The Forces That Are Against Us
By Dr. Tom Walker
Ephesians 6:12 says: “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.”
We have already considered our arch-enemy who is Satan himself. Now we move into the instrumentality through which he works. There is no indication that Satan is omnipresent (everywhere present) like God is, but he does have means through which to work in order to accomplish his evil purposes.
It is encouraging to know that even though we encounter battle after battle in life, victory can be experienced by those who know the Lord in the full pardon and forgiveness of sins. If a person lives in defeat, it is not because God has failed to give him resources to live a victorious Christian life.
There are opposing forces who would like nothing more than for God’s people to put up the white flag of surrender and be in a state of retreat. Though that be the desire of our enemies concerning us, we cannot surrender in the face of hostile forces.
Very few people like to be involved in a battle. If it is left up to us, we had rather experience peace and calm. However, the Bible calls us soldiers.
2 Timothy 2:3 says, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” Soldiers are trained for battle. They all go through something we call boot camp. There they learn the basics of combat and learn offensive and defensive measures to fulfill their role as a good soldier.
William Barclay says, “No soldier who is on active service entangles himself in ordinary civilian business; he lays aside such things, so that by good service he may please the commander who has enrolled him in his army.”
According to 2 Timothy 2:3-4, three definite things are required of a good soldier.
1- A good soldier must endure hardness, which is a requirement to succeed in battle.
2- A good soldier must not be entangled with the affairs of everyday life.
3- A good soldier must please and obey his commander.
There are too many who have been called to be soldiers who are AWOL. Those letters stand for Absent Without Leave. That could definitely be called dereliction of duty. Many have left the front line of combat and have retreated into a comfort zone.
Notice what it is. It is interesting to notice the Apostle Paul uses the word “wrestle.” This term is used to indicate the Christian’s struggle with the powers of evil. Normally when we think of wrestling, we think of a contest between two people in which each attempts to throw one another down on a mat and hold his opponent down until the count is over. The Apostle Paul probably thinks of the Greek games and the matches that took place in some of those events. The word “wrestle” speaks of a struggle, a fight, and combat.
We are in a war, in a struggle, and fight with the bastions of evil in this world.
Here is some insight on the word “wrestle.” It is present tense which gives reference to an ongoing wrestling event. While we are in this world, we are continually in conflict with the things Satan uses, remembering that the conflict Paul speaks about is not a temporal conflict.
Notice what it is not. It is not “against flesh and blood.” Too many times we make other people our enemies. Our real enemies are found in the unseen. If you have an earthly enemy, it should not be you making them your enemy, but rather they chose to make you an enemy.
Let’s see what Jesus says about our enemies. Jesus said in Matthew 5:44, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Again, I remind you that our enemies are found in the unseen spirit world. They do attempt to work through people to accomplish their ends, but the real enemies are the unseen forces that are behind them, influencing them and moving them to stand against God Himself and His people.
Warren Wiersbe says, “We are wasting our time-fighting people when we ought to be fighting the devil who seeks to control people and make them oppose the work of God.”
Our Unseen Enemies
As the Apostle Paul lists enemies in the verse before us, that is how we will approach and study them.
The first of the enemies are principalities. It seems certain the evil spirits are what is pointed to in this verse, they are chieftains or principle rulers. Colossians 2:15 says, “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” The powers Paul refers to in this verse are the evil spirits that are in the atmosphere around us. Since there is no way to calculate how many of them there are, we can rightly say they are made up of a part of the 1/3 of the angels that fell from Heaven, after they joined ranks with Lucifer.
Ephesians 1:20-21, “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” Another reference is given here to the powers that are mentioned in our text verse.
The Lord Jesus has defeated them through His substitutionary death and his glorious resurrection. Satan and all his cohorts will never ultimately win, no matter how vigorously they try.
Secondly, there are powers. The word translated “powers” here is translated several other ways in our King James Bibles. It is rendered as an authority, jurisdiction, liberty, right, and strength in other places. I fear that many who are in authority in this world are energized by Satan and his fallen angels. Many policies that are set by the powers that be are often against the principles of the word of God. For instance, abortion is the unnecessary taking of human life. God says, “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13). Yet, many of the powers that be are for taking the life of innocent babies.
Another example is the condoning of lifestyles that are against the natural use of the body. God says in Leviticus 18:22 “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” In the same chapter down a few verses the Bible says in Leviticus 18:24-25, “Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: and the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.”
God calls what happens in Leviticus 18:22 an abomination. In a Biblical sense, an abomination is anything that offends the spiritual, religious, or moral sense of a person and causes disgust, hatred, or loathing. Some of the abominations mentioned in the Bible are sexual transgressions (Lev.18), the adoption of dress of the opposite sex (Deut.22:5), and the practice of witchcraft, magic, and spiritism (Deut.18:9-12). It is unfortunate our government, the powers that be which are often influenced by unseen spiritual powers, do not see many things through the eyes of the Word of God.
Most of the Hebrew words translated “abomination” have the meaning of impure, filthy, and unclean. That suggests something is foul-smelling and objectionable to a holy and righteous God.
Third, we battle against the rulers of the darkness of this world. Satan is called the “god of this world” in 2 Corinthians 4:4. He blinds the minds of people who are unbelievers, to hinder the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ shining into their hearts. The present world system is moved and guided by evil personages and wicked principles. Satan rules over the dark domain, the world system that is all around. People who are without God, according to the Scriptures, are considered as being in darkness. Evil rulers affect many earthly rulers.
Fourthly, we battle against spiritual wickedness in high places. There are wicked spirits that move and operate between the earth and the stars. Dr. John Gill writes, “This refers to the aerial heavens, where the power or posse of devils reside, and where they are above us, over our heads, overlooking us, and watching every advantage against us; and therefore we should have on our armor, and be in a readiness to engage them.”
Since all of this is true that we have considered thus far, it behooves us to resist evil power and wicked influences because of several things.
Realize the Lord is coming back (Jn.14:1-3). Since He is, we should not be ashamed of his coming because of being influenced by things that are evil.
Live a pure life. God says, “Be ye holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). We should not act and react as lost people who live around us. God tells us to “touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17).
Stand against all Satan and his powers. They attempt to ruin your life but don’t allow them to succeed (2 Thess. 2:15). Evangelist Billy Sunday expressed it well. He said, “Listen, I’m against sin. I’ll kick it as long as I’ve got a foot, I’ll fight it as long as I’ve got a fist, I’ll butt it as long as I’ve got a head, and I’ll bite it as long as I’ve got a tooth. And when I’m old, fistless, footless, and toothless, I’ll gum it till I go home to glory and it goes home to perdition.”