Question: What does Paul mean when he states categorically that our fight is “not against flesh and blood”? Underline each word and phrase that describes our enemy and his/its activity.
10Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.12For 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.13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.14Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;16above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
The combat is not against human enemies, nor against our own corrupt nature only; we have to do with an enemy who has a thousand ways of beguiling unstable souls. The devils assault us in the things that belong to our souls, and labour to deface the heavenly image in our hearts. (Matthew Henry)
(Taken from Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)lWe must live in light of the fact that just as much as “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,” so it is true that “Satan hates you and has a terrible plan for your life.” We have a spiritual enemy who wishes us nothing but evil.
Stott quoting Simpson: “The tactics of intimidation and insinuation alternate in Satan’s plan of campaign. He plays both the bully and the beguiler. Force and fraud form his chief offensive against the camp of the saints.”
Our fight, our struggles, our problems in this life on earth, actually are not with other people. The forces that cause these struggles are spiritual and our problems or fights in this life are actually a manifestation of these evil spiritual forces working in another realm, the heavenly realms. I think the quote above regarding the fact that God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives, but that Satan’s intentions are 180 degrees from God’s, is absolutely relevant to our situation. Satan hates us and his plan is to destroy us and/or turn us into something ugly and degraded from what God intended. Our struggles are because we are living in a world that is disintegrating because of a spiritual, moral, and ethical darkness in which we find ourselves. We are dying because we are turning or pushing God out of our lives. This is crazy! He’s the one who created us; who gave us our being, our existence, our life. But Paul is saying that there are beings who are actually responsible for this darkness, who control it. These are the ones that we actually fight or struggle with. They are trying to keep us from seeing clearly where we are going and our eventual outcomes or destiny.