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Perception Distorted is the expository message on Ephesians 6:12 which helps show why many believers struggle showing love to others. They simply think the enemy consists of those people around them and do not understand the impact of the evil spiritual forces on those same people (and sometimes ourselves!).
Wrong identification of source of problem.
“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” (Ephesians 6:12).
There is one more problem that we face, a mistake that we often make. This does not have to do with power or protection but perception. We are deceived about who our enemy really is.
What is the sign that we have made this mistake? We simply believe that our problems stem from those around us.
Are you having trouble with one or more people? Who? Do you think that if they were better, the problem would be solved? Maybe it is your boss, your advisor, your husband
Sorry, your conclusion is wrong! I know if you use your eyes and ears, it sure seems that the husband with a mean streak or selfish boss seem to be the problem, but it is not them. I do not mean to say that they have done all right. This is not my meaning. But when we look superficially, then we will tend to respond by the flesh.
We need to gain a spiritual perspective much like Job attained when God opened the windows of heaven to see what was happening behind the scenes.
So what is happening? From this verse we gain a lot of insight even if we are starting with no real knowledge.
“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” (Ephesians 6:12).
Paul clearly sees how the real struggle in our lives (he doesn’t even say ‘real struggle’ but just struggle) is not with people. What an observation! The phrase ‘flesh and blood’ refers to people. About us!
Try to understand this scene. For most of our lives, we have unknowingly joined up with the evil one and accused others. We might have targeted our spouse for destroying our marriage, our child for wrecking our family, our boss for making the workplace so miserable, etc.
They no doubt have their part, but we have been duped about the real problem. Paul has not just recently come back to life and inserted this in our Bibles. It has been there all along. We just didn’t get it. Even the NIV doesn’t want to translate ‘flesh and blood’ into people.
Maybe you are thinking, “I don’t get it.” How can these people not be my problem? It is my spouse who is so critical, my boss so demanding. I don’t understand.”
Paul is saying that there are many spiritual forces about that are influencing people around us. It is for this reason we need spiritual armor to protect our faith. Of course, army equipment is not going to work because (notice the ‘for’ at the beginning of 6:12) this is primarily a spiritual battle.
We are not saying that our spouse, boss, friend or advisor is not sinning or doing wrong. They might be. But they are only manipulated agents. When we live by sight, we will fight these people. Without even knowing, we will be caught up in Satan’s alliance.
Satan’s plan is easily noticed by all the accusations, suspicion, hatred and bitterness that arises. People might say bad things against us, but we do not need to respond to that thinking, “It is all their fault.” At that point sin enters. This was not the way of Jesus.
The only way we are going to get over these relational problem is to realize that it is not the people around us, but Satan and his forces that are so strongly influencing people.
Once we gain this Biblical perception, then we can stop fighting the people and properly respond by putting our spiritual armor on. On the flip side, if we continue on thinking the problem is with people around us, we are never going to be able to find the Lord’s joy and peace. We will be too preoccupied using man’s sinful methods of getting back or overcoming them. We simply will not be loving them.
God wants us to engage in prayer for their release!
It helps so much when we realize that other people, no matter how mean or rough, are our enemy. This way we can get busy and treat them as the Lord would want us to in love.
When we wrongly assess the source of the problem, we will not rightly tackle it.
Have you been caught in this, “It is all your fault!” type of warfare? Do you get angry? Try to deceive or even get back at others? Then it shows that you have a wrong perspective. Instead, we should realize that the enemy is using these people. It is a warning to us. Be alert! Be alert! Make sure your spiritual armor is on.
The evil one is using others to separate me from God’s grace. He wants to disarm me and then destroy me. Instead let us start loving our enemies!
Each of these mistakes can take us far away from the Lord and His blessings. They are mistakes we dare not make. If we have made them, which is quite possible, now it is time to properly handle them. Through Christ’s blood, first erase those sins, pride, haughty attitudes, etc., and then begin to affirm the three truth that Paul the apostle teaches.
Below we will first restate the mistake and then focus on the gracious solutions taught by Paul the Apostle.
Reunite with Christ
We doubt the reality of all that Christ claims because we no longer observe any significant sign of His power in our lives. We wrongly conclude that maybe it is not all real. But there is another interpretation of our lack of power, that is, we are not connected to Him as He has instructed us. The solution is to acknowledge our ignorance and affirm our commitment to live for Christ.
￼God means to work in me and to transform me into His image and use me to bring His love and truth into this world. I will again commune with the Lord rather than think He has left me. I left Him and need to return to Him.
Put on the spiritual armor through prayer
We feel smug about the self-help books and ways we are trying to get by in life. The Christian life does not seem to have the answers so we look elsewhere. The problem is that we have neglected a most important fact. We have neglected to put on the spiritual armor that God expressly gave us so that we could stand strong and withstand the devil’s attack.
Instead we have given in and even disdain what we once loved. We have drifted away. Now is the time to come back and step by step affirm the truth of God and your commitment to it. Your faith will be built up and restored.
God has specially given spiritual armor to withstand the attacks of the evil one. We do not have to be duped, but we do need to be alert as to how the evil one subtly attacks my faith. I will not be neutral but through prayer apply the spiritual armor.
Fight the real enemy not the people
All along we have justified our treatment against others for their wrong treatment of us. For some reason, we thought the problem was those around us and likewise responded. Or we might not have been mean but in an more subtle way withheld our love.
￼Now we realize that the evil one is working through people. He has a whole network set up. We have been on the wrong side! We have been using Satan’s weapons of accusation and pride rather than being humbled at God’s work in our lives and loving them.
God has revealed this truth that we could not otherwise discern. Our real problems stem not from those around me, but the evil one working through them. My calling is to be like Jesus and love them and even those who hate me. By using God’s ways, the enemy is disarmed and his attack is foiled. Meanwhile, I have formed a deeper commitment to brotherly love.
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Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted:
(C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988