KEY THOT: Paul reminds us that our warfare is not against “flesh and blood”—not against humans but against “rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Here Paul delineates four levels of spiritual entities: “rulers,” “authorities,” “cosmic powers,” and “spiritual forces of evil”. Some scholars have suggested that “rulers” and “authorities” may be fallen angelic beings that followed Satan in his rebellion: they have influence over regions and countries (see Dan. 10:13,20), influencing the political and religious rulers and authorities in that region/country. The other two categories may refer to demonic spirits that roam the earth, inspiring false religions and philosophies (demonic doctrines-1 Tim 4.1), infesting idolatrous sites and individuals in various degrees of demonization.
Some scholars have speculated that the last two categories of demonic spirits might have been spirits of the offsprings of angelic/human marriages who were drown in the Flood– Gen. 6:1-4). Be that as it may, these four categories of spiritual entities have real influence over human affairs, from the highest level of political leadership to the lowest level of individual physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Humans through their sins have become victims of these demonic powers. Only the Gospel can deliver fallen humans from these demonic strongholds and bondages.
To engage in spiritual warfare requires spiritual weapons: so Paul exhorts the Ephesians believers to put on the “whole armor of God”: it consists of defensive and offensive weapons (v. 13-18). The main weapons that can set captives of Satan free are the Word (sword of the Spirit-Gospel) and Prayer (intercession by the Spirit). Only these two weapons are spiritual. So, our faith must be built on these two spiritual weapons even as we take a defensive position by putting on the other armor pieces: belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation, shoes of the gospel and shield of faith). Human ideas and methods will not defeat the demonic forces—only the Gospel and prayer.
Even as I engage pre-believers through Alpha, I have to remember it is “not by might, not by power but by my Spirit”. Only the Holy Spirit anointing the Gospel and our prayer can open blind eyes, set captives free and deliver those whose minds and hearts have been deceived by Satan. Pre-believers are not our enemies, but are victims of Satan. The demonic entities are our real invisible enemies.
Father, grant us victory over the enemy and equip us with the spiritual armour to war against the spiritual forces of wickedness. Help us to deliver the captives by Your Gospel and prayer inspired by Your Spirit. Amen.