Crystallization-study of 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther–Week 9
Building and Fighting—
the Need to Engage in Spiritual Warfare
for the Building of the Church
12 For our wrestling is not against blood and flesh but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenlies.
13 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.
19 And what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the operation of the might of His strength,
20 Which He caused to operate in Christ in raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavenlies,
21 Far above all rule and authority and power and lordship and every name that is named not only in this age but also in that which is to come;
22 And He subjected all things under His feet and gave Him to be Head over all things to the church,
23 Which is His Body, the fullness of the One who fills all in all.
The principalities, the authorities, and the world-rulers of this darkness are the rebellious angels who followed Satan in his rebellion against God and who now rule in the heavenlies over the nations of the world, such as the prince of Persia and the prince of Greece in Daniel 10:20. This indicates that the devil, Satan, has his kingdom of darkness (Matt. 12:26; Col. 1:13). In this kingdom, Satan is at the top, and under him are the rebellious angels.
In Ephesians 6:12 Paul also speaks of “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenlies.” The heavenlies here refer to the air (2:2). Satan and his spiritual forces of evil are in the air. But we are seated in the third heaven above them (2:6). In fighting a battle, the position above the enemy is strategic. Satan and his evil forces are under us, and it is their fate to be defeated by us.
Our warfare is not against human beings, but against the evil spirits, the spiritual powers in the heavenlies. The rebellious angels are the evil spirits in Satan’s kingdom. Thus, the warfare between the church and Satan is a battle between us who love the Lord and who are in His church and the evil powers in the heavenlies. Apparently, it is people of flesh and blood who damage the church. Actually, it is Satan and his evil angels working behind them who cause the damage. Therefore, we must fight against these spiritual forces. (Life-study of Ephesians, pp. 533-534)
To fight the spiritual warfare, we need not only the power of the Lord, but also the armor of God [Eph. 6:11]. Our weapons do not avail, but God’s armor, even the whole armor of God, does.
The church is a corporate warrior, and the believers together make up this unique warrior. Only the corporate warrior can wear the whole armor of God; no individual believer can. We must fight the spiritual warfare in the Body, not individually.
The charge to put on the whole armor of God is an imperative, a command. God has provided the armor for us, but He does not put it on for us. Rather, we ourselves must put on the armor God has provided. For this, we need to be empowered. Although God can empower us, we still must exercise our will to cooperate with Him…to put on the armor.
Spiritual warfare is not an individual matter; it is a matter of the Body, a corporate entity to fight the battle against God’s enemy…After we have been formed corporately into an army, we shall be able to fight against God’s enemy. God’s strategy is to use the church as His army to fight against the enemy. Therefore, it is very dangerous to be isolated from the army. Only by remaining in the army will we have the necessary protection.
Through the years we have seen that [spiritual warfare] is altogether a matter of the church as God’s corporate army. If you separate yourself from the church, you will be defeated. Satan’s strategy is simply to isolate you from the church as God’s army…Spiritual warfare is a Body matter. If we realize this and stay with the church, we shall be victorious.
As God’s warrior, the church does not fight by her own strength…On the contrary, we must be empowered in the Lord and in the might of His strength [Eph. 6:10]…To deal with God’s enemy, to fight against the evil forces of darkness, we need to be empowered with the greatness of the power that raised up Christ from the dead and seated Him in the heavens, far above all the evil spirits in the air [cf. 1:19-21]. In the spiritual warfare against Satan and his evil kingdom, we can fight only in the Lord, not in ourselves. Whenever we are in ourselves, we are defeated. (Life-study of Ephesians, pp. 531-532, 815-816)
Further Reading: Life-study of Ephesians, msgs. 63, 97; CWWL, 1979, vol. 2, pp. 547-552
© Living Stream Ministry, 2021, used by permission