Growing up, our family were neighbors with the James Baker family; James (Jim) was the high school biology teacher, and the head wrestling coach. His influence brought all the neighborhood boys into the wresting club. I started my school-wrestling career when I was in the 6th grade.
When I was in high school, I made the wrestling team; we were called; BAGUBA’s, pronounced BAH-GOO-BAH. It was an acronym that stood for: Brutally Aggressive Guy Uninhibited By Adversity.
To be a wrestler requires tremendous practice and preparation. A typical practice session begins by stretching. We would stretch our legs, arms, and even stretch our necks by doing what we call the arch technique; while laying flat on your back, arms across your chest, you would arch your body upward, using only your neck muscle. I recall the first few weeks of practice everyone had sore necks!
After 15 to 20 minutes of stretching, we would do sprints back and forth across the gymnasium to build up our cardio. We would do this until we thought we would drop!
Once we stretched and got our heart rate pumping, we would go into the wrestling room! The heated room felt like a sauna! The floor and walls were padded, and a ladder attached to the ceiling.
We would each take turns going across the ladder. You jumped up, grabbed a rung, then pulled your knees up to your chest, going across the ladder as fast as possible; it was grueling!
Once all these preliminary steps were out of the way, the “Real” practice began! We would learn wrestling maneuvers and tactics, practicing on each other in that sweltering room.
Finally, we would end the practice session by doing an exercise called, “Shark Bait.” You broke into groups of four, as close to a similar weight class as possible. One wrestler would be the “Bait” and would wrestle the other three, one at a time; one minute each; once finished, a second wrestler would be the “Bait.” The session continued until all had an opportunity to wrestle.
After an hour and a half of wrestling practice, you were exhausted, and trust me, you felt it the next day!
All of this practice and preparation helped get us ready for a real match. When that day came, everything you had leaned and practiced, you needed to remember.
When you entered the ring and looked your opponent in the eyes, it was game on!
Wrestling is a hard sport and not for the squeamish, you will have your limits tested, you will learn what it feels like to be beaten, and what it feels like to win. It is an aggressive sport, and as our name declared; it is “Brutally Aggressive.”
As Christians, the Apostle Paul reminds us, that we are in a spiritual wrestling match; and the stakes are very high! Let us listen in as Paul reveals this truth . . .
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
In this amazing passage, the Apostle Paul reveals what we need to do, in order to win this spiritual wrestling match. Let us look into it . . .
BELT OF TRUTH
In the time of the Apostle Paul’s writing to the church in Ephesus, the Romans soldiers were on patrol throughout the area. The Roman soldier wore armor to protect himself in battle. The “BELT” sometimes called the “GIRDLE” set in place, buckled around the middle.
The lower armor hung on the belt, and the sword rested in a sheath attached to the belt. The “BELT” was central to the armor of the Roman soldier, and the Belt of Truth is central to the Christian’s armor too; everything hangs on this.
Truth remains truth, so long as it is not manipulated or twisted. Satan loves to take Scripture out of context, and bend it to get his way, rather than God’s way.
GOD EXPECTS US TO WALK IN TRUTH ALWAYS, even if it may cause pain, we need to be truthful at all times. We must be truthful about ourselves, in our “INMOST PARTS” not holding back from God anything that would keep us from Him.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
Satan referred to as “THE FATHER OF LIES” does some of his most crafty work in this area. Let us be careful not to give him a foothold, but rather buckle firmly the belt of truth around your waist.
BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
The Roman soldiers wore a breastplate. This piece of armor PROTECTED THE HEART, and other vital organs from attack, and without this essential piece of armor, the soldier was vulnerable to a fatal strike. FOR THE CHRISTIAN, THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IS INDISPENSABLE, without this, we would be vulnerable to attack as well, an attack of the heart!
Satan loves to accuse, cast doubt, and instill fear, in the heart of the believer.
Unless we have this covering over our heart, his attacks may prove successful! God’s word declares the believer, righteous in Christ.
Just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sin are covered. . .
Imputed – to ascribe to or charge (a person) with an act or quality because of the conduct of another over whom one has control or for whose acts or conduct one is responsible.
It is sometimes hard for us to believe that simply by placing faith in JESUS CHRIST, ALL our sins forgiven, and we stand before God as if we never did anything wrong.
Just like Abraham “BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS” we believe God too, and by faith, just like Abraham, we believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Our sins forgiven, WE STAND, NOT IN OUR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, BUT IN CHRIST’S.
FEET FITTED WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE
We are now going to get our FEET FITTED with a pair of GOSPEL SHOES!
Following the Lord is not an easy task. The road may get difficult, we see SERPENTS AND SCORPIONS to crush along the way, and hot desert places to walk through. We need the proper equipment to walk this path.
Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
God has lifted us up out of dark places and sets us on a solid path; directing our steps.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.
As you can see, our God is able to cause us to stand, and He gives us spiritual SHOES, that will tread down our enemy. This is good news, but there is more.
Once we have our feet fitted with shoes that are able to cause us to stand, and have the ability to crush our enemy, we need to use these shoes to carry forward the incredible message of the GOSPEL OF PEACE.
SHIELD OF FAITH
When Roman soldiers fought, often they would take their arrows and dip them in tar, then set them on fire before shooting at an enemy. If the arrow hit its mark, it would burn deeply into the flesh, causing great pain, and often would lead to further damage by way of infection. The shield would protect the soldiers from these “MISSILES.”
In the spiritual realm, Satan launches “FIRE TIPPED MISSILES” at the Christian, trying to inflict pain and infection, causing deep hurts in the heart. Satan’s goal is to get the Christian to strike back.
When a Christian strikes back, returning evil for evil, the tactic Satan used, is successful. With the Shield of Faith, we protect our heart from the ungodly attacks that WILL come our way.
HELMET OF SALVATION
The helmet was crucial to the Roman soldier. It protected the head. You may recall seeing pictures of Roman soldiers with bright plumage on top of their helmet, this would often indicate what division, or regiment the soldier belonged. Quite often, as soon as you saw the soldier’s helmet, you knew whom you were going to be fighting.
Satan loves to manipulate and distort God’s Word; he is a master of deception. Often we will find his greatest deceptions have an element of truth to them. We must be on guard at all times.
The HELMET OF SALVATION is vital, as it helps to protect our mind from the continuous attempts by Satan to influence our thoughts. Salvation is not just redemption; it is also restoration; completeness and a new sense of who we are.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
The WORD OF GOD is more than able to slay the enemy, but we MUST know it, in order to use it! We need to “HIDE IT IN OUR HEART,” meditate on it, filling up on the “WHOLE COUNCIL OF GOD” and not just the parts that make us feel good.
We need to grasp the WORD OF GOD, and learn to use it effectively.
In Roman training manuals, it states that a “sword-slash” rarely kills. A soldier needs to take careful aim, and plunge in the sword.
We too, need to be careful not to wield the WORD OF GOD carelessly, but rather study it, and learn to use it wisely.
So, spiritually speaking, are you a BAGUBA: Brutally Aggressive Guy (or Gal) Uninhibited By Adversity?
Let us be clear; if you belong to Jesus, you ARE in a wrestling match! Your opponent is out for keeps; he is relentless, strong and cunning. The Bible refers to him this way. . .
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
However, with constant training, which includes stretching faith muscles, building perseverance, pressing through the hard trials, enduring persecution, you become stronger and stronger!
Remember, we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS in Christ Jesus!
So suit up, listen to your Coach, follow His lead, and you will most certainly win the championship crown!
The match begins . . . NOW!