Ephesians 6:12 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.
It’s interesting how much trouble we have remembering this. We get all caught up in enmity against people, when they aren’t our real enemies. It’s not that we aren’t to be on our guard, or even that we aren’t to defend ourselves, but that people themselves aren’t the source of the problem. This applies even in military conflict, in which you have to be very aware of your opposition or you will get killed. Those people who are against us might be so committed to a demonic cause as to be genuinely evil themselves, but they are still to be pitied rather than hated. We can rightly hate what they do, and we can rightly hate the devil who uses them, but people were not created for evil however much they devote themselves to it. Our real opposition is as Paul lays it our here: spiritual, not material. Accordingly, we are to do our battles first in that realm, and only then do the physical/material things that may be called for. As intense as the battle is these days, we need to be “prayed up” all the time! The prophet Elisha is very instructive in this area. In 2 Kings 6 we have the record of how God frustrated the plans of the king of Aram by telling Elisha what he was going to do before he ever did it, and Elisha warned the king of Israel so he could avoid Aram’s traps. Elisha wasn’t a military man, but he was the most powerful element in Israel’s army! We need to be that way, actively seeking God’s kingdom, His will to be done, and listening to what He tells us about our part in that happening. We aren’t to be passive, much less lazy or careless, but we are to recognize that the power is with God, and physical conflict is never more than secondary to the spiritual that underlies it all.
I received my draft notice in 1970, and the most distasteful thing about my Army training was the realization that I was quite capable of killing other human beings. By God’s grace I didn’t go to Vietnam, but I certainly understand what PTSD is all about. There are of course military people in active conflict today, but for most people the conflict is less obvious. That doesn’t mean it’s less real! The US is in the middle of some pretty intense societal conflict right now, with a major election coming up in a couple of days. I’ve got to remember that “those people” aren’t my enemies, they are just being deceived and used by my true enemy. I am to pray earnestly for God’s will to be done, and trust Him with the outcome. He is just as capable today as He was in the days of Elisha!
Father, thank You for being God. Help me indeed rest, relax, and rejoice in the awareness of Your Lordship, while being actively obedient to all that You show me to do, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!