It was brought to my attention that part 3 of this study was never uploaded, or disappeared from here. Sorry about that 🙂
Armor of God Part 3
Welcome back to part 3 of the study on the Armor of God. Thank you for taking this journey with me as we explore God’s word to try and develop a deeper understanding and more meaningful walk with Him.
V. 12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Flesh (4561) (Sarx): the corruptibility of our current flesh
Blood (129) (Haima): meaning mankind
Rulers (746) (Arche): authority, dominion
Powers (1849) (Exousia): evil powers who oppose Christ
World (165) (Aion): age or time of people
Forces (2888) (Kosmokrator): evil spirits
Darkness (4655) (Skotos): restrain, stop
Wickedness (4189) (Poneria): evil that affects others
What is the first thing that Paul tells us in this verse? He tells us who our struggle ISN”T with.
“For our struggle is not against flesh…”
So who is our struggle against? Evil spirits! Do you remember what we learned in yesterday’s study? “That we are to wear the armor of God to protect ourselves against the schemes of evil spirits. “
The word flesh in this verse talks about the current corruptibility of our flesh. What does corruptibility mean? ‘That which can or might be corrupted.’ Not that it will, but that it might become corrupted. What does corrupt mean? The dictionary says; dishonest, putrid, lacking integrity, debased, wicked and evil. Powerful words, so I guess Paul was trying to get across to us just how important it is that we focus on wearing the armor to protect our current flesh from being corrupt. It doesn’t mean who we were and the things that we have overcome in our past, it doesn’t mean who we will be in the future and the things that we will have to overcome then. It means who we are right now, what we face this moment. Because this is the only moment in time that matters, right now. You can’t change your past, you can teleport to the future, you only have right now, and you can only live for Jesus right now. Protect your right now. Matt. 6:34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” I don’t think that Paul meant just us, but all human flesh. We are not against one another. Our struggles are not with each other, but the evil spirits working their schemes all around us. We must, must ,must protect ourselves!
The word blood in this verse means mankind. So we are told that our war is not against the current condition of the body we live in nor the bodies around us. This is further summed up with the word blood; just so that Paul could get his point across. He could have left us with saying that our struggle is not against flesh, but that can leave us focusing on ourselves. No he needed to make sure that we understood that it is all of mankind. He was trying (I believe) to stop the divisions among people that are so common today. Walk through any church and see if there is not division among the people. This is not what the Lord wants, this is the schemes if the evil spirits at work. It’s important that we grasp this concept that it is not people that we struggle with, but the schemes of evil spirits. ‘Reminding ourselves that schemes are nothing more that “false reality”.
“…but against the rulers,…”
The word rulers mean authority and dominion. Luke 4:6-7 “And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” Let’s not be confused here and think that Satan is as powerful as God; because he is not. We have to remember the fall of Lucifer was because he said that people would be better off without God telling them what to do(among other reasons, but that is for another time). God ALLOWED him to prove it, and still does. So to put it straight forward, Satan and his little evil spirits do have dominion over all the earth, but God is in control. 1 Cor. 10:13 “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” He may have ALLOWED Satan to try to scheme his way around the earth with his evil spirits, but God ALWAYS gives us a way out; we just have to be willing to humble ourselves to see it. It is hard when we are caught up in the flesh to be able to see what God has for us; but if we are protecting ourselves with the armor of God than it will be much easier.
“…against the powers,…”
The word powers in this verse means evil powers who oppose Christ. So again here we see that it is the evil spirits that we are to stand against. It is anything that opposes itself against Christ. Well that covers quite a bit of what we see in the world today doesn’t it? A lot of our struggles come because we cannot stand against the powers of this world. We do not want to be seen as bigots, or hatemonger’s or any of the other labels that the world likes to paste onto Christians these days. But we who are of the faith are partially to blame for the way the world sees us. We do not act with the love of God at all times. We are called to show the love of Christ to all, no matter who they are or how they choose to live their lives. We get so caught up in the person’s sin that we forget that we are called to show the love of Christ to the person.
I believe that this is another scheme (“false reality”) of the evil spirits. Instead of loving a person to Christ, we try to condemn their sin to draw them to the Savior. This is not the example that Jesus left for us, he dined with tax-collectors (thieves of the day), associated with prostitutes, and for what purpose? To show us that it is not the sin that we focus on, but rather it is loving the person that is more important. Luke 6:42 “How can you think of saying, ‘Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” And again in John 8:7 “They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Jesus gives us this example.
