By: Jerry S. Maneker

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness
of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

The above verse of Scripture tells us that much of our warfare is not with people, but in ideas that come to us from
demonic forces, the world, the flesh, and the devil.  We don’t so much contend with each other as people, but contend
with a different universe of thinking.

We are to struggle to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2Corinthians 10:5)  We engage in
this struggle, knowing that we are involved in spiritual warfare every moment of our lives and that this world is not ours.  
We are mere pilgrims, trespassers, in a world that we didn’t make and in which we are to hold things very loosely in our
hands.  Spiritual forces of darkness tempt us to tenaciously hang on to material possessions and ideas that serve our
self-interests.  But God says that we are to put Him first, even at the risk of our own lives.

After Paul’s Damascus Road experience and he preached in the synagogues at Damascus, it is recorded that some
Jews tried to kill him.  “Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.” (Acts 9:25)  This
Scripture verse is very important, in that no one knows the names of these heroic disciples who risked their lives for Paul
and his ministry.  They chose God rather than the demonic powers of this world that attract each and every one of us.

These heroes are never mentioned by name anywhere in Scripture!  Yet, if it had not been for them, Christianity would
be a legalistic off-shoot of Judaism, and the legalists like James, head of the Jerusalem Church, would have defined
Christianity to us to this very day.  Paul revealed the Gospel of grace to us and wrote about two-thirds of the New
Testament, and those achievements would not have been possible without the courage of those disciples who enabled
him to escape death.

We each have a cold-turkey choice to make!  On the one hand, we can worship the idols of this world, that are
supported by the forces of wickedness in high places, or we can worship God.  That is why Jesus said, “If any man come
to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also,
he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)  The word “hate” in this context is most likely the ignoring of social customs
regarding family loyalties.  Jesus is not contravening the commandment to honor one’s parents; in Matthew 22:39, Mark
12:31, and Luke 10:27 He speaks of loving ourselves.

What the disciples did who let Paul down in that basket was to put God before their own and families’ interests.  That is
what makes them heroes of faith!  They decided to let nothing stand in the way of God’s call on their lives, and they
obeyed that call and made possible Paul’s Church building, ministry, and most of the New Testament.  Indeed, these
unsung heroes made possible Christianity as we know it today; were it not for them, no one would have ever heard of

Now, what about us?  It doesn’t matter what God has called you to do!  What matters is only that you do it faithfully, not
expecting any rewards in this world that is run by the prince of the power of the air.  If they hated Jesus, the perfect One
Who only did good, why do you think you should be treated any differently?  Don’t try to be liked and don’t even seek
others’ approval!  You are called to be authentic and do what God has ordained you to do!

As Paul said, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and
teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ….”
(Ephesians 4:11-12)  Not all are called to be apostles, evangelists, pastors, or teachers.  But each and every one of us
has been called by God to do a specific task that will redound to God’s glory and purposes.

The disciples who let Paul down in that basket weren’t aware of the far-reaching consequences of that life-threatening
act of faith.  But God was!  By their acting out of obedience to God as they were called to do, and not allowing flesh and
blood ruled by spiritual forces of wickedness to define their reality, they made Paul’s ministry possible.

These heroes of faith are anonymous to us, but they are certainly not anonymous to God!  Indeed, their obedience to
God, and their rejection of their natural inclinations for self-preservation, made Paul’s explication of the freedom of the
Gospel message possible.

If we act in obedience to God’s call on our lives, regardless of our imperfections and sins, we will be among their number
in eternity; eternity with God is our only true goal and home.

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