Who is our enemy – Ephesians 6:12
Paul sees spiritual forces not just actions of people behind opposition to the gospel, the existence of the church, righteous and just behaviour and belief in Jesus. Paul is not alone in this view it is a view expressed by all the apostles and Jesus himself. It is a view that runs through the whole of the Old Testament from the Garden of Eden account, through Job, the Mosaic Law and the ministry of the prophets as they opposed spiritual evil. The powers against Christ and the church are frequently by means of human activity but Paul is saying look behind that and there is a spiritual dimension which he terms, ‘the powers of this dark world and … spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms.’ v12 The “powers of this dark world” take many forms but they include those things that trap people into sin. Such things may be those things that cause addiction, they can also be those things that cause people to be oppressed. We can imagine governments, companies and criminal organisations working in this way. However, individuals may also cause Christians to fail to stand and we have our own susceptibilities to sin which can feel like a repeated focus for attack. Within the church false teachers can lead people away from Christ and faith which is why the apostles wrote such strong letters that warned of such teaching and condemned the teachers. It takes great spiritual strength to oppose such force and frequently spiritual courage. We are not called to stand as lone individuals but as the collective body of Christ. A lone soldier is weak, a soldier who stands as part of a Roman legion is much stronger. However, we need to pursue spiritual discernment to identify the many subtle ways Jesus and his righteousness is opposed and its impact on our own lives.