Gladiator or Spectator?

“For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” (Philippians 1:21 NLT)

Being a Jesus follower isn’t only important in teaching us how to live, it’s vital in preparing us to die. We may never be put in a literal arena to face an opponent, but unless and until we understand that life as a believer in Jesus is a battle to the end, we’ll likely never take our life as God’s child very seriously.

My dad was a boxer as a young man, and he taught me that one of the most important elements of boxing is knowing your enemy. Planning to fight a guy 5’11” who does best inside, then going into the ring with a guy 6’3” who has arms as long as a baseball bat can spell “bad night.”

If you don’t understand Satan’s desire to defeat you intensifies when you get saved, you won’t see any need to equip yourself with an effective strategy to prepare for his attacks. One thing we must learn quickly and never forget is John’s words in 1 John 4:4: “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”  

The key to success as a gladiator for Jesus is to never forget whose you are. As long as our trust and dependence are upon the strong Holy Spirit who lives in us, we can’t lose. We may get knocked down, but we’ll never get knocked out. However, when we focus on the size of our enemy instead of the size of our Savior, we’re setting ourselves up for defeat.

The other issue with which we must come to terms is realizing we’re candidates for the “arena,” not simply spectators who watch the battles of others. To believe the Christian life is a “cakewalk” in the park is to misunderstand our enemy and our role as a child of God. Satan’s plan is to “steal, kill, and destroy.” He wants to steal our joy in Jesus, kill our enthusiasm for the fight, and destroy our confidence in our ability to trust the Spirit to do the work in and through us that only He can do.

Photo by Vovan Gord on

Equally as debilitating is to believe we’re strong enough to fight life’s battles alone. A good fighter never enters the ring alone. He has a trainer who knows, not only his skills, but the skills of his opponent. You also have a qualified and well-equipped “cut man.” A nasty cut can end a fight as quickly as a knockout. That’s why it’s called a TKO – Technical Knockout.

Satan’s goal is to get you out of the fight, not necessarily knock you out. How does he do that? His primary weapon is discouragement. If he can get you to believe you can’t win, that the battle is too much for you, he’s won by default. That’s why you need a strong team of people who know and love the Lord and know and love you.  

The Church isn’t an afterthought of God, it’s been His plan all along. But we’ve got to see and understand the “Church,” not as a building where we go to join together in worship, but as an army of God’s people who band together as brothers and sisters in the fight for the souls of men and women, boys and girls.

Nehemiah 4:14 says: “Fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!” In this context he was speaking of a willingness to enter a literal, physical battle, but the same principle applies to our spiritual warfare, waged in prayer first, then in concert with others who know and love Jesus. Corky Calhoun wrote: “Christianity is not a spectator sport, we are gladiators and not fans.” 

So, which are you? Gladiator or Spectator? I pray you’ll put on your armor and go to war with the enemy of your soul, battling in prayer and in any other way the Lord leads, to liberate those in bondage to Satan. Obviously, there are many more things we can do in this fight for the bodies, souls, hearts, and minds of those who are lost than pray, but prayer is the work, then God works!

Blessings, Ed 😊

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