The Bible is clear, that as Christians, we are in a battle. Understanding this and identifying the enemy is crucial to formulating the proper response. In Ephesians 6, we learn how to identify the enemy and how to overcome him.
“12 For 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.” Ephesians 6:12
The writer of Ephesians points out that our battles in this life are not directly against other human beings.
The expression “flesh and blood” refers to a living being. This expression is frequently used to compare natural being with a spiritual person.
Paul explains that our opponents are rulers and authorities, cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
The phrase “heavenly places” is a reference to the realm of the sky, not to heaven where God resides.
This is the realm where spiritual forces of evil formulate their plans and then manifest them in the natural. This realm influences people and institutions through human desires and proclivities, but those people and institutions are not our enemies.
We see a picture of this when Jesus is explaining to disciples how he is going to be arrested and suffer many things, all a part of His sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin.
Peter impetuously interrupts and says, “I will never let that happen.”
Jesus responds, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matthew 16:23
Peter allowed his carnal thinking/passions to be influenced by Satan, who was working in opposition to God’s will. Jesus recognized this and calls out the source of Peter’s influence.
- Your neighbor is not your enemy.
- Republicans are not your enemy.
- Democrats are not your enemy.
- The governor is not your enemy.
- The president is not your enemy.
People and institutions can be willing and naive participants, but they are not the enemy. Taking the fight to “flesh and blood” will not dissolve the power that is at work behind the scenes.
When we approach people as our enemy, we are addressing the symptom, not the cause. It’s like cutting a weed off at the surface. In doing so, the root is allowed to grow more substantial and invasive.
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-4
The weapons of our warfare are not flesh. When we respond in the flesh, we negate our divine authority to destroy strongholds that are at work in our world.
Lasting change requires a spiritual response.
In Ephesians 6, we learn how the schemes of the devil are actively at work against God’s people.
The word “schemes” in the Greek language is methodeia, and it’s where we get our English word “method.” It means an orderly and technical procedure.
The devil’s schemes are methodically, deliberate, and calculated. His primary purpose is to wear you down so that you abandon faith and faith living.
These attacks are strategically devised to depose your faith in God. Paul’s instruction is to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”
The word “might” in the original text means a complete strength.When we draw our strength from God, we receive a comprehensive strength to equip us on every level, to handle every attack and opposition.
In connection with strength, we are directed to put on the whole armor of God. This is a representation of faith living. If we are going to be strengthened by God, we need to put on the armor of God.
By doing so we can withstand the schemes of the enemy. The word “withstand,” anthistemi, derives from the word “stand” and means to resist by actively opposing pressure or power.
The tension and injustices that resonate with you are indicators that God has set you up in that place to actively resist the influences and powers at work through spiritual warfare.
You may see things that others don’t see but that’s because God has strategically positioned you there to actively resist and bring about change.
- Are you fighting battles with carnal weapons and not in the spirit?
- In what situations have you misidentified your enemy, and fighting the wrong fight?
- Are you drawing strength from the Lord?
God has positioned you right where you are to address the injustices around you by addressing the source in the spiritual realm and destroying that stronghold, once and for all.
¹ Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
¹² 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.