Our real struggle (Eph. 6:10-20)

Story about man possessed told by a professor at Indiana Wesleyan University

It was 2002 and I was a student at Indiana Wesleyan University. That was one of the four colleges I attended before graduating from Cedarville University. Anyways, I was in an Old Testament survey class and the topic of spiritual warfare came up. The professor was an adjunct professor which means that was not his full-time job. He served as a pastor for his full-time job. He shared a story about a personal encounter with spiritual warfare. One morning he received a phone call from a church member. She said pastor, can you come over something happened with my son last night. Her son was a young man of seventeen years old. The pastor started heading to her house, and also invited a church elder, who was a former pastor to join him. They arrived at her house and saw the women’s son and said, “what happened?” He said his mom was at work the previous night and he had some friends over and they tried to raise a demonic spirit. The pastor said, “What happened?” The boy said “nothing.” The boy continued. He shared that later in the evening he was in bed and woke up to see something black at the end of the bed and this black thing told him to rape his girlfriend, kill her and cut her up in pieces. The pastor asked, “What did you do?” The boy responded with, “Pulled the covers over my head.” The pastor and elder said we want to pray over you. The boy said okay. They then asked him to get on his knees. The boy’s voice changed to a deeper voice as he said, “Why do I have to get on my knees?” They said, “It is submission to Christ…” The boy refused to get on his knees but they said they would pray over him anyways. As soon as they mentioned Jesus’ name the boy dropped to his knees. The church elders met with, and prayed over, the boy the following Sunday. At some point the boy accepted Christ as Lord and Savior and following his conversion they burned all his satan worship stuff. The boy started into satan worship when he was about twelve years old.

Listen, there is a spiritual battle and when we get involved with the devil we do not realize what we are playing with. We get involved way over our head.

Today, I want us to read Ephesians 6:10-20, but we are mainly going to talk about verse 12.

Ephesians 6:10-20:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For 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. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and havingput on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

My theme: Our real battle is against the devil’s spiritual forces.

Application: Do not fight the battle on your own. Put on Christ, put on the armor of God.

Video clip from the Patriot——-

Did you hear what she said, “make your actions reflect your beliefs!” We must do the same.

We also are at war. It is a war that most people don’t realize is going on. Sadly, it is a war that most Christians don’t even realize is going on. Many Christians know there is a battle going on, yet we fight the wrong battle. We fight the wrong war. We might think it is political, so we think “If we could just vote in Christian people we could return our country to the proper moral nation we once were.” Or, we may think, “It is useless, there is a battle of culture against Christ and we are losing, but what can we do?” Thoughts like the one just listed show that we are fighting the wrong war. The passage we are going to look at affirms that there is a struggle, there is a battle, but our real struggle is spiritual.

In the next few minutes I will reference several verses that tell us where this struggle started and affirm the realities and the extent of this struggle. I have a one page handout which is in your bulletin which includes all of the verses I am referencing and more.

