For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers…
The Christian life is a warfare. In order to wage this successfully we must understand the nature of the foes we have to contend with, because the weapons and armor will have to be selected according to the character of the attack that is made upon us.
I. THE NATURE OF THE FOE.
1. Negatively considered.
(1) Not material. Imagination has given the tempter a material form, e.g. in the legends of St. Anthony, because it is so much easier to grapple with the most fearful enemy that can be seen and touched than with an invisible, intangible foe. But our foe is not of flesh and blood. The subjugation of the physical world is easy compared with the task of conquering this invisible enemy.
(2) Not human. It is hard enough to think of the obstructive and tempting influence of bad men. But we have something worse to resist. We are attacked by an unearthly army. The black tide of hellish sin surges against the shores of our human world and bespatters us with its withering spray.
2. Positively considered.
(1) Spiritual. The fact that the word "immaterial" has come to mean "unimportant," is a striking proof of our earthly-mindedness. The spiritual world is the most real world. These spiritual foes are the most truly existing enemies we can ever meet. Our experience of them is in spiritual attacks, i.e. in temptations.
(2) Dominant. They are "world-rulers," they are in "heavenly" (or high) places. When St. Paul wrote this Epistle evil was uppermost in the world. Is it not also supreme in many regions now? We have to oust the forces that hold the field and to storm the citadel.
II. THE CHARACTER OF THE WARFARE, Mediaeval armor is useless before rifle-bullets. Old castle walls are no protection against modern artillery. Nor will modern cannon drive back noxious gases. Sennacherib's hosts were powerless before that invisible angel of God, the pestilence. So the foe in the Christian warfare determines the character of the armor and weapons and the tactics to be pursued.
(1) Physical force will not serve us. Samson's strength is of no avail against temptation. Money, material resources, scientific skill, are useless. This is the age of steam, steel, and electricity. But such things give us no help in subduing greed, lust, and self-will.
(2) Human influence is vain. Arguments, threats, and promises; influences of authority and of sympathy; appeals to the reason, the feelings, and the conscience; these methods that affect our fellow-men do not touch the awful foes we have to contend against.
(1) Spiritual armor and weapons are needed, i.e. truth, righteousness, the preparation of the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God, prayer (vers. 14-18).
(2) These must be obtained from God. They constitute "the whole armor of God. ' There m nothing m the armory of human resources, physical or intellectual, that is adequate for meeting the dread spiritual foes of our warfare. The Christian warrior must be a man of Divine strength girded about by Divine graces. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
WEB: For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world's rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.