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Know Thy Enemy

12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God — Ephesians 6:12-13

“Know thy enemy,” the sixth century B. C., Chinese general, Sun Tzu, stressed to his troops. He taught that only by knowing the enemy could victory be secured. In his definitive treatise on military strategy, “The Art of War,” Sun Tzu emphasized the necessity of not just knowing the enemy, but also knowing what weapons and strategies would be effective against that enemy.

In today’s text, the Apostle Paul is also emphasizing the necessity of knowing our enemy and the means to defeat him. And again and again I find myself needing to come back to these few verses to be reminded who our enemy really is, and what is needed to defeat him.

In the midst of what many are calling a “culture war,” and even a “clash of civilizations,” I can find myself getting pretty worked up and heated. Hardly a day goes by but we see people in the news, who like in Isaiah’s day, “call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). And often it seems like they are winning! And I want to do something!

But Paul reminds, “Know thy enemy.” Be sure you know who the enemy really is. And the enemy is not people, however mixed up they might seem in their worldviews and tactics. No, Paul says, we face an enemy far greater than “blood and flesh”. The real enemy is “the cosmic powers of this present darkness,” and the “spiritual forces” behind them. We’re ultimately caught in a spiritual battle. And this spiritual battle calls for spiritual weaponry.

No wonder then that Paul urges believers: “Therefore take up the whole armor of God….truth…righteousness…the gospel…faith…salvation…the word of God” (6:14-17). And Paul concludes the call to committed Christian living with his ever insistent call to prayer: “Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all believers (6:18). Yes, that’s what we need, isn’t it. That’s what our world needs too.

This is where we begin to “fight the good fight,”

Grace and Peace, Tim Smith

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