The Surprising Ephesians 6:12 Meaning (we wrestle not against flesh and blood)

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For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

In this verse we see a picture of a battle being painted. And it’s a verse that Christians should not ignore. The Ephesians 6:12 meaning has a warning for followers of Jesus, but it’s often ignored. 

I want to help you better understand what it means that we wrestle not against flesh and blood by diving into this incredible verse. If you spend a few minutes looking at God’s Word I think you will be challenged and encouraged. 

Let’s start by looking at the context of Ephesians 6:12. 

The Context Of Ephesians 6:12

In Ephesians 6 Paul is wrapping up his letter to the church in Ephesus. He’s giving his final instructions and encouragements. His conclusion is full of practical advice and illustrations, including his famous call to put on the full armor of God

Paul paints this picture in Ephesians 6:10-20 that Christians are in a battle and therefore need the basic tools a solider would carry. Just as no soldier would go into battle with his armor, no Christian should go through life without this spiritual armor. 

Ephesians 6:12 stresses the danger of the battle we are in and the importance of the tools we have. In essence this verse gives the reasons we should put on the armor of God. 

If you want to read more about this armor check out: What Is The Armor Of God? (the powerful truth you need to know)

The Ephesians 6:12 Meaning 

Now that we know the context of this verse, let’s look at the Ephesians 6:12 meaning. To help you better understand what this is saying, I’ve broken it down into several sections. 

For We Wrestle Not Against Flesh And Blood

It’s easy to focus on what’s happening around us. The troubles we are facing, the chaos in our world, and the people against us. In Ephesians 6:12 Paul is trying to open our eyes and challenge us to look beyond what’s right in front of us. 

We see urgency in this verse; we are in a battle. But it’s not the battle many Christians think it is. In this battle we do not wrestle against flesh and blood; it’s not against what we see. This is a spiritual battle. In other words our opponent is not people, it’s sin. 

That’s not to say that there aren’t battles on the physical level. For example, we face physical temptations that we must say no to. However, the primary force we are facing is spiritual. The enemy we face cannot be seen. 

When we choose to follow God and resist the devil, we will find ourselves in a battle. Paul is urging his readers to be aware of this battle and to prepare for it. 

But Against The Rulers… 

Paul continues his thought by identifying our spiritual enemies. He gives us a list of four enemies we fight against. 

“Against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” 

Some view this list as a listing of ranks within Satan’s army. Rulers are seen as the highest rank all the way down to the general spiritual forces. 

This goes to reinforce the fact that we are in a battle. Our enemy is prepared and attacking. The battles are happening all around us; even though we can’t see them, we can see the effects of these battles. 

The point that Paul is trying to drive home is that we need to be prepared. We need to be ready. 

How To Apply The Meaning Of Ephesians 6:12 To Your Life

Now, there’s a growing number of Christians who see themselves in battle. But they are armed for the wrong battle. They think they are fighting for personal religious freedoms against culture and politics. That’s not what the Bible teaches. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, not culture. 

As the church is increasingly focused on these culture wars, it forgets our real enemy. There’s a spiritual war that’s waging that is of much greater significance. We must shift our focus to this war. Our fight is not against flesh and blood.

Paul has shown us that we are in a spiritual battle. And in battle the last thing you want to do is let your guard down. You need to be vigilant.

So, how do we do this? Go back to the context; we put on our spiritual armor. No soldier would go into battle unarmed, and no Christian should either. We need to arm ourselves not with physical weapons, but spiritual ones. 

That’s what the armor of God is, spiritual weapons. Many look at this armor and remember the cheesy Sunday School lessons about the sword of truth. But Paul’s intent here isn’t to over spiritualize or Christianize. He’s giving practical advice for how to do spiritual battle. 

We wrestle not against flesh and blood, therefore we need to put on the armor of God. The meaning of Ephesians 6:12 is a warning to be prepared for the battle we will face. 

To learn more about how to put on this armor check out: What Is The Armor Of God? (the powerful truth you need to know)

If you are looking for a resource to help you grow your faith I HIGHLY recommend Mark Moore’s books Core 52 and Quest 52. These simple 15 minute daily readings will help you connect with God and understand the Bible better. They are INCREDIBLE. Plus there’s kids/teen versions as well! 

Jeffery Curtis Poor
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