A battle rages around you every moment of every day. It may be imperceptible most of the time. But it’s there.
In His Word, God says, “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 6:12)
Notice the placement of this passage in Ephesians. The armor of God passage comes at the end of the book. Immediately before it are passages on relationships: between husbands and wives, children and parents, servants and masters.
Those are the struggles that get our attention. Arguments. Friction. Frustrations with people who don’t understand you.
However, Scripture reminds us that the real battle occurs at a deeper level.
We have a real enemy, the devil, who wages war in our minds and hearts. His strategy is to find areas of weakness and expose them. In his twisted playbook, relational conflicts are a means to an end.
If he can turn people against one another, they’ve taken their eyes off of Jesus and put it on another human being. If he can convince you that another person is your enemy, maybe you’ll forget that the real battle is not against flesh and bones but against spiritual forces.
While there are forces that oppose us in the heavenly places – that is, in the spiritual realm – we also have a heavenly ally. The term “heavenly places” appears five times in the Bible, all in the book of Ephesians. Two of the references refer to forces of evil, and three to refer to a greater force of pure good.
- “[God] has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1:3)
- “… [God] raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1:19-20)
- “… [God] raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6)
God’s Word describes activity in the heavenly places, in the unseen realm. Evil is present. And so is good. A more powerful good. A good so wonderful that it includes for us every spiritual blessing. A good so magnificent that it guarantees a resurrection and seat of honor with Jesus Himself.
Therefore, Scripture directs us, “Set your minds on things above.” (Colossians 3:2)
If you find yourself mired in conflict, faced with hostility, remember the true nature of the battle. We’re called to love our neighbor (who is seen) and to fight our enemy (who is unseen).
Don’t be distracted from the true enemy. Seek peace with people. Fight against the real enemy.
We fight with the weapons God gives us: Truth. Righteousness. Peace. Faith. Salvation. Scripture. Prayer.
Spiritual weapons are needed – and provided! – for victory in the spiritual realm.
This article builds on ideas contained in the introduction of Equipped: The Armor of God for Every Struggles. Click here for more about the book.