Ephesians 6:12 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. (NASB: Lockman)
Greek: hoti ouk estin (3SPAI) hemin e pale pros aima kai sarka, alla pros tas archas, pros tas exousias, pros tous kosmokratoras tou skotous toutou, pros ta pneumatika tes ponerias en tois epouraniois.
Amplified: For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organisations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: because our wrestling is not against blood and flesh, but against the principalities, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against spirit forces of perniciousness in the heavenly places. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: because we have not the wrestling with blood and flesh, but with the principalities, with the authorities, with the world-rulers of the darkness of this age, with the spiritual things of the evil in the heavenly places;
EPHESIANS 6:10-18 BY WAYNE BARBER
VERSE BY VERSE EXPOSITION ON THE FALLEN FLESH
VERSE BY VERSE EXPOSITION ON RESISTING THE ROARING LION
VERSE BY VERSE EXPOSITION ON THE BATTLE IN OUR MIND
THE METAPHOR OF THE CHRISTIAN SOLDIER
THE AMALEKITES: A PICTURE OF PERSISTENT SPIRITUAL WARFARE
FOR OUR STRUGGLE IS NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD: hoti ouk estin (3SPAI) hemin e pale pros aima kai sarka: (Luke 13:24; 1Corinthians 9:25, 26, 27; 2Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 12:1,4) (Matthew 16:17; 1Corinthians 15:50; Galatians 1:16)
For (gar) - Notice the little preposition "for" (there are over 7000 "for's" in Scripture) and if the context indicates, as it does in this passage, that the "for" is a term of explanation, pause and ask yourself what is the Spirit seeking to explain?
For our struggle - Note that Paul does not call the believer to enter into spiritual warfare. He simply announces it as a fact and explains that it is not mere men you face but the wiles of the scheming devil. In military strategy one must never underestimate the strength of the enemy. Paul is certainly not guilty of such fatal misjudgment but gives a realistic report of its potential. As discussed below this struggle involves hand to hand combat using trickery, cunning and strategy. But here is where the analogy with wrestling breaks down somewhat, for this spiritual battle is not a power struggle but a truth struggle. God's Word of Truth renews our mind (Ep 4:23-note), and determines how we think and believe and therefore how we act and behave. Then as we obey the truth we are in fact standing firm, resisting the lies of the devil and the world (and our flesh) which says you can serve two masters and still be a disciple, and still be controlled by the Spirit. Don't be so rigid, so radical, so judgmental. One of the best friends Satan has is Hollywood which suggests the evil forces are effective predominantly because of the power they wield (they do have power but this is not the focus). Don't be fooled by the horror movies. It's a truth struggle NOT a power struggle. So come to the foot of the cross every day, staying there, denying self, holding fast to the traditions you have been taught, and obeying the truth and the truth will set you free as you enter His victory over sin and Satan at the cross. It's no more complicated then that. And be careful to avoid morbid preoccupation with the demonic ("behind every rock", "a demon of this and a demon of that", etc) and fear of the spiritual forces of darkness. We are called to fear God.
Is (2076) (esti) represents the present tense of the verb eimi (1510). So what? Clearly the implication is that this struggle or hand to hand combat is not a one time occurrence but is a daily, ongoing, continual warfare, whether we like it or not. The lie of Satan is that we have a battle here and there, and so we don't need the armor at all times. That is a lie and to act on it leaves the Christian soldier vulnerable. Ask yourself "Do I really believe I am in a persistent, personal and pernicious war?" If you don't believe this you are already in trouble! But even if you believe it, you are in jeopardy, unless you fail to act on this truth by walking in a conscious awareness of your need to be clothed with Christ, the armor of light, the armor of the God. To reiterate, don't just study Ephesians 6:10-18 or you will have a flawed view of the struggle and your resources. You must study the preceding 5 chapters for they explain your spiritual resources and spiritual responsibility, both of which are absolutely mandatory if you are to stand firm.
Ray Stedman writes that...
