Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wrestling Against Darkness Part 2

Yesterday's warning continues for this post.

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

Renner continues:

Wrestlers, too, often wrestled to the death. In fact, a favorite tactic in those days was to grab hold of an opponent around the waist from behind, throw him up in the air, and quickly break his backbone in half from behind. In order to make an opponent surrender, it was quite normal to strangle him into submission. Choking was another acceptable practice. So wrestling was another extremely violent sport.

They were tolerant of every imaginable tactic: breaking fingers, breaking ribs by a waistlock, gouging the face, knocking the eyes out, and so forth. Although less injurious than the other combat sports, wrestling was still a bitter struggle to the end. . .Wrestling was a bloody, bloody sport.

Then there were Pankratists. Pankratists were a combination of all of the above. The word “pankratist” is from two Greek roots, the words pan and kratos. Pan means “all,” and kratos is a word for “exhibited power.” The two words together describe “someone with massive amounts of power; power over all; more power than anyone else.”

This, indeed, was the purpose of Pankration. Its competitors were out to prove they could not be beaten and were tougher than anyone else!

In order to prove this, they were permitted to kick, punch, bite, gouge, strike, break fingers, break legs, and do any other horrible thing you could imagine. . . .There was no part of the body that was off-limits. They could do anything to any part of their competitor’s body, for there were basically no rules.

An early inscription says this about Pankration: “If you should hear that your son has died, believe it, but if you hear he has been defeated and retired, do not believe it.” Why? Because more died in this sport than surrendered or were defeated. Like the other combat sports, it was extremely violent.


  1. Donna, you were right about the gruesome nature of this, but I really appreciate it. There are so many connections to be made here.

    I couldn't help but think of Enos who describes "the wrestle which I had before God before receiving a remission of my sins" (Enos 1:2). As I read the tactics above, using every imaginable means possible to defeat and destroy the enemy, I saw great application for our lives.

    Enos wrestled BEFORE God, but WITH his natural man. That is the enemy to God (Mosiah 3:19). He used every means possible to break those natural tendencies, sins, and weakness inherent in him.

    And you're right - it is a bloody sport because it is through the blood of man that sin entered. There is a bloody exchange - our mortal blood of sin for the pure blood of the Savior. We do this through repenting as Enos, and RECEIVING the blessings of the Atonement. Like wrestling, it is an active process. It It is only through the shedding of sinless blood that we can overcome. This is the purpose of the greatest gift ever given to man.

    I contemplated how successful I am at "beating" my opponent - my own natural self. Do I get tired after a few rounds? Do I start strong in the ring and end weak? Am I willing to engage every tactic possible to rid myself of the things that holds me back from God? Am I willing to "give up all my sins to know" God? Do I exert every effort, calling upon every power, struggling until the end, until my natural man ends in death so that I might LIVE according to my utmost potential?

    Many wonderful things to ponder here, Donna. Thank you!!!

  2. And thanks Jennifer, for the terrific application of Donna's post today. Good to know but better to DO!

  3. “A boxer’s victory is obtained through blood.”

    As I reread this in light of your comments, Jennifer, I see that the battle with our "natural man" cannot be obtained without the blood of Christ which was shed for us. Truly that was a battle to the death which was more awful than anything we can imagine--Doctrine and Covenants 19:15-19 lets us know that.

    Much thanks to you and all others who comment and share your insights--truly a blessing to many.

  4. This is a great dialogue.

    Like yesterday's post said, "The fight just went on and on and on until one of the two surrendered or died in the ring."

    Which part of us will die, for it is a battle about and to the death. My spiritual self or my natural man? We can surrender our will to Him, or die a spiritual death. There is no other way.