WE WRESTLE NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD
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, EPH 6:12.
I want to direct your attention to the first part of our text. Let’s center our thoughts around wrestling with flesh and blood, which is the first portion of that verse. Satan does not want you and me to know the true character of God, but God’s Word does teach the true character of Satan.
Through Satan’s devices, the true character of God is concealed from us. On the contrary, God’s Word speaks very specifically to let us understand the true character of Satan. I believe it is very important to understand the true character of Satan, as well as the character of God.
Satan deceives his victims about the true character of God to keep them from returning unto God. Earlier I spoke about Satan’s gospel from MAT 5:14. “Ye, are the light of the world.” I dwelt primarily on the issue of Satan’s gospel, which is a counterfeit light. We must learn to recognize this, before we are able to understand the true light that we are to reflect.
I believe deceit is something Satan will use to conceal the true character of God. This wrestling match with Satan is a sharp, life-long combat, which no Christian can escape. When scripture says, “…we wrestle not against flesh and blood.” This teaches us that we are in fact wrestling. It will be a very strong combat between us and Satan. Every Christian will encounter this combat.
FOR OUR FIRST POINT, let’s consider what is meant by the term “WRESTLE”, and how to wrestle.
FOR OUR SECOND POINT, let’s consider how we are not to wrestle.
FOR OUR THIRD POINT, lets consider the fact that we are not wrestling against flesh and blood.
The first point I want to deal with is what is meant by the term “wrestle”, and how to “wrestle.” Wrestling is not a team sport. You understand that in team sports, you have help as Joab said to his brother Abishai in 1CH 19:12, “And he said, If the Syrians be too strong for me, then thou shalt help me; but if the children of Ammon be too strong for thee, then I will help thee.” That is a team war.
In a ball game, you see teams. If one seems to be overcome, there is another member of the team who can relieve him from combat. Then they are able to recover strength and go again. In a wrestling match it is one-to-one. When we start dealing with this subject of wrestling with Satan, we are dealing one-on-one. There are no teams.
In 1SA 17:8, we read about Goliath and David. Stop and analyze the armies of Israel. They were confronted by the armies of the Philistines. When they were confronted, Goliath went out and asked, “Why put these armies in array? This would put our whole armies in jeopardy. Let me have one man, and I’ll war with one man. If I win, you’ll be servants. If your man wins, we’ll be servants.” Goliath suggested this in 1SA 17:8, “And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? Am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? Choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me.” He was saying to put the battle in array one man to one man.
That would be a very personal warfare. We have to understand that Goliath is a type of “the old man of sin.” Warfare is going to become a very personal matter between you and “the old man of sin.”
You will find that you are fighting a personal warfare, one-to-one. We don’t go in as an army or a unit. We don’t go in to try and gain a victory as a combined, organized team. We must go alone. We find we are in a one to one battle. When an army engages in a battle, some men may come out without a scratch. When the battle is one-on-one, you are the sole object of your challenger’s fury. Your challenger’s fury is directed to you personally. You are the sole object.
In 1SA 17:9 we read, “If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us.” Think of the challenge for David. He had to go face Goliath alone. They had the understanding that if he was slain, the armies of Israel, the armies of the Lord, would become servants to “the old man of sin.” That was a tremendous challenge. He went in the name of the Lord. It will be in the name of the Lord that you and I will come against “the old man of sin.” We must come against Goliath.
That battle becomes personal. It is not a team warfare anymore. It becomes very personal. “The old man of sin” in us wants to succumb to the powers of sin. This is what we mean by wrestling. We are meaning it is a one-to-one warfare.
The whole issue of your spiritual destiny is personal and particular. You must understand it is a warfare between you and “the old man of sin.” The wrestling must become personal and particular. It is not what becomes of him or her, but what becomes of me. It is a one-to-one warfare.
You give Satan a dangerous advantage if you see his wrath and fury against the saints in general, and not against yourself in particular. You give him a horrible advantage, because you are caught off guard. He can have some tremendous advantages on you before you stop to realize you are his target. It is you personally. Satan hates me! Satan accuses me! Satan tempts me! We don’t look at this in general terms, but in personal terms.
When we talk about “wrestling,” we have to understand that it is not a team sport. It is a one-to-one battle. It becomes so personal that Satan hates me! That temptation is for my fall. The battle against Goliath becomes a warfare of mine. I have to fight with Goliath, and then I realize the magnitude of that battle. Do you know why? It’s for my own eternal welfare. I’m struggling now for my own spiritual survival, so I do not succumb under the power of Satan.