Paul then goes on to analyze and define for us the nature of the struggle and this is a crucial point to understand. He tells us that our conflict is not against flesh and blood. That is, spiritual warfare is not about the struggle of man against man. It is not a political struggle, a social struggle, an economic struggle, or even a religious theological-doctrinal struggle. It is not a struggle between human beings. It is a struggle within human beings. Let me ask you a question: What is the one thing that gives you the most difficulty in life? For most of us, the answer to that question, in one form or another, comes down to one thing: People. You may struggle intensely with a family member, your spouse or child or a parent. Or you may have personality conflicts and struggles in your office, or in your church, or in your neighborhood...But the apostle Paul says that our struggle is not against flesh and blood. Our true battle is not against our political opponents or the IRS or family or co-workers or neighbors or any other human agency. The battle is not against people, but against unseen spiritual powers. In fact, the entire human race is under a vicious assault by certain principalities and powers, world rulers of darkness, wicked spirits in high places. (Stedman, Ray. Spiritual Warfare)
Ruth Paxson writes...
The warfare involves powerful antagonists in terrific, desperate, hand-to-hand battle. Tremendous issues of life and death, defeat and destruction must be at stake, for it is no ordinary combat. The word "against" stands out five times upon the page. We have an out-and-out adversary who is actively and aggressively warring against us, assisted by powerful and wicked allies.
"Not against flesh and blood." This negative statement clarifies the atmosphere immediately regarding the nature of our foe. The conflict is not with the human and the visible, but with the superhuman and the invisible. We do not belong to the same order of being or to the same plane of life as our foe.
Ephesians 6:10-18 reveals a battlefield where the empowered, energized hosts of the Lord are pitted against the demonized, mobilized hosts of the devil. It is a mass organization of the supernatural forces of heaven against the subtle fiends of hell. One necessity in victorious warfare is to know the enemy. (Paxson, Ruth: The Wealth, the Walk and the Warfare of the Christian. 1939. Revell)
Remember that we do not fight a visible enemy and therefore ordinary weapons will not suffice in this war. Paul explains that...
though we walk in the flesh (as flesh and blood men and women), we do not (ou = absolute negation!) war (strateuo = literally serve in the army and figuratively engage in spiritual conflict) according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare (strateia = military engagement, a military campaign) are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful (dunatos = means they are capable and competent, in context because they are God's not ours) for the destruction (causing destruction by tearing down) of fortresses. We are destroying speculations (reasonings) and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Co 10:3, 4, 5- note)
Wayne Barber explains who our real enemy is writing that...
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. 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...(You may be saying now wait a minute) 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.
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.
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. (Spiritual Warfare)
Guzik draws our attention to some commentaries that draw a questionable conclusion regarding the nature of our adversaries noting that...
Some interpret the nature of principalities and powers in purely naturalistic terms. Markus Barth wrote, “We conclude that by principalities and powers Paul means the world of axioms and principles of politics and religion, of economics and society, of morals and biology, of history and culture.” But this contradicts what Paul says about our battle not being against flesh and blood. (Ephesians 6)
Struggle (3823) (pale from pállo = shake, vibrate; related word palaio = wrestle) is used only here in the Bible (not in the LXX). Pale is the literal word for wrestling. As such it pictured hand–to–hand combat between wrestling athletes, this combat in the ancient world being characterized by trickery, cunning and deception.
Pale thus describes the contest between two individuals in which each endeavors to throw the other and which ultimately is decided when the victor is able to press down his prostrate antagonist with his hand upon his neck! When we consider that often the loser in a Greek wrestling contest had his eyes gouged out with resulting blindness for the rest of his days, we have a taste of how the Ephesian saints who read Paul's letter would have received this illustration. The believer's wrestling against the powers of darkness is no less desperate and fateful.
Pale was also used to describe hand–to–hand combat of soldiers, such combat requiring both deftness and speed.
Pale describes the struggle between individual combatants which distinguishes it from strateia (4752) which refers more to the entire military expedition or campaign, to military service or to warfare
Pale pictures one engaged in an intense struggle involving physical or nonphysical force against strong opposition. Paul uses pale in the figurative sense to picture the believer's struggle and conflict against evil angelic forces arranged in a military like hierarchy described below.
Wuest writes that...
Against (4314) (pros) is marker of direction, of movement toward or of closeness of relation or proximity which in this context clearly pictures an unfriendly, hostile relation (against, toward). Pros (against) is repeated before each of the designations -- rulers, powers, world forces, spiritual forces.
In Ephesians 2 Paul explains to his readers that when they were non-believers they were under the power of these evil forces writing...
