It is true that I am an ordinary, weak human being, but I don’t use human plans and methods to win my battles. I use God’s mighty weapons, not those made by men, to knock down the devil’s strongholds. These weapons can break down every proud argument against God and every wall that can be built to keep men from finding him. [2 Corinthians 10:3-5a (TLB)]

great blue heronIn his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus blessed the meek, so I doubt He would have been a fan of mixed martial arts. Nevertheless, several years ago, our mountain church did a sermon series titled “Cage Fighting” and a large cage of chain-link fencing was placed in the front of the church to represent Satan’s strongholds. Instead of allowing Satan to keep us locked in his cage, the sermon series was about fighting our way out of it. Thinking about the viciousness and brutality of cage fighting, I recalled C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra, the second book in his space trilogy—a book in which good and evil actually come to blows as brutal as those in a cage fight.

In Lewis’ book, the young planet of Perelandra has been untouched by sin and death, just as our world once was. When Ransom arrives there, he meets the innocent Tinidril, the Eve figure of her world. Having no knowledge of good or evil because everything on Perelandra is good, she enjoys a friendly relationship with Maleldil (God) as did Adam and Eve before the fall. Rather than a serpent, it is the demonic Professor Weston who tries to tempt the ingenuous Tinidril into defying Maleldil’s one prohibition. Weston uses all sorts of brilliant yet convoluted arguments to seduce the innocent woman into disobedience. He even suggests that her rebellion actually would please God by demonstrating her strength and independence. Out-argued and out-maneuvered by the devious Weston, Ransom despairs of preserving the innocence of the planet. He knows that Weston’s success would mean a tragic end to the Eden of Perelandra.

When Maleldil tells Ransom to physically fight Weston, the man spends the night in debate before reluctantly attacking the enemy bare-handed. A fight without referee, rounds, time limit, or rules, this is a no-holds-barred battle to the bitter end. Although Ransom eventually succeeds, Lewis’ next book in the trilogy reminds us that evil never stops trying to overpower good.

When I read Paul’s words to the Ephesians, I remember Lewis’ story along with that cage in the middle of our church. They remind me that Satan doesn’t abide by the Marquess of Queensberry boxing rules. Like Weston, he fights dirty and takes unfair advantage when his opponent is unprotected or exhausted (as he did when Jesus was in the wilderness). A blatant but skillful liar, our devious enemy often adds a bit of truth to his lies and then twists it to his advantage. Moreover, Satan, like any accomplished fighter, tries to trick us into making foolish mistakes or underestimating him. He lulls us into lowering our guard or taking the easy punch so he can knock us down with a left jab we don’t see coming.

The apostle Paul tells us to wear the armor of God when battling Satan. Truth, righteousness, the peace of God, faith, and salvation are the defensive weapons that help block Satan’s jabs of temptation, sin, shame, guilt, doubt, fear, anger, and unforgiveness. But, as Ransom learned in his battle against evil, the best defense is an offense. Fighting the powers of Satan is like hand-to-hand combat but, rather than fists, we use a sword: the word of God! Unlike Ransom, we must never hesitate to do battle with the forces of evil. With the power of His Holy Spirit and wielding the sword of His Word, we can fight our way out of the enemy’s stronghold.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. [Ephesians 6:13-17 (NLT)]

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