An intense battle is taking place for every believer of Jesus, it is the battle against the powers of darkness. The last part of Ephesians 6 shows us that we are in a spiritual battle against the forces of darkness, and Paul goes through what is needed to overcome the enemy.

Ephesians 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Remember whole world is under the sway of the wicked one (1 John 5:19), everything from media to fashion styles to higher education. Everything is conditioned to draw the believer from the purposes of the Lord Jesus to the world. The world is the evil system that attracts our fallen nature. The fallen nature still resides within our hearts even after we become born again. That is why John admonishes us to not love the world or the things of the world.

1 John 2:15,16 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”

There is much talk about spiritual warfare today and many books recently have been written. Some think it takes yelling at the enemy, some think it takes pleading the blood of Jesus, some think it takes prayer walking. Man is very fond of finding a technique, but the truth is we are defeated by the enemy because our flesh is stronger then our spirit. Most of the time we are trying to get the victory in our own self-effort or willpower or pride in our hearts has been lifted up that results in God resisting us. Let’s see what Paul first mentioned in terms of spiritual warfare.

Ephesians 6:10 “ Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”

The essence of spiritual warfare is that we are making the Lord our strength and using His might to war against the powers of darkness. It takes great might of the Holy Spirit to control our minds (Romans 8:5), the enemy injects vile thoughts in our minds and we need might to instantly take that thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). We need His might to be a bold witness for Jesus in the marketplace (Acts 1:8). We need might to control our tongues from speaking idle words (Matthew 12:36) or even corrupt words (Ephesians 4:29).  We also need to fight from the perspective that Jesus has already given us the victory. Victory is given by Jesus! It is grace through faith that gets the victory, not by human willpower, but by calling upon the name of the Lord in faith to resist the enemy.

1 Corinthians 15:57 “ But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

You say then why I am still getting defeated? The Lord is trying to break you of all your willpower and self-effort to you reach a desperation in your heart that you say “it is impossible to be set free”. Then the Lord will come in and give you the victory. This is other way of saying He is humbling you to receive the necessary grace. The Lord’s ways are higher than our ways. It’s out of our weakness that He shows Himself strong in our lives (2 Corinthians 12:9). It’s out of our poverty of spirit that He gives us the kingdom of heaven in our hearts. The Lord doesn’t want to remove the weaknesses from our lives, because that is what drives us to our prayer closets and look to Him for the victory. After understanding this, we need to follow the command of Jesus in denying ourselves and picking up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23). The cross is an instrument of death and with the help of the Holy Spirit we mortify our sinful flesh (Romans 8:13). Followers of Jesus are a people that are controlled by the Holy Spirit not by the sinful flesh (Romans 8:14). Jesus was able to obtain total victory over the power of darkness, because He never allowed the world to grip His heart.

John 14:30 “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.”

As long as there is something in the world gripping your heart, the enemy can easily come in and gain a foothold, which leads to a stronghold. A stronghold is a pattern of thought that the enemy has burned into our minds. It could be we still want to be popular in this world, desire to be rich, fear of the future, bitterness towards others, jealously of what others have, spiritual pride, etc.

Ephesians 6:11 “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

This is where the purpose of the armor of God comes in, to shield us from a stronghold from developing. The enemy has a bag fill of tricks that he tries to tempt us with, it can be a struggle at times to understand that not every thought that comes inside my mind is my thought. To really overcome him you need a constant dosage of the word of God to renew your mind. We also have thought patterns that dominated us before we were saved that need to be destroyed by the Holy Spirit. It takes time. So don’t be frustrated. Now let’s talk about the wisdom of the world.

The powers of darkness follow that same wisdom that is imposed on the world today. It majors in power, force, control, manipulation, flattery, lusts, envy that all stem for the purpose of fulfilling our self-interest. The world thinks it is wise to cheat and lie to get ahead. The world will do everything in it’s force to get ahead. The strong willed will intimidate you, the weaker will use flattery and deceit. Let’s look at some Scripture.

1 Corinthians 2:6-8 ” However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”

The powers of darkness wouldn’t have crucified Jesus if they knew that it would result in the forgiveness of mankind sins and an entry way to the living God. Jesus conquered the power of darkness by coming as a Lamb, which represents death to His own will by coming under the power of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was getting reviled, beaten, mocked, and spit upon He didn’t fight back, since that is the way of the flesh, but He used a greater law which is living by the wisdom of the Spirit. When someone criticizes you the first response is to defend yourselves and fight against that person.

1 Corinthians 10:3 “For through we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.”

Meaning we don’t confront the powers of darkness with our own strength, but in the power of the Spirit. Remember, just as light always overcomes darkness, so power of God overcomes the power of the enemy.

1 John 4:4 “You are of God, little children, and have overcome the, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

Victory comes by knowing who dwells inside of us.

1 John 5:4,5 “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our  faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

Our faith needs to be built on the power of God and the word of God, not a natural faith that is founded on our senses. Verse 5 is not referring to a mental assent that Jesus is the Son of God, but a reality in your heart. That He is Lord of All! If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31). That He is King and Judge! If this is our faith, we won’t be pursuing the things of the world that stand in direct opposition to the purpose that Jesus has for us on the earth.

However, walking under the power of the Spirit is not pleasant on our flesh. Who wants to love our enemies? Who wants to keep silent when someone belittles you? Who wants to be despised and rejected by men? Who wants deny the gratification of the flesh? Who wants to lose their pride and ego in this world? Who wants to no longer serve money and things? Jesus wants us to overcome these things like He overcame them, but it’s going to take perseverance and suffering.

1 Peter 4:1,2 “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but the for the will of God.”

2 Timothy 2:11,12 “For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.

Each day we are put to a crossroad, live by the flesh, meaning follow the dictates of our fallen nature seen in Galatians 5:19-21 or go the way of the cross to death, for the fruit of the Spirit to manifest (Galatians 5:22,23). If we take the way of the cross, we will be rewarded to reign with Him. This is serious business saints. The purity of our faith will determine our eternal rewards. Jesus doesn’t just give out these like souvenirs.

Revelation 22:12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”

Next time will talk about putting on the belt of truth. Blessings in the Lord Jesus!