Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not fight 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. – Ephesians 6:11-12
I’ve been hearing an increasing number of sermons being preached these days on “enemies” and “haters.” While I believe the intent is to highlight how God can deliver even in the midst of opposition, the message transmitted can sometimes be interpreted as being divisive in nature. There’s a reason the whole message of Ephesians 6 is included in the Word of God. Let’s take an honest look at our hearts and this battle we say we’re engaged in.
The Bible says we are not fighting against flesh and blood (vs. 12), meaning our battle is not with fellow humans. It’s not with family members, or friends, or co-workers, or church members, or neighbors. So if we’re not fighting against flesh and blood, what are we fighting against? The Bible describes principalities (i.e. authority of a chief ruler) and wicked spirits. Key word being “spirits”. We’re not fighting against each other, but we’re fighting against spirits… more specifically, satanic, demonic spirits. To attack and war with each other over petty offenses and grievances serves to only distract and divide us in this fight. Let’s not lose sight of our enemy – and, let’s be clear, we only have ONE – the devil.
Shifting the focus from the enemy and putting it on our brother or sister, makes reconciliation difficult and results in artificial harmony and empty-shell relationships in the Body of Christ. Furthermore, let’s just be honest – keeping the focus on the individual and his or her offense, is really self-seeking behavior. We’re attempting to show them in a negative light, to indirectly show ourselves in a positive light. And the Word of God says in James 3:16 – “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” It’s no wonder we seem to be living defeated lives; we’ve directed all our attention and focus to a false enemy, when the real enemy is not being addressed. Shifting our focus to the spirit at work, attacks the issue at the root.
How do I know the fight/battle is never about what another person does or does not do to us? Because if that were the case, none of us could stand! The reality is, as much as we like to paint ourselves as the victim and the other person as the perpetrator (or hater), GOD knows our individual hearts and HE knows just how guilty we are (or have been) of some of the same things we highlight that others have done to us – the samejealousy, the same envy, the same betrayal, the same disloyalty, the sameunforgiveness… The Bible says (in Psalm 130:3), that “if God regarded iniquity, NONE of us could stand.” In fact, the longer we keep the focus on the individual, the longer we delay our own deliverance and ensure our own defeat.
Remember now, that LOVE (i.e. GOD) covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8) and every time we attempt to expose our brother or sister, or constantly highlight their shortcoming or their wrongdoing, we are not operating in the spirit of God (Love). Don’t yield yourself as a vessel for the devil’s use.
Perhaps we’re not defeating the enemy in our everyday walk, because we have yet to suit up and fight him. Perhaps he continues to run rampant in our lives because we’re busy fighting each other and taking offense…. while he’s behind it all. Let’s resolve today to put on the whole armor of God that we may be able to withstand the wiles (i.e. devious or cunning schemes) of the enemy.
Prayer: Lord, remove the scales from our eyes and give us the spirit of discernment. Cause us to realize that our issue is not with each other, but with our common enemy – the devil. Help us to suit up in Your armor today that we can withstand the negative thoughts he tries to plant in our minds and hearts about those who may have offended us. May we ever be united in this fight, knowing that IN You, we already have the victory. Unite our hearts today and sharpen our vision. Amen.