For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities,
against powers,against the rulers of the darkness of this age,
against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
In a battle, it is imperative to identify your enemy. If you are not aware of the point of your attack, you are vulnerable. Paul had many enemies. Some resented him, others hated him, and others wanted to kill him. Some, who were supposedly on his side, sought to harm him and his ministry (Acts 9:23; Phil. 1:17; 2 Tim. 1:15; 1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 4:14). In spite of the persecution he faced, Paul never lost sight of his real enemy. Paul was wary of Satan. When people attacked him, he knew they were not his real opponents. They were simply unwitting instruments of the spiritual forces of darkness.
When you meet opposition to your faith, your first reaction may be anger toward your antagonist. This may divert your attention from the deeper, spiritual dimensions of your conflict. Your adversary may be hopelessly in bondage to sin. Rather than retaliating, you should immediately and earnestly intercede for that person. Your opponent’s hostility is your invitation to become involved in God’s redemptive work to free him or her from spiritual bondage.
Be alert to the spiritual warfare around you. It is real and potentially destructive to you and those you care about. Knowing your real foe will protect you from bitterness and unforgiveness. Your hope lies in the reality that “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Do not place your hope in humanity, but steadfastly trust in the One who has already defeated your enemy.
Excerpts taken from Experiencing God Day by Day by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby c. 1997 B&H Publishing Group