psimmond wrote:I agree with Paidion. I think "the enemy" is our flesh. That part of humanity in ourself and in others that is contrary to what is good and right in Yahweh's eyes. The rest sells a lot of books and makes for good horror stories.
I would not dismiss spiritual warfare to the realm of book sales and horror stories quite as quickly as you may. The picture of putting on armor truly is for the protection of our own lives. It is to enable us to 'stand', which Paul emphasizes several times. The battle was fought and won on the cross. We are the trophy or the spoils of this battle, and this is where our involvement is critical - on whose side do we stand.
It is commonly stated that the sword is the only offensive part of this armor. I would like to argue that every part of the armor is offensive in one way or another. Truth, for example, is offensive to those lives are bound up with lies and deception. Righteousness is offensive to those who love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.
We live in a culture where the manifestation of evil is not very visible or demonstrative. My brother served as a missionary in a culture in which the spirit realm was a prominent element. It was believed that spirits controlled the crops, health, security, weather, and most all of the circumstances of tribal life. The local witch doctor was a powerful man in the tribe, and the fear of displeasing the spirits was very real. The gospel of Jesus Christ is wholly effective to save and set free those who live under such oppression and bondage. The picture that Paul provides takes on a new perspective in situations like this.
My brother was also perplexed that the church's doctrinal statements of belief, prepared and formulated in our culture, were very 'weak' in terms of declaring the triumph of the cross over all the powers of evil, and that missionary appointees were inadequately schooled to deal with these kinds of issues on the mission field. Incidentally, Wycliffe bible translators were active in the area in which he worked.
Wherever in scripture Satan is shown in a poor light, he works hard to confuse the issues. We find this true of the garden of Eden, Jesus birth, life, death and resurrection, and particularly, Christ's return and judgement. It is also true of this passage of putting on the armor of God, spiritual warfare and spiritual victory. There are excesses of thought on both sides. My hope is that we can find solid ground, where we neither dismiss the reality of the issue, nor pursue it to a point of excess where the benefit of it is lost in unbiblical ritual.