  1. Jesus said worship God in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24). We pray but we don’t see any wires taking our prayer to God. Let’s me setup the passage.
    1. Paul says our real struggle is spiritual. But how do we get to Eph. 6:10-20?
    2. Paul has a major emphasis on the spiritual in the letter to the Ephesians, or really in all his letters. Five times in the letter to the Ephesians we see Paul reference the “Heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10 and 6:12)
    3. Remember the first half of the book of Ephesians was all about the Theology of Salvation. Paul wrote about this awesome truth of Jews and Gentiles having equal status to God, in Christ. Paul shared awesome truths.
    4. Remember in the second half of Ephesians Paul writes about the practical. Eph. 4:1-3: Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
    5. Paul calls us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling. Our calling is to salvation in Christ.
    6. Part of that Christian walk is unity as referenced above. Other parts are being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).
    7. However, there is a major battle in living the Christian life. We are called to put aside all these things referenced in Ephesians 4:17-32, things like: false hood (verse 25); do not let the sun go down on your anger (verse 26); do not give the devil a foothold (verse 27); do not steel (verse 28); let no unwholesome words come out of your mouth (verse 29); do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God (verse 30); bitterness (verse 31); wrath (verse 31); anger (verse 31); clamor (verse 31); slander (verse 31) and malice (verse 31). We are called to put on all these things in Ephesians 4:17-32: Truth (verse 25); Labor with your own hands (verse 28); Have something to share with those who have need (Verse 28); Speak words that are good (verse 29); Kindness (verse 32); Tender-hearted (verse 32) and Forgiving (verse 32).
    8. We are called to imitate God (Eph. 5:1). We are called to have a different way of marriage (Eph. 5:22-32) Children are to obey and honor their parents (Eph. 6:1-4) and slaves are to obey their masters and masters are to respect their slaves (Eph. 6:5-9).
    9. How do we live this life? In Christ, we live this life in Christ. We live this life by being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).
  2. Now, let’s talk about the spiritual battle.
    1. Let’s start with Eph. 6:12: 12 For 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 forcesof wickedness in the heavenly places. 
    2. Allow me to take a few minutes and give some background to this spiritual battle.
    3. In Revelation 12:3 the writer gives indication that at some point there was a cosmic struggle and satan, who was then an angel, rebelled and fell from Heaven with 1/3rd of the angels. Revelation is written looking backward in this case. We don’t know exactly when satan led this revolt, but Scripture makes it clear that he did lead the revolt. We know that satan rebelled sometime between Genesis 1 and Genesis 3. The 1/3rd of the demons could have followed him all at once or over time that by the end of time 1/3rd of the angels had rebelled and become demons. Isaiah chapter 14 and Ezek chapter 28 both give more indication about satan’s fall from Heaven. He was an anointed angel, but he had some pride and tried to take what was God’s.
    4. We must read this stuff as reality. We think of this stuff as fantasy but it real. The Bible makes it very clear that satan is real and the spiritual realm is real and this is the real struggle. Sometimes we view the Bible through the eyes of our Disney fantasy. Do not let your Disney fantasy cloud your judgment. This is real.
      1. As an aside, this can be a problem with our make believe with children. I was taught that Santa is real. Most kids are, but then they grow up to realize that Santa is fantasy. Many children could think the same about Jesus.
      2. They think I was taught Santa was real and he is not. I was taught Jesus is real; therefore, Jesus is not real.
  • Jesus is real and the spiritual warfare is real as well.
  1. The Bible speaks Truth about all of these subjects.
  1. So, satan fell from Heaven.
  2. But just because satan fell from heaven and took 1/3rd of the angels don’t get the idea that satan is simply an opposing force to God. Satan is no equal. In Luke 10:18 the disciples had been sent out to heal people, cast out demons, etc and when they came back they said, “Lord, the demons obey you!” To this Jesus responded, “I saw satan fall from Heaven like lightning.” God sent the devil down to earth as fast as lightning hits the ground. So, the Lord Jesus is clearly ruler and satan is no equal, yet there is a battle.
  3. In 1 Chronicles chapter 21 the text says that satan rose up and incited David to do something that was sinful. Satan incited David to take a census. This census was sinful because it made David have faith in his army instead of faith in God. Satan wants us to do things that make us doubt the power of the Lord.
    1. Satan will want you to have trust in your job rather than God.
    2. Satan will want you to have trust in your money rather than God.
  • Satan will want you to have trust in your many friends rather than God.
  1. Satan will want you to have trust in your power rather than God.
  1. In 2 Cor 4:4 satan is called “the god of this age.”
  2. The Bible even gives indication that this spiritual war affects the nations which implies that it affects the culture as well. In Daniel chapter 9 he prays to the Lord for an answer about something going on. But Daniel doesn’t get an answer. The answer comes in chapter 10 and in verse 14 the angels says that the response was delayed because the prince of the Persian kingdom delayed his response for 21 days and the angel speaking to Daniel had to get help from the prince angel Michael. The prince of the Persian Kingdom was not a mere man but a demon, a fallen angel.
  3. There is a spiritual war going on and we must recognize this battle.
  4. But many times we ignore the battle, are you recognizing this battle?
    1. When we leave church thinking about things rather than how great a Salvation we have satan is battling us. When we as Christians spend our time arguing about what color carpet to put in the sanctuary satan is attacking us. When we argue about many things in our churches satan is attacking.
