“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. 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.” – Ephesians 6:10-13. (Bold emphasis added).
I am not one who believes in demons behind every bush. I’m sorry, but I won’t give the enemy that kind of credit, BUT, the truth is, there ARE spirits that are influencing lives of those around us every day. This does not mean that every bad action or circumstance is spirit-caused, but we DO need to be aware there is evil at work and it is becoming more and more blatant as the time of the Lord’s return is approaching.
Sometimes, we as Christians just do NOT give enough credit to the carnal fallen nature, because if we can blame something else, then we can feel as if we are not responsible. It reminds me of the former comedian, Flip Wilson when he used to say in his comedy acts, “the devil made me do it.” In reality, too often times it is NOT the devil or his minions but rather our own selfish desires and wants that cause us to do things that are far removed from God’s Commandments!
However, with that all being said, there are attacks that are becoming more prevalent due to spiritual forces and influences and they definitely USE those who retain a carnal, selfish and self-centered desire to have what they want no matter who it hurts or at what cost.
Sadly, when we are unaware of these forces, they can take us by surprise and catch us off-guard, but when we are aware of what is at work, maintain an intimate relationship with the Father through the Lord, Jesus Christ as empowered by His Holy Spirit, we are usually not caught so off-guard and in fact are prepared for these onslaughts, at least to some degree or another.
One avenue the enemy has ALWAYS exploited and even appears to be accelerating in, is the area of families. The devil has always known that if he can divide families, he can initiate destruction and this has been his motive since the very first family. Adam was created first and was meant to not just be the “priest” of his family, but its protector, its supplier of all things, material, ideological and theological. He was to honor and cherish his wife and kids, not to lord it over them, but to guide, nurture and instruct them. It was only when he allowed his wife Eve, in conjunction with the wily and manipulative devil, disguised as a serpent, did the order that God had established become divided and destroyed. The consequences introduced the devil’s true intentions into the world in the form of murder and destruction.
Now before you get the wrong impression, I am NOT blaming Eve as many do, but rather, I am blaming Adam! We have no idea just how long Adam walked with the Lord in the Garden before God chose to give him a help-mate, soul-mate. The fact remains is that Adam walked and talked with the Lord and was given great responsibilities and great blessing to carry them out. In the end, it was Adam, who was created to spiritually cover Eve, who yielded to her words and ultimately the temptation of the serpent.
Jesus, Himself spoke very openly and blatantly about the devil’s intentions and motives and those who CHOOSE to follow in the devil’s footsteps; “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” – John 8:44.
Destruction, isn’t that truly what murder is? To destroy something and remove it from existence must seem like the ultimate power to him. What greater destruction than eternal murder? The enemy of our souls KNOWS that his time is limited. He was created as one of the most intelligent of God’s creations and so he is NOT stupid nor ignorant, BUT, his greatest downfall is and always has been his pride in himself. He is very much aware of the fact that God, his Creator has put a time-limit on his antics and that HIS very destruction is nearing, so what better motivation to destroy as many other souls as he can before his own eternal demise!
As we move closer and closer to the time of Christ Jesus’ return, not just to gather His Bride, but also to rule the world for a millennium, the enemy and his fallen comrades have stepped up their onslaught against God’s creation, no longer just hiding in the shadows as they once used too. Families will ALWAYS be the primary target.
In the 1980s, the divorce rate in the U.S. was about fifty percent. Today it has actually gone down to about forty-two percent, but the reason is that more couples are deciding on a civil, non-marriage lifestyle rather than to get married with the chance of divorce. Actually the divorce rates of those who have been married twice has steadily increased and those who have been divorced at least twice and are in their third marriage has increased exponentially.
There are more people living together in what is considered a civil union rather than a religious or spiritual union than ever before. The incidence of mixed or blended families has increased drastically and it is considered close to twenty percent of families where kids share parentage with their siblings. It is no wonder this generation is growing up either without hope or future prospects or feel entitled and due for their state of being. The world and not just the U.S. is RIPE for demonic and spiritual influences to abound.
Now I’m going to make a confession; this chapter in Ephesians is one of the favorite of many, many Christians, because of the Scripture I quoted in the very beginning and for the analogy of the armor of God, which is quoted by so many Christians. I have used this chapter in various forms myself in my teaching and preaching in the past, but I always looked at it in at least two parts, until this morning! As I was preparing and praying for the Holy Spirit’s guidance on what to say about the principalities, powers and the rulers of darkness, as I always do, I started with the first verse to get into the context.
