Realizing our Riches | Ephesians 6:12
Ephesians 6:12 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. (KJB)
The word wrestle indicates that this is not going to be a walk in the park, but something that comes with great effort. The whole premise of these verses is putting on armor, children don't put on armor to keep from getting scratches while at play, rather, soldiers put on armor so they can live. Paul doesn't make this comparison for no reason; Paul was a man who had endured "hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." He was a soldier of the cross much stronger than the roman soldiers that kept guard over him. They wrestled against physical enemies and that required them to be physical specimens of strength. Paul was engaged in a war not of the physical sort but spiritual, he didn't have marching orders from Rome but from heaven, He didn't report to Ceasar but the King of kings and Lord of lords. Paul knew what it was to wrestle with principalities and powers, he even had a messenger of Satan to buffet him. What we have to realize is that we are engaged in a battle, not of the physical sort, but spiritual. Our enemy cannot be seen, but one that works in the shadows, deceiving, tormenting, and blinding the eyes of men lest they should see the glorious light of the Gospel. When you enlist in the army of the redeemed you have become a target for the enemy, you are now a threat to the enemy's kingdom. You now fight for the soon coming kingdom of Jesus, and when He comes He is going to throw down the kingdoms set up by Satan and cast him into the bottomless pit but until then we are at the forefront of the fight with the enemy of God. What is encouraging is that the one we fight for is much stronger than the one we fight against. We can read this list of adversaries in the verse above and become discouraged at how strong the enemy is, but rest assured that Christ is stronger and I'm not wrestling in my strength but His. Let's take a look at the details of the enemy we are fighting. Before Paul tells us who we are fighting he tells us who we are not fighting, "Not against flesh and blood." The enemy would love to hide behind the wall of flesh and blood and deceive us into thinking that the enemy is flesh and blood. Then we will be fighting the wrong thing and the wrong person, we will be engaged in a physical fight, when the enemy is spiritual. How often does this happen? A man becomes tormented by fits of depression and anxiety, loses all joy and hope, we chalk it up to a chemical imbalance in the body and pump him full of drugs that intoxicate the mind and brings a numbness that is to often mistaken for peace, there is quite a difference between the two. Or how many times have we been withstood by a man or woman in the family, in the church, or at work? The truth is that person isn't the issue but there is something spiritual in the background pulling the strings and using that person to disguise itself. You may say, "This sounds outlandish", I would remind you of what Jesus told to Peter; "Get thee behind me Satan." Peter was not Satan incarnate, but his attempt to stop Jesus from going to Calvary was a tactic of Satan. That's why Jesus bypassed the flesh and blood and dealt with the spiritual heart of the matter, Satan. When Jesus spoke to the maniac of Gadara, from the man's mouth proceeded not the voice of the flesh and blood he was housed in but the voice of the ones housed in the flesh and blood, "I am Legion, for we are many." In war, we never make war with a bunker but with the inhabitants of the bunker, and in this warfare of ours be sure you don't launch an all-out attack on the wrong thing. We must know who we are fighting before we engage in the fight. We are fighting "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." The enemies mentioned here imply that there are ranks and leaders within the kingdom of darkness. Now I do not suggest you study into the dark side of the spiritual world. God has given us what He wanted us to know in His word and you should go outside His word to study into these things, it is a recipe for disaster. Our aim is to know what the scripture tells us about our adversary, and rest assured that will be enough intel to properly fight against him. These enemies are called principalities, powers, rulers and said to be "In high places." All this language puts us in mind that these aren't just foot soldiers and expendables that we are dealing with but with captains and lieutenants and generals and rulers of regions of this world. As sure as there are kingdoms and governments we see, there are those that we cannot see. Some men rule over countries and some men rule over regions and districts and towns and villages, and there are principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places. There is a kingdom that is fighting against us and be sure this is no ragtag outfit that isn't structured or well organized, this sort of government within their ranks is alluded to in the book of Daniel in chapter 10 when an angel of the Lord tells Daniel of his fight with the prince of Persia, this was not a man but a Spirit that ruled over Persia[Daniel 10]. The enemy's kingdom launched its first attack in the heavens and was cast out, their leader and the third of the angels that joined his ranks [Revelation 12:3-9]. This enemy launched its first military campaign on earth in the garden of Eden[Genesis 3] and hasn't let up since. It has been his agenda to stop the coming of the King and Kingdom for which we stand. Revelation 12 says "and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born." That is a summary of his ambitions, he killed the children in Eygpt when there was hope for a deliverer, but God hid Moses in the bulrushes. He killed the children in Israel when there was word that a deliverer was coming and God hid Jesus in a manger. He has been deceiving and has deceived himself into thinking that one day his kingdom will finally get the best of our King, but we have read the end of the book and we, unlike him, believe and know that God's word stands sure. He will be cast into the bottomless pit to deceive the nations no more. We are on the winning side, we may currently be engaged in the fight of our life but I know what side I am on! You may live in a land ruled by spiritual darkness, many of us are, you may live in a land where the spirit of sexual immorality rules. We live in a land given to idol and spirit worship, but my citizenship is in heaven, my Potentate is the ruler of all heaven and earth. He is returning one day and out of his mouth will come a two-edged sword that puts the armies and enemies of His kingdom to death. So no matter the strength and structure of our enemy's kingdom, the strength and structure of our King's Kingdom is so much higher, so much greater. It is a bad thing to be ignorant of our enemy's strength but a far worse thing is to be ignorant of our Redeemer's strength. So, "Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His Might."
Onward Christian Soldier!!