Upon reading The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan I noticed something rather encouraging. It is this little bit where Christian (the protagonist) is traveling the Narrow Way to reach the Coelestial City. On his trek he comes across Apollyon, which is Greek for “destroyer”. Bunyan describes Apollyon with such words: “the monster was hideous o behold…cloathed with scales like a fish…had wings like a dragon…feet like a bear…out out of his belly came fire and smoke…and his mouth was as the mouth of a lion.”
Apollyon tries to convince Christian to take a different path, the wide and easy path, the path that leads to service of the devil and eventually eternal punishment, see Matthew 7.13-14. Christian resists the verbal taunts, but then Apollyon, the fiend that he is, decides to physically attack Christian.
Then Apollyon espying his opportunity, began to gather up close to Christian, and wrestling with him, gave him a dreadful Fall; and with that Christian’s Sword flew out of his hand. The said Apollyon, I am sure of thee now: And with that he had almost pressed him to Death; so that Christian began to despair of Life. But, as God would have it, while Apollyon was fetching of 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, Rejoyce not against me, O mine Enemy! when I fall I shall arise; and with that gave him a deadly thrust, which made him give back, as one that had received his mortal wound. Christian perceiving that, made at him again; saying, Nay, in all these things we are more than Conquerors, through him that loved us. And with that Apollyon spread forth his Dragon’s wings, and sped him away, that Christian saw him no more.
Did you notice how Christian beat Apollyon? With a sword, right? Read it again. Christian uses Scripture to wound the beast. His first saying comes from Micah 7.8, and then he quotes Romans 8.37. So what was it that pierced it Apollyon the Destroyer? In the first quotation it is “that which gave Apollyon the deadly thrust” which could be read as the sword being thrust, but in the second quotation there is no mention fo the sword being used to drive off the fiend, James 4.7. It is my contention that Christian used the power of God’s Word to defeat his spiritual enemy. Read this too:
“10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” Ephesians 6.10-18. Emphasis mine.
Reading this allegory of the Christian faith has reminded me of a few things, but one of the most important is the practice of committing Scripture to memory. What shall we do when we come across Apollyon, or maybe a lesser demon, or a lesser sin of our own, if all we have in our head and heart is our own word? What battle can we wage against immorality without the Word of God that brings salvation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1.1-5.