The three volumes of William Gurnall’s The Christian in Complete Armor have been sitting on my shelf for several months, waiting to be read alongside the final segment of my study through Ephesians. Thus far, it has certainly not disappointed. The quotation below is a kind of sidebar word of encouragement that Gurnall makes to wrestlers in the context of discussing our wrestling against Satan and his demonic hosts.
Perhaps you are discouraged, not only by the strength of enemy, but by your own apparent weakness and the constant contention with sin and self. Be encouraged! There is strong consolation tor the Christian who struggles with the truth of God’s grace and his own inner conflicts with sin. Gideon cried out in despair, ‘If the Lord be with us, why is all this befallen us?’ (Judges 6:13). We understand his perplexity because we identify with his sufferings. Our hearts, too, cry out, “Why do I find such struggling in me, provoking me to sin, pulling me back from that which is good?
God has a ready answer if we will stop whining long enough to hear it. Because, He says, ‘you are a wrestler, not a conqueror.’ It is as simple as that. Too often we mistake the state of a Christian in this life. He is not immediately called to triumph over his enemies, but is carried into battle to fight them. The state of grace is the commencement of your war against sin, not the culmination of it. God Himself will enter the battle in disguise and appear to be your enemy, rather than leave you no enemy to wrestle with. When Jacob was alone, He sent a man to wrestle with him until dawn.
Take comfort in the fact that you are a wrestler. This struggling within you, if upon the right ground and to the right end, only proves there are two nations within you, two contrary natures, the one from earth earthly, and the other from heaven heavenly. And for your further comfort, know that although your corrupt nature is the elder, yet it shall serve the younger (Gen. 25:23).
Wrap your weary soul in this promise: There is a place of rest reserved for the people of God. You do not beat the air, but wrestle to win heaven and a permanent crown. Here on earth we overcome to fight again. One temptation may be conquered, but the war remains. When death comes, however, God strikes the final blow. We know peace is sweet after war, pleasure after pain. But what tongue can express the joy that will flood the creature at the first sight of God and his eternal home? If we knew more of that future blissful state, we would worry less about our present conflict.pp. 133-134