Parallel to that, Satan wants us to look at God’s promises in general. We don’t have to look at Satan’s accusations and attacks in particular. We have to parallel that to one of Satan’s attacks. He wants us to look at all the promises of God in general. We now have all the promises of the church. Does that automatically include me? No!
Thus we fail to see God’s providence and promises as personal. When God’s providence brings a trial in our life, we must see that God, in His providence, will bring us through the furnace. Then every promise has to become personal for me. When the Lord says, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith,” my eyes must look unto Jesus in the trial of faith He has sent upon me. It becomes personal.
Every saint must come to say, “God loves me!” He must say, “God loves me!” Every saint must come to the point that he understands when God pardons him! He must say, “I need a pardon for my sin! I have brought reproach upon His name.
When I have wounded a brother or a sister, I must realize that I need that balm of Gilead in every wound. [It becomes personal.] I see every sin that I have committed against God’s honor and every sin that I have committed against one of His saints. I see that it becomes personal. I need a pardon for that sin.” This is what we need to understand. The word “wrestle” is not used in a general sense.
Wrestlers grapple hand-to-hand. The enemy actually has a hold on you. It’s not just a mystic thought of something. You’re in a wrestling match and you make physical contact. That opponent actually takes hold of you; he has a hold of you with an objective to put you down and gain a victory over you. It becomes a wrestling match. You either resist or fall shamefully at his feet.
If you think you can go through these wrestling matches without resisting the devil, you are going to fall shamefully at his feet. He is going to crumble you. If you’re one of the Lord’s loved ones, that doesn’t mean he’ll eternally gain the victory. Oh, beloved, he will bring you to shame. He will bring many wounds and bruises upon you.
We have to understand what we read in JAM 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” We may not give place to the devil. How do we do this? When we allow a temper, we “…hatch cockatrice’ eggs, and weave the spider’s web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper,” ISA 59:5.
You have to tear down those strong holds of Satan instead of allowing a temper to rule your heart and to captivate your soul. If you allow these things, you aren’t resisting the devil. Satan moves in close. He takes hold of your very flesh and corrupt nature. He takes hold of those corrupt inclinations within you and uses them to slaughter you. He uses your own temper, pride, and covetousness to destroy you. He gets a hold of your very flesh and corrupt nature and tears you to shreds.
This should cause you to draw nigh to God. It says in JAM 4:8, “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. [Isn’t that beautiful?] Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” This means we must resist the devil, and he’ll flee from us. We may not give place to the devil.
Our text says, “WE WRESTLE.” The apostle thereby included himself. There isn’t one person who is excluded from this. The quarrel is with every saint. Satan is not afraid to quarrel with the pastor. He is not too proud to quarrel with the poorest saint. Satan doesn’t forget anybody’s address.
If a pastor is preparing a message, Satan loves to get a little deceit there. He loves to see us claim a little comfort from something that is outside the Word of God.
Satan tries to keep the pastor from reproving a sin that needs reproving. Satan will caution that this can cause a stir in the church. He says, “You better not do that, that will cause dissension!” That’s how he gets a hold of the very corruption in the hearts of the pastor and of the poorest saint. He knows just where to find it. He’ll take a hold of that and pick a quarrel with it.
Christ does not send one part of His army into the battle and leave the other to bask in the sunshine of idleness. Every saint is going to understand what it means to “wrestle” with Satan. This wrestling match is going to include everyone.
In HEB 12:6-8 it says, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. [Every son doesn’t leave any go free!] If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? For if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons,” then you can’t claim God as your Father.
If you don’t understand what it is for the Lord to use that purging process of the furnace, then you are not to be called a son. The warfare is for the rest of your life.
In JER 15:10 it says, “Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth!” If we are walking in God’s favor, we become “a contention to the whole earth.” Do you know why? This is because we have been in a wrestling match with Satan. He will enlist the help of everyone of his friends. He will enlist an army that will include everyone of his servants to come against God’s people.
Listen to what Jeremiah says, “Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me.” He is pointing out that he has not walked in sin, thereby bringing upon him the wrath of the people. Yet, it is there.
