Bible Study Series: Ephesians - The Third Heaven Epistle
Ephesians 6:10-13 Bible Study - The Unseen Enemy
by I Gordon
We come now to the last section in the book of Ephesians. As we have moved through this book, we began by sitting and then starting walking. So far so good. Now we have to stand... which sounds pretty easy don't you think? I mean standing sounds easier than walking right? Yeah... except this stand is against an enemy... and to make matters worse, its an unseen enemy. Hmmm... maybe there was a reason this was left for last! The fact is that the Christian life is a battle. But I guess you have noticed that. It is not easy. And the reason this section is placed last in Ephesians is because we have to learn to sit in our position in Christ first before standing against the enemy.
So what are we going to look at in this study? Well we will only look at four verses in Ephesians 6:10-13 but they are packed verses and very important for our day. So packed in fact that there will be another part on these verses. This one will lay the foundation of the enemy we face and will be more doctrinal. The next one will explore the need to be strong in the Lord and will be more practical. In this one we'll explore:
- How we start from the position of victory - The importance of knowing that the war is won, even though the battle rages on.
- The reality of the unseen realm
- We will zero in our enemies leader - Hellel Ben Shackar (Satan)
- We will explore why he hates believers - and what that says about our glorious future!
First things first... The War is Won!
Eph 6:10-13 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Now you probably know that Ephesians 6:10-13 and the verses that follow concerning the armor of God, are probably the most famous in the New Testament concerning spiritual warfare. They bring home the reality very quickly that we are in one very real battle. Often, as you begin your Christian walk, there is an early honeymoon period but it normally isn't too long before the battle begins. It isn't a physical fight like in the Old Testament days but the battle is just as real. It goes on in the hearts, minds and souls of believers. In terms of illustrations, the Christian life is likened in one passage to a runner in a race. In another it is a boxer. But here it is a soldier in the battle of his life. Now right of the bat I should say that the war has been won. We need to start there before moving on because we fight this battle from the place of victory - His victory! It was won when Jesus paid for our sins, conquered death and rose from the grave. For you personally, it was won when you entered into His victory by placing your faith in Christ as the sacrifice for your many sins and accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you have truly done that from your heart, the war is won. And you won, because He won. So much so that Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote:
Rom 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, (39) neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Did you notice how Paul specifically brings in the angelic/demonic realm in this verse saying no angel, no demon, no power, nothing present or in the future, can separate the believer from the Lord of God in Christ Jesus. That is incredible. Let us not forget that as we move forward in this section of Ephesians and life itself! Praise God that the eternal war is already won. The battle however still rages on. We face a defeated foe but one so deluded that he does not know when to stop. He cannot stop for their is no truth in him.
The enemy will not see you vanish into God’s company without an effort to reclaim you.
That is true. But he has lost and if you have been truly born again Satan cannot undo this miracle of God called salvation. But he will not give up trying to ruin your testimony and preventing you from helping others. Before moving on take note of this great verse in Colossians which also reminds us of the victory won at the cross where Paul writes:
Col 2:13-15 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, (14) having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. (15) And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
There are those words again - 'powers', 'authorities' - these speak of the same forces of wickedness mentioned in our Ephesian passage. And what does it say about them? Jesus disarmed them and made a public spectacle of them, by triumphing over them at the cross!
The unseen realm - Quick Overview
Eph 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood...
So as a bit of background to our passage it will be useful to do a quick refresher on the unseen realm around us.1 The Bible declares that there is the natural realm that we can see, touch, hear and smell and an unseen spiritual realm. Within this spiritual realm there exists other creatures created by God. We tend to call these other creatures angels. Right from the beginning, when God created the earth, these angels were already there, rejoicing at what God had made. God, speaking to Job, says:
Job 38:4-7 Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. (5) Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? (6) On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone-- (7) while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
The Bible teaches that within the angelic realm there are different classes of beings. We read of:
- Cherubim - The highest in the angelic order. They are closest to the throne of God Himself and seem to cover or protect God’s holiness from any sin (Gen 3:24, Exod 25:18,20, Isa 37:16, Ezek 10:1-20)
- Seraphim - Meaning 'burning ones' they are only mentioned in Isaiah 6:2-3. They also surround the throne and declare the holiness of God crying out 'holy, holy, holy'.
