“A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing ; Our helper He amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing. For still our ancient foe Doth seek to work us woe; His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, On earth is not His equal.”
These are words from Martin Luther’s great hymn, A mighty Fortress is Our God, based on Psalm 46.
We have a crafty enemy unequal to any earthly. BUT: As the hymn says, “A Mighty Fortress is our God a bulwark never failing.”
The dictionary defines a bulwark as a “Defensive wall: a structure built to keep out our attackers.” Our God is that defensive wall to keep out our attackers! Ephesians 6:12 describes well our need for a bulwark.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against powers, against the world forces of darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” The above verse is from the New American Standard Bible. The King James version uses the word “wrestle” in place of “struggle”.
My question to you dear reader: With whom are we wrestling? Or with whom are we struggling? When conflict and strife arise, step back and ask yourself that question.
Ephesians 6:12 states that our struggle is not against “flesh and blood”. So who is our struggle with?
World forces of darkness
Spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
The following is an insight from John Calvin: “This passage shows that our struggle is much greater than if we were fighting mere men, where each of us has a sword and we fight it out blow by blow. This is vastly different! There is no human power to withstand these enemies.”
BUT: We have a bulwark! God is our wall of protection…who NEVER fails.
“Rulers, powers, world forces of darkness, spiritual forces of wickedness,” these are all describing the demonic realm.
This is wickedness, cruelty, evil.
Calvin says, “The fact that they are ‘spiritual forces’ shows us they are invisible.” He says, “The fact that they are ‘in the heavenly places’ shows us their elevated station.”
Our tendency is to lash out at the flesh and blood in front of us, instead of the unseen foe standing behind the person of circumstance.
How do we apply this? We must learn to look beyond people and circumstances and recognize the true source of the conflict.
When strife arises, when ones treat us in a way that makes us want revenge, we must remember that these people or circumstances could just be darts thrown at us by the evil one. Calvin says, “While we are employed in destroying those darts (or people) we lay ourselves open to be wounded on all sides.”
When we start wrestling with flesh and blood, in our own flesh, responding in unrighteous anger..we give the devil a foothold. And as Calvin said, “we lay ourselves open to be wounded on all sides.”
Remember: Ask yourself, with whom am I wrestling? And who is my bulwark?
Don’t lash out at the flesh and blood in front of you. Learn to recognize the true source of the conflict. Use the weapons God has provided, the Word of God and prayer. Run to your bulwark! He will NEVER fail you.
God is our helper. The devil is not His equal. The following verse from Luther’s hymn points us to Christ Jesus. It is only in and through Him that the devil was and is defeated, and we can be delivered.
“The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him, his rage we can endure, for lo his doom is sure, one little word shall fell him.”
And that word is Christ Jesus, our BULWARK!