As we grow in grace, the spiritual warfare only increases. As we go forward and become mature Christians, the warfare doesn’t get won; it gets greater. In GAL 5:17 we read, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”
We can sit calmly and relax sometimes, picturing exactly how we would like to handle a situation. Then we get in the heat of the battle and lose our cool. Then tensions come out. Before we know it, we’re not doing what we thought we would. We find that we are not able to do these things.
The Lord has a reason for this. He does this so we become more dependent upon Him. The Lord wants us to be where we are as a little child, so we learn to eat out of His hand daily. The Lord is using the process of persecution and chastisement to make us become smaller and smaller in the flesh. No condition in the flesh is a place of rest.
In prosperity, Lot’s righteous soul was vexed by the filthy conversation of the wicked. We read this in 2PE 2:7-8, “And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)” He had no place of security or peace in a state of prosperity, neither did he in a state of adversity.
In adversity Job was vexed. JOB 23:8-10 reads, “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
Job saw that he was in the way of adversity. He was vexed. Why? The Lord had withdrawn from him. He was wrestling against principalities and power. He was threatened and he was wrestling, but not with flesh and blood.
The Psalmist understood the days of darkness and of light as a result of his spiritual warfare. Listen to what he says in PSA 139:7-11, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.”
He saw he could not find a place where he was not under the observation of the Lord. He saw the Lord was there observing and leading him in every step of his life.
We wrestle with the body of sin as well as with Satan. We have to understand that we have a body of sin. We don’t need Satan to instigate every evil thought. We’re fallen creatures ourselves. We have to understand also, that Satan likes to be the author of these thoughts.
Satan likes to seed them in our minds, but he can’t cause us to act upon it. This takes our own deceitful heart. Satan loves to instigate and tempt, but we are the ones that are guilty of acting upon it. When we go forward and act in behalf of Satan’s council, we have to see what it says here in ROM 7:18-20. “For I know that in me [that is, in my flesh] dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”
Christ admonished us to deal a death blow to that body of sin. Our tongue is part of that body of sin. Our hands that are swift to do and to exercise those evil thoughts that come in our minds are part of that body of sin. Our feet that are swift to run to do evil are part of that body of sin. These are all part of that body of sin. They all have to be crucified. Christ admonished us to deal a death blow to that body of sin.
Let’s see what it says in MAT 5:30, “And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, [that is, dealing a death blow to that body of sin] and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”
The same is true with the lustful eye. It has to be plucked out. The foot that is so swift to run to iniquity has to be cut off. That doesn’t mean that we physically cut off our arm, leg, or pluck out our eye. It’s the body of sin that has to be plucked out. Those members of that body of sin which draw us into those temptations have to be dealt with, and Satan will flee from us. Draw nigh unto God, and he’ll draw nigh unto thee.
FOR OUR SECOND POINT, let’s consider how we are not to wrestle. When we wrestle with Satan, we wrestle for God. When we settle into complacency, we are in a passive resistance to God. We must be very careful against wrestling against God or the things He sends in His providence.
When God sends a trial in providence, we start fighting the trial. Instead of seeing the Lord’s hand in the trial and profiting from it, we are wrestling against God. You have to be careful of this. In ISA 45:9 it says, “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! [Let’s stop and analyze this in that light] Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?”
The Lord is telling us we may not strive with the Lord’s providence, which He has sent upon us. We are the clay in his hands. What He wants to make of us or do with us, we are not to resist. We may not strive with our maker. We may not strive with His providence. He says to let the potsherd strive with potsherd of the earth. Does the clay resist the hand of the potsherd? No.
We are as the clay in the Father’s hand! When we resist that which He brings upon us in providence, we start striving with the Lord. We may not do this. We may not wrestle against the Lord.
Beware of striving against the Spirit of God. In GEN 6:3 it says, “And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that He also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” The Lord is grieved with man striving against the Spirit of God, striving against His will and Word. We may not wrestle against the Lord. At times we become Satan’s strongest accessory. We start murmuring against the Lord. We murmur against what the Lord has sent upon us.
The Lord is so gracious to those whose heart is tender in His fear. We find this in ISA 30:21, “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” When we are walking in ways that are not pleasing to the Lord, the Lord speaks by His Spirit.
We hear a word behind us saying, “Don’t do that.” It’s an inclination in the heart, and the conscious. It’s the Spirit of God. He admonished and reproves us. It is something that comes through by instinct. Sometimes it is by the Spirit passing a passage of Scripture through our heart to reprove or instruct us. That’s the Word of God. We must watch that we don’t strive against that. When the Lord comes and graciously directs us, we must be careful that we don’t wrestle against it.
