Summary: Three things we must do if we are to win the spiritual battles we face each day.
If you have ever watched a heavy-weight fight, you may have heard Philadelphia fight announcer Michael Buffer shout his trademark line, “Let’s get ready to rumble.” It means that the fight is about to begin. It has been used in other places for other reasons by many people, but it always means that a battle between 2 people or 2 teams is going to start. There are people who live and die to see a good fight, whether it is a wrestling match or a heavyweight bout. The spend money for tickets or pay-per-view and might even decide to make a wager on the outcome.
But, there are many more people on planet earth living and dying in another kind of wrestling match. It involves who they are to the soul of their being. It is fought in their heart and mind and is “winner take all.” They are people like you and me. Actually, they include you and me. It is the wrestling match that pits us against Satan. It is a battle of wills and ends only when the victor is clear – either him or you. Who wins is your choice and it is seen by the life you live based on decisions you make. It is a battle against a tenacious enemy who doesn’t give ground or quit. Ephesians 6:12 says that this is a spiritual fight. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (NLT). What happens in that fight has ramifications that echo to generations that follow you and the circle of influence you have around you. In this passage, the word “fight” is also translated “wrestle” and was understood well in the 1st century. A 1st century wrestling match was much more violent than even the worst of the WWE on TV. It was a fight that went on until one man was on the ground held by the throat by the other man. After the fight, the winner was parade throughout the city and honored. The loser didn’t do so well – he was taken outside the city, bound and had his eyes were gouged out.
There are a lot of people around us like that. They are fighting a losing wrestling match with Satan. They are spiritually bound and spiritually blind. It may not look that way. The might seem to have the good life – big car, big house, big salary, big social position. It would seem that life has delivered everything it promises to them. The problem is that they are on a one-way train headed to hell and every moment brings them one breath closer. Every day, they lose a little more and the fight that we fight is also for their souls, with eternity in the balance. If we are to win the fight for ourselves and for them to have a chance to hear the gospel, there are some things we need to do.
First, we must FOCUS ON THE RIGHT ENEMY. Let’s take a moment to read Ephesians 6:10-18 together: (CONGREGATION READS PASSAGE). One of the great ways to win a battle or a game is called “misdirection.” You make your opponent think you are doing one thing, but do another. In football, they are called “gadget plays” or “flea-flickers.” One of my favorite memories of this is in Super Bowl XV. Being a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan, it was great news that the team was going to play the Seattle Seahawks for what would end up being their 5th Super Bowl Championship. During the latter stages of the game, the Steelers were tenuously holding to a 14-10 lead and were at about mid-field. They needing something that the Seahawks would not expect. Something that could get a touchdown. Then it happened. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took the snap, pitched it to running back Willie Parker who was going one direction, who then handed it receiver Antwaan Randle-El, who threw a long touchdown pass to Hines Ward for the clinching score. Ward was wide open because the Seahawks thought the play was going the opposite direction. It was a great moment I enjoy seeing replayed over and over.
Misdirection in a football game is fun. Misdirection from Satan is deadly. He has been doing it for thousands of year, from the time in the Garden of Eden when he got Eve to believe that God was holding out on her and Adam, to Exodus when he got the Israelites focused on hating Moses, to the time he got David focused on Bathsheba, to Judas and the time he got him focused on a payoff for betraying the Lord. Deception and misdirection are two of his main weapons. 2 Corinthians 11:14 says, “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (NLT). He comes as what he isn’t, not as what he is. One of best ways he gets advantage in a match is to get Christians focused on fighting battles that seem good, but don’t see the big picture. He tries to maneuver us in fights in 2 directions: