John Piper | – Are Our Enemies Spiritual, Human, or Both? // Ask Pastor John

Paul tells us that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. But Paul himself had many human enemies. So, are our enemies spiritual, human, or both?

Working at DG comes with a wonderful fringe benefit. I get to take in a lot of devotionals led by you, Pastor John. These are off-air, private devotionals created as preludes to DG staff meetings and leadership team meetings. A lot of these devotional times together are overflow from your huge investment in Look at the Book — your video series doodling on Bible texts. And one of those recent DG devotionals struck me. You were leading us on spiritual warfare and taking us through the armor of God in Ephesians chapter 6. And you stopped at Ephesians 6:12, where Paul reminds us that our enemies are not flesh and blood. Our enemy is a spiritual being, the devil and his forces. That’s our true enemy. And yet, our enemy strikes at us through flesh and blood, a point you made from Ephesians 4:14. Can you walk us through the logical connections you made? Our enemy is not flesh and blood. But he works through flesh and blood. Explain that.

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Comment (12)

  1. When Paul says in Eph 6:12 that our struggle isn't against blood and flesh, i.e., human beings, he doesn't mean that Christians never have to oppose and struggle against other humans. He means that our struggle against demonic powers is far more significant than our struggle against humans.

    We sometimes find this way of speaking in the Bible: 'not A but B', where it really means that A and B are both true but B is much more significant than A.

    Another example of this way of talking can be found in 2 Cor 7:12, where Paul writes:

    'So even though I wrote to you, it was not because of the one who did wrong, or because of the one who was wronged, but in order that your devotion to us might be made plain to you in the sight of God.' (CSB)

    Paul doesn't mean that he didn't write AT ALL because of the one who did wrong or because of the one who was wronged.
    Rather, he means that THE MORE IMPORTANT REASON he wrote was so that the Corinthians' devotion might be made plain.

    Eph 6:12 is like this.

  2. John Piper is right that the main way Christians engage in the struggle against demonic powers is not by speaking directly to demons but by just living our lives and by taking the gospel to people. In other words, usually the struggle against the powers of darkness is done indirectly.

    But there is still a place for confronting and speaking to demons directly, as the New Testament makes clear in numerous places.

  3. The gospel of salvation – 1 Corinthians 15:
    Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
    By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
    For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
    And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

  4. At creation, the Lord sure did empower us so we could image him. Not only do we have intrinsinc power, but also Christ's!
    Truly, we are indeed wonderful beings, glory to the LORD and our Saviour.