Now without going into detail, my family is going through some spiritual warfare in many areas, familial and medical and though my wife and I have had many years and much experience in trusting in the Lord and not relying on what our eyes alone see going around us, other family members haven’t had the luxury or benefit of our years of experience and sadly, some things just have to be learned with the guidance of the Holy Spirit!
But when teaching on what I have put down as the title, it was done in the sense of recognizing and realizing where a lot of problems stem from. Then I read what was leading up to my main subject; something the family is experiencing right now. I found it very enlightening and in truth had NEVER put the two parts together in a combined teaching, but sometimes, situations identify themselves in the light of Scripture and the truth is revealed fully in a new light!
We talk about our real battle when we go through things. We talk about the armor of God to defend against attacks of the enemy, but there is a whole paragraph that is identifying specifics that lead up to the REASON for relying on the armor of God and the TRUTH of God’s Word!! I truly believe now, it is because this is the battle that has been raging from day one with Adam and Eve through to where we are at this moment in time!
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.” – Ephesians 6:1-9.
Everything leading up to our necessity for being able to IDENTIFY our true enemy, the ability to stand in the face of attack and the armor we rely on to withstand those attacks is listed in the very first paragraph of chapter 6. You will notice that the Apostle Paul addresses the family unit AND those responsible for it and yes that INCLUDES employees AND employers and their responsibilities! All the attacks, all the battles we fight, stem from the very thing the enemy of our souls has wanted to destroy from the very beginning!
Now those of you who know me and follow my teaching know I am very adamant about the characteristics of the spiritual life being all about ACTIONS as compared to just feelings! Love, Godly love is active. It is NOT reliant upon how we feel about the subject being loved but upon our trust and obedience to God and His Word. So it is with other spiritual characteristics. For instance, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” This speaks of the commandment to HONOR father and mother which promises long life if followed. This commandment does not say, AGREE 100% with everything your parents say, but to obey them IN THE LORD! Honoring is an action that demonstrates trust and gratitude as well as giving respect when due. This is done in the Lord and as unto the Lord! But this comes with a caveat. You have to know the Lord and His ways because you do NOT obey your parents IF they are NOT following after the Lord. Just because they are your parents does not mean they are morally or spiritually right and, you will NOT be God’s child just because of your parents. You WILL stand or fall on your own relationship with God as Father. If your parents are godly, you follow them then, for that is right and honorable. If they are not, YOU DO what is godly and honorable. Ultimately it all comes back to you, individually. You do what is right, honorable and holy before the Lord. If your parents are godly and follow the Lord, (even amidst mistakes), they deserve your honor and in the long-run, it is beneficial to you.
Now parents and especially fathers; “do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Now I know there are some that would love to end this and change the comma after the word wrath to a period. However, this is NOT the case. This is a WHOLE sentence and thus a commandment of the Lord! Do not provoke, do not incite or stimulate, or do not stir up to wrath or anger your children, BUT, a big, big but, therefore or however, bring them up, instill in them, teach, stimulate them in the training and admonition, advice, counsel, guidance of the Lord! In other words, you teach them the ways of the Lord and how God handles things and not the ways that the world dictates.
Now the same thing goes for employees and employers for we ALL must work and be accountable to someone. A true employer is running a business, sure, but if he is a godly employer then he is running it like a father runs his home. The employee, though he is getting paid in some form, he is obedient and honorable towards that employer as if the employer were the parent. In the same way the enemy wants to destroy the family, he will look to destroy and employee – employer relationship for the running of the home, and especially in this day and age, is dependent upon that smooth and honorable relationship.
In closing let me remind everyone of this fact; division is not of God. Yes, Jesus stated that He came to cause division and there would be division, but that was due to one fact and one fact alone, either you place Him as the Head of your household or you do not. When He IS the Head then and only then is no division! (Luke 12:53). Jesus was NOT condoning division, only that He came demanding total surrender to Himself or there WOULD be division!
I want to leave you with the words of Jude as inspired by the Holy Spirit. He explains where divisions truly come from:
“These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” – Jude 1:16-21. (Bold emphasis added).
You will know where the divisions and the attacks are from. They do not come from those who seek to do God’s will, but from those who refuse to acknowledge the truth and only want what they want, no matter who is in the way. If you see yourself in this battle, the enemy is from “out there” not from the one standing next to you and the ONLY way to win this battle is to recognize the enemy and put on the proper battle gear!
One last thing, the fighting will sadly increase as the enemy knows his time is getting shorter. That means, that we will have to be prepared all the more and we will have to have one another’s backs. If we are to stand, we are to stand together as the united Body of Christ!