“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Eph. 6.10-12
A brother recently opened our meeting with this passage of scripture. Even though I am quite familiar with it, it caught my attention in a new way—in that the things I have been witnessing and experiencing in the world came into sharper focus and understanding. The three parts of the scripture that stood out to me were:
- “…in the power of His might.”
- “…wrestle not against flesh and blood.”
- “…against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Hierarchy of Authority – The Pyramid
Unlike the Church, the Body of Christ, there exists a hierarchy of authority in the world instigated by Satan himself. Its structure is pyramid in shape with one individual, or a few at the top having authority over all others. I don’t believe our Lord ever intended to have in His Church this hierarchy of authority; for example, roughly combining Catholic and Mormon churches, this hierarchy would include: a pope or prophet at the top, then cardinals or apostles, then bishops, then priest or pastors. All these represent the clergy, who, in authority and power, are over the laity, which may include elders, deacons, Sunday school teachers, etc.
This pyramid structure mirrors the organization of governments, militaries, school systems, businesses, and literally every organized group. Most corporations have CEO’s at the top, then a president, boards, administrators, bosses, and finally workers at the bottom. Even a local club usually has a president and vice president over the members. This pyramid of authority represents a power structure with the greatest authority and control at the top. The world functions best that way; but the Church has only one Head, who is Christ, and the rest of its members bond together in a special way.
The Church finds itself in the world surrounded by all these authorities and, as Jesus prayed, “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” Jn. 17.14 Because the Church is not of the world but of Christ, it hates believers because it hates Christ. Do not be fooled by any level of worldly tolerance for the Church, for any such lenience would quickly dissipate given the right circumstances. Things can turn quickly. Already, the Christian church ranks lowest in respectability among other religions in the media and entertainment industries.
Considering the struggle of the church in the world, let’s begin our discussion at the lowest level of the pyramid, the struggle of the Church may first be considered at the lowest level of the pyramid, the local home environment. Here we see our world vying for the minds of our souls and the souls of our children, enticing into a godless society, with immorality, disobedience, drugs, and so on. We are bombarded on all sides. It even enters our homes via the television and computers. And, as is often the case, local laws and dissidents harass the Church, bringing discord and even persecution. This is seen more often in foreign countries, India for example, than in the USA.
But, a step up the pyramid, we notice that all of this is only a part of a larger society involving governments, school systems, law enforcements, the media, and financial enterprises. Communism, fascists, nationalism, dictators, powerful businesses, news media, and militant religious zealots all bring much to bear upon the Church and the believers therein. They impose laws and demand acceptance of moral standards offensive to the Christian faith and impose various forms of punishment if violated.
In addition to imposing legislation and corporate policies, a very subtle form of social engineering is used to psychologically manipulate social beliefs and behaviors using all forms of the media: television, the internet, newspapers and magazines; even ads on billboards and on the sides of buses. In this attempt to manage social change and regulate the future development and behavior of society, the public is bombarded with pictures, images, commercials, reports, and news releases stressing or overtly displaying the “new acceptability” of social trends, moral standards, and religious beliefs. They insist that society is evolving and that this is “the new normal.”
All of this only brings us halfway up the pyramid of worldly authority and control. There remains that which plays out in the unseen background, involving control, bribery, extortion, and manipulation. Oftentimes major events in the news are simply a smokescreen or a distraction for even larger manipulations involving governments and businesses but with global interests. While the public is bombarded with this “fake news” in order to hold their attention, subtle behind the scene schemes are taking place.
Nearing the Top of the Pyramid
The entire world is under governments of some sort usually headed by presidents, prime ministers, kings, chiefs, or dictators. Some believe, as do I, that many of these “heads of government” are simply pawns, being manipulated by the hands of very powerful, wealthy groups. They are independent of particular nations and governments who seek a wider, more worldly domination—their quest for wealth and power and control is insatiable. They believe that if they are in control, the world would be a better place; they could control population growth, energy, invoke peace, and an equal distribution of wealth among the masses. In addition, I believe these groups are in collusion with one another.
This comes very much into line with students of the Word seeking to understand end-time prophecy. If they, these power hungry groups, control the governments, they help determine laws enacted to control and manipulate its citizens. And, if they control finances, they control the distribution of food, medicines, transportation, energy, and clothing. Further, if they control the media, they control propaganda distribution. It is all about authority and control.
I am sure you are aware of “fake news,” or those news stories, carried by most every news station, that are false; the story itself is either distorted or fabricated, with no verifiable facts, sources, or quotes. Oftentimes these stories are propaganda that is intentionally designed to mislead the reader (or viewer), or it may be designed as “clickbait.” Have you ever been tempted to “click” on a link while reading an article on the computer? These links offer quick incentives for profit, brainwashing, or at least fabricating false information to discredit someone or some group, or convince society they desperately need to get something, now. These “quickbait” links are like a virus in that they are easily and quickly proliferated as they are shared online. These can influence buying habits, elections, laws, discriminations, moral standards, need for medications, and a host of other behavior controls.