- Angels (messengers) - There are both the 'elect' (1 Tim 5:21) and 'holy' (Mark 8:38) angels as well as those that are fallen (Matt 25:41). The elect and holy angels are ministering spirits created to do the work of God.
The angelic realm (both good and bad) are prominent in most of the great events and dispensations of the Bible. For example:
- As mentioned earlier, they were there at the point of creation where the angels sang for joy (Job 38:6-7)
- In the garden of Eden, Satan came to deceive mankind (Gen 3:1-5)
- After the fall, Cherubim were sent to guard the tree of life in Eden (Gen 3:24)
- In the days of Noah, some fallen angels left their proper domain (Jude 6) and mated with women on earth producing the Nephilim (Gen 6:1-4)
- They were prominent in the lives of the key characters in Israel's founding such as Abraham, Jacob, Moses and Joshua.
- Angels were involved in the giving of the Mosaic Law (Gal 3:19, Heb 2:2)
- They announced the great prophecy concerning the coming of the Messiah to Daniel (Dan 9:20-27)
- They were active at the first coming of the Messiah giving messages to Zacharias and Mary, and ministering to Jesus (Matt 1:20, 4:11)
- They were prominent and active in the formation of the Church ( Acts 8:26; 10:3, 7; 12:11) and some are said to have even entertained angels without knowing it (Heb 13:2)
- They will be very active in the last days. Especially in the tribulation period where both the elect and fallen angels are very prominent (Matt 13:41, Rev 7:1, 8:6, 9:11, 12:7)
- They are involved with the return of Jesus at both the rapture and second coming (1 Thes 4:16, Mark 13:27, Matt 25:31)
Only four angelic beings are named in the Bible. Two are elect holy angels. Two are unholy fallen angels. Can you name them?
- Michael (meaning 'who is like God') is the only one declared an 'Archangel' in scripture (Jude 9) and is said to specifically watch and protect the nation of Israel (Dan 12:1).
- Gabriel (meaning 'God is my strength') is God's special messenger bringing important messages to Daniel (Dan 8:16; Dan 9:21), Zacharias (Luke 1:11-19) and Mary (Luke 1:26-29).
- Abaddon / Apollyon (meaning 'the destroyer'). He is mentioned in Rev 9:11 leading an army of demonic 'locust' like creatures who inflict pain upon unbelievers in the Tribulation.
- Hellel Ben Shackar (meaning 'morning star, son of the dawn' - Isa 14:12). This fallen angelic being is better known as Lucifer, or, after his fall, Satan - meaning 'the adversary'.
You will note that the two named holy angels (Michael and Gabriel) have names that point to the glory of God (who is like God / God is my strength). Where as the name of the one who rebelled and sinned against God points to his own light and glory (morning star, son of the dawn). That is quite telling for all of mankind will eventually follow one of those two ways - God's glory or our own? Go with God's glory!
But let's focus on this fallen angelic adversary who desired his own glory.
The unseen enemy - Hellel Ben Shackar
There are two famous passages that speak of the fall of this one we call Satan. The first is in Ezekiel:
Eze 28:12-17 ...'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: 'You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. (13) You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. (14) You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. (15) You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. (16) Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. (17) Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.
This incredible passage gives us a glimpse of what he was and what he became. Scripture tells us that he was 'the anointed cherub who covers' (NKJV) so we see that Satan, being a cherub, is not only in the highest order of the angelic realm but he was specifically anointed in his role, covering and protecting the throne of God. Thus he was the closest to God Himself. His beauty, his wisdom and perfection had no limits. He was, as the scripture says, the model of perfection, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty. There were none like him in God's created beings. As a side note, I believe that is why even Michael, though an Archangel, still recognizes Satan's position. We read in Jude that at one stage Michael and Satan had a dispute over the body of Moses and Michael wouldn't reproach Satan directly but asked the Lord to rebuke him.
Jud 1:9 But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"
This is a very interesting verse... There is an order and authority within the angelic realm that is not crossed... even though Satan is now an evil fallen creation!2
Getting back to Ezekiel we see that the passage also tells us about the fall of this Cherub. 'You were perfect and blameless... until wickedness was found in you.' Because of his splendor, pride rose in his heart and he was thoroughly corrupted. This pride that grew within his heart is seen in the second famous passage of his fall:
Isa 14:12-15 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! (13) You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. (14) I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." (15) But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.