The Lord reveals His will to us as He did to Joshua. Listen to what He said to Joshua in JOS 1:7. “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.”
The point is that he shall prosper by obedience. That remains the same today in the New Testament. If we are walking in subjection, if our heart is reconciled unto the Lord, we shall prosper. The Lord said, “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law…that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.” We may not obey Satan by disobeying the revealed will of God and expect to prosper.
When we resist that which God clearly gives us to understand, we are striving with the Spirit. In ACT 7:51 it says, “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” The word “circumcised” means taking away the rebellion of the flesh.
We can see this very clearly in COL 2:10. It says, “Ye are circumcised in Christ by the removing of the flesh,” it is by the removing of that rebellion. The circumcision of the heart is the work of regeneration. ACT 7:51 says, “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears.”
Isn’t that beautiful? This admonition against rebellion extends to our refusal to hear as well as to do. We are cautioned not to resist when the Lord speaks to us–we must hear!
There is an expression my father often used. “If you can’t hear, then you must feel.” In other words, if we neglected hearing his admonitions, we felt the rod. The Lord often uses the rod until we are willing to hear that voice behind us saying, “this is the way walk ye in it.” This is if we hear.
If we are uncircumcised of ears, it means we refuse or rebel; we hear, but we don’t do it. Jesus said in LUK 6:46, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock…But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth.”
Jesus was describing those who are uncircumcised in heart and in ears. “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.”
The Lord has a controversy with those people who refuse to hear as well as those who refuse to do. When we question God’s acts we contend with God’s providence. It says this in JOB 40:1-4. “Moreover the Lord answered Job, and said, Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it. Then Job answered the Lord, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.”
Job began to understand when the Lord spoke to him that he was vile. Until then we see the lesson in JOB so beautifully. The Lord said to Satan, “Has thou considered my servant Job that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man?” This was not a righteousness with which he could obtain salvation. That took the righteousness of Christ. He could not look at his own righteousness as though it was perfect before the Lord.
Job had to come to where he saw he was vile. This is what Job means when he says, “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee?”
Then Job had to say, “I’ve heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
The word “repent” means a change of mind. Sometimes the Lord leads us through a trial like He did Job. He does this to get us to repent, to change our mind, even though we thought we were right all along. Look how Job defended his integrity throughout the whole book.
When he comes to the end, Job says he is vile. He can now see himself as the sinner. He no longer pointed the finger at someone else. He admitted he was vile. This is contending against the Lord if we don’t see these things.
A heart that loves the Lord thinketh no evil of Him, even when He comes with a chastening hand. Then we’ll be able to kiss the rod. Then we’ll see there is honey on the rod. There will be such sweetness in the things the Lord has done to chastise us, because we see it was for our own good.
In HEB 12:11-12 it says, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.”
If you have a family of children, what’s the purpose of chastening? Isn’t it to conform their will to your will?
“No chastening for the present is pleasing, that seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it will yieldeth the peaceable fruits of [conformity of life to the divine law] righteousness.”
That’s the effect that we get from chastening. It brings our hearts in surrender to the will of God. Our heart becomes reconciled to the will of God. We have no will of our own. We only want to know His will. This is so beautiful! Afterward it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness unto those which are exercised thereby. “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.”
If we see a brother or a sister whose hands are hanging down or look feeble, this is because they’re starting to faint in their mind. Their mind and their eyes are not fixed on Christ.
“Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself,” HEB 12:3. We lift up those feeble hands. We encourage them to look up to Christ.
I spoke with a young man a while ago. I pointed out that what you have suffered becomes so small when you start to look unto what Christ has suffered for you. When our heart is in the right place, it produces those peaceable fruits of righteousness. Then our hearts will melt in the will of God and we are not contending with God.
We wrestle against God when we wrestle by our own rules. If you’re going to be a professional wrestler, there will be rules you’ll have to go by. Sometimes we forget those rules. We start wrestling according to our own rules. Then we get ourselves into trouble.
2TI 2:5 says, “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” We need to strive according to the Word of God. The Word of God beautifully sets forth every weapon we use. They are the Word of God looking onto Jesus. This is the purpose of all these things. We must strive lawfully.
Some, while they wrestle against one sin, will hide another. We need to examine our hearts for this. Sometimes we are struggling with such a monster of a sin that we use another sin to try to overcome it. You may hide your wrath but never forgive.
