|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2000|
|We’ve looked at the armor the Christian is to wear, but who or what is the enemy we are to fight against? Dr. Barber explains.|
We are going to go back now to verses 12 and 13 because they help us put a perspective on our unseen enemy. We have seen that we have to put on the full armor, and we have seen what the armor is. Now let’s go back and look at what our enemy is all about. That is in verses 12 and 13. Verse 12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
The first thing that hit me as I was studying this was our battle. Our enemy is not flesh and blood. Our enemy is not people! They are not our true enemy. Now I don’t know about you, but that kind of confuses me sometimes when I get out in the real world. When I get out there I realize I can see people. I just can’t see the unseen enemy. How quickly I am suckered into the trap of thinking that people are my enemy.
I have said many times, “If it were not for people, I could live the Christian life.” You’ve done it, too. In your prayer time you have said, “God, if You will just get rid of this person who is bothering me, it will be alright.” We have this paranoia when it comes to people. We think people are our enemies. It is what controls the person that is my true enemy. People are not my enemy. That is why God consistently says in Ephesians, “Be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.” He is saying, “People, you are not each other’s enemy. You’ve got a bigger enemy than that. Don’t get side tracked by what other people are doing.”
We mistakenly think people are our enemies; our boss, our husband, our wife, our children, people we work with, whoever. What do we do? We think if we can defeat them in some way, if we can get rid of them, we can have peace and victory. That is all upside down. We end up fighting each other. That is what Paul said, “Flesh and blood are not our enemy.” They are not our enemy. We use hateful words, critical things. We have to tear somebody else down to build ourselves up as if we are in some kind of competition with one another. We forget we are on the same team. If we fight we lose. The war was won at Calvary. We are not to be each other’s enemy.
I read an article some time ago in a magazine called “The Clergy Journal.” The article was on clergy killers. It was talking about preachers who are being kicked out of churches and are finding all kinds of discouragement and distress in churches all over our country. The article said right now the average stay in most churches for clergy is just a little over a year. That’s how fast people are dropping out of the ministry. The author said that is because in every church there are clergy killers. He said they are out to do one thing: they are out to take the person who is leading that church and get him out of that position of authority. There are people who don’t want to be under somebody else. There are people who want to force their own agenda. There are people who are all upside down in their minds as to what the church ought to be. When the author closed the article he said, “I know I sound angry. I know I sound mad. But I just wish somehow we could get these people out of the body of Christ so the body of Christ could rise up and be what it ought to be.”
Well, I read that article and said, “Amen, amen.” Then I started studying Ephesians6:12: “We war not against flesh and blood!” Now wait a minute. Hold it. Hold it. Flesh and blood are the ones bringing me all the harm. Flesh and blood are the ones injuring me. I don’t understand. Paul is trying to say, “Hey, folks, you need to realize the war zone you are in is not the people. Our enemy is what controls the people. We don’t war against flesh and blood.
I don’t war against flesh and blood. What am I doing fearing people? I ought to fear God and love people. When I am strengthened in the inner man, then I am diligently protecting and preserving the unity of the Spirit which Paul clearly says in 4:3. When we love one another that solves a tremendous problem we have in our life.
Well, we are in a struggle. Paul uses the word “struggle” there in verse 12. The word “struggle” is only used here in the whole New Testament. I wish it was used someplace else so we could go look and see how it is used, but it is not. It actually comes from the word that has the idea of vibrating, a lot of motion. This is why the term “wrestle” comes out of it. We are struggling. We know we have the flesh to deal with. We know we have the world to deal with, but Paul is saying there is something bigger than all of that which uses the world as its pulpit and appeals to the weaknesses of your flesh. This is your whole unseen enemy and you are in a struggle with him.
When you pinned somebody in the wrestling of that day, the way you won was to put your hand around a person’s throat and drive him into the ground. In many circles they would put them to death. Wrestling was no fun thing to do. It was a win or lose, live or die situation. I believe we need to understand the seriousness of this struggle that we are in. We need to learn not to fight each other or fear each other, but to fear God and to understand what motivates people. We are living in a war zone. We are on property and territory that is controlled by an enemy, and we are light in the midst of darkness.
