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Struggling Not Against Flesh and Blood

One of my favorite songs from the country music group Alabama said, “Oh, I believe there are angels among us, sent down to us from somewhere up above.”  The Scripture says that there certainly are angels among us, but they’re not just cute winged babies.  These dudes are warriors locked in an epic, unseen battle between the forces of good and evil.

We’re never told in Scripture exactly how many angels exist.  However, the Bible does communicate to us general numeric terms about them like “myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands” (Rev 5:11).  Some are good, and some are bad, but fortunately, in this unseen angelic struggle the numbers are in favor of the good guys.  Whatever the exact number of angels may be, most agree that we learn from Revelation 12:3-4 the ratio of good to evil angels:

  • Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

So, for every wicked angel fighting for Satan there are two righteous angels fighting for God.  While the demonic might be outnumbered, they nevertheless are working to influence mankind.  They’re gunning for you and me.  Therefore, we must stand strong.  We find out how in Ephesians 6:10-20.

1)  Be strong with God’s strength
Ephesians 6:10 tells us, Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  The human body is able to do some amazing feats of athletic ability and strength. For instance, Blake Griffin jumped over a car in the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk Contest to bring home the trophy.  Absolutely amazing!  And who can forget all of those behemoths who compete in the World’s Strongest Man competitions like Poland’s Mariusz Pudzianowski.  Oh my goodness! 

But as amazing as these athletes are, the strongest, most athletic man is no match for the demonic.  One reason is that we’re already bent toward evil so they really don’t have far to influence us, and two, they’re considerably stronger than even the strongest among us.  Therefore, our strength must be found in God’s strength.  That’s why we’re to put on the full armor as Ephesians 6:11 tells us, Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  You and I will not stand without it.

2)  Realize that our struggle is actually against demonic powers
This truth might be a surprise or seem far-fetched to you, but we are to live by revelation and not observation.  We don’t stand on our five senses.  We stand on the Word of God!  And the Word of God tells us in 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.

You see, behind human wickedness is the demonic.  I’m not necessarily talking about demon-possession.  That very well might be the case, but simple demonic influence is more likely.  Demon-possession is probably rare, but demonic influence is unquestionably rampant.

While this reality is true, it in no way removes human responsibility for sin.  James tells us that it’s our own lusts that pull us in to sin (James 1:14).  Remove the demonic, and humanity would still incessantly sin, but I believe the influence of the demonic certainly increases sinfulness.

As God tells us here in Ephesians 6:12, we’re struggling against the demonic.  In fact, we may even have a demonic military hierarchy here.  The rulers are perhaps Satan’s generals, the powers could be Satan’s colonels, the world forces of darkness might be Satan’s sergeants major, and the spiritual forces of wickedness are possibly Satan’s common enlisted privates.

Friend, I’m not trying to convince there’s a demon behind every bush.  I simply want to point out to you the reality of the demonic, and the fact that Scripture says that they are an intensely formidable opponent.  We often lose sight of this truth and focus on the physical opponent with whom we are struggling (our spouse, co-worker, child, classmate), but God tells us that we’re missing the true picture.  Our struggle is not with flesh and blood or the physical challengers.  Rather, we are actually struggling against dark spiritual forces.

3)  Put on the armor of God
Since our struggle is actually against wicked spiritual forces, we must therefore use spiritual weapons.  It’s for this reason that God tells us to put on His armor in Ephesians 6:13-17:

  • Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

It’s important to point out here that God has provided protection for us in all the places we are vulnerable.  These are the places that Satan will go after:

  • He will attack truth, trying to convince you that truth is unknowable or not absolute and unchanging.
  • He’ll come after your holiness by attempting to persuade you to forget that your righteousness is found in Christ.
  • He’ll twist the gospel, putting forth an ineffective counterfeit that saves nobody.
  • He’ll try to shake your faith and destroy it.
  • He’ll work to convince that you’re beyond salvation, that you are saved when you truly are not, or that you are not saved when you truly are.
  • He will do everything he can to damage the authority of the Bible so that you will ignore it.

Therefore, you must put on the armor of God, which will protect you from these demonic assaults.

4)  Pray because it’s essential to standing firm
Paul finishes with this final plea to you and me in Ephesians 6:18-20:

  • With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Prayer is vitally important to standing firm.  It’s as vital as radio communication is for the military in the midst of a battle.  Therefore, you should pray for yourself, but along with yourself, you should lift up your brothers and sisters in Christ as well.  Pray as Paul instructs you.  Pray for alertness, perseverance, and boldness.  In doing so, you will be divinely helped to stand firm and so will those for whom you pray.

May you stand strong in God’s strength against demonic powers by putting on the full armor of God with much prayer!


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