (guard your lives)” (Heb. 13:17). Pay attention to your experienced coach, Jesus Christ, who has already fought these “three thugs” and won! “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:18). Read daily His Instruction Book, your personal training manual, the Bible!
Your battle is also a race, as the Apostle Paul’s was (I Cor. 9:24-26). “Know you not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run that ye may obtain. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beats the air.”
Do some body work, some heavy training. Paul also wrote: “I keep under by body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (v.27). So strengthen your legs by doing deep knee bends in fervent prayer!
Do frequent push-ups and push up and away from the table of physical food, and feast instead at the table of spiritual production and growth, which is private daily Bible study; for “every man that strives for the mastery is temperate” (v. 25). And push yourself up from your night’s sleep and get going every day with fervent prayer! This is what will soon develop solid spiritual muscles.
Another key to success is sparring partners, fellowship with brethren who are going through the same spiritual fight. Have good friendly, uplifting stimulating conversations. Edify one another! Don’t gossip or gravitate to someone who has the same general weaknesses you do, but rather those who will “provoke you to better works.” Solomon said: “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Prov. 27:17). He also declared: “He that walks with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Prov. 13:20).
Never underestimate, kid, joke with, or given an inch to your opponents. Too many of us seem to forget we are in a fight. Since we can’t “see” our enemies, we take them for granted and become complacent. Don’t give them any advantages, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (II Cor. 2:11).
Avoid the ropes, actual entangle-trapped or goaded into a “corner” potential possibility to sin. Remember in this fight you have no neutral corner if a knockdown is scored. Your only safety comes from sticking close to God! Learn to “roll with the punches, hooks, or jabs” bounce back as quickly as possible. If you fall down, jump back up. Never quit! “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. For a just man falls seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief” (Prov. 24:10-16).
Develop a solid defense, using a proper stance or “on guard position.” Come to grips with the situation and form right habits. Take the initiative, be aggressive and learn to be an offensive fighter. Keep your head up so that you can see Satan’s punches coming. “Submit yourselves therefore to God,” says James. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Remember, Old Sidekick loves to “cling and clench” to you. Beseech God to aid in breaking his embrace. Ask God for power via the Holy Spirit to see clearly your Public Enemy Number One. Let his soothing words fall on deaf ears (Prov. 14:12). Realize his words are all propaganda!
And what about Mr. “Pulls of the World”? The corrupting influences of the world will tug and lure you back into entanglement if you are not careful. Keep your distance. Old POW lurks in secret places to ambush inquisitive, na´ve people who are not content with what they have. Accept the fact that the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. The glitter and glamour of this present evil world are only a skin-deep fašade containing rottenness and corruption within. Don’t listen to OLD POW or swallow his line. But there is one more thing you must have in order to assure final victory!
This sin-laden society, your deceitful nature, and the invisible devil are absolutely real. But they can all be overcome through the power of God’s Spirit! With God’s help you can outsmart, outguess and outmaneuver your opponents. God’s Sprit within you can enable you to give a “knock-out-blow” to all three of your deadly adversaries!
Notice Philippians 2:12-13: “Be keener than ever to work out the salvation that God has given you with a proper sense of awe and responsibility for it is God who is at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve His purpose” (Phillips Translation).
Christ successfully resisted Satan (Matt 4:1-11. He mastered himself (Heb. 5:7-9). He told His disciples, “Be of good cheer; for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Jesus Christ dwelt in the Apostle Paul through the Holy Spirit (Gal.2:20). Paul said: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). He told the Christians in Rome, “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37).Then finally he wrote: “I have fought good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:7). Paul was a winner! What about you?
Get in tip-top spiritual condition for battle, friends, get trim and ready as good fighters of Jesus Christ (II Tim. 2:3). Go to God’s spiritual corner, draw close to God in prayer, Bible study and occasional fasting. Determine to be undefeated! No losses, no draws, no narrow decisions, only wins from now on. Become an eternal champion, a champion who has won his own personal “fight”!