Therefore, if we don’t war against flesh and blood, if it is not my father, if it is not my mother, if it is not my children, if it is not my brother, if it is not my sister, if it is not my friend, then where is my struggle coming from? Paul tells you. He says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
My second point is this, our struggle is not with flesh and blood but it is with an unseen enemy who is the mastermind of the darkness and deception around us. He is an unseen enemy. Do you understand that all the evil you look at in this world today didn’t come from God? There are a lot of people who say, “How can a loving God let these things happen?” God determined the consequences of sin before it ever occurred. When sin happened God, being a just God, allowed man now to suffer the consequences of what man chose. Satan is the propagator of all of that. He is the one who came to Eve in the garden. He is the one who got man to listen to him and deceived his thinking. Man believed the lie. As a result, we live in the consequences of that kind of garbage. Thank God, we have been delivered from its domain, but we still have to deal with it every day in our life.
The apostle Paul uses several descriptive words to show us the unseen enemy and the territory in which he reigns. I understand in this verse there is a hierarchy of Satan’s control in the lower heavens and around this earth. Many military leaders have suggested the term “rulers” and “authorities” suggests that. We know in the book of Daniel that his prayer was hindered for 21 days as Michael the archangel struggled with the angel over Persia. People are saying there are demons over nations and demons over cities. I have no trouble with any of that. But I want to flip it over for a second and remove ourselves from that domain for a second. I want you to look at the words he uses and show you how he illustrates the nature of the evil that is around us. Oh, folks, we have to realize this. There is deception everywhere, not just in false teaching in the Christian circles. It is everywhere.
First of all, he uses the term “rulers.” He puts it in the plural because it is not just Satan. It is all the demonic hosts of heaven. His demons are the masterminds of the evil in this world. The word used there is the word arche. It is the word that has the basic meaning of that which is preeminent, the origin of something, the leader of something. You have heard the expression, “The buck stops here.” Well, that would be a good illustration for arche. It is where it starts. It is where it begins. It is out front. It is that which originates something.
Now we know these are spiritual beings because of 3:10. We have seen the word “rulers” there before. Paul says in that verse the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities. Where are they? In the heavenly places.
So we see a spiritual realm here in 6:12. They are spiritual beings, but they are in the realm of darkness. You must understand this. Where do they rule and reign? Only in the realm of darkness. They do not rule over light. They do not rule over you and me. They rule in the sphere of darkness.
Look at verse 12: “against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness.” The word “darkness” is skotos, which is the word that means the essence of all darkness that is around us. It is the ones who are in first place. It is the ones who originate. It is the ones who propagate. The context of this verse to me shows that these unseen rulers are the ones who are originating, the ones who are causing, the ones who are influencing all the evil and darkness around us. Paul is referring to an unseen enemy. He wants us to understand that behind the scenes, what you can’t see, there is one who propagates, originates and comes up with all the evil, all the horrible things that you see in this world. All the deception comes right out of him, and he rules in that area. He leads in that area. He earned that right when Adam sinned and man lost his right to relate to God. This world became temporarily his and he is the mastermind behind all the evil that we deal with.
The second word he uses there is the word “powers.” It is in the plural also. The word for powers really is the word which means authorities, exousia. It is the word used in Colossians 1:13 when it says we have been delivered out of the exousia, the right and the might of darkness and placed into the kingdom of His dear Son. In other words, in the realm of darkness Satan and his demons have not only the creativeness of propagating evil and originating evil, but they have also the right and the might to carry it out. They work in the realm of darkness.
I don’t know about you, but to choose not to obey truth, to choose not to surrender to Jesus Christ automatically puts me into a realm that I am not supposed to be in. Immediately I become one who suffers the consequences of the evil one who has the authority, the right and the might in the sphere of darkness. That scares me. I think of all the dumb choices I have made in my life. Only in the realm of darkness do they have that authority.
Thirdly, Paul uses the word “world forces.” The word is kosmokrator. Kosmos means not only the people of the world but the system of the world. ?ratos means dominion. It is a dominion based on what somebody has already done. If you want to know what Satan has already done to give him the dominion over darkness, go back and study Genesis 1-3. It is no wonder some people try to get this out of our Bibles and say it is not a part of the original Pentateuch. They want to make it a myth because right there is where he proves himself powerful to deceive a man into stepping into darkness. Satan and his demons have their kingdom, their domain, their dominion in the world of darkness and evil we live in every day of our life, but only until the age is ended. It is a temporary time. We know that. It is limited. He is on a leash. One thing is for sure, you haven’t seen anything yet. In the midst of all the evil you see in this world today, remember there is still the restrainer. Think of all the horrible things that are propagated by the devil. Through his authority he ruins people’s lives. He tears down nations. Who causes all of that? I will tell you. Jesus said in John 8:44, he is a liar and a murderer from the very beginning. He is the unseen force behind it all. But I want to tell you something, folks, we haven’t seen anything yet. Wait until the restrainer is taken out of the way and the world starts seeing what really is evil in this world. We live right in the middle of it every day.
