Editor's Note: "Creed" is an ongoing article series that discusses the core beliefs of Christianity as expressed in the Apostle's and Nicene creeds. Links to the other installments are listed at the end of this article.
A year ago my good friend Sandy asked me if I would like to join a group of Christian women in media, CWMA (Christian Women in Media & Arts), which had recently been founded by Michelle Borquez. I knew of Michelle and have great respect for Sandy, so I took a brochure and promised to read it.
Some time later, Sandy began to talk with me about helping her start the Central Florida chapter and I agreed. We asked a friend, Andrea, to join us, set a date for our first meeting, sent out invitations to local women in media and arts, and then waited to see who would show. A few weeks later, about a dozen women gathered around a large table, some fruit salad, turkey wraps and Starbucks coffee to talk about our role in Christian media and arts.
Sandy said something that afternoon that really touched me. "We, in the media, are in the frontlines of the battlefield. If we decide that we're going to make a difference in our craft, we can expect to be embroiled in some major warfare."
A Personal Battle
My daughter Jessica and I have recently written a book - a raw guide for parents concerning media's influence on youth culture - to be released this summer. When we started the work, titled Sex, Lies, & the Media (Cook Communications 2005), we almost immediately began arguing. Not about anything significant. Oh, no. We argued about everything from the color of the sun to the best Hershey's Kiss.
One afternoon, when our arguing had hit a low point (or, high point, according to how you look at it), I picked up the phone and said to her, "Jessica, this is nothing more than warfare. We need to see it for what it is and start doing prayer battle."
Within days, oppression lifted and we began the year process of writing our expose.
Now, as the book's release is on the horizon, the warfare has continued. We are no longer pitted against one another, but the enemy has brought out some fairly big guns and presented the challenge.
Question is: will we see it for what it really is, or think it's just a "run of negative situations and circumstances"?
Paul's Bottom Line
Verse 12 of Ephesians 6 reads: 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.
In preparation for this article, as I read these words-for the umpteenth time in my life as a Christian - I decided to look a little deeper at the word "against." In my mind, I have always pictured this scripture thusly: me, standing in full armor, braced and armed for battle as demons attack me.
But, no. That's not the way it goes at all. The word "against," in Greek is "pro," which means "towards."
In other words, we don't wait for attack. We attack.
Notice that this word - pro - is repeated four times after Paul writes it the first time. It's as if he says, "attack, attack, attack, attack!"
Another Interesting Word
Another version of the verse says, "wrestle," which is actually a bit closer to what we do. To wrestle is to engage in a contest with another in which each attempts to throw the other and which is won when one can hold down the other with his hand upon the other's neck.
I am reminded of the first Messianic prophecy found in the Bible. Immediately following the whole "eating of the fruit" incident, God comes down to discipline the three players in the garden story. He says to the serpent, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." (Genesis 3:15)
Who is the "he"? The Christ. Jesus.
And what will he do? Crush the head of the enemy. Hold him down in such a way as he will never rise up to attack again.
Just as Jesus did at Calvary and will do again at the final judgment, we are to do.
Be imitators of God, Paul writes in Ephesians 5. And so we struggle. We wrestle. But we attack; we don't wait to be attacked.
Who is the Enemy?
According to Paul, there are four opponents we are to seek and one we are not.
The Rulers. The word "rulers" means "magistracy of angels or demons." Obviously, in this case, Paul was talking about the latter rather than the former. While magistracy sounds pretty impressive, it comes from the word magistrate, which is a civil officer or court official in charge of smaller or preliminary hearings. The way I look at it, "the little guys" in the whole power and authority thing. Who has more authority over them? Those who hold God's authority.
Powers. In Greek: Exousia. These opponents are the ones who hold power according to ability. Let me give you an example of what this means exactly. If you put a gun in the hand of someone who had little to no training or natural feel for targets and such, and told them to "shoot to kill," chances are the opponent would live. But, if you were to place a pistol in the hand of someone like my father, for example - a man well trained and highly gifted with firearms - and said the same thing, chances are the opponent would die. The powers Paul is writing about are those who are specifically called and trained in certain areas. Areas such as complacency, fear, worry, perversion, falsehoods, etc.
World Forces. Okay, now we're moving up on the food chain. This is the "lord of this world, the prince of this age, and his demons." Listen up, Army of the Lord. If you don't know this one fact, you're in big trouble. The world belongs to Satan. This age belongs to him, too. Jesus said, "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world" (John 15:19 and "My kingdom is not of this world." (John 18:36a) Now, we are not talking about Earth, per se. The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, David wrote in Psalm 24.
Notice, too, that Paul writes where these forces are of the "dark world."
I had to look this up as well. "Dark" or "Darkness." Skotos means "ignorance of divine things and human duties.1" Whoa. Think about that for a moment, asking yourself if you have been clueless to this spiritual battleground, the players in the war, and your role in the army.
Spiritual Forces. I love this. I really do. Here's what the word "spiritual" is in Greek: pneumatikos. It means: belonging to a spirit, or a being higher than man but inferior to God. I like that last part. Inferior to God.
Jesus said, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
Note: I have given you authority...to overcome all the power of the enemy...and...the spirits submit to you.
The Next Installment: In the next installment of Creed: What Do You Believe? we'll continue to talk about the specifics of the armor of God and explore the one place in which we do not battle.
Award-winning national speaker, Eva Marie Everson is a recent graduate of Andersonville Theological Seminary. Her work includes
Other Articles in This Series:
Creed: The Unseen Armor of God