Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle 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 6:10-12, ESV
I love a good conspiracy. Area 51, UFOs, grassy knolls, it doesn’t matter—the intrigue of figuring out plots and connivers sparks my curiosity. To be clear, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary,¹ a conspiracy is a secret plan made by two or more to do something that is harmful or illegal. For creating a conspiracy, it takes two-to-tango.
Ephesians 6, verses 10 through 12 is about a dark taciturn conspiracy between the devil and other spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Paul writes these thoughts because it’s so easy to forget our struggles are not against individuals—flesh and blood—but the silent schemes of an insidious devil and his legions. The one known as “the prince of the power of the air”² is an exceptional watcher and soundless strategist against humanity. He is able to control situations and make them look like others are responsible. His favorite patsy is humanity. When enduring suffering we can be fooled into thinking we’re fighting men. But, while gazing at marionettes—tools of the puppet master—the real power pulling the strings is Satan.
We think Big Brother is our government, a Nineteen Eighty-Four Orwellian nightmare come alive. But Big Brother isn’t the video camera on the street corner. It’s the demonic powers lurking in the quite darkness of spiritual highlands! The devil and his legions are watching and observing what we do. Our true loss of anonymity isn’t from modern technical advances. The Bible notes privacy was lost centuries before. You don’t think so? Just read Job 1, verses 6 and 7:
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”
Satan walks the earth observing what’s going on. In fact, God asks Satan if he’d scrutinized His servant, Job; verse 8:
“…the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
And Satan replies to The Almighty with a complaint—verses 9 and 10:
“Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.
Satan’s grievance: he can’t seem to assault Job as the man is too protected! The devil was well aware of Job’s life and activities—he’d been monitoring the righteous man for quite awhile! And, the frustration was that nothing could touch him as the Lord’s protection prevented any overt or covert attacks. “It’s not fair” was the devilish argument!
Satan has been eavesdropping on humanity since the dawn of time beginning way back in the Garden of Eden. He knew exactly what God had said to Adam in light of the prohibition of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The devil understood how to twist that conversation just enough to fool Adam’s spouse. Do not underestimate the devil’s surveillance program!
The good news is the devil has limitations. Though he does tirelessly walk throughout the whole earth, he can’t be everywhere at the same time—only God is capable of omnipresence. The bad news is that Satan has legions of fallen angels—demons—capable of covering every inch of this planet and reporting activities through a well-established demonic hierarchy—hence, the taciturn conspiracy. This is the true Nineteen Eighty-Four Orwellian nightmare come to life!
Paul’s goal in Ephesians 6 is to unmask the adversary and reveal to humanity that a satanic strategy is at work! The evil tactic is networked in such a way that it can cause huge disruptions in your life and fool you into believing others are liable. Paul calls this conspiracy the schemes of the devil—the one conspiracy that humanity needs to be aware of so that it doesn’t fall prey to massive deception. As humankind, the worse we can do is misjudge the devil and be duped into believing we’re wrestling with flesh and blood—other people!
There are several things that Paul mentions in Ephesians 6 that will keep us from falling prey to the schemes of the devil. Satan has fatally underestimated the effect of the whole armor of God, the same armor we’re called to put on everyday.
In the next episode I’d like to mention three aspects of this armor.
J. Robert Hanson
² Ephesians 2: 2 ESV; in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—.