I am deeply convinced that we can only understand life when we see it as the Bible sees it. That is why the word of God was given to open our eyes to God’s perspective on life and reality. The world we see all around us—the world of entertainment and nightly news and instant information on the internet, and political infighting and social upheaval—that is a world of illusion. Though we usually call it “the real world,” it is a facade that is destined to fade away. What God calls reality is something that exists beyond the flimsy walls of this world, and it is far more real and lasting than our so-called “real world.”
We may not want to hear what the Bible has to say to us. We may think the Bible’s diagnosis of our condition is too harsh, or its prescription for our healing is too difficult—but if we reject its truth, we only succeed in deceiving ourselves.
In Ephesians 6, the apostle Paul tells us that life is a struggle, a life-and-death conflict between two opposing forces:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:10–13).
If we try to ignore the conflict, if we do not firmly choose the right side and take up our armor and our weapons for the battle, we will inevitably find ourselves jarred and shaken by spiritual reality. We may even become casualties of a battle we thought we could wish away.
Our conflict is not against flesh and blood. Spiritual warfare is not a political struggle, a social struggle, an economic struggle, or even a religious theological-doctrinal struggle. While modern sociology, psychology, and political science stand baffled and frustrated in the face of the world’s evil and darkness, the apostle Paul gives us the insight and illumination of God’s word. The world, he says, is in the grip of what he calls “rulers … authorities … powers.” These rulers and powers of this dark world are headed by the devil.
“Well,” you say, “this is all very depressing. I would rather not think about it.” I don’t like to think about it either, but I have discovered that you cannot wish the truth away. There is only one realistic approach to this struggle, and that is to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. That is the way of escape, and there is no other.
God has issued to each of us a bugle call to intelligent combat. It is a call to us to be men and women of God, to fight the good fight, to stand fast in the faith, to be strong in the Lord in the midst of this dark and evil world. Those who ignore this call and the battle that rages around them are doomed to be casualties.
We must learn how to overcome the devil—not by flesh and blood, not by joining committees, not by political action, not by taking up clubs or assault weapons and attacking a human enemy. No, Paul says the weapons of our warfare are not physical weapons. Rather, our weapons are mighty, through God, unto the pulling down of strongholds and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3–5). That is the path to victory!
As the world grows darker, the truth of Jesus Christ burns brighter. And the brightest truth of all is this: He has already won the war in which we fight. The war was over the moment He declared from the cross: “It is finished!” We do not have to charge against the enemy. We merely have to stand our ground. As the days grow darker and more evil, we will not be moved! We have put on the armor of God, we have planted our feet. Though the enemy is attacking, we are not afraid, for the battle has already been won.
Stand firm, my friend! Stand your ground! Ours is the victory in Christ!
—Condensed from Spiritual Warfare by Ray Stedman