We Wrestle Not

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 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 6:10-12)

In my study group this past Monday, we had an extended discussion on the topic of spiritual warfare. We talked about how spiritual warfare is often dismissed as being real, or at least, underestimated in its effect on us. Perhaps our world’s skepticism concerning “things unseen” is to blame. Perhaps because of reliance on scientific thinking (believing in only what we can see and handle) contributes to an indifference towards spiritual forces.

Satan loves this. I believe he is pleased for us to just think that he doesn’t exist. So, let’s look at the importance of believing in spiritual warfare, understanding our enemy and then engaging in the fight as outlined in the New Testament.

The Reality of Spiritual Warfare 

Our anchor text from Ephesians leaves no doubt that the apostle Paul believed spiritual warfare is real. So, a failure to acknowledge that reality would be a failure to believe the Spirit inspired words of Paul. Paul goes further and exhorts us to put on the full armor of God to stand against the devil's schemes. Why the armor of God? Because our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world, and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Spiritual battles require spiritual weapons. He outlines those in Ephesians 6:13-17: “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

The Enemies in This War 

As we engage in spiritual warfare, we confront three primary adversaries: the world, the flesh, and the devil. These adversaries are real and continue to be dangerous for us, as described in Ephesians 2:1-3.“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Scripture says the world is under the control of the evil one (1 John 5:19).

Satan represents a worldview of values, ideas, and actions that oppose God and His people. Loving the world means rejecting the love of the Father. Embracing its ways aligns us with hostility against God (1 John 2:15-17).The flesh refers to the sinful desires and thoughts that remain in the Christian. The world conspires with our flesh to attack us. It is our sinful nature that’s the root cause of our temptation turning into sinful behaviors. (James 1:13-15) Our tempter, Satan, is the prince of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). He governs the world system to hide the truth about God and conspires with the world to attack us through our flesh.

How to Fight Back

In this spiritual warfare, there are three essential steps for victory:· Since our own desires and thoughts are the battleground, we must put our flesh to death. Romans 8:12-14 emphasizes that we have an obligation not to live according to the sinful nature but to live by the Spirit of God.· We must resist conforming to the pattern of the world and instead seek transformation through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). We are instructed not to love the world or anything in it (1 John 2:15).· Remember our passage in Ephesians 6:10-14 which urges us to be strong in the Lord and put on the full armor of God. Our strength is not in ourselves, but in Christ who conquered the serpent (Genesis 3:15), judged the world's prince (John 12:31), and crucifies our flesh by His Spirit (Romans 8:13; 2 Peter 1:4).With these three fundamental principles, we can fight the battle with confidence. Fighting joyfully, knowing that everyone in Christ overcomes the world by faith in the Son of God (1 John 5:1-5). Brothers and sisters embrace this truth and stand strong in the face of spiritual warfare, knowing we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us (Romans 8:37).

Credit: Ron Kelley

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