Worthy to Compete

Wrestlers: Thomas Eakins

As long as athletes of Christ are in the body, they never lack victory in contests. But in proportion to their growth by triumphant successes, more severe struggles confront them. For when the flesh is restrained and conquered, swarms of foes and masses of enemies are egged on by such triumphs and rise up against the victorious soldier of Christ! They fear that such soldiers of Christ might relax their efforts in the ease of peace and forget about the glorious struggles of their contests. They fear that, through the idleness caused by immunity from danger, soldiers could relax and be cheated of their prizes and rewards. So if we want to rise to these stages of triumph with ever-growing righ­teousness, we should enlist into battle in the same way. We should begin by saying with Paul, “I so fight, not as one that beateth the air, but I chastise my body and bring it into subjection.” Then when this conflict is ended, we could say with him once more, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against world-rulers of this darkness, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places.” Otherwise, we can’t possibly battle against these enemies. We don’t deserve to compete spiritually if we are con­quered even in fleshly contests and beaten in our struggle with our stomachs. We will deserve to hear the apostle’s words of blame, “Temptation does not overtake you, except what is common to man.”

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