"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, NKJV).
Sun Tzu was a Chinese general, military strategist, philosopher and author who lived about five centuries before the birth of Christ. His book The Art of War is considered a masterpiece on military strategy. In it, he made this observation:
"It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle."
As Paul wrote, our battle is not against flesh and blood, but too many times, we as Christians lose sight of that. Our nature as humans is to want to have someone to look in the eyes, blame, fight and scream at. Many Christians fail to recognize the truth of Ephesians 6:12, so we attack the symptom (those around us) and not the problem (spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenlies).
Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them" (Matt. 18:18-20, NIV).
Although we sometimes fail to properly identify our real enemy, rest assured our enemy has no such problem. Our enemy Satan views the church united as his greatest threat and is constantly on the prowl to tear down agreement within the body of Christ. Until we recognize this, we will always be at a disadvantage strategically.
While Jesus has already won the ultimate victory, we must be ever vigilant in defending the biblical model for miracle relationships, our God-ordained weapon with which we fight the day-to-day battles while on this earth. To paraphrase Sun Tzu, if we understand the enemy and understand how we as the body of Christ should function, we need not live in fear but in confidence and victory instead.
Cain, Ham, Esau, Saul, Ahab and Jezebel—All Dead and Buried, Right?
So, how can we still be fighting them on a daily basis? While these historical and biblical figures have long since returned to the dust, the "spiritual force of wickedness"—the demon—that had attached itself to them during their life is still alive and well. We see them in our world and in our churches on a daily basis. You may know these spirits by other names or attributes:
- Cain—the spirit of jealousy
- Ham—the spirit of dishonor
- Esau—the spirit of bitterness
- Saul—the spirit of paranoia
- Rehoboam—the spirit of pride
- Ahab—the spirit of codependence
- Jezebel—the spirit of control
- Gomer—the spirit of seduction, harlotry and lust
- Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar (Job's friends)—the spirits of religion and legalism
- Judas Iscariot and Demas—the spirit of betrayal
- Elymas—the spirit of manipulation
Each one of these demons has the ability to chip away at the miracle relationships Jesus encourages us to seek out. Each one of these has to be recognized, identified and dealt with using the proper "weapon of our warfare." For example:
- Counter pride with humility (Ps. 149:4).
- Counter paranoia with a renewed mind (Rom. 12:1-2).
- Counter control with faith in God (Rom. 5:1-5).
- Counter lust with God's righteousness (Matt. 6:33).
And the key to all of our weapons? Grace.
Grace is the key to our warfare. Grace is the "nuclear football" that arms the arsenal of faith. You have to know God's grace, grow in grace, and show His grace. It's not enough to simply waylay the enemy and take no prisoners. We must, as the blood-bought army of the Most High God, bring grace and freedom to those who have been held captive in the camp of the enemy.
Maybe you have misidentified your enemy. Maybe the person you think of as an enemy is the very person you are supposed to come alongside and come into agreement with. Maybe you have fallen into the trap of division and disunity and need a fresh start. You can walk in peace, freedom and unity today, starting right now.
Pray this prayer: Dear Lord, forgive me for waging war against other people. I know my battle is not with them but with the enemy. Give me the strength and the power to wage war against the enemy. Satan, you are a liar, murderer and thief. You have been defeated by the blood of Jesus Christ. I choose to walk in victory today. I choose to forgive those who have hurt me and to move forward with my life. In Jesus' name, amen.
Ron Phillips, D.Min, is senior pastor of Abba's House in Chattanooga, Tenn. Under his leadership, this Southern Baptist church has exploded into new realms of renewal and spiritual awakening. He is the author of numerous books, including Our Invisible Allies and Everyone's Guide to Demons and Spiritual Warfare, and his weekly television program, Ron Phillips From Abba's House, is seen around the world on TBN and other networks.
Ronnie Phillips Jr. serves on staff at Abba's House as pastor of outreach and evangelism, where he leads all of Abba's House's evangelism and outreach efforts in the community and abroad. He also travels as an evangelist for groups such as Student Life and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
The Phillips' book, The Power of Agreement, can be purchased on Amazon here.