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Spiritual Warfare

Ephesians 6:11-13

 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.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 

 When I was in college, This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti hit the shelves in Christian bookstores all over the United States.  In the Christian world, this fictional book had quite an impact giving us a “picture” of the spiritual battle that rages around us.  Peretti would write about the main characters of the story, and then he would break away to show the actions and influence of the angels and demons around them.   It was a very captivating book, and it helped Christians to identify with Ephesians 6:12 which inspired the name of the book.

It is true that our spiritual battle is with Satan and his minions, but that is only part of our enemy.  The enemy of our souls is the world, the devil, and our flesh. 

The world is the culture around us.  It is the ideologies of mankind that lead us away from God’s truth.

We are all familiar with the devil.  Movies and cartoons have served to teach us about him, leaving us with a questionable understanding of who he really is.  But I will leave that discussion for Shaun and Joey this Sunday.

The last element is the flesh, and this is where I would like to give focus today.  Verse twelve above says that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, so on the surface, this might seem like a contradiction.  But the word “flesh” in Ephesians 6:12 means literal human bodies.  When I speak of the flesh as part of the enemy of our souls, I am talking about our thoughts and desires.  Elsewhere in Scripture it is called the “heart.”

Consider Jeremiah 17:9. 

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

I have had this verse memorized for years, but as it came to mind this week, the phrase “above all things” stood out to me.  Is it possible that our flesh is the most toxic aspect of our enemy?  Consider this:

We can isolate ourselves from the world by staying in our Christian bubbles or retreating to the backwoods of some remote mountain.

While we may often think that the devil is omniscient, he is not.  The likelihood that he will personally spend any time on us is very slim.  He has much bigger fish to fry!

But our flesh is always with us.  We cannot escape the desperately sick thoughts and motives that live in our hearts.  No matter where we go or what we do, we will always take our selfish pride with us.  So, how can we fight this spiritual battle with our flesh?   With the armor of God!

The Helmet of Salvation and the Belt of Truth protect us from deception, even the deception of our own hearts.  Romans 12:2 says that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, and this renewal comes from using the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of the Lord.

Let us not ignore any part of our enemy…the world, the devil, and above all things, our flesh.

Posted by Bethany Lay with