We have to be careful, when speaking of “spiritual warfare”. It’s easy to make spirituality sound like a poor attempt to live like Harry Potter. This is not what the Scriptures intend. But neither do the Scriptures allow us to be naïve about evil.
Whenever we seek to live as followers of Jesus, as citizens of God’s Reign, we will face real evil in one way or another. It may be dealing with the shock and horror of a mass shooting in our community. It may be violent crime that touches someone we love. It
may be the blatant evil and corruption of government officials, or the unethical gains of corrupt business leaders. It may be the modern-day slavery of human trafficking. Evil takes many forms and often grows so strong that it feels like a powerful, malevolent personality that seeks our destruction.
But Paul makes it clear here that in the fight against evil, it’s never people who are the real problem. It’s the systems and structures – what he calls “evil rulers and authorities” – that uphold corruption, injustice, oppression, and the dehumanizing of people.
In our daily lives we may not face the “great evils” that have been mentioned above. But we will face the “little evils” of manipulation, greed, addiction, stereotyping, condemnation, and dishonesty. And the only way to deal with these issues is through the resources of God’s Spirit – God’s armor. Truth, faith, righteousness (which can also be translated as justice), the Gospel, salvation, God’s word – these are the tools we need to overcome the evil within us, and then to participate in overcoming evil in our world.
The apostle speaks about prayer as part of the “armor” we need. Today, whenever you
encounter evil take time to pray and ask for God’s Spirit to strengthen you to overcome it.
Wherever I may encounter evil, O God, I pray for your Spirit to empower me to overcome it.