    2. Listen, satan loves to get our churches off of the Gospel. Satan loves to distract us to trivial things. I have seen churches argue over bylaws, policies, and budgets. I have seen churches spend years and hours upon hours upon hours discussing the constitution. I dare say many people could have received Jesus as Lord and Savior during that time. I have seen churches spend over an hour discussing whether it was appropriate to wear a hat in the sanctuary. I know of churches that have argued about the temperature of the sanctuary.
    3. A united church, correction, a church united staying True to the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:2, 9 and 20:4) can really do damage to the devil.
    4. When churches divide over worship style satan is attacking us. Our emphasis should be reaching the lost with the Gospel, growing in Christ, learning Scripture, worshipping the Lord, ministering to people’s physical and especially spiritual needs and having fellowship. But satan gets us distracted by those things with trivial matters.
    5. Satan does this in families as well. Swindoll tells a story. I was driving down Interstate 75 between Dayton and Cincinnati and I heard the following. He shared that he had a pastor friend who died. So, he was officiating the funeral. He was meeting with the family about the service. Suddenly, one of the daughters of the man who died reached across the table and hit her sister. These are adults! They are divided. Satan wants to divide a family. Oh, when he takes down a family he really hurts society. Satan is taking down America by hurting our families.
    6. Satan and his demons are attacking us.
    7. Our struggle is not with people it is spiritual, a spiritual war. I do not know how the wifi signal works, though I cannot see it, it works. I do not know how the cell phone signals work, though I cannot see it, they work. I do not know how the radio and television antennas work, though I cannot see them, they work. Likewise, I cannot see the spiritual world, but it is there. Many times we are arguing and, though we do not realize it, satan and his minions are in the background fueling the fire.
  • Let’s go back and look at Eph 6:12
    1. He says “our struggle…” struggle implies that there is a real physical battle.
    2. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood—meaning our struggle in not against humans, so what is our struggle with? Paul is going to tell us.
    3. Our struggle is with evil spiritual forces. Look in the verse at how Paul defines these:
      1. Rulers: we know from context that he is not talking about good rulers, for why would Christians battle with them. They are the fallen angels, the demons. And rulers imply there is a hierarchy within their ranks.
      2. Authorities: again, as with rulers, there are certain authorities within their ranks.
      3. Powers of the dark world: Paul doesn’t take these forces lightly, they have certain powers that we don’t have alone.
      4. In the heavenly realms: the heavenly realms means that these forces are in a different form of existence. A form of existence that we cannot see on our own.
    4. Now, what do we do?
      1. First, recognize there is a battle. I mentioned this earlier. I think this is a major problem in the US church. Satan is getting away with a lot because we are wrestling with flesh and blood.
      2. Second, be ready. The rest of this passage is about the armor of the Lord.
        1. The belt of truth: truth is Scripture
        2. The breastplate of righteousness
  • Shield of faith
  1. Helmet of salvation
  2. And the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God: this is the only offensive weapon.
  3. Pray
  1. Don’t fear. 1 John 4:4 says that Jesus who is in us is greater than the devil, who is in the world.
    1. Col 1:15-20 shows that Jesus is in charge of everything.
    2. Phil 2:9-11 shows that every knee will bow to Jesus
  • Rev 20 shows the future destruction of the devil. If satan is bothering you remind him of his future in hell.
  1. Understand that many times there is more than we can see.
  2. You may be dealing with something going on with a family member and things are not working out. We must recognizing there is more going on than we understand. Satan incited King David to take a census which was against God (1 Chronicles 21). Satan will incite you and people around you to do anything and in anyway to bring down Christians and bring down people. The devil is a lion seeking those he can devour (1 Peter 5:8).
  3. We must also not give the devil a foothold. (Eph 4:27). When we are continuing in sin, in hate, and other things we are giving the devil a foothold. When we dabble in spiritual things that are not of God we are giving the devil a foothold and sometimes even opening the door for him to come in.
  4. What do I mean by dabbling in spiritual forces that are not of God? I mean witchcraft; wicca, other religions and religious movements which includes the Eastern religions (talk of Karma); something that appears more innocent but is just as wrong is the many ghost shows that are on the television. These are shows where people are “ghost hunters.”
  5. Don’t toy with this stuff!!! Some of this stuff is fake, but there is a spiritual realm and satan wants to make us fear and distract us from following the Lord.


I moved the sermons around in order to preach this sermon at Halloween. I believe Christians dabble too much in the worship of death and the demonic. There is a graveyard in the front yard a few doors up from my house. I remember a pastor traveling with a missionary around Halloween and the missionary said, “Christians would never get into this in my country.” Christians are saved from the demonic.

So, are you fighting the right battle or the wrong battle? Too many Christians in the U.S. are totally ignorant, willingly ignorant of the spiritual realm.  It is imperative that we take the spiritual realm seriously.

Read Eph 6:10-20 and think about how you can put on the armor of the Lord this week.


Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)



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