Others wrestle with sin, but do not hate it. You may act very loving and peaceful, but in your heart you’ve never forgiven. Then you are using one sin to hide another. This false love is also sin.
I’ve had an experience I want to share with you. I had a problem with some people that are very close to me—my own brothers. In my heart I can forgive them. From my heart I can pray for them. To be honest before the Lord, when I speak to them I resent doing so. I have to deal with this.
If I truly forgive them from my heart, I can speak to them with a loving, open heart. I still have to struggle with this. When my brother comes to visit me, I am so thankful. I can tell from his heart, he feels the same way.
We can be very nice to each other, yet, deep in our hearts, we have not fully forgiven. This is something we have to be very careful with. We can take one sin to hide another. We have not truly forgiven.
We can wrestle with sin, because we can see its consequences, but if there were no consequences, we could cherish it with our whole heart. What do we have? We have a legal religion.
We are only concerned with going to heaven so we can escape hell. We want the blood of Christ to pay the penalty of sin, so we can escape the consequences. If there were no heaven or hell, we could enjoy that sin and drink it in with delight.
A legal repentance is evident if we never have learned to hate sin. Until the love of sin is quenched in the heart, the fire will never die out. That sin has to be hated. The fire of that sin will kindle in our hearts until we learn to hate it.
We will never get Satan to flee as long as he knows that in the inner thoughts of our hearts we still love him. As long as we cherish a sin in our hearts, we really do not understand what it means to hate that sin.
Only the love of Christ can quench the love of sin. ROM 2:4 says, “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” It is the love of God that gives us the power to quench sin. We need the Lord’s help to wrestle.
If we can venture without Him, we have more courage than Moses. In EXO 33:13-15 it says, “Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. He said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.”
Moses could not go and conquer the nation with an angel before him, he needed God’s presence. He said, “If thy presence go not with me, carry me not up hence.” If we can go to conquer the promised land and venture against sin in our own strength, then we have more courage than Moses. We are fighting a losing battle.
Jacob turned to the Lord for help to overcome Esau. When he came against Esau, he came, in GEN 32:11 saying, ” Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.”
We cannot come against our enemy bare handed. We cannot conquer the old Goliath, “the old man of sin,” without the strength of the Lord. When David went forward, he went forward in the name of the Lord.
Listen to what we read in GEN 32:24-26. “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”
Jacob could not go forward to fight his own war. Jacob needed the help of the Lord. He saw that it was the Lord that brought him into this trial. Jacob saw that it was the Lord that told him, “return onto thy land and thy kingdom.”
This became his pleading ground. Jacob said , “Lord, I am doing what you told me to do. I’m returning to my land and to my kindred. Here comes Esau and four hundred men with him. Deliver me I pray, from the hand of my brother.” He saw that he needed the Lord’s help.
David enlisted the Lord’s help against Ahithophel. Listen to what we read in 2SA 15:31., “And one told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom. And David said, O LORD, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.” Ahithophel hung himself. He did this because his advice went unheeded.
Heaven said, “Amen,” and David’s foe hanged himself, when David prayed saying, “O Lord, I pray thee turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.” See the power there is when we are not wrestling against the Lord. When we see the purpose the Lord has in these trials, we have Him on our side.
Strive to put off that old man by wrestling in prayer. In PSA 18:32 we read, “It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.” It is the Lord’s hand we need to help us.
FOR OUR THIRD POINT, let’s consider the fact that we are not wrestling against flesh and blood. When the Apostle said, “WE WRESTLE NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD,” he was saying, “Stop looking at the instrument and look at the hand that moves the instrument. When God says He’ll send chastisement, it was the Lord who sent those instruments against us. He did this to bring us in the right place before the Lord.
MAT 10:34-38 says, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.”
The Lord’s sending is something we have to see through. We are not wrestling with those people. They were sent by the Lord. What for? I read the answer to that from HEB 12:11-12. “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness.” It brings us into submission and subjection to the will of God.
Job was not wrestling with flesh and blood. We wrestle not with flesh and blood. It is so important that we understand this. In JOB 2:6 it says, “And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.”
The Lord told Satan, “I put him in your hands.” With God’s permission, Satan uses our flesh. The Lord sent this trial. It’s not flesh and blood we are striving with. It is of the Lord’s sending to bring us in the right place before the Lord.