This verse gives his name - Hellel Ben Shackar - or, translated, Morning Star, son of the dawn. He was cast down out of heaven because of his five 'I will's'.
- I will ascend to heaven - He wanted Heaven for his home, honor and glory
- I will raise my throne above the stars of God - He wanted to rule on a throne like God over all the over angelic beings (stars of God)
- I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly - He wanted to be over the assembly of 'gods'
- I will ascend above the tops of the clouds - He wanted to be above the glory of God
- I will make myself like the Most High - He wanted God's position as the Most High
It should also be noted that his fall was not alone. The passage in Ezekiel tells us that 'through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned.' This proud Cherub had something to trade or sell with the other angels but it wasn't goods. It was an idea. He went from angel to angel with a proposal - 'Don't serve the Most High anymore. I will be like the Most High. Follow me!' And, according to Revelation 12:4, one third of the angelic beings followed him in his rebellion. These are also seen in our Ephesian passage.
Principalities and Powers
Eph 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.
This uses interesting terms to describe these fallen angelic beings. It speaks of 'rulers, authorities, powers and spiritual forces of evil'. Satan is the 'god of this world' and along his fallen angels rule over fallen mankind. They influence governments, the media, the entertainment industry, the United Nations etc. If you do not think so, look at the anti-God, anti-Christian policies and sentiment coming out of many of these organizations. They love to promote that which God hates. Look for example in our day how the United Nations is pushing for globalization and control over all the nations. We live in a day that is seeing the setup for the coming man of lawlessness, Satan's man, who will rule the entire world. The Bible is clear:
1Jn 5:19 We know... that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
Satan controls the kingdoms of this world. That should be obvious and he even offered these kingdoms to Jesus... if Jesus would but worship him! He still wanted the worship like he did at his fall - nothing has changed in all the years! This corrupted fallen cherub still wants to God's position, glory and rule!
Principalities: You will note that they are also called 'principalities' in that different cities, countries and areas are assigned to different fallen angelic beings. This is why in Daniel, which peels back the veil into the spiritual realm, speaks of Gabriel being resisted by 'the prince of Persia' until Michael, 'one of the chief princes' came to his help. This is not speaking of an earthly ruler who would have no means of preventing Gabriel from coming but the evil angelic principality set over that area. The same chapter also speaks of the 'prince of Greece' who is coming (Daniel 10:13,20). And no amount of Christians trying to 'bind' these spirits or cast them out of the area will have any impact for they are allowed to be rulers over the different principalities.
Powers: Ephesians also calls these beings 'powers'. We should never forget that they have power! The angelic realm is far greater than the human realm in terms of position and power. We should also never forget that they are not equal to our Lord in power (who is omnipotent - all powerful) and as we see from the book of Job, they are restricted by God in what they are allowed to do. But this book of Job does give a glimpse of Satan's power when God gives permission to Satan to test Job in various ways.
Job 1:12 And the Lord said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person." So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
And what was the result? (This show what Satan CAN DO but always remember that this required the permission of God - and it doesn't mean that any instance of these things is Satan)
- The Sabeans & Chaldeans were used to kill Job's servants and live stock - This shows that Satan has power over people to do his bidding. (Job 1:15,17)
- Fire/Lightning came down from heaven - Satan's power can cause storms and lightning (Job 1:16)
- Tornadoes/Hurricane were used to kill Job's children - His power extends further over nature to cause havoc. (Job 1:19)
- Sores & Sickness upon Job: He has the power to cause sickness in & upon our bodies (Job 2:7)
Pastor David Guzik has some good reminders for us that are appropriate right about now. He writes:
"We learn more about these principalities and powers from other passages in the New Testament.
- Romans 8:38 tells us that principalities cannot keep us from God's love. Therefore, there is a limit to their power.
- Ephesians 1:20-21 tells us that Jesus is in enthroned in heaven, far above all principalities and powers. Col 1:16 tells us that Jesus created principalities and powers. Col 2:10 tells us that Jesus is head over all principality and power. Therefore, Jesus is not the opposite of Satan or principalities.
- Ephesians 3:10-11 tells us that the church makes known the wisdom of God to principalities and powers. 1Cor 15:24 tells us that principalities and powers have an end; one day their purpose will be fulfilled and God will no longer let them work. Therefore, God has a purpose in allowing their work.