Flesh (4561) (sarx) is used 147 times in the NT. Note that a simple definition of sarx is somewhat difficult because sarx has many nuances (some Greek lexicons list up to 11 definitions for sarx!). The diligent disciple must carefully observe the context of in order to discern which nuance is intended. The range of meaning extends from the substance flesh (both human and animal), to the human body, to the entire person, and to all humankind. Refer to the table below for the 4 basic definitions of sarx in Strong's Lexicon. In the present context Paul is referring to the human body composed of "flesh and blood" and standing for men in general.
Blood (129) (haima) refers to blood as the basis of life or what constitutes the life of an individual. (Lev 17:11). Blood is the basic component of a living organism. Here the phrase "flesh and blood" indicates our struggle is not against men but against invisible spiritual beings.
BUT AGAINST THE RULERS AGAINST THE POWERS AGAINST THE WORLD FORCES OF THIS DARKNESS: alla pros tas archas pros tas exousias pros tous kosmokratoras tou skotous toutou: (Eph 1:21; 3:10; Ro 8:38; Col 2:15; 1Pe 3:22) (Ep 2:2; Job 2:2; Lk 22:53; Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Acts 26:18; 2Cor 4:4; Colossians 1:13)
But against (term of contrast) - Paul pulls back the curtain of the invisible slightly to give us a brief glimpse of the tremendous spiritual forces arrayed against the children of God. His point is that although interpersonal relationships often appear to be our major battleground (we say things like "I could live this Christian life if it weren't for the people I have to deal with!"), Paul explains that the real battle is against a hierarchy of evil invisible supernatural beings who are organized and determined to disrupt, discourage, disillusion, discomfort, disarm, disrupt, dissatisfy, dissuade, distract, disappoint, disgruntle, disequilibrate, disenthrall, dishearten, dishevel, distress, disqualify, disquiet, dispossess, disturb, disunite, destroy, deceive, etc, etc, all the while seeking to cause believers to doubt the Word of God and the faithfulness and goodness of God. So often we hear the phrase "the battle between good and evil" but this passage makes it abundantly clear that evil is not some imaginary, inanimate force but instead is an active, organized evil perpetrated by an invisible, albeit not invincible, foe. Too many Christians have failed to realize that they are engaged in this titanic spiritual struggle of the ages, and that they were "drafted" into God's army the moment they were saved by grace through faith. To be ignorant of our calling and the magnitude of this great struggle is a dangerous ignorance.
Believers face three enemies -- the world (controlled by Satan), the flesh (fallen in Adam, influenced by Satan and the world he controls) and the Devil. In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul's focus is upon the spiritual adversary, but one needs to remember that these three "divisions" are somewhat arbitrary, because the effects of the world and the flesh cannot be separated from the devil and his minions who work through these other "enemies". One word of encouragement - you are in a spiritual war and just as occurs in real warfare, you will experience some victories and some defeats in individual battles. That is part of growing in grace and the knowledge of Christ Jesus, maturing in your Christian walk, progressively being set aside more and more (being sanctified, being conformed gradually more and more into the image of God's Son). But as long as we are in these mortal bodies, we are not yet perfect and sin will still bring passing pleasure (emphasize "passing"!) and will still hold out a lure for us to snatch in a moment of weakness (or perhaps a moment of self-sufficiency, self-assurance, or self-confidence rather than in reliance on Christ). And so inevitably we will lose some of the battles. That is a reality, whether your name is Billy Graham or Charles Haddon Spurgeon. But when you lose a particular battle and you lie on the ground, bloody and bruised (spiritually speaking), don't let the enemy (the accuser and slanderer) tell you that you are a "loser" and you will never have victory. He is a liar for he knows that he is a defeated enemy (Col 2:15-note where Christ disarmed the enemy powers). His continual ploy will be to try to keep you from standing in the shadow of the Cross, which is the power (dunamis) of God. And so dear saint, beloved of God, heir of eternal riches with Christ, possessor of the Spirit of Truth, arise! Shine! Stand! Check your armor! Allow the Comforter to soothe and heal your wounds and renew your mind, reenergizing you for battle, as you eat the bread of life, the Word of Truth. Then walk out, walk worthy of your calling as a fellow soldier, walk in love, walk in light, walk filled with God's Spirit, walk in the power of God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Cor 15:57). Take your position on the battlefield and stand firm! And don't be surprised because the next attack may come sooner than you think. And let's assume that this time you stand firm and win this battle (e.g., enabled by the Spirit you choose to abstain from those fiery missiles of fleshly lusts which wage war against your soul -- see 1Pe 2:11-note). Be quick to praise God and give Him the glory for that victory. Take heed, be careful, for if you think you have just stood and won in your own strength, you will fall (1Cor 10:12).
