"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.” - Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)
When witnessing to the lost and preaching on our campuses, it is very important to remember who and what we are dealing with. Oftentimes, with our own eyes, we see human beings as the objectors against the gospel, and this is true. However, there is overarching powers that are influencing this world and are the puppet masters of this age. Even though human beings have a will, and that the Bible teaches that sinful man willingly chooses and loves to sin (John 3:19), we have to remember that our battle for souls rages on in the spiritual realm, not the physical. In other words, we may be talking and pleading and reasoning with flesh and blood when we command people to repent and put their faith in Christ, but in reality, we are also striving against invisible wickedness that governs our age. Having said all this, it would be easy at this point to talk about spiritual engagements of Satan in the world, resisting the spirit of the age, and many other spiritual concepts by which we can engage in battle. But here, it is a strong desire of mine to expose another spiritual battle that we all are engaged in if we call ourselves believers. It is the battle with sin.
We have to remember that the Bible teaches that we are ultimately tempted because of our sin (James 1:14-15). While it is true that Satan, demons, and spiritual wickedness indirectly tempt us through media, philosophy, and other forms of warfare that seek to hold our mind captive, we have a personal warfare that is directly influencing us in our hearts at all times. 1 Peter 2:11 says that we should abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. Romans 7:11 contains a Greek word “aphormē” which illustrates how sin sets up a base of operations against us because the law exposes us, and then attacks us from within leaving us guilty. Furthermore, Romans 7 goes on to reveal the war of the flesh and the Spirit in regards to the law of God and our mind.
So what’s the point of all this? Although we might know and understand that the unregenerate have their father as the devil (John 8:44), that false teaching is a product of demonic activity (1 Timothy 4:1), and that at times we are not just engaging lost souls, but also the spiritual wickedness that opposes us while we preach the gospel, we also must remember that we are fighting a spiritual battle within our own territory. That sin is secretly lurking within our midst in order to fight against us while we wage war against all things, which Jesus Himself was crucified and murdered for. We mustn’t overlook our lusts, our pride, our selfish ambition, and other sensual affections that may shove us out of the way from being faithful and obedient servants of Christ.
There is good news to this. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37). We have the word of God, which is alive and powerful and is a sword that discerns the thoughts and intents of our heart, and by which we seek and destroy our inward, sinful desires (Hebrews 4:12). We have the Holy Spirit who illuminates, exposes, and executes our sin underneath His power as we walk in Him (Romans 8:13). And as Ephesians 6:13-18 illustrates, we have a abundant resource through God’s armor in which we can not only protect ourselves, but successfully engage and overcome the enemy from without and within.
While it is true that we war against spiritual wickedness, let us remember that while we are doing our Bible studies on campus, preaching in our streets, or sharing the gospel in our homes or with friends and strangers, to never ignore or neglect the war that always rages on in our members and in our mind. Let us cast down everything in our minds that seeks to exalt itself against God (2 Corinthians 10:4-5), and to remember that as obedient children not to conform to the former lusts prior to salvation (1 Peter 1:14), but be continually transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).