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Wrestling with Salvation

The origins of wrestling can be traced back to ancient cave drawings. Babylonian and Egyptian wrestlers displayed similar holds known in this present-day sport. This history suggests that wrestling represents one of the oldest forms of combat. Thus, it’s not surprising that one of Israel’s founding fathers wrestles with God throughout one long night. This draw (tie) served as a call for change from a swindler to a contender for God.

And Jacob was left alone, and a Man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 And when [the Man] saw that He did not prevail against [Jacob], He touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with Him. 26 Then He said, Let Me go, for day is breaking. But [Jacob] said, I will not let You go unless You declare a blessing upon me. 27 [The Man] asked him, What is your name? And [in shock of realization, whispering] he said, Jacob [supplanter, schemer, trickster, swindler]! 28 And He said, Your name shall be called no more Jacob [supplanter], but Israel [contender with God]; for you have contended and have power with God and with men and have prevailed, Genesis 32:24-28.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul refers to a spiritual wrestling match. Paul urges members of the Philippians Church to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. In the passage below, the Amplified Version provides a clear explanation for what Paul is talking about. The goal for apostles was to fulfill the Great Commission, Acts 1:8. Rather than become complacent as a Christian, believers should cultivate and carry out God’s will for their lives.

Therefore, my dear ones, as you have always obeyed [my suggestions], so now, not only [with the enthusiasm you would show] in my presence but much more because I am absent, work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, [i]with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ), Philippians 2:12.

If you have lived long enough, you know that some days you have it and some days you don’t. When you don’t have your A game or the energy to succeed, wrestling with salvation is essential. When desire is lacking, use prayer as a crutch to keep on fighting. If your faith starts to slide, hang in there by clinging to the promises of the Bible. Whether you have to wrestle for hours, days, months or years, keep hope alive by working out your weaknesses.

by Jay Mankus

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