In Genesis just after Satan had deceived Eve and sin had entered the world, God predicted a spiritual war between the offspring of the Messiah and of Satan, but in the same verse God also promised that the Messiah would triumph over Satan declaring...
In Acts 19 we encountered a preview of "coming attractions" Luke recording the spiritual warfare in Ephesus in considerable detail...
Related topic: Idolatry and Immorality - the relationship and the antidote
The unsaved Gentiles were without God in the world and so they created gods of their own making but the Jews had no excuse for they had been clearly warned by Moses concerning the spiritual danger of idolatry...
In a parallel passage in the NT Paul elaborated on the inherent danger of idol worship writing to saints in Corinth a city well known for rampant idol worship, a practice out of which many in the church had been delivered by grace through faith...
In chapter one of Ephesians Paul had explained that the Father...
In Ephesians 2 Paul described the believer's former position in Adam (before they believed) and their new position in Christ explaining...
In Ephesians 3 Paul explained that one of the purposes of the church was...
In Romans 8 Paul again alludes to angelic beings writing...
In the book of Daniel God pulls back the curtain ever so slightly to let us see into the spiritual war going on in the heavenlies. Daniel records his encounter with an angelic messenger...
In Revelation 20 John records that Satan will be bound for 1000 years (see studies on Millennium)...
In the gospel of John Jesus prophesied of His triumph over the powers of darkness declaring...
In Colossians 2 Paul describes Jesus' victory over the powers of darkness writing to the saints that...
In a parallel passage, Peter records that...
In the Revelation John described Satan's future writing that...
R ulers (746) (arche) means first, chief or beginning. Here arche is a metonym (a figure of speech consisting of the use of the name of one thing for that of another of which it is an attribute or with which it is associated) that stands for those having the position of priority and preeminence.
In context Paul is saying there is an invisible audience of evil princes or chiefs among angels (rulers is plural in the Greek so he is not referring only to Satan). Paul is also teaching that even in the invisible angelic world there is a stratification of authority.
In John 14 Jesus speaking of Satan declares...
Powers (1849) (exousia from exesti = it is permissible or allowed) means permission, authority, right, liberty, power to act. Until the end of the age these demonic forces, already defeated by Christ on the cross, are allowed to exercise a certain limited exousia (plural in this verse) in temporarily opposing the purposes of God.
The idea in exousia can be summed up as the right and the might. In this verse exousia is a metonym that stands for those invested with the "right and the might". As in Ep 1L21 (note) the context of the book indicates that those invested with the right and the might are the hosts of heaven, the angelic forces of God, including the good angels and the host of fallen angels ruled by Satan and inextricably arrayed against God and His eternal purpose.
The following two passages from Colossians and Acts show that Satan and his demons have the exousia or the right and the might to rule over the kingdom of darkness (note contrasting kingdoms of darkness and light in both these passages). In Colossians Paul describes the before/after picture of a believer writing that God the Father...
Jesus uses exousia in His instruction to Paul to preach the gospel to the Gentiles...
Wayne Barber applies this truth about the evil forces having the right and the might in the kingdom of darkness writing...
Exousía denotes the executive power whereas arche represents authority granting the power.
The exousia is the one who has the power to delegate authority, and the word exousia, is the one who carries it out and executes that authority or power. Arche is the authority granting the power, and exousia is the one who executes the power which pictures a divine order or an invisible rank.
Vine explains that exousía evolved
Vincent adds that
World forces of this darkness - These are "the world-rulers of the darkness". Where do they reign? Over the realm of darkness, not over light, so they do not rule over believers, who are light in the Lord, unless the believer chooses to sin and walk in the darkness. Then he is in the kingdom of the world rulers whose realm is the darkness. Next time when you are making provision to sin, think for a moment about the kingdom you preparing to enter! Do you really want to walk into the realm of darkness?
World forces (2888) (kosmokrator from kósmos = world, the world system opposed to God + krateo = to hold) describes one holding power over the world and thus means ruler of the world system, that system that is actively opposed to everything that God stands for. In the plural as used in this verse it speaks of Satan and his demonic forces composed of fallen angels who control the present evil world system.
