Spiritual Warfare




John Hoole – November 15, 2009





(Click on charts, photos and maps for larger version)



In the Bible, especially the New Testament, we find many “word-pictures” of the Church.  Each of them describe some aspect of the Church.  For instance, the church is called A FLOCK with Christ as the Good Shepherd.  We are called BRANCHES, that are connected to Christ, the Vine.  We are called A BODY, with Christ as the Head, and with each part of the body having different functions.  We are called SALT & LIGHT in the world, each of which makes an impact on the world around it.


In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we see some additional word pictures of the Body of Christ.  We are called A LEGISLATIVE BODY, “seated in heavenly places with Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).  We are also called a FAMILY, having been adopted by God (1:5), with full rights of inheritance (1:11).  We were once “children of disobedience,” (2:2), but have been brought nigh to our new Father, by the blood of Christ (2:13).  Now we are part of God’s “household of faith” (2:19).  Paul also describes the Church as A TEMPLE or A BUILDING, with Jesus as the “Chief Cornerstone” (2:20).  Paul then pictures the Church as A BRIDE, with Christ our Bridegroom. (5:22-31).


Paul’s final word picture of the Church is that of AN ARMY.  And much of Ephesians 6 deals with some of the details of this army.  Beginning in Verse 10, we have a call to arms.


                   “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”


Paul doesn’t call only fellow apostles, or fellow pastors, to arms.  He is calling fellow soldiers.  All brothers and sisters are members of this army.  No one is exempt from this conflict.  God has no place for spiritual pacifists.


For the next several lessons, we are going to have a short mini-series on Spiritual Warfare.  If you are a believer in our Lord Jesus Christ, then you have declared yourself a warrior of His.  Perhaps you did not realize this.  Maybe you are not aware that the Bible teaches that Satan is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2).  Before you became a Christian, Satan was at work in you as one of the children of disobedience (also Ephesians 2:2).


Now, as a Christian, you are a soldier in the greatest and longest battle ever fought.  This is the war being fought between the power of God (and light) and the forces of Satan (and darkness).


2 Timothy 2:1-4 NIV


1       You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2       And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

3       Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

4       No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs — he wants to please his commanding officer.


We need to know about the spiritual conflict we are engaged in.  We must learn what it takes to be a good soldier in the army of God.  And we need to know our enemy.


The army of the Lord of Hosts is committed to fight a war that is global in its proportions.  It is a conflict that affects and includes every portion of this globe on which we live.  In fact, the word global does not do justice to the scope of this conflict.  That is because it embraces not only the earth, but extends beyond the earth into the very heavens.  In fact, the more appropriate adjective to describe this conflict is not global, but universal, because it includes the entire created universe.


The Scripture that most clearly introduces this conflict and describes its nature is a Passage in Ephesians, the first verse of which we read a moment ago.  Let’s read it again, and add two additional verses.


Ephesians 6:10-12 NKJV


10     Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

11     Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.


Paul took it for granted that, as Christians, we are involved in a war for which we need the appropriate armor and weapons.  The next verse explains more fully the nature of this war:


12     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.


In the NIV, this Ephesians 6:12 reads:


12     For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.


Whichever version you wish to follow, it is clear that as Christians we are engaged in a titanic conflict that staggers the mind to consider.


Before continuing in our study, let’s consider some basic pieces of information.  Allow me to ask you a few questions.








                            WHERE IS THIS BATTLE BEING FOUGHT?


Some identify this war as between good and evil, where “good” is referring to the desires of God, and “evil” describes the activity of Satan.  It is called a war because there are forces trying to thwart the desires of God.


Billy Graham explained the reality of spiritual warfare in his book Angels:


“We live in a perpetual battlefield …The wars among the nations on earth are mere popgun affairs compared to the fierceness of battle in the spiritual unseen world. This invisible spiritual conflict is waged around us incessantly and unremittingly. Where the Lord works, Satan’s forces hinder; where angel beings carry out divine directives, the devils rage. All this comes about because the powers of darkness press their counterattack to recapture the ground held for the glory of God…” (page 66)


Since the fall of Lucifer, that angel of light and son of the morning, there has been no respite in the bitter Battle of the Ages. Night and day Lucifer, the master craftsman of the devices of darkness, labors to thwart God’s plan of the ages. We can find inscribed on every page of human history the consequences of the evil brought to fruition by the powers of darkness with the devil in charge. Satan never yields an inch, nor does he ever pause in his opposition to the plan of God to redeem the “cosmos” from his control.”  (Page 68)


Some define Spiritual Warfare as the pro-active approach to our faith.  We actively resist the devil and his demons, using the weapons at our disposal.


God is in charge, but there is an enemy that is in full-scale revolt, and it has powerful influences all around in every nook and cranny in the world.  The Devil has actually already lost, and is on his way to his eternal home in the Lake of Fire.  But he is trying to take as many with him as he can, apparently attempting to hurt God.  And however much the devil succeeds in doing this, God hurts, like a parent does over losing a child.




Earlier, we read two translations of Ephesians 6:12.  There are several things we need to take note of in this verse concerning our enemy.  At the beginning of the New King James Version, it reads, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood,….”  Some Christians, it appears to me, put the period in the wrong place.  They put it after “For we wrestle not.”  Now that is somewhat facetious, but I have actually had some say concerning this war:  “Oh we don’t get involved in that – we leave that for the Pentecostals and Charismatics.”