- Colossians 2:15 tells us that Jesus disarmed principalities and powers at the cross. Therefore, our victory is rooted in what Jesus did, not in what we do. It isn't that there is no doing on our part - but our doing is the appropriation and application of what Jesus did."
Why the everlasting hatred? A glimpse into the believer's future!
1Pe 5:8-9 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (9) But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
The reality of the unseen enemy is perfectly clear. We have, as Peter tells us, an adversary that prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour3. But have you asked yourself why?... Why does Satan hate me so much? A.W Tozer wrote really well on this stating:
As we move farther on and mount higher up in the Christian life we may expect to encounter greater difficulties in the way and meet increased hostility from the enemy of our souls. Though this is seldom presented to Christians as a fact of life it is a very solid fact indeed as every experienced Christian knows, and one we shall learn how to handle or stumble over to our own undoing. Satan hates the true Christian for several reasons. One is that God loves him, and whatever is loved by God is sure to be hated by the devil. Another is that the Christian, being a child of God, bears a family resemblance to the Father and to the household of faith. Satan's ancient jealousy has not abated nor his hatred for God diminished in the slightest. Whatever reminds him of God is without other reason the object of his malignant hate. A third reason is that a true Christian is a former slave who has escaped from the galley, and Satan cannot forgive him for this affront. A fourth reason is that a praying Christian is a constant threat to the stability of Satan's government. The Christian is a holy rebel loose in the world with access to the throne of God. Satan never knows from what direction the danger will come. Who knows when another Elijah will arise, or another Daniel? or a Luther or a Booth? Who knows when an Edwards or a Finney may go in and liberate a whole town or countryside by the preaching of the Word and prayer? Such a danger is too great to tolerate, so Satan gets to the new convert as early as possible to prevent his becoming too formidable a foe.
I really like that and it is so true. You may not see yourself as an Elijah or Daniel, but the Lord can use you in ways you haven't even thought of to bring the light of the gospel to those around you and beyond! But I want to add something else as to why Satan hates believers.
As a clue, it relates to his fall and your coming exaltation.
I shall pause to give you time to think. . . . . . . . . His fall and the believers coming exaltation. . . . . . . Got anything? Can you remember Satan's five 'I wills' that we mentioned above? What was it that Satan desired and tried to take for himself? He desired to be enthroned on high. He desired to be above and rule the entire angelic realm. He desired to be like the Most High himself! And he thought he could take it for himself... yet through exalting himself, he fell... eternally.
Isa 14:14-15 I will ascend... I will make myself like the Most High." But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.
So what has that got to do with the believer's coming exaltation you ask? Everything. You see the very things that Satan, through pride, tried to take for himself are exactly what God offers the lowliest of humanity who come to Him by grace.
- The throne that Satan wanted to take for himself... is offered to believers:
Rev 3:21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.
- The rule over the angelic realm that Satan desired... will be a reality for believers in the coming age:
1Co 6:2-3 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?... Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!
- The desire that Satan had to be like the Most High, clothed with His glory... is our coming destiny!
1Jn 3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
Col 3:3-4 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Satan hates the believer because through humbly receiving the gift of God's salvation we will be given that which he tried to take in pride. But do you remember Ephesians 3:10-11?
Eph 3:10-11 His (God's) intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
There is that phrase again - rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,,, God making His wisdom, grace and glory known to these fallen angelic beings, through each member of His Church. Every single believer testifies into the heavenly realms of the grace of this God who was willing to grant them a position of glory, freely and without reserve... and Satan hates it.
There is SUCH a bigger picture going on in the Heavenly realms that we mostly fail to see!
Well, we have only began to scratch the surface. We've concentrated more on the truth of this unseen enemy in this study. The next will focus more of the practicalities of our fight and our need to be strong in the Lord. As we conclude remember this believer - that the Lord HAS won the victory and we live and fight from this position of victory. Some Christians ignore the reality that we have an unseen enemy. Some become overly fascinated to the point of becoming fearful. Neither is helpful. The Bible does not tell us to be fearful of Satan but to be alert, watchful and to understand his ways. But fear is not of God and greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4) So we neither downplay his power or ability to deceive, or become so focused on him that we become fearful and anxious.
We understand the reality of the battle we are in, we understand the ways of the enemy... and most of all, we walk in the strong position that the Lord has given us.
All of this will be focused on and hopefully become clearer as we move on in this part in Ephesians. God Bless.