When Satan has God’s permission to use our own flesh and blood–our own children, husbands, wives, brothers, and sisters–to bring our trials, we must keep our eye on the hand that sent the trial, not the instrument.
Watch what happened to Job in JOB 19:13-19, “He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me. My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me. My breath is strange to my wife, though I entreated for the children’s sake of mine own body. Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they spake against me. All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me.”
Job saw it was the Lord. Job saw it was His hand. Job wasn’t coming against his brother and sister. They came against him. They accused Job of the most heinous crimes. What did Job do? Job didn’t come back against them. He was not striving with flesh and blood.
Even though God gave Satan permission to use flesh and blood to bring that trial upon him. If we learn to see this, nothing would bring a contentious feeling in our soul.
We would never be able to come to a point of frustration if we truly had the grace to understand what is being said. Do you know why? The Lord Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane, never reached a point of frustration. He said, “Father, thy will be done.”
He looked in that cup and He saw Judas in there to come and betray Him to death. He saw Peter in there to curse and swear, blasting His name. He saw His trial in the hall of Caiaphas, and Pilot. He saw all these things. These things Jesus saw in that cup when He said to His Father, “Nevertheless not my will, but thine be done.”
When Judas came to betray Him, Jesus said, “Friend wherefore art thou come?” He knew Judas came to betray Him to death! He didn’t see Judas as the enemy. He saw that God, “…made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” 2CO 5:21.
When we rightly start to understand these trials, we aren’t striving with flesh and blood. Job said, “My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me. My breath is strange to my wife, though I entreated for the children’s sake of mine own body. Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they spake against me. All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me.”
Job was not striving with flesh and blood. The Lord had told Satan, “He’s in your hand.” Satan was given permission to use Job’s flesh and blood, i.e., his wife, brothers, sisters and friends as instruments to cut Job to the ground. This is what we have to learn to understand.
When people are coming against us, the closer they are the more painful it is. We have not yet come to the point of the Lord’s purpose, if we are still contentious. If contentions still arise in our heart, it’s because we have not fulfilled God’s purpose in the trial. Job came to the point, where he said, “I’m vile.” When that woman was taken in adultery, those Pharisees were not able to throw one stone at her. The Lord opened their heart to see they were vile. Their vanity exceeded anything that she had done. They didn’t have one stone left to throw.
When our heart has contention left, it is because the Lord hasn’t completely fulfilled His purpose in our trial. The trial isn’t over. We have not yet learned the lesson. If the Lord loves us, He is going to chasten us until we yield those peaceable fruits of righteousness, which is conformity of life to the Divine law.
I believe a contentious spirit and frustration are the most grievous sins there are. It is the sin of unbelief! This is because we don’t see the Lord’s hand. If we truly saw the Lord’s hand, there would be no place for contention. When we are filled with contention, we are striving with flesh and blood. Our text says, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood.” Job saw the hand of the Lord in all of this.
David understood that he was not wrestling with flesh and blood. He said in PSA 56:4, “In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. David was exposed to so many trials by the unjust pursuit of King Saul, but he saw God’s hand in it all.
Satan loves to instigate contention among the saints, as long as the seeds of corruption dwell in the hearts of men. Abraham had to separate from Lot because of contention. Aaron and Miriam quarreled with Moses. Christ’s disciples quarreled about who should be the greatest. Satan loves to seed contention. All for what purpose? It is to gratify the flesh.
In these contentions among saints, Satin is the great unseen instigator. For this reason we are admonished in EPH 4:25-27,” Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.”
When you allow the sun to go down on your wrath, you are giving place to the devil.
Evil thoughts run through your mind like an eight-lane street. You can’t even count or follow them. They bring contention in your heart. The results are you quarreling with flesh and blood. The Lord has not yet accomplished His purpose in you.
When you come like Job, you will understand we are not striving with flesh and blood. When we harbor contentions in our heart, we are giving place to the devil.
Do not quarrel among yourselves unless you long for the devil’s company. If you get lonesome for the devil, start quarreling. Get yourself all worked up with contentions and frustrations. He’ll go right to bed with you. You’ll lay awake at night with a frustrated heart and mind. He’ll just tear you to shreds.
If you like his company, go ahead and get into a quarrel every chance you can find. He is attracted by heat and warms his hands in the flames kindled by our tongues. The devil just loves to get that flame burning when our evil tongue lashes our fellow man.
We read in JAM 3:6, “And the tongue is a fire, [Old Satan loves that one!] a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” In other words, “of the devil.”
