By the church, principalities and powers know the manifold wisdom of God, Eph. 3. 3-12
This mystery of Jew and Gentile united in one body in Christ, previously hidden, is now made known to all men in the formation of the church which is composed of all believers in the Lord Jesus. This divine purpose to bless all menin such a wonderful way was now being declared by Paul and the other apostles. This unique body of redeemed men was being fulfilled by the creation of the church consisting of both Jews and Gentiles alike and without exception. Thus, the wisdom of God was being demonstrated to principalities and powers, loyal or disloyal. The forces of evil, since creation, have sought to cause division among mankind, especially in matters of men seeking after God. So the wonderful union with the Lord Jesus and all believers is a powerful witness to principalities and powers of the majesty of God in His desire to bless men.
Since Pentecost, evil principalities and powers have sought to break this unity. The Lord Jesus has built His church on the rock of the fact that He is ‘the Christ, the Son of the living God’, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, Matt. 16. 16-18. It is in this church that the manifold wisdom of God is demonstrated and will continue to be so forever.
We wrestle against principalities and powers, Eph. 6. 10-18
Evil principalities and powers are in contention with Christ and His church. Great as their forces are, they are unable to stand against the power of Christ.
In relation to the believer, they use guile and subtlety, twisting and turning, as in wrestling, to regain control over him, whose role in the conflict is essentially a defensive one. This is emphasized in the defining of the divinely provided armour which is so necessary for us. Ephesians chapter 6 verse 12 makes clear that our contention is with spiritually evil forces and not on a human level, although humans may be used by them. They seek to induce fear into the saints, the devil acts as a roaring lion, 1 Pet. 5. 8, or beguilingly as an angel of light, and all with a view to undermining the saints’ testimony, 2 Cor. 11. 14.
Despite opposition, no saint can be separated from the love of God or ever be snatched from the Father’s hand. Only under the protection of the whole armour of God, can the believer stand against the onslaught of these principalities and powers. Therefore, the call is to ‘stand’, donning the armour of God to overcome them.
The Panoply of God, Eph. 6. 13-18
The loins girded with truth. The loins, or waist, is vulnerable. The waistbelt of truth is there to hold all in place for us. All believers, from the newest to the most experienced, need to know the truth, as it is in Jesus, Eph. 4. 21. By knowing the truth, we are able to withstand all the enemies’ attacks. Also there is the other aspect of being truthful, for living truthfully is vital to the protection of our testimony.
The breastplate of righteousness. Our heart and lungs must be protected from damage, so our spiritually vital organs need the armour of righteousness. This is received as far as salvation is concerned by faith of Jesus Christ, Rom. 3. 22, and we now live righteously, 1 Pet. 2. 24, so, having a righteous standing and continuing a righteous walk before God, with His help we shall be protected against all evil attacks.
Feet shod with the preparation (readiness to preach) of the gospel of peace. Feet well shod allow us to stand firmly and also to move and react to the enemy’s attack. He longs to distort the message of the gospel, or even silence it. We need hearts and minds that know ‘the good news of peace’, and feet that are ‘ready to move in service’ so that we are not ‘trussed up’ by Satan’s wiles. Standing firmly on the truth of God, we shall preach with assurance the glorious message of, ‘Christ crucified, and risen again’.
The shield of faith. Being a mobile defence, this large shield can meet attacks by arrows or darts (including flaming darts) from the different angles from which they may be shot. Satan’s forays into our lives seek to cause doubts, frighten us by violence or threat and aggravate that depressing doubt through lack of understanding in spiritual things. Against such attack is the trusty shield of faith in what God has said in His word, 2 Tim. 1. 9.
The helmet of salvation. The helmet protects the head, especially the brain, which controls all bodily functions and limb movements. Being the seat of our intellect and memory it is a prime target for attack. This second defence, after the shield of our faith, is our certain assurance and enjoyment of our salvation in Christ. This helmet is impregnable once in place but it must be appropriated, no room for doubts here. Some who constantly doubt their salvation are vulnerable to the instability this brings, 2 Tim. 1. 13-14.
The sword of the Spirit. This sword is the ‘spoken word of God’; a type of sword, which is used defensively for parrying attacks from the enemy. It can only be used defensively, because the destruction of principalities and powers is not within the power of human beings.
The weapon available to us in spiritual conflict is the word of God, as known and understood by the individual believer; and stored in his heart. This sword is described as being ‘sharper than any two-edged sword’, Heb. 4. 12. The Lord Jesus used this sword during His temptation by Satan in the wilderness and so overcame him by the scriptures that He quoted. The principalities and powers cannot counter the word of God.
Having understood the need for armour, the call is to ‘put on the whole panoply’, Eph. 6. 11. In what sense do we ‘put on’ the provisions God has made for us? Each piece of this comprehensive protection is a practical truth that, with experience, we know how to put on and be safe. All these spiritual values are those things that make up our life in Christ, and relate to our daily living. Thus, having learnt them we live in them and we shall stand.
Earthly principalities and powers, Titus 3. 1-8; Rom. 13. 1-7
Scripture clearly shows that there are earthly principalities and powers as distinct from the heavenly powers, whether for good or evil. Biblical history has shown that God raises up, and casts down earthly rulers. All rulers are answerable to God, ultimately. The books of Daniel and Revelation show examples of the evil and invisible principalities and powers affecting the earthly principalities and powers.
Romans chapter 13 verses 1 to 7 clearly indicate that all in positions of rule, such as monarchs, presidents and other forms of authority over a nation, are of God’s appointing, or ordaining. By whatever method such rulers come to power be it by conquest, overthrow, electoral process, or family succession, they are ordained by God, Dan. 4. 17. God Himself sets up whom He will and also puts down as He will. Although humanly speaking we may think that matters are not in His control, we are assured that ‘God is working His purposes out as year succeeds year’, A. C. AINGER.
As Christian believers we are to be subject to principalities and powers. National and local authorities have the responsibility for the effective ruling of all under their control. They are there to operate law and order and to maintain peace and stability. Christians especially are enjoined to obey laws and regulations enacted for the public good. The payment of taxes and social responsibilities required by law must be paid when due and submitted to with a good heart. Judgements by legal bodies, or law enforcers such as judges, magistrates, etc., must be accepted. Appeal arrangements are usually made possible where injustice appears to have been done.
If a circumstance arises, that a law, or legal requirement, is such that a believer cannot conform to what is required, on the ground of conscience, that is, to be ordered to do that which is contrary to the word of God, then, as Peter declared in Acts 5. 29, we must be ‘obeying God rather than men’.
All evil principalities and powers will ultimately be ‘put down’
We are assured that God, having raised Christ from the dead, and decisively destroyed and annulled the power of Satan has set Him at the highest place in heaven. God’s decree gives Christ the Name above every name and compels every knee to bow before Him, Phil. 2. 9-11. All principalities and powers in opposition to God and Christ will be forever consigned to the lake of fire, a place of eternal punishment, and all enemies shall be put under His feet, and the day will be when, ‘God shall be all and in all’. Hallelujah and Amen!! Rev. 19 and 20.