by Mike Ratliff
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)
As many of you know, Rick Warren did not personally speak at the Desiring God conference. Instead, a video of him speaking was presented. I have not watched it yet, however, I will do so tomorrow and probably report on it from that. One of my friends has already done this and has said, “Rick Warren’s Lecture at the Desiring God Conference was a circus of Blatant Bible Twisting and Pelagianism. John Piper owes us an apology and must publicly rebuke Warren for his false teaching” I intend to watch both Rick Warren’s lecture or sermon or whatever it is tomorrow as well as listen to my friend’s sermon analysis, but until then I must focus on where God has had me over the last few days. I have been studying the Greek words in Ephesians 6:10-20 pertaining to the “whole armor of God,” et cetera. As I thought through this in light of what is going on with Rick Warren at the Desiring God pastor’s conference this concept of ἐνδύσασθε or to put on the whole armor of God once-for-all and never take it off because it’s to our benefit things seem to come together very well. Why? The Church and God’s truth are continually under attack by our enemy. We ἐνδύσασθε this whole armor in order to stand firm in the evil day. Well, this is most definitely an evil day when truth is seen as something to be bargained away or shunned while lies and that which is only appears to be the truth is elevated as if it is the truth. Therefore, we must become discerning and wise and that means we must consistently wear this armor.
We will focus on Ephesians 6:12 in this post, specifically on the word translated as “cosmic powers” in the ESV, which the KJV translates as “rulers.” I put the phrase in focus in bold in all four “renderings.”
Here is v12 from the KJV, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Here is v12 from the ESV, “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.”
Here is v12 from the Greek New Testament, “ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ἡμῖν ἡ πάλη πρὸς αἷμα καὶ σάρκα, ἀλλὰ πρὸς τὰς ἀρχάς, πρὸς τὰς ἐξουσίας, πρὸς τοὺς κοσμοκράτορας τοῦ σκότους τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, πρὸς τὰ πνευματικὰ τῆς πονηρίας ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις.”
Here is my translation of v12, “that not is to us the wrestling toward blood and flesh but toward the rulers, toward the authorities, toward the world strengths of the dark this, toward the spiritual of the evil in the on heavenlies.”
No one is arguing that Satan is our primary enemy in the spiritual war, however, he does not fight alone. He is the commander of legions of soldiers. In v12 Paul lists four levels, or rank, in the demonic world: rulers, authorities, world strengths of darkness, and spiritual evil in heavenly places. We will focus here on “rulers of the darkness of this world.” Notice that they are rulers of “this present darkness.” This is the kingdom of darkness that is the whole realm of satanic rule, or to the darkness of ignorance and alienation from God. Both are truth. Think of all those so-called christian leaders in the world right now preaching and teaching their man-focused non-gospel calling discernment “self-righteousness” and rebuke “divisiveness.” They are the same ones who call adherence to Word of God alone as the source of truth given to the Church and doctrines such as Justification by faith, et cetera as nothing but “fundamentalism” and “legalism.” Of course, if you listen carefully to what they do preach and teach, they use Jesus’ name now and then, but it isn’t the Biblical Jesus and their focus will be on their themselves and their empires they are building. These are all examples of people being in “this present darkness” because they are in the darkness of ignorance and alienation from God because they reject the real Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and insist on their own way to a god of their own choosing.
The word translated in v12 in this phrase as “rulers” or “cosmic powers” is κοσμοκράτορας the accusative plural form of κοσμοκράτωρ or kosmokratōr. This is the only usage of this word in the New Testament. It was originally rooted in astrology, in which man and this world are supposedly controlled by the planets. However, it eventually came to refer to a broader application from the Roman emperor to pagan gods. The Ephesians, being believers in a pagan culture would have recognized the concept Paul was picturing, which is that there are indeed evil spiritual rulers on this earth.
Darkness, on the other hand, also is an emblem for ignorance, misery, and sin. What better description could there be for those who are controlled by these malignant spirits? Think of it. When you see these so-called christian leaders mockingly refer to “those reformed” guys as being so divisive, et cetera, could it be that they are blinded to the truth because they are in darkness? They brag of their advanced knowledge of how to grow churches and build spiritual kingdoms, et cetera, but it is all pelagian nonsense devoid of the power of God. It may indeed have some wicked spirits behind it, but it is not Christianity. Those controlled by these malignant spirits of darkness are ignorant of truth and clueless about God and His ways.
Ignorance of God is darkness. Puritan William Gurnall in his The Christian in Complete Armor writes: “Ignorance above other sins enslaves a soul to Satan…First, ignorance opens the door for Satan to enter in with his troops of lusts. Where the watch is blind, the city is soon taken…Second, it locks up in the soul, and the soul in it. Such a one lies in Satan’s inner dungeon, where no lights of conviction comes…Third, [it] shuts out the means of recovery. Friends and ministers, yea, Christ himself stands without, and cannot help the creature.”
Therefore, we must put on the full armor of God and never take it off so we cans stand firm and not be ignorant. The ignorant are destined to fall victim to Satan’s attacks. There’s no other escape.
Soli Deo Gloria!