Don’t Confuse Prisoners of War with the Enemy

A great reminder from John MacArthur’s daily devotional that I receive by e-mail.

Identifying the Real Enemy

“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

Don’t confuse prisoners of war with the enemy.

Sometimes in the heat of battle we might lose perspective on who the real enemy is. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that our struggle isn’t against sinful people, but against the evil system and the supernatural forces that influence their attitudes and actions.

In his assault on the kingdom of God, Satan has assembled a highly organized army of fallen angels. Paul categorized them as “rulers . . . powers . . . world forces of this darkness . . . spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

That isn’t a detailed description of Satan’s hierarchy but simply a general indication of its power and sophistication. Apparently “rulers” and “powers” are high- ranking demons. “World forces of this darkness” are possibly demons who infiltrate various political systems of the world, attempting to direct human leaders to oppose God’s plans. An example is a demon called “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” in Daniel 10:13. He withstood God’s angelic messenger to Daniel until Michael the archangel came to the rescue.

“Spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” perhaps refers to demons involved in the most vile and perverted kinds of sins: gross immorality, occultic practices, Satan worship, and the like.

Those who reject Christ and God are unwitting prisoners of war—captured and mobilized by the enemy to accomplish his purposes. Tragically, when he’s finished with them he’ll abandon them to an eternal hell.

You probably know unbelievers who enjoy ridiculing your faith and making life difficult for you. Although that is hard to take, be patient and don’t become embittered toward them. Ask God to make you an instrument of His love as you reach out to them. Also pray that God will remove their spiritual blindness so they can see beyond Satan’s lies and recognize their need for a Savior.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for delivering you from the domain of darkness and transferring you into the kingdom of His beloved Son (Col. 1:13).
  • Ask Him to use you today to break through Satan’s deception in someone’s life.

2 Corinthians 4:3-7 tells us that people reject the Gospel because it is veiled by the god of this world.  He has “blinded their minds to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ.” We must remember that our message is not our own, but it is God’s message to the world.  We, as believers have been entrusted with this message “to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (v.7).

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