So, this offers a global level of power, near the top of the pyramid, transcending geopolitical and religious boundaries. It is all about power, wealth, and control, but on a global basis. Not all, but much of what is happening in the world, dealing with wars, energy supply, food distribution, etc., is, in reality, not what they appear forthright, but are smokescreens for something larger in the works, in an attempt to manipulate populations.
Ok, so the bottom line is we are talking about powers in the earth adversely affecting the Church. This represents a battle, or warfare. What we have to be cautious of here is the object of our fight. Because, at the very top of the pyramid, stands not a man, or government, or powerful worldly organization, but Satan himself.
A Spiritual Warfare
We are cautioned:
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Eph. 6.12
Do you see, the Church’s real battle is not against the visible and tangible world, no matter how malevolent or evil it appears to be, but against the invisible and intangible spiritual dominion of Satan. Satan is the head of this dark domain even as Christ is the head of the Church. It is also written of Satan,
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation, on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds.” Is.14.12-14
The self-centered motive of Satan is revealed: “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.” His goal is first of all spiritual, being in authority over the stars of God, to subdue the kings and princes of the earth and the angels (overseers) of the Church— “His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.” (Rev. 12.4) This represents the kingdom of darkness. His evil lust for power and control is further revealed,
“I will be like the Most High, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” 2 Thes. 2.4
Total domination, total control, total power is his ambition. So, do you see, it is not an outward battle involving elections, boycotts, political fundraising, protests, campaigning, and legal or political arguments, it is an inward spiritual battle involving Satan and his cohorts and the saints of God, the Body of Christ: it is spiritual warfare. Each and every member of the Body of Christ must learn to stand firm, being equipped, being “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, to put on the full armor of God.” (Eph. 6. 13-17) This is warfare involving strategies, battles, casualties, victories and defeats.
The Realm of Darkness and the Church
What we must understand is this: What the Church is to Christ, the kingdoms of this world are to Satan. As the Church is the light of Christ, the world is the darkness of Satan.
As the Church is called to manifest the light of Christ in all that it is or to be, the world is called to manifest the darkness of Satan. As Christ is the Head of the Church, His Body in the earth; Satan is the dragon of prophecy, and the beast is his “body” in the earth.
Please consider the following:
“So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” Rev. 13.4
“And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.” Rev. 19.19
“So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.” Rev. 16.2
“And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God.” Rev. 15.2
“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” Rev. 20.4
Satan would have the Church fix its eyes not upon the spiritual, which is at the core of the battle, but to be caught up with the physical darkness swirling around us: “…while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Cor. 4.18 We must first build up the Body of Christ to be strong, to be able to stand in the day of adversity. The Church must first realize that it stands in the power of His might. It involves prayer, the Word of God, and faith.
Listen, both of us, the Church and Satan, know the final outcome, the eventual demise of Satan, the fallen demonic angels, and his cohorts in the realm of darkness: it is written, “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the *beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Rev. 20.10 *(The beast, Satan’s instruments in the earth.) Satan understands the final outcome, but he is not without determination to fulfill his ambition and control in the affairs of man. He is now very energetic, “…woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” Rev. 12.12
The life of God, which is the Spirit of Christ in us, is His power to overcome and live a Godly life in the midst of darkness and adversity. It is a supernatural enabling. We are weak, He is strong. The armor (Eph. 6.10-17) of God is for both defensive and offensive warfare. We can stand and overcome all the attacks of the enemy. And, we can wield the sword of salvation:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Cor. 10.3-5
In prayer, faith, and spiritual understanding we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. Though Satan might have his sway in the earth, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one,” 1 Jn. 5.19 he cannot prevail over the Church, the Body of Christ, the one betrothed to the Lord as the overcoming Bride. In the midst of trails, tribulations, and adversity, …
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” Rm. 8.37
In all these things – In the very midst of them; while we are enduring them we are able to triumph. Note also, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. 15:57
Apart from our severe pressures and trials, or in the very midst of them, we not only are enduring them, we are able to triumph over them. We are more than conquerors—That is, Satan and the beast have not the power to subdue us; to alienate or crush our love and confidence in Christ; in order to produce a falling away into apostasy.
We are the victors, not these forces of darkness. Our faith is not destroyed but built up; our love for the brethren is not diminished; our hope, our expectation, is for the coming demise of Satan and the beast, and for our resurrection and eternal bliss in Christ. Our lives are not a simple continuance as children tossed to and fro by the waves of adversity, but are mature sons and daughters of our heavenly Father, who is our triumph. Our faith is strengthened, our strength and endurance strong as we stand firm in Christ.
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” 2 Cor. 14.7
Light affliction versus eternal weight of glory. The afflictions are light, the glory will be (Greek) “a far more exceeding,” or “in excess and to excess.” The glory exceeds beyond all measure the affliction. The afflictions are but for a moment, the glory shall be everlasting. In all truth, whether we have fullness of understanding or not, the afflictions we experience actually work in us a goodness that draws us closer to God, more reliant on His powers, and give us a greater anticipation for the return of Christ and the glories of the age to come…unto everlasting.