“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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 6:11-12
Warfare has raged in centuries past—and in present generations. My husband, father, brother, niece, and several brothers-in-law served in the military. Our citizens have fought in World Wars I and II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, Cold War skirmishes, and several conflicts in the Middle East. Humanity is notoriously well-schooled in warfare.
Are today’s Christians well-schooled, however, in spiritual warfare? More than 2,000 years ago, the Apostle Paul warned the church at Ephesus about spiritual combatants. The key Bible verses identify the enemies as “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places,” including rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of darkness.
The Apostle Peter identifies Satan as the primary adversary, indicating that he “walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NKJV). The Apostle John states, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). These alerts from the apostles are reminders that we must take seriously the reality of spiritual adversaries.
During our focus in coming weeks about relying on the Armor of God, we will seek God’s wisdom for our best strategies in spiritual warfare. God is our strong defender against spiritual darkness. When our strength falters, the Holy Spirit guides us toward spiritual resources and responses of love, faith, kindness, self-control, and other fruit of the Spirit (presented in a previous series in this column). Jesus revealed the blessings of Beatitude behaviors (presented in this column in recent months) that can further equip us with humility, mercy, righteousness, and purity.
Our best exemplar for victory in spiritual warfare, of course, is Jesus Christ and his great love—love that is patient, kind, truthful, faithful, and hopeful. The love of Christ, as Scripture teaches, “never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8 NKJV). Ultimately, our identity with the light of Christ’s love ensures our victory in overcoming darkness on earth and in heavenly realms.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places . . . that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Ephesians 1:3-4). Thank you, God, for providing our salvation from sin. Through our trust in Jesus and his resurrection and his victory over sin and death, we also prevail over this present darkness. Amen.
Kay Henry is a columnist for the Claremore Progress. All Bible quotations are from “The Holy Bible, English Standard Version” (ESV), unless otherwise noted.