When Jesus spoke to the Pharisee of whose house He'd been invited (Luke 11:37) about the "six woes," He said, "Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness."

After the Gospels, poneria (Greek for wickedness) is used four more times.

Acts 3:26 (When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.)

Romans 1:29 (They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.)

1 Corinthians 5:8 (Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.)

Ephesians 6:12.

Reading those passages, we don't even have to look up the word poneria. They become self-explanatory.

In the last passage of the New Testament where the word is used, Paul boldly and plainly states that there are spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places.

In Heavenly Places?

One of my favorite cinematic lines comes from Gone With The Wind, where Aunt Pitty Pat says, "Yankees in Georgia? How'd they ever get in?"

I'm kinda wondering the same thing about wicked spirits in heavenly places. How'd they ever get in?

This word, Epouranios, can mean the Heaven where God and the angles dwell. But, it can also mean the atmosphere. The heavens we can look up and see. While viewing the sky with its clouds and sun, its moon and stars is easy enough for us, we are unable to behold that which is taking place within it. Literally, wickedness shooting about like fallen stars.

Years ago, author Frank Peretti turned the Christian fiction publishing world on its ear when he wrote This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness, novels with "unseen" characters - both good and evil. Readers who'd never entertained the notion of the hidden evil of the world were finally able to "see it."

To get it.

Paul got it. We must get it, too.

Let me say this emphatically: if we are going to win the battle against wickedness we must first be able to see our enemy for what it really is.

That sight takes Holy Spirit discernment.

The Enemy is Here, not There

So, where don't we fight the battle?

Paul said that our struggle is not with flesh and blood.

But...but...my neighbor is constantly attacking me...my ex harasses me...my boss picks on me...my family unnerves me...everybody's talking about me...at me....etc.

Listen. It's not them. It's the power of wickedness working through and around them.