Kosmokrator was used by the Greeks to describe their so-called gods who rule the world (Helios, Zeus, Hermes) and also to refer to “cosmic” spiritual beings (planets). The Emperor Caracalla received this title in an Egyptian inscription.
Expositor's notes that...
TDNT writes that kosmokrator is a
Darkness (4655) (skotos from skia = shadow thrown by an object. Skia it can assume the meaning of skotos and indicate the sphere of darkness) is literally that sphere in which light is absent. Note that skotos is the essence of darkness, darkness itself and as applied to sin is the essence of sin. On the other hand the closely related word skotia speaks more of the consequence of darkness, and so the consequences of sin is the darkness that man has to live in, that darkness entering into Adam in the Garden of Eden.
The dark is the habitation of the enemies of Christ in this world and in the world to come the final goal of those who will not accept Him as Savior and Lord. Consistent and rebellious sinners are those for whom the mist of darkness is reserved (2 Peter 2:9). Darkness is a tragic picture of a life which is separated from God, now and forever, unless the Gospel opens their eyes.
Darkness is metaphorically to describe the spiritual powers of Satan and his evil empire...
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
AGAINST THE SPIRITUAL FORCES OF WICKEDNESS IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES: pros ta pneumatika tes ponerias en tois epouraniois: (Ep 1:3)
Against (pros) - The battle is real and visible, even though the enemy we war against is invisible.
Spiritual (4152) (pneumatikos from pneuma = spirit) refers to that which belongs to the supernatural world as distinguished from what belongs to the natural world. In a word, our struggle is against "invisible" forces whose evil disposition leads them only to intentionally practiced ill will. The phrase spiritual forces of wickedness was used in Paul’s day by astrologers who believed there were angels or gods behind the heavenly bodies (cf. see notes Romans 8:39) that affected human life (horoscope). This all began with Babylonian astrology and is alive and well in our modern world with its affinity for horoscopes, etc.
Wickedness (4189) (poneria from poneros from pónos = labor, sorrow, pain and and poneo = to be involved in work, labor) refers to depravity, to an evil disposition, to badness or to an evil nature. Poneria is used in the NT only in the moral and ethical sense and refers to intentionally practiced ill will. Poneria describes the state of lacking moral or social values (baseness, sinfulness, maliciousness, malevolence). Poneria is active malice. Poneria is malevolence, not only doing evil, but being evil. Webster defines malevolence as the condition which arises from intense often vicious ill will, spite, or hatred.
Kakia is another Greek word for evil which speaks more of the vicious disposition of one's mind (one's ill will or hatefulness, a mean-spirited or vicious attitude or disposition) whereas poneria pictures the active exercise of this evil.
Poneria is used seven times in the New Testament (twice in the plural, Mark 7:22; Acts 3:26) to signify all kinds of evil. Here are the 7 NT uses of poneria...
Recall that the root word poneros means active evil in opposition to good. When Satan is referred to as the "Evil One", the NT writers chose poneros rather than kakos, this latter word basically denoting a lack of something (it is not as it ought to be and thus is bad) but also used to refer evil in a moral sense.
Wuest writes that poneria...
Vincent has a lengthy note on poneria...
Richards writes that...
Barclay commenting on Mark 7:22 notes that...
Commenting on poneria in Romans 1:29 Barclay adds that...
TDNT has the following note on poneria...
Heavenly places (2032) (epouranios from epi = upon + ouranos = heaven) means celestial, what pertains to or is in heaven. A spiritual battle is going on in this world and in the sphere of “the heavenlies,” and you and I are a part of this battle. Knowing this makes “being strengthened standing firm” vital!"
Wuest writes that in this context
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Midnight Encouragement - Ephesians 6:10-12 - The Midianites and their allies had invaded Israel. It was the time of the judges, and Gideon could muster only 32,000 men against an army "as numerous as locusts" (Judges 7:12-notes). Then God cut the army down to 300 (Judges 7:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7-notes). Gideon was afraid, so God sent him into the enemy camp at night. Crouching behind cover, the Israelite captain heard one soldier tell another about a dream (vv.13-14). A loaf of barley bread had tumbled into the Midianite camp, destroying one of its tents. His friend saw it as a sure sign that Gideon would win the battle.
