When commenting on Ephesians 6:12 Matthew Henry wrote:
Our enemies strive to prevent our ascent to heaven, to deprive us of heavenly blessings, and to obstruct our communion with heaven.
We find that this is true. Our enemies would do all within their power to distract us from "setting our minds on things above" so that we are overwhelmed with the things of this earth. If we are going to fight the good fight then we must be prepared to engage the enemy in combat and we must know how to overcome them and their tactics.
The first step in preparing is found in Ephesians 6:12 where we are told that we are locked in hand to hand combat with the enemies of the Kingdom of God. We "wrestle" against them, and here, unlike on the television, the wrestling is real! But we need to be sure that we know who we are fighting. Understanding who the real enemy is will help us stand against them and overcome them in the course of this lifelong battle.
This week's sermon, taken from this text, explores the truth about our enemy and explains how it is that we successfully combat their plans and schemes in this fallen world.
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1. We wrestle...not (we do wrestle) - we are at war 2. Combat, hand to hand 3. "To throw a man down by deceit and craft, to supplant and trip" (Calvin) 4. Today, wrestling is often fake or theatrical. In NT times it was often a matter of life and death.
B. Know Your Enemy
1. Not Flesh and Blood
a. An enemy not human, not physical, not of this world b. An Enemy not threatened by any mere human power or ability c. Who the enemy is not:
How often do we forget that God says in His Word, "Vengeance is Mine. I will repay."? And so when we are persecuted or attacked verbally, emotionally, or physically for our faith we have as a first response the desire to fight back - to strike out against the person who has hurt us. That is another point of confusion brought on by the true enemy of our souls. We fall for the lie that we are fighting against lost men and women!
As a result then we use our words and actions to hurt them and drive them back - and then we wonder why the reject Christ so openly!! Have we forgotten that those who would engage us in this warfare and attack us are themselves in bondage to sin, slaves of unrighteousness, and children of their father the devil? This is what Jesus said to the Pharisees. In calling them a "brood of vipers" He was saying that they are the offspring of Satan - they are, as it were baby snakes, children of their father, the Devil.
But these people are not the enemy we are to engage in warfare. We should seek to rescue them - to preach and witness and love and encourage them. The Bible is so clear. Bless those who curse, pray for those who spitefully use, do good to those who hate. And yet our natural response is to fight. Then we see we are at war but we are fighting the wrong enemy! We think that those in bondage should be hated and reviled just as they hate and revile. But these are the very people we should be loving with an unconditional self sacrificing love.
a. Gk: arxas b. ruler, office of authority, denotes organization and domain, sphere of influence c. Rom 8:38; Col 1:16; 2:15 - a created thing under God's authority
a. Gk: edzousias b. ruling power, the right to act, domain in which power is exercised c. 1 Peter 3:22 - subject to Christ
4. Rulers of Darkness
a. Gk: kosmokratoras skoutas b. world rulers over darkness c. Eph 5:8; Luke 22:53; 1 John 5:19
5. Spiritual Hosts of Wickedness
a. Gk: pneumatika ponarias b. wicked (sick, virulent, evil) spirits (in the spiritual realm) c. 1 John 3:10; James 1:21
C. Our Defeated Foe - Rev 12:11
1. Prophesied - Gen 3:15 2. Temptation Resisted - Luke 4:1-13 3. Demons Cast Out - Luke 4:33-36; 11:20; Matt 10:1 4. His Works Destroyed - 1 John 3:8 5. Fulfilled at Christ's Death - Col 2:15; Heb 2:14