Sin is sin, we fall time and time again for the scheme of thinking that this sin, or that sin is surely worse than this or that sin. We condemn people for certain lifestyles, when God sees all sin the same, a separation from Him; from His love, His salvation. We all need to see that this is probably one of the most damaging schemes of the evil spirits in the church today. Being judgmental, condemning people for their sins, we don’t know the bigger picture. Maybe they are struggling and trying to find salvation and here we come, “Christians”, and instead of showing them that we serve a loving caring and most importantly forgiving God, we show them condemnation and judgment. Put on the armor of God so that you can stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
Moving on, “…against the world forces of this darkness,…” here the word world means an age, or time of people. This in my understanding means the here and now. It is important that we understand that this is what is currently going on around us, the Bible is as relevant today as it was when it was written over 2,000 years ago. Another scheme I see as trendy is the reasoning that the Bible has to evolve to suit our ever changing culture. So many buy into this lie, they think that if they are not hip or up with the latest technology that their church will not be successful. This is a distraction of what the goal of the church is, to win souls for Jesus. We don’t need fancy buildings and the latest audio video equipment to be successful in God’s eyes. We need to be about the Father’s business, and His business is about winning souls.
And the word darkness means to stop, or restrain; the goal of these evil spirits is to stop us; from what? Spreading the gospel, finding salvation, from true fellowship with God, from fellowship with each other, it is to stop peace and harmony among the body of believer’s, it is to stop us from showing the love of Christ, to stop us from living up to the example that Jesus left us. This is not a darkness that is void of light; this is a darkness that is void of holiness. It wants to swallow up like a vacuum all that is good and holy. So I hope that you can see that each part of this one verse broken down strengthens each other. Paul is giving us so much detail in this one verse.
Let’s look at the last part of this verse and wrap up for today; “…against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” We know that the spiritual forces are evil spirits, so let’s take a look at the last word that we will be examining today; wickedness, here the word means evil that affects others. This may seem kind of silly, of course evil affects others. But what is Paul really trying to convey to us here? Some evil just affects us, I think of people who have hidden sins (like addictions to pornography, or closet smoker’s, etc.) that they keep hidden away. This evil may not directly affect those around them, but it keeps them chained up and not fully realizing their worth to God and may even keep them held back from using the talents that God has given them. I think that the evil that Paul is referring to here is the evil that takes over a person’s life that drives them to use that evil against those around them. These people have a drive and a desire to destroy, but remember it isn’t the person that we are struggling against; it is the evil forces at work around them. It means that they have fallen prey to the “false reality” of the devil. So it is not the person that we are struggling with, but rather the evil that they are allowing (whether consciously or subconsciously) to affect their own lives and the lives of those around them.
Titus 3:10 “If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them.” It is our hope that if we treat a person in the brotherhood (and sisterhood) of the faith with gentleness in the beginning that we can turn them away from the path they are on, but if that does not work then we need to walk away, so they we may not be brought down by their behavior. In that time we hope that they will come to see that they are not living rightly before the Lord and come back to Him with a humble and repentant heart. 1 Cor. 5:12-13 “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
Please do not misunderstand what I am saying here, we are not judge and jury. But God does give us authority to be bold when dealing with sin. We must keep the flock safe from evil. We must protect the weak that are amongst us. It is an easy place for any of us to stumble in to. All it takes is one little crack in the armor, one place where we have not placed the armor on properly. One place that is all the enemy needs to wreak havoc. So it is with these people, they allowed the evil spirits to whisper in their ear their false reality, and before we know it, before they know it, they are carried away with it. Still thinking that they are serving God and doing His will. We do not hate these people; we simply must not associate with them. And this is the reason; Proverbs 22: 24-25 “Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, lest you learn his ways, and find a snare for yourselves.”
God loves us and He gives us a way through and out of every single situation that arises. We need to make sure that we pay attention to our spiritual armor. We need to make sure that we are wearing it properly. We need to make sure that we are not making our struggle with people, instead of seeing the struggle for what it is; Spiritual warfare.
Let’s take a moment to recap what we have learned today;
• We know that our struggles are against evil spirits.
• That none of us are immune to this struggle, that is why it is important to keep your armor on at all times.
• The devil causes divisions among the church and people.
• That although Satan has dominion over the earth God gives us a way to overcome him. It is through the free-will act of obedience that we find salvation. And the strength to follow Him.
• We must walk in “God’s love” and not the false reality that we are the morality police. It is God’s job to judge, it is our duty to be like Jesus. We are to love and forgive and try to win souls.
• That this darkness is the absence of all holiness. Its job is to restrain us from salvation and from doing God’s will.
• We know that this is the type of evil that is not content with just destroying one life, but rather it is on a course to destroy all that it comes into contact with. This spirit tries to work through people so as to cause as much division and hatred as possible.
Thank you for sticking with me to the end of this study today. I hope that you learned something new today and that you will join me again tomorrow as we jump into v. 13. As always, may the Lord bless you and keep you till we meet again.