Gideon was greatly encouraged. After worshiping God, he returned to the camp, organized his 300 men with their trumpets and lamps, and routed the superior Midianite forces (Judges 7:15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22-notes).
As Christ's followers we're not battling armies, but we are at war. Spiritual foes attack us (Ephesians 6:10-12). They undermine our confidence and sap our strength. We're also battling ourselves—our weaknesses, fears, doubts (Romans 7:15-25). After a while, we can get discouraged.
But our God is the great Encourager. When our resolve weakens or vision fades, by His power He will give us the strength we need (Ephesians 3:16-note)—even when the enemy seems more numerous than a swarm of locusts.—David C. Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
As we meet fierce foes on the pathway of life,
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No Place For The Devil - A teacher in a Bible school gave his students an hour-long exam. They were to spend half their time writing about the Holy Spirit and the other half about the devil.
One student wrote steadily for the whole hour on the first subject, the Holy Spirit, and then wrote at the bottom of his manuscript, "I had no time for the devil."
That wasn't the way to get a good grade on an exam, but his comment does point us to the only way we can resist and overcome Satan. If we fill ourselves with God's Word, pray, and submit to the Holy Spirit, we will not "give place to the devil" (Eph. 4:27-notes).
The word place in that verse is significant. The devil cannot gain a foothold in an area of our life that the Holy Spirit controls. When we are saved, we receive the Holy Spirit, yet it is possible for a true believer to "give place" to Satan. The only remedy is to be "filled with the Spirit" (5:18), which means to be completely surrendered to the will of God.
Before you launch out into the world today, have you stopped to read the Scripture suggested at the beginning of this article? Have you prayed? Are you filled? If so, go forth to conquer with the shield of faith and quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one (Ep 6:16-notes). --M. R. De Haan, M.D. (Ibid)
There's victory o'er Satan and sin's dark shame,
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Weight Loss- Ephesians 6:11-17 - The army of Alexander the Great was advancing on Persia. At one critical point, it appeared that his troops might be defeated. The soldiers had taken so much plunder from their previous campaigns that they had become weighted down and were losing their effectiveness in combat.
Alexander commanded that all the spoils be thrown into a heap and burned. The men complained bitterly but soon saw the wisdom of the order. Someone wrote, "It was as if wings had been given to them—they walked lightly again." Victory was assured.
As soldiers of Christ, we must rid ourselves of anything that hinders us in the conflict with our spiritual enemy. To fight the battle effectively, we must be clad only with the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-17).
The Bible also likens Christians to runners. To win the race, we must "lay aside every weight" that would drag us down and rob us of our strength and endurance (Hebrews 12:1-notes). This weight may be an excessive desire for possessions, the captivating love of money, an endless pursuit of pleasure, slavery to sinful passions, or a burdensome legalism.
Yes, if we are to fight the good fight of faith and run the spiritual race with endurance, the watchword must be: Off with the weight!—Richard De Haan (Ibid)
Fight the good fight with all thy might!
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A Significant Impact - John Wesley was convinced that the prayers of God's people rather than his preaching accounted for the thousands who came to Christ through his ministry. That's why he said, "God will do nothing except in answer to prayer." An overstatement? Yes. But the fact is that our praying is a powerful weapon in the war between God and Satan.
In today's Scripture reading, Daniel was so disturbed by a revelation about Israel's future that he could do nothing except fast and pray. Three weeks later a heavenly messenger appeared, saying that God had sent him when Daniel prayed, but that the prince of Persia had detained him (Da 10:13). This "prince" was an evil spirit who sought to influence the rulers of Persia to oppose God's plan. He had detained God's messenger, until the archangel Michael came to his aid.
A cosmic conflict between good and evil is continually being fought in the invisible spirit world. Paul reminded us that it involves Christians. He listed the spiritual armor and weaponry we need for these battles (Ephesians 6:13-17), and then he added "praying always" (Ep 6:18).
Our prayers can have a significant impact on the outcome of those spiritual battles. May we, therefore, faithfully pray as we fight the good fight (1Ti 1:18). —Herbert Vander Lugt (Ibid)
Something happens when we pray,
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The Valley of the Shadow of Death
See, from the ever-burning lake,
Their fiery arrows reach the mark,
I hate the thought that wrongs the Lord;
Come, then, and chase the cruel host,