The Conflict

"Behold, Satan has desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee" (Luke 22:31-32).

And what can Satan do against the Lord's intercession? One thing is certain, he can never get ahead of our Lord. The intercession comes before the temptation, for our Lord has foreknowledge of all that will come to us, and Satan has not this, for all his subtlety; it is a divine attribute. Our Lord's love for us is greater even than Satan's hatred of us; and our Lord has more at stake in the preservation of our faith than Satan has in its destruction.

We may turn a deaf ear to Satan's suggestions; we are wise if we do: it is better to ignore him than argue with him. John Bunyan tried arguing, but he found that Satan could say, "Sell Him, sell Him," very much faster than he could say, "Not for ten thousand worlds, not for ten thousand worlds."

But suppose Satan should cease arguing and show himself as "a roaring lion" to make us afraid; suppose he should "straddle quite over the whole breadth of the way," and say, "I swear by my infernal den that thou shalt go no further: here will I spill thy soul," as he did when he hoped to crush the pilgrim in Bunyan's great allegory. Why, we have the uplifted hands of our true Moses, who needs no Aaron and Hur to support Him, for He is never weary, and ever lives to make intercession for us. And we have Christian's weapons: the shield of faith — which the warrior-pilgrim used when "Apollyon made fast at him, throwing darts as thick as hail." And though it is true that in that fierce conflict he was wounded in his head, his hand, and foot, yet when he emerged victorious from the fight, a hand held out to him leaves from the tree of life, which he applied to his wounds, which were healed immediately. He had also the sword of the Spirit, and "while Apollyon was fetching his last blow, thereby to make a full end of this good man, Christian nimbly reached out his hand for his sword, and caught it, saying, "Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall I shall rise again" (Mic. 7:8). It is a glorious tale of a more glorious reality! "with that," It tells us, Christian gave his foe "a deadly thrust, which made him give back, as one that had received his mortal wound. And Christian, perceiving that, made at him again, saying, 'Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us' (Rom. 8:37, 39; Jas. 4:7). And with that Apollyon spread forth his dragon wings, and sped him away, so that Christian saw him no more."

I had not intended making that long quotation from the immortal Bunyan when I began to comment on the intercession of our Lord, but it is plain that there are two sides to the conflict. That Moses should intercede for them in the mountain was an absolute necessity, without this Israel would never have overthrown Amalek, but they had to fight him foot to foot in the plain, yet it was by the intercession that they prevailed. And it is because "HE," our victorious Saviour, who loves us, ever lives to make intercession for us that "we are more than conquerors through Him."

And how shrewdly Bunyan thought of everything; he wrote out of a great experience surely, and with a great knowledge of his Prince. He tells us, that his pilgrim, when the victory was secured, "sat down in that place to eat bread, and to drink of the bottle that was given to him a little before: so being refreshed, he addressed himself to his journey with his sword drawn in his hand, for he said, I know not but some other enemy may be at hand."

Fellow pilgrims to the Celestial city, we must keep ourselves for Christ against all the enemies' efforts to draw or drive us from Him, and for this we must not cast aside the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, but let us realize our dependence upon our Lord and His ceaseless intercession. After all it is He that keeps us and not we who keep Him. And He is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, and to Him, God only wise, our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen.