And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
~ Revelation 13:7
For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.
~ Isaiah 34:5
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
But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.
~ Daniel 10:13
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
~ Daniel 12:1
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
~ Hebrews 2:10
The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
~ Matthew 13:41
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
~ Matthew 16:27
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
~ Thessalonians 1:7
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
~ 2 Corinthians 12:7
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
~ Revelation 20:2
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
~ 2 Peter 2:4
He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them. He made a way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence; And smote all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham: But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.
~ Psalm 78:49-53
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
~ Matthew 25:41
All the People of God are Warriors, Contending, Wrestling and Striving Hard Against Powerful and Malicious Enemies, by Isaac Ambrose. The following contains an excerpt from Chapter One of his work, “The Christian Warrior, Wrestling with Sin, Satan, the World and the Flesh”.
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
~ Revelation 12:7
Statement of the doctrines to be handled.
I. All the people of God must be warriors,
II. We have powerful and malicious enemies to contend with.
III. We must wrestle and strive hard against them.
I.— All God’s people must be in the war.
1 . The wicked refuse to engage in this war. Instead of fighting the Lord’s battles, they take up arms on tfae enemy’s side. They spend their time in chambering and wantonness, in idleness and carnal security. They are altogether ignorant of Satan’s assaults, and of their own danger. Oh that their eyes were opened to see their perilous condition! Oh that such men knew their danger in time to escape it! They are not the Lord’s soldiers, but the devil’s revellers. They will not fight against Satan, and Satan will not disturb their sleep. So they are in covenant with death and hell.
All the people of God, from first to last, are, and must be engaged in this spiritual warfare, and can say, we do not war after the flesh, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds. Such has been the language of the saints in all ages ; they were all in the war, even the most holy of them all. Job, Moses and Aaron, Lot and David: the Patriarchs and the Prophets: all had their fiery trials. And so those under the gospel: Peter was winnowed,—Paul was buffeted, and even Christ himself was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
Must all God’s people war with devils? Then consider what religion will cost you. The christian soldier must endure hardness. Saints must be winnowed, buffeted, tried and tempted. Wars and dangers shall be their portion. And through much tribulation must they enter into the kingdom of God. See how Paul is in labours, in stripes, in prisons, in deaths. He was always in perils, wherever he went.
Christianity will cost you much here, and save you for ever. Then be a christian, that you may be a conqueror.
Are we to fight against sin and Satan, the world and the flesh 7 then, courage ! christians! Be not dismayed. Are you afraid of these formidable enemies? Go forth in the strength of the Lord God, and he will put all your enemies shortly under your feet. Satan’s fiery darts and all your trials shall do you good, and be to you as the waves to the ark, as the whale to Jonah, as the file that brightens the iron, as the mill that grinds the wheat, or as the fire that separates the dross from the gold. Do you not feel your spirits sharpened, your pride subdued, your flesh cooled, and every Iust mortified, and every grace invigorated, by these temptations and trials? Tell me, are not you roused to make earnest and ardent prayers, by these wars and conflicts ? Are not Satan’s temptations like bellows to blow the fire of devotion in your soul, and like a hedge of thorns to keep you from going astray ? Oh vain men! be not afraid of the war, but enlist into the armies of Christ, and fight valiantly under the banner of the cross. It is an honourable war, Christ invites you to it, and promiseth to cover your head in the day of battle, and to crown you in the end. And what more would you have ? ” Put on the whole armour ‘ of God, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might,’ and he is engaged to give you the victory.
II. We have powerful and malicious enemies to contend with.
1. We wrestle not with flesh and blood, i. e. not with men, but with devils ; not with feeble frail mortals like ourselves; but with mighty hosts of spiritual adversaries, with Satan at their head. The main contest is not with the corruptions of our nature, but with principalities and powers, with Beelzebub and his legions.
We have indeed within us hosts of busy and injurious enemies ; and these are often ‘ like the sons of Zeruiah, too hard for us.’ ‘ Within are fightings;’ the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and often brings us into captivity to the law of sin.’* We often groan, earnestly longing to be delivered from this body of sin and death. These inward sins in our souls and bodies are very formidable enemies, if there were no other.