That sharp piercing tongue, saying these nasty things about each other, or to each other is of the devil. You love the devil if you keep doing this. This proves you just love his company. He won’t forsake you, because you haven’t forsaken him. You are giving place to the devil.
We have to learn to see we aren’t contending with flesh and blood. If someone has come against us, we have to understand it’s what the Lord sent. When we learn to see this, the war is over.
I’ve been through this. Oh, beloved, I speak from experience! The Lord spoke to me from MAT 10:34-36, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”
When I saw this, the war was over. The war of the people that were coming against me ended that day. The Lord can stop the wars as easy as He can allow Satan to set them on fire.
The Lord can stop these after He has accomplished His purpose. Satan takes every coal of contention he finds among the saints and fans them until they become white-hot.
Even Moses, the meekest of all men, spoke unadvisedly when he became provoked. In NUM 20:5-11 we read, “The LORD spake unto Moses, saying,…speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, [Moses failed to sanctify the Lord.] And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? [The Lord didn’t tell him to say that! The Lord told Moses to speak to the rock.] And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice.” The Lord didn’t tell them to say, “Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?” The Lord told him to go speak to the rock, and it will bring forth with water. Moses stood there and said, “Ye rebels, must we fetch you water?”
The Lord barred him from the land of Canaan. We bar ourselves from the land of rest.
We continue our way upon these boisterous waves, because we don’t obey the Lord. This is what I believe we are being taught with Moses and Aaron.
They were provoked by the people and they did not sanctify the Lord. They did not see the Lord’s hand in the trial. They did not tell the children of Israel, “This trial is from the Lord.” They did not sanctify the Lord.
When you and I are provoked by someone, if we are able to take it as from the Lord without being provoked, the Lord will be glorified, because we were able to stand the trial. Then we come into the promise land, which is the place of peace in our soul. We see the boisterous waves have to cease.
Satan has also enlisted the world in his ware against the saints. In JOH 15:19, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”
Have you ever thought of this? Satan loves nothing more than to see the saints quarrel among themselves? They are off guard and setting a battle in array against each other while the world is conquering the victory. Old Satan is running off laughing, warming his hands in those flames of hell.
How foolish and spiritually insane we can be to allow Satan to work on our emotions. He takes a hold of our flesh and blood in a wrestling match. Flesh responds, and he kindles the fires of hell in our tongue. The evil thoughts are hatching in our minds. We start striving with flesh and blood. Satan likes nothing better. My Bible says, “We wrestle not with flesh and blood.”
The Sabeans were the ones who plundered Job, but they were on Satan’s errand. We have to understand that they were sent. The Lord said, “He is in thy hand.” Old Satan sent them.
The ministers of Satan’s gospel go at Satan’s bidding. In 2CO 11:15, “Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” When you get into this false doctrine that is being preached, we get into the same thing. Satan sent all of this.
We see persecutions by tongues and hands. These are the devils instruments. In REV 2:9-10, “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. [The Lord is saying you feel poor, but you are rich!] Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
He’s saying you feel poor, but you are rich. They are blasting you and saying things against you, but you are rich. The Lord is saying, “You’re rich when you are persecuted for my name’s sake.” We wrestle not against flesh and blood. We must look beyond men and see they are only instruments in the hands of Satan with the Lord’s consent.
We must wrestle against Satan and pray for the soul of the poor instrument he uses. When you see someone the Lord has allowed Satan to send against you, you must wrestle in prayer for that poor soul. Pray for that man.
LUK 6:27-28 says, “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” He is just an instrument the Lord has sent. Many times it could be one of God’s dear people.
When Peter was cursing and swearing, can you picture what an instrument of Satan he was to pierce Christ?
Our own inner man, by nature, has a continual warfare with flesh and blood. GEN 5:3 says, “And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image.” It is this image and likeness of Adam that Satan uses to ignite his flames of contention in our breast.
When the Apostle said, “WE WRESTLE NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD,” he was not saying that the war is over between your old and new nature. GAL 5:17 says, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”
If there were no devil, we would still have to wrestle against our own sinful nature. Satan uses our own sinful nature. He excites our sinful inclinations. He brings our rebellion into exercise against the power of God. The battle is the Lord’s.
We have only one consolation in the battle; that is looking unto our Saviour who has trodden the way of the cross before us. “Wherefore seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God,” HEB 12:1-2. Amen.