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Know Your Enemy

Know Your Enemies!

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. (Eph 5:11 ESV)

If we actually believe that God is calling us to expose the works of our spiritual enemies then we must also believe that we are being asked to expose the works of the world-rulers known as Principalities (aka Rulers) and Powers (aka Authorities) who are spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places.

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers [principalities], against the authorities [powers], against the cosmic powers [world-rulers] over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:11-12 ESV)

It is through the church that God's manifold wisdom is being made know to these very same world-rulers known as Principalities (aka Rulers) and Powers (aka Authorities) in the heavenly places.

8 To me [Apostle Paul], though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers [principalities] and authorities [powers] in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 3:8-10 ESV)

Nor do believers need to be on their guard only against the wiles of the devil. The whole climate of opinion in the Graeco-Roman world of apostolic days was inimical [hostile] to the principles of the gospel. "The god of this age" who "has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" (2 Cor. 4:4), has a host of allies, principalities and powers, here described as "the world-rulers of this dark domain" (lit., "this darkness") and "the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm."

The former references to principalities and powers in this letter have been neutral, nothing being said expressly about their character. In Eph. 1:21 Christ has been exalted above them; in Eph. 3:10 they [P&Ps] are meant to learn through the church something of God's "manifold wisdom" It is not necessary to infer from the present reference that all principalities and powers are viewed as evil, or hostile to the cause of Christ. But those mentioned here certainly are viewed as hostile,48 and the question arises whether they are to be identified with the principalities and powers disarmed by Christ in the vivid picture of Col. 2:15. If they are identical, how can disarmed powers still constitute a threat? The answer is that they [P&Ps] constitute no threat to those who are united by faith to the victorious Christ and avail themselves of his resources, the resources which are here described metaphorically as "the panoply of God." But to those who neglect those resources, and especially to those who are disposed to give them [P&Ps] some room in their lives, they continue to present a threat.

The term "world-rulers"49 appears here only in the NT, but it is difficult to dissociate them from the "rulers of this age" who, according to 1 Cor. 2:6, 8, are on the way out because their failure to discern God's eternal wisdom led them to "crucify the Lord of glory." In the Fourth Gospel the singular form, "the ruler of this world," is found three times (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11); this "ruler" (archon) endeavors to take advantage of Christ as his passion draws near, but finds no means of doing so: on the contrary, he himself is judged and cast out. The same malign figure is mentioned as "the ruler of the domain of the air" in Eph. 2:2.50

The original application of the term "world-rulers" (kosmokratores) appears to have been to the planets,51 but it is used also of a variety of dominant deities and later of the Roman emperor, who on the human level was indeed the "world-ruler."52 It was taken over as a loanword in rabbinical Hebrew, with reference to the Roman emperor and other human potentates and also to spiritual powers like the angel of death.53 In the Testament of Solomon (2nd or 3rd cent. A.D.) demons who come to Solomon introduce themselves as stoichcia,54 "the world-rulers of this dark domain" (18:2)55—but these words are probably dependent on the present text.

When they are called rulers of "this dark domain," they are associated with the "dominion of darkness" from which, according to Col. 1; 13, the people of Christ have been rescued.56 They [P&Ps] will do their best to reclaim the people of Christ for their own dominion, but their [P&Ps] attempts will be fruitless if the people of Christ resist them [P&Ps] with the spiritual resources which are now placed at their disposal. Only spiritual resources can prevail against them, for they themselves are "spiritual forces," and forces of evil at that.57 The heavenly realm58 in which they are located has been mentioned already as the realm in which "principalities and powers" learn lessons in divine wisdom (Eph. 3:10); it is also the realm in which Christ sits enthroned at God's right hand, high above every principality and power (Eph. 1:20-21) and in which his people have been made to sit along with him (Eph. 2:6). The heavenly realm may be envisaged as comprising a succession of levels, with the throne of God on the highest of these and the hostile forces occupying the lowest.59 The level which they occupy is probably identical with "the domain of the air," ruled (according to Eph. 2:2) by "the spirit which now operates in the disobedient.”60 At any rate, these [P&Ps] are real forces of evil which are encountered in the spiritual sphere, and they [P&Ps] have to be withstood. The spirit of the age—any age—is rarely found in alliance with the Spirit of Christ.

F.F. Bruce. The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1984), 404-406. [Emphasis added by Webmaster]

We need to know how pervasive and invasive they are and how they work to take us captive through their lies submitted as thoughts to our brain/mind and their temptations (more thoughts) to enter into ungodly and unholy fleshly behaviors.  All temptation is designed to get you to live your life independent of God.

We are told to stand against the schemes of the devil (Eph 6:11). Wouldn't it be wise to know, at least in general, about the devil's schemes? We are told that our fight is against spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places - principalities & powers (Eph 6:12). Wouldn't it be helpful to know specifically who the main enemies are and how they attack us so we can be on our guard, ready and able to mount a successful defense against them?  How can we carry out God's instructions to us in Ephesians 4:27 to: "give no opportunity to the devil" if we don't know how we are creating an opportunity for him or how he entices us or deceives us into making an opportunity for him?

This is not about knowing Satan's deep dark secrets (Rev 2:24) - that would be inappropriate and wrong. This is about letting Scripture tell us how and where the enemy attacks us so we can be on our guard against his schemes (2 Cor 2:10-11; Eph 5:11; Eph 6:11-12).

10 Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (2 Cor 2:10-11 ESV)

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. (Eph 5:11 ESV)

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers [principalities], against the authorities [powers], against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:11-12 ESV)

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 ESV)

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14 ESV)

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10 ESV)

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44 ESV)

And he [Jesus] was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. (Mark 1:13 ESV)

For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain. (1 Thessalonians 3:5 ESV)

And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:9 ESV)

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. (Revelation 12:10 ESV)

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3 ESV)

We will be examining the Scriptures in the pages ahead looking to uncover as much as we can find regarding how our spiritual enemies work at creating strongholds in our lives.  If we can take care of the reasons that a stronghold exists - exposing our sins and exposing the lies we have believed, confessing them to our Heavenly Father, renouncing them, and repenting of them then God promises to set us free (1 John 1:9 ESV).