Christians! how doth it concern you to stand upon your watch tower! You have enemies within you. If a city was besieged by foreign armies, would the citizens harbour traitors within their walls?—nay, would they not put them to death, for their own safety? You have within you a host of treacherous enemies, and these seek all occasions to betray you into the devil’s hands. Is it not high time for us all to mortify the flesh with its affections and lusts, and to implore the aid and assistance of Gods Spirit, to mortify our bosom traitors and murderers? These are in some respects more dangerous than the devil himself, because they are
within us. They open the door to let the enemy in. Satan can do nothing, till your bosom sins betray you into his hands. He can never force you to sin, but must first gain your consent. Oh, then, how carefully should you watch over your own hearts, and live in prayer!
2. Our formidable enemies are principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wicked* nesses.’ A few words for each term, to shew what we have to contend with.
Principalities.— Much more than all princes,— Satan rules over all the earth, and is called ‘ the god of this world.’ The earth indeed is the Lord’s,’ and ** the Most High ruleth over the kingdoms of men.’ Yet Satan has now the dominion over the world in its corrupted state. When the world left God, then God, in judgment, gave Satan his dominion over it, and gave him leave to rule ‘Over all the wicked. And thus Satan rules over ail the children of disobedience, and his dominion is here called, ” principalities.’
Powers. —They are princes, with, mighty power: we cannot tell how great the power of Satan is. When God permits him, he makes a wonderful display of his power in all creation, over all the elements. He has power over fire. He can cause thunders and lightnings in the firmament, and set the heavens on fire. He has power over the air, ‘* He is the prince of the power of the air.’ It was he that caused the mighty wind from the wilderness to fall upon Job’s house, and kill his children. Without God’s permission, he cannot make a breath of air to
blow, but with permission he can at any time raise wind enough to remove mountains. Satan has power over water. He can hurl the sea into such commotion, that the depth shall boil like a pot. Satan has power over the earth, and can cause earthquakes to swallow up towns and cities, rocks and rivers.
Satan can enter into the bodies of beasts. A legion of devils entered into an herd of two thousand swine, and hurried them violently over a precipice into the sea, and drowned them. And they have no less power over the bodies of men. Read of the lunatics, the deaf and the dumb, which were healed of Christ, when on earth. And did they not carry the body of Christ himself through the air ?
And what mighty power the devil has over the souls of men! He can work on the understanding, and cause thousands of evil thoughts to arise there, to our sorrow, by working on the corruptions which he finds in the soul. The devil can do great mischief in the will of men. Though he cannot command and determine it, yet he can persuade and allure it to a thousand evils. Satan works on the affections and passions of men. He deals much with our imaginations, paints sinful objects as lovely and desirable, and so kindles our affections towards them, till the consent of the will is obtained, and the soul is led captive.
Rulers, of the darkness of this world.—The darkness of this world is the seal of Satan’s empire. His time is, during this world. He began with Adam in Paradise, and will continue to rule, till time is no more. At the end of the world, he shall be shut up as a close prisoner in hell.
Satan’s dominion is in the earth and the air. In heaven the devils rebelled, and were cast out, and now they rule in the earth and in the air. Here they seduce and destroy the souls of men as fast as they can. Woe, woe, to the inhabitants of the earth, who dwell among such enemies. Yet let the saints rejoice, no enemies shall be in heaven to torment us. This may well make us long to change earth for heaven. Soldiers in bloody wars cannot but long earnestly for victory, and to be released from the war, and enjoy peace. Like the mariners who being tossed on the boisterous sea, naturally long for the haven of rest and safety; so must the soldiers of Christ ardently long for the promised victory over their spiritual adversaries, and to land on the shore of eternal rest. Oh, Christians 1 press on towards heaven; for the earth is full of snares and plots of Satan, who tries to take, and to ruin you for ever.