We are in a wrestling match.  Consider the import of the phrase: wrestling match.  I have never been a wrestler, but I have been told that it is the most intense of all conflicts between two persons.  Every part of the body, every skill, and every trick must be used for success.  It is a total conflict.  That is an accurate description of the spiritual fight we are in.


There is yet another important factor mentioned in verse 12 as it relates to our battle.  Let’s read the verse one more time.


Ephesians 6:12 NKJV


12     For we wrestle not 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.


The rest of this verse tells us much about our enemy.  Whoever our enemy is in this wrestling match, this war, they are not flesh and blood.




Unlike human armies, which face physical opponents, Christians in this war face intangible and invisible opponents.  Under normal natural conditions, the enemy against which we are waging war cannot be perceived by human senses.  This means we are at a complete disadvantage is we try to fight them in our own strength, where we use only natural resources.


Because we know very little about the strengths, capabilities, and strategies of our opponents, and because we cannot usually see into that realm, we must learn to rely exclusively upon the combat information revealed to us in Scripture.


But what or who are these things – these beings – we war against, called: principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age and spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places?  That phrase, heavenly places, is found in the Bible five times, all in the book of Ephesians.  The phrase, as it is used in Ephesians 6:12, is a term by which Paul describes those unseen forces above us that influence our lives.


Though our enemy cannot be seen, Satan and his minions are all around us.  These opponents which are invisible are mentioned again in Ephesians 2.


Ephesians 2:1-2 NKJV


1       And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,

2       in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,


Yes, we do battle against an invisible army.  Yes, they have thousands of years of experience.  This ought not to scare us, but we need to be aware of their presence.   With Christ in us, we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37).


Now, let’s briefly discuss these other words and phrases in Ephesians 6:12.  In our last lesson, I mentioned them almost in passing.  We have:


                   •  Principalities


                   •  Powers


                   •  Rulers of darkness


                   •  Spiritual hosts of wickedness

Attributes of the Satanic hierarchy mentioned in Ephesians 6:12 



The concept of “principalities” is represented by the Greek word, ARCHAS / ARCHÉ.  This word in the Greek means “chief” or “ruler.”  We have a number of English words that are derived from this Greek word that illustrate elevated positions of authority – words like, Archbishop, Archangel, Archenemy, Hierarchy.


With regard to the demonic structure, Paul is speaking of those with higher authority.  They possess executive authority in the kingdom of Satan.  We know from Scripture that some of Satan’s minions have territorial rule on earth.  They may be the ruling power behind a particular nation or governmental rule.


You can get an idea of this hierarchy from the belief of the Pharisees.  In Matthew 12:24, they refer to Christ as “Beelzebub, the prince of demons.”  The Greek word translated “prince” in this passage is ARCHON.  It has the same root as arche, as it is used in Ephesians 6:12.  Even the English translations are similar – Prince & Principalities.  Archon means number one in rank or power.


Before going to the next word used in Ephesians 6:12 of demons, let me emphasize that the Pharisees were wrong.  Jesus is not Beelzebub, the prince of demons.  You can read the rest of the account in Matthew 12, where Jesus, in a very logical argument, refute their assumption about Him.  But their belief in a Satanic hierarchy of demons was correct.




The Greek word used here is EXOUSIA.  This word usually depicts delegated authority or power, although it is not always used this way,  In keeping with this verse, it indicates a fairly high-ranking demon in the hierarchy of Satan.


Rulers of Darkness


The Greek word used here is KOSMOKRATOR.  The word kosmos indicates some sort of orderly system.  The remainder of the Greek word, krator, comes from the Greek, Krateo, which carries the picture of seizing and holding by force.


In Mark 12:12, where we read of the religious leaders seeking “to lay hold on” Jesus, Krateo is the word used there.


In Revelation 20:2, we read about an angel coming down from heaven, and it says, “he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.”  Again, the phrase, “laid hold on” is translated from the verb Krateo.


From these pictures, we get an idea about these “rulers of darkness.”  They are in the business of taking control and doing evil for the expressed purpose of hurting someone.


I am not necessarily making a correlation, but we have English words, part of which have been derived from the Greek Krateo,  A couple of them are, autocrat and bureaucrat.


Spiritual hosts of wickedness


The word, “spiritual” comes from the Greek, pneumatika.  This is a word used of any spirit.  It is used in Scripture 26 time, for both good and bad spirits.  In Colossians 3:16 we read of “spiritual songs.”  In 1 Corinthians 12:1 we read of “spiritual gifts.”  The phrase, as it is used in Ephesians 6:12, is referring to many wicked spirits or demons.


The Greek word translated wickedness is, PONERIA.  This word carries the idea of total depravity.  It is linked with the idea of plotting wickedness with malice.  They want to see others suffer, having extreme ill will.  They will spread wickedness without any just cause.  Again, this is followed by the phrase, in heavenly places, indicating they are all around us.


You now know something about the enemies we are up against in this spiritual war.  And they are highly organized under the command of Satan.  In that kingdom, there are various areas and levels of authority.  There are millions, probably billions or more of these malevolent spirits working utter evil.  And they operate as close to us as the very air we breathe.  They propagate all kinds of spiritual filth for the purpose of deceiving humanity.