Biblically speaking the enemies of Christians are often divided into three categories: the flesh, the world, and Satan. Already in Ephesians, Paul has made mention of these three, “And you were dead in trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1-3). While in Jesus Christ the power of these three has been broken, there is still a sense in which we “wrestle” against them. For instance, in Romans 7 a post-conversion Paul struggles with a principle of indwelling sin; as Christians we’re not “of” the world, but we’re still “in” the world; and though the heel has crushed the serpent’s head, still the day is coming when we he will crush Satan under our feet (Romans 16:20). As Christians we live within the tension of the already-not-yet. Already these things have been accomplished, though not yet are they fully realized.
So while Christ “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 2:15), we are still in the battle, and the enemy is not yet off the field, therefore Paul tells us to “wrestle” (Ephesians 6:12). And his particular focus in Ephesians 6 is the one enemy, Satan, “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). It’s important to see that Paul isn’t here advocating spooky and pagan demonology, but he is dealing with a reality of the Christian life, we wrestle against spiritual forces epitomized in Satan and his forces. An enemy he says, who has “schemes” and is empowered by “cosmic power.” That’s a big enemy! That’s a strong enemy! And Satan is hellbent on destroying bodies and souls, even of the elect if he could (Mark 13:22). So Ephesians 6 calls us to action, to prepare for and engage in an irreconcilable war with those who have made the Lamb, and Him who sits on the Throne, and the seven-fold Spirit before the Throne, their greatest enemy. So in light of this:
- First, let us examine our own hearts: Many boast of wanting heaven, but few have the resolve to fight for it; many profess the name of Jesus, but few follow him into battle. For too many the Christian life isn’t characterized by struggle, or by resistance, or by courage and striving and contending, it’s characterized by a life of ease. But true saving faith breeds a warlike spirit. The normal posture of the Christian is a battle-stance.
- Secondly, let us be encouraged to stand fast: Three times in Ephesians 6 Paul says, “stand fast” or rather “oppose and rebel against” (vv. 11, 13). Victory is certain in Christ Jesus, and so we have every reason to oppose Satan and rebel against the powers and principalities of this world, which we do by putting on the full armor of God. The Christian is the warrior who contends, and though he falls, says, “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise” (Micah 7:8). Jesus says in Revelation that to the one who overcomes he will give a right to eat from the tree of life (2:7). Take your orders then, Christian, and prepare for war.