Spiritual Wickedness.’ Oh! what enemies are these! We have to wrestle with evil spirits, which are full of subtilty, full of malice, and full of power to hurt and to destroy. These can attack us in all conditions, and in all places, when we see them not. They are not only spirits, but evil spirits, full of malice. Satan is more than wicked, he is maliciously wicked. His constant trade and greatest delight is to allure men to hell, to be tormented for ever. The devils tempt us, not only to outward transgressions, but also to spiritual sins, such as pride, hypocrisy, unbelief, and blasphemy.
Satan fights with the people of God, not about the things of earth, such as gold mines, lands, and treasures, but about heavenly things, such as our salvation and happiness in Christ, and meetness for glory. He strives to rob us of our God, our Redeemer, our Sanctifier and Comforter, and to allow us nothing but sin and misery, guilt, condemnation, and torments. Such are the enemies which we have to contend with, and which must be conquered, or we are undone for ever.
Are devils thus mighty and malicious ? Then it is high time to lay to heart the work you have to do, i. e. to contend with, and to subdue these formidable enemies. Bless God that you are not already destroyed by them. Should the Lord let them loose, what work would they do in the earth ! They would rend the heavens, shake the earth, and destroy all mankind, in an instant. My brethren, you should not dread them too much, for God is your refuge and strength. Neither must you slight them, for no mere creature on earth can stand before them. Oh, bless God for the restraints he lays upon Satan !
Are devils so mighty and malicious ? Then let all tempted souls flee to God, and rely on his strength, who governs heaven, earth, and hell. Let the righteous flee under the wings of the Almighty, where they shall find a safe shelter in every time of danger. ‘ The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.’
III.— On wrestling with these enemies
1. This combat is called wrestling, because Satan does not fight with us at a distance, but comes into close struggle. He closeth in with us, yea, gets within us, and lays hold on the heart. Other enemies may lay hold on our bodily limbs, but Satan is a spirit and lays hold on our spirits, and all the powers of our mind; and nothing can escape his fangs.
It is called wrestling, because it is violent. Wrestling is not an easy, idle work, but requires strength, skill, and vigour. Satan deals with us as a roaring loudly and strives to destroy our souls. Then striving earnestly is necessary on our part, that we may not become his prey. Oh, brethren, ‘be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might,’ that you may escape hell, and take heaven by violence. We must not dally with such an enemy, but resist unto blood.
We must wrestle, because of the many arts and tricks which the enemy will use against us. He is a very cunning wrestler, and conquers by art as well as by strength. He has thousands of artful stratagems. He has also numberless plots formed in secret, and has the experience of thousands of years, so that he knows well how to take advantage of us, and assail us unawares. And should not we study his arts and wiles, so that we may ‘ not be ignorant of his devices ? ‘ Soldier, keep your armour on, go forth in the strength of the Lord, and no enemy can prevail against you.
We must wrestle, because Satan has his seconds to fight on his side; the world and the flesh are his chief captains. The world presents its golden apples to tempt us; then the flesh lays hold on the bait, and we are drawn away from God. When Satan sees a fit time, he threatens us with poverty and distress ; he turns all smiles into frowns; instead of honours and riches, he sets before us nothing but darkness and distress, and we know how terrible these are to our frail nature. So the subtle enemy vanquisheth some by prosperity, and others by adversity. Few come off conquerors. Let those of us that are true warriors take courage, for we have God on our side, and Christ is the captain of our salvation. Likewise the angels of God encamp round about the saints. What a comfort is this, that we have the angels of God, and the God of angels for our defence ! There are more for us than can come against us ; and this will secure to us the victory.
1. Of terror to the wicked.
Is our spiritual combat a hard wrestling? Then woe to the wicked, who never wrestle at all. Let them know that they are not the Lord’s soldiers, but the devil’s revellers. As they are his captives, he lets them alone to take their sleep quietly. ‘ When the strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace;” but when Christ comes to dispossess him, there will be a great struggle, and many a battle fought. Woe be to them that are at ease in Zion I Can we be God’s servants, and not his soldiers ? Is not Christ’s Church on earth truly militant? The saints are warriors as well as travellers. Oh then, what is tbeir condition, who sleep in the arms of death ! They will not even resist Satan, but go where he leads them. They lie down in carnal security, and dream of heaven, till they find themselves in the torments of hell. The enemy hath already secured them in his net, and now hath nothing more to do, but to drag them from their bed of slumbers, and cast them into the deep.