Some Christians say, “Oh, you are always on our backs about getting in the Word. You are always talking about being filled with the Spirit. Oh, man, I am cool. I am having a good time.” Yeah, you are also a fool. You are walking down a road that seemeth right and that way is leading you right to destruction and you don’t even know it. I wonder how many of us have upside down minds already, perverted by what the world says, by what he does. He is the mastermind behind it.
Fourthly, Paul tells us one more thing. Paul tells us that Satan and his demons surround the world in the lower heavens. Oh, if we could get a picture. I see the world completely surrounded by the demonic darkness of evil. Satan is the originator of it. Satan has the power in it. Satan has the dominion in it. It is just ugly. What we think is light is really darkness compared to the light of God. We live right in the midst of it. Isn’t it beautiful that Jesus is light, not a light, not like light? He is Light. Nobody turned Him on. Nobody can ever turn Him off. He came down and pierced through that darkness. He came into this world, went to the cross and now that we have repented and by faith received Him, we have been made light. Don’t you think we are an irritation to what Satan is up to in this world? If I were him and I had a master plan, I would keep people who know Christ living upside down lives, living deceived, out of the word of God rather than fool with the lost. To me that would be the most effective way to bring division and to destroy what God is trying to build up through His people. He has done a great job at it. He has done a great job.
Paul is saying, “We war not against flesh and blood.” Behind every person who harms and injures us and deceives us is a spiritual enemy. Now I think that is the confusing part to me. Though we don’t war against flesh and blood, flesh and blood are the pawns that he uses to come against us. That is what bothers me. Because you see, I can see flesh and blood. I can’t see what is behind them when somebody writes a letter, when somebody says something to you, when somebody tears you apart, when somebody disappoints you. That hurts you and you want to go after them. But you have to remember he is using them. Love them but hate what is using them.
Second Corinthians says our weapons are not of the flesh but they are divinely powerful. Evidently this person is coming against you and his mind is totally upside down. He doesn’t have a clue what he is doing.
What is going on in your life right now? Who is it that is threatening you? Who is it that is bothering you right now? What is it that is bothering you? Track it back. You will find deception of some kind at the root of that whole thing. The only thing we have in this world to stand on that is the truth, besides the Lord Jesus, is His Word. When you start believing a lie, it will flip you over and you won’t even realize it. You will end up fighting the wrong thing and not even know that there was a spiritual enemy behind it. There is deceit in this world we live in today.
Look in Ephesians 1:20-21: “which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Himfrom the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.” Jesus Christ who lives within us far exceeds any power you ever thought the devil had.
Ephesians 5:8 says, “for you were formerly darkness [You were darkness. You were not like it. You were not in it.], but now you are light in the Lord.” You have been completely remade.
Look in verse 11: “And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness.” Who is the propagator of darkness? Satan. Who is the one who has authority in that realm? Satan. Who is the one who has his kingdom set up with people in that world? Remember, we used to be a part of his ploy. Ephesians 2:1-2 says that we used to walk according to the course of this world, according to the power of the prince of this air who works in the sons of disobedience.
“You mean to tell me that before I came to know Christ I was actually used by Satan to deceived others and literally to tear down other people’s lives?” Exactly. Now the tragedy is when you become a believer and still try to walk that way. You live deceived, upside down. The word of God is not changing you day by day. You produce unfruitful deeds of darkness. It didn’t say it was less fruit. It says there was no fruit. There is not one good thing can you say about darkness, not one. Yet there are people who won’t get in the Word. They don’t examine their conflicts by what the Word of God says. For some reason or another they think it is not relevant to their life. They are getting more and more and more upside down in the way they are thinking, not even realizing it. The very enemy they thought they understood has already turned them inside out by getting them to believe a lie. It probably came through somebody who told it to them because he uses people.
Folks, we are in a war zone. Thank God for the truth that will set us free.