Scripture

Ephesians 6:10-12

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Reflection

Aristotle once said, “A common danger unites the bitterest enemies.” For many of us, even in the church, division and conflict are more characteristic than unity. We often look at flesh and blood, other people, as our adversary. We see each other as the common danger because of competing self-interests. We have seen time and again how having a common enemy brings us together. We set our many differences aside and unite together to fight the same enemy because defeating it will benefit everyone. We rally together around just wars. Think about our collective response in the aftermath of 9/11. The rise in patriotism and togetherness and unity was born out of a desire to defend the fallen and defeat evil. Congress overwhelmingly voted in agreement with President Woodrow Wilson for the U.S. to enter WWI. After Pearl Harbor, all but one vote in Congress was in favor of the U.S. entering WWII. It’s a sad reality that if we want our country and communities to come together we’ve seen how going to war will do just that.   

In the conflicts mentioned, more than flesh and blood was the enemy. Perhaps that’s why there was such significant support. There is an intrinsic connection between the ways of the world and the spirit who lives in the world to steal, kill, and destroy. That spirit is Satan. The accuser. The devil’s schemes are ever present and aimed for our destruction, which is why we need the armor of God. Our battle isn’t with flesh and blood. We are not the enemy. We do have a common enemy but we have to agree on who that is. Paul makes it very clear for us here. Greater is the Holy Spirit living inside you than the spirit who is living in the world.

We live in a spiritual world. Everything is spiritual. We don’t often think about the realm of history, politics, and current events as being spiritual but they are every bit as spiritual as anything else. And we should be very careful and discerning which spirit is propelling certain agendas forward in our society and politics. The change or movement may or may not be good depending on the spirit. We need to be more discerning and not so quick to accept or reject societal and cultural change. There was a time when we didn’t have the gift of discernment because we didn’t know the Lord. Praise God that he has given us good gifts from above especially the gift to discern spiritual realities. Let us make sure we are not fighting the wrong enemy.

Prayer

Holy God, let us not take your good gifts for granted. Protect us from the advances and schemes of the enemy. Make us aware of the darkness around us so we can resist. We know the devil is a coward and he flees when we resist. Help us see all things that are happening. Give us your mighty strength that we can withstand attack and march forward in your humility and grace. Your truth marches on. Let it be the words of our mouths and the actions of our lives today. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.