12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
but against principalities [rulers],
Christians not only wrestle hand-to-hand with Satan but also with his associates—demons or fallen angels. The word “rulers” indicates demons in high-ranking authority. There is a hierarchy of angelic beings.
“Principalities” and “powers” are different strata of satanic hierarchy. Satan’s whole system is highly organized and systematized against Christians. “Powers” may be hands-on demons doing specific tasks for Satan. Satan invests in them authority to do what they do.
against the rulers of the darkness of this age,
The world in which we live is dark. It is in revolt against the God of light. We cannot look on this world as something neutral. As we watch television and go to movies, we have to realize that we are being exposed to worldviews that are hostile to God and His Word. It is important to discern the evil surrounding us (2:2; 4:18; 5:8).
against spiritual hosts of wickedness [wicked spirits]
This phrase may refer to demons who promote immorality and evil religious systems. These spirits or demons are wicked in nature or character.
in the heavenly [high] places.
The activity of the rulers of darkness and hosts of wickedness operate in “heavenly” places or high places. The idea of “heavenly” is the spiritual realm, not the place where God dwells. Angelic beings have a higher range of dealing than human beings.
Christians face mighty spiritual forces against them.
The Christian is in a life-and-death struggle spiritually with a personal enemy called the devil. The believer is a threat to the solidarity of the devil’s family and kingdom. There are some renegades who revolt against his kingdom!
The spiritual forces against the Christian must be fought by God’s resources and not in our own strength. We submit ourselves to God first, and then we resist the devil. Reversing that order will end in spiritual disaster (Jas 4:7). No believer has finally defeated Satan in his life. We need constant vigilance in this matter (1 Pe 5:8; 1 Co 10:12). If we believe that we are final victors, then we become vulnerable to temptation. It is when we recognize our weakness that we become strong spiritually (2 Co 12:9-10).
Christians need to recognize the extent of the spiritual conflict wherein they are engaged. This is a mighty spiritual battle where deadly issues are addressed. The attack from Satan comes from every side and at any given moment of our lives. It is an attempt to derail the Christian from his impact on the world.