2. Encouragement to the warriors.
Is our spiritual combat a wrestling ? Then courage, Christians! ‘Be strong in the lord, and in the power of his might.’ The Christian above all men, needs courage. A cowardly spirit unfits us for the lowest duty. It is the valiant that takes heaven by a holy violence. The soldiers of Christ must have an heroic spirit, and dare to be holy in spite of men and devils. Sinners are bold, and shall saints be timid ? The one resolves to be wicked, and shall the other be wavering in his holy course ? Hell keeps the field impudently, with displayed banners of open profaneness, and shall saints hide themselves for shame ? Oh let this never be the case with the armies of the living God.
Take courage therefore, O ye saints, ”and be strong.’ When Joshua was to march before Israel into Canaan, the Lord would raise his spirits with saying, ‘Be strong, be of good courage.’ So would I say to every man of grace, ‘ Be strong, and of good courage.’ ” Be not dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee, whithersoever thou goest.’ So he saith to you who march through the wilderness to the heavenly Canaan, Be full of faith, for the Lord is with thee: what, if devils fly in your face, and grapple With you hand to hand ? Any feeble David may wrestle with Goliath, so long as the battle is the Lord’s; and the warrior comes to the field in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel.
Is your spiritual combat a wrestling? come then, and play the man. Here are legions of devils ready to devour. See them coming speedily and furiously against you, determined to destroy soul, body, and spirit. What will you do now ? will you turn your back and fly ? Shall Satan conquer without a struggle ? Oh no ; stand to your arms, and bid him defiance—resist him, and he will flee from you. But he will come again.
3. Motives to continue the war.
There is a necessity for it. Either you must wrestle with the enemy, or be taken captive by him. Shall not this necessity make you fight ? Necessity would make cowards fight, and shall you, a soldier of Christ, lay down your arms in despair ? Only wrestle in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the victory is sure. When Christ resisted Satan, he fled away, and left him. Resist him, and he will flee from you also. Satan is a conquered enemy; Christ conquered him for you, and he will conquer him by you, when you fight in his name.
The sweetness of victory will abundantly repay for the trouble of wrestling. While the wicked think of the sweetness of sin, and the trouble of wrestling, let the Christian think of the fruits of victory over sin, death and hell he will then earnestly, and voluntarily strive to obtain this glorious conquest. The war is only for time, the victory is for eternity. The combat is lawful and just appointed of God. It is he that bids us to put on the armour, and take the field against our spiritual adversaries. The Lord warns us, that Satan comes against us as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, and bids us to resist him steadfastly in the faith. You see, brethren, that your cause is just, and you have God’s authority for engaging in it—you are God’s property, by creation, redemption, and self-dedication—Satan is an usurper, that can have no right to you. In fighting Satan, you do but defend your own right, and the dominion of God in your own souls; your cause is just and good ; then fight and conquer.
You have already in baptism taken a military Sacrament, and there vowed that you would continue God’s faithful soldiers and servants unto your lives’ end. What! my brethren, shall you take press-money to serve in God’s wars, against the devil and all that help him, and now run away from your colours ? A sworn enemy to sin and Satan should never turn his back on those who seek his life. Keep your oath in mind, and resist even unto blood, and unto death.
The Lord measureth your temptations, and weigheth your strength: he gives the shoulders, and fitteth the burden, and will never lay on you more than he will enable you to bear. As thy day is, so shall thy strength be. Souls are apt to complain and say, the devil is mighty, and his temptations strong; while I am feeble and foolish. How then can I stand in the wars ? Remember, that all your conflicts are weighed in the balance, and God saith unto Satan, ‘ hitherto shalt thou go, and no further.’ No doubt bat Satan would destroy you at once, but God re« strains him, and saith of you as he did of Job, ‘touch not his life.’ God sets bounds to Satan, and gives strength to his people. Then let them fight on and take courage.