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In our last lesson, we talked a little about the word picture that Paul was trying to paint in Eph 6:12 when he used the word 'pale' to describe wrestling. It was not the staged "good clean fun" of the WWF. It was dirty and there were no rules, no concept of fairness. The goal was to disable your opponent, to hurt or injure them, so that you can win. And that is a very accurate picture of how the demonic forces try to engage in warfare. They do not play nicely, the do not play fair. They want to win by whatever means they can.
What Do We Learn About This War?
This war is intense. It is our struggle. I want to emphasize the word "our". This is a "we" thing. It is not a "you" thing or a "them" thing. It is "our" battle. It is "our" struggle. Sometimes we think this is somebody else's struggle, but the truth is that everybody is in this together. You simply cannot escape it. From the day that you were born until the day you go to be with the Lord, you are going to have this struggle. Nobody is exempt.
You have to be very careful that you do not approach the spiritual war as a spectator. The reality is that you are involved in it as well.
Who Is Most At Risk In A War?
The civilians who are standing around watching are unprotected. These people do not know about things that are going on. They do not have any weapons. These people are most likely to be "taken out". They are not looking and watching for what is coming. What sometimes happens is that believers are standing around looking at somebody getting taken out and say, "Isn't that bad?" They do not realize that there is a plot against them too, and that the enemy is also coming against them.
Some people are spiritual "streakers" -- people who run around without their spiritual clothes on. You may be wearing physical clothes, but spiritually you are naked even though you think you are okay. Others are spiritual "strippers". These people take off their armor after they have been hurt or wounded. They just take it off and lay it aside. Being unprepared does not mean that you can avoid the war. It will come to you anyway. You are involved. The Greek for "struggle" is 'pale.' It literally means, "to wrestle or struggle." It is a hand-to-hand conflict meaning, "to throw one down or to swing and throw." It is talking about the encounter of darkness as being very personal and individualized.
Who Is Our Real Opponent?
Our opponent is not of flesh and blood. Paul says it is the rulers, powers, world forces of darkness, and spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. The kingdom of darkness is a well-organized system. We do not need to be surprised. All we need to do is look at the counterpart -- at God's angels and how He set things up. There are archangels and other angels. There seems to be a structure, rank-and-file, in the angelic realm. In the kingdom of darkness, there is also a ranking system and that is what Paul was trying to describe. It is a very well ordered, structured and organized system. In the kingdom of darkness, there is a lot of disorder, but they do have a measure of order, although they hate each other. There is still a measure of order. When Satan and his crew were kicked out of heaven, another demon did not rise to the top. Satan is still their leader. He still has the authority and rule over the demons of darkness.
Let's take a quick look how the enemy forces are structured:
The word "rulers" means, "cosmic powers." These hold the chief seats of authority -- the first ones. These would be the preeminent ones-- probably the big guns. Some have a higher rank than others do.
The word "powers" means, "authorities." This means, "those who have jurisdiction or the right or strength." They have been set apart in certain specific geographical areas. Some were assigned to certain geographical jurisdictions and certain places of authority.
This means, "world ruler". It is not a very common word in the Bible, but it is used quite a bit in classical Greek. It is even in rabbinical literature. It means, "one who aspires to control the world." This is their objective. This is what they are trying to do.
SPIRITUAL FORCES OF WICKEDNESS IN HEAVENLY PLACES
This does not refer to the heaven of heavens. It is not talking about the heaven you are going to when you die. The first heaven is the created heaven, the second heaven is the atmospheric heaven and the third heaven is where God is. Paul said, in II Corinthians 12:2, that he "was caught up into the third heaven" fourteen years ago. In other words, he went into the presence of God. He did not know if he was literally there or if it was just a vision, but he was in heaven. He ascended into heaven either in person or in the spirit. That is the third heaven.
The second heaven is the atmosphere. In Ephesians 2:2 it says, "... in which you used to live when you followed the ways of the world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient." The atmosphere is the realm in which the enemy lives. In this realm, there is a structure. The book of Daniel is one of the Scripture passages that gives us a clue to this structure.
Daniel had been praying and interceding before God. In Chapter 10, he encountered an angel. In verse 13, the angel told Daniel that for 21 days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked his way, then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help and he left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. That was not a person of flesh and blood. The prince of Persia could not wrestle down an angel of God. It could not happen like that. This demonic prince had authority over Persia. He had jurisdiction over the kingdom of Persia. In Dan 10:20, Michael said he would have to fight against the princes of Persia
and Greece. That is what the angels are doing. They are fighting; they are warring on our behalf.