There are times when this life can be a real struggle, even for believers that seek God’s will and ways. This natural realm with all its variables, continually presents problems and complications that we must cope with and try to resolve.
A lot of our struggle is because we think we are victims of contrary spiritual forces and believe a devil and minions are behind it. One passage in our Bible is generally used to support this idea; “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities (Greek arche´), against powers, against the rulers…against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (a) [see endnotes for Scriptures]
You may be surprised, as I was, to learn our translations mask the real message in this verse. Let’s look closer and find out what Scripture declares we struggle with the most?
Principalities or Beginnings
The Greek (arche´) in the above verse is translated ‘principalities’ but it means ‘beginning’. The Greek word is used in the New Testament 56 times and is translated as ‘beginning’ 40 times in the KJV and 37 times in the NASB. You may wonder why it is different in this passage – early beliefs!
A few examples of the Greek can be helpful:
“From the beginning (arche´)…God made.” (b)
“In the beginning (arche´) was the Word…in the beginning (arche´) with God.” (c)
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning (arche´) and the end.” (d)
The Scriptural passage we are examining wants us to understand most of our struggles are with our beginnings; things we learned early in life and believe are true. In our mind they become authorities, swaying powers, rulers, and even spiritual wickedness in the high places of our consciousness.
We are not victims of contrary spiritual forces and principalities! Rather, we just struggle with many of our current beliefs and even argue with others over them.
This is not an effort to dispel the reality of spirits and angels or their good and bad activity. We just want to realize our real struggles are not with spiritual entities and powers that are beyond us. We can change our beliefs and perceptions regarding God and the life we live.
God wants us to hear Him for ourselves and believe He can speak to us regarding our specific situation. He is not a God of confusion, He sees the bigger picture! We are the confused ones, insisting “I believe this even if it does not make good sense.”
We can change our beliefs and perceptions regarding God and the life we live.
Foundational Cause of Struggles
While many of the first things we learn can be good and appropriate for our lives and times, some can play a big role in keeping us from hearing and responding to what God is currently saying and revealing. Paul instructs us to ‘put away’ our childish and immature beginnings. (e)
Most of our beginnings come from four primary sources:
- Perceptions received in the Garden, as Adam and Eve ignored God’s guidance.
- Perceptions we are taught by our parents and family members.
- Perceptions we develop from the examples we accept or reject during childhood.
- Perceptions and concepts we receive from our teachers and educators.
Adam and Eve illustrate a specific example of an erroneous ‘first cause’ and the results. After ignoring God’s guidance, a dreadful fear of judgment formed. (f) As God came to interact, they hid, covered-up, and made excuses rather than repentively restoring their intimate fellowship with God.
When the Eternal One spoke to Israel at Mount Sinai, they all heard His words. (g) Since they did not believe it was normal, they refused to continue the experience. (h) Throughout history, people have struggled with hearing God for themselves because it usually involves personal changes.
Here is the good news: Jesus came to clarify and resolve the issue. God is always speaking and offering personal guidance, we just need to be open to hear. (i) Everyone can hear our Eternal Father speak. (j) Believing the Bible is not as powerful as hearing God’s voice for our self.
Believing the Bible is not as empowering as hearing God’s voice for our self.
Early Beliefs Can Be Limiting
The early concepts we accept and believe become ‘high places’ in our minds that exercise great influence over our actions and reactions. What we’ve accepted as truth, early in life can keep us from accepting new and fresh insight that can help us improve our behavior and life experience.
The Disciples of Jesus struggled with their beginnings. They were taught the Messiah would come and forcefully deliver them from their enemies so they expected a warring deliverer. This is why Judas delivered Jesus to the rulers. He thought Jesus would be forced to show his hand and forcefully deliver them from Roman rule. When it did not happen, Judas was so distraught that he hanged himself. (k)
Ancient Israel, after being delivered from slavery, struggled with their beginnings in Egypt. What their experience had taught them, kept that generation from entering God’s full provision. Their short journey into the promises lasted forty years – their lifetime. They died in their wilderness. (l)
Jesus clearly taught that the kingdom reign of God comes to change the way we think, believe, and act. Today, we struggle with the same limiting perceptions of ancient Israel (we don’t want to hear) (m) and the Jewish beginnings (the kingdom comes ‘upon us’ rather than ‘in our interactions’). (n)
Jesus spoke about our limitations and Paul confirmed his words: “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” (o) Our God of light and love desires to be a major influencing voice in our lives, not a ruling overlord that declares “do this or else.”
Our answer is found in our openness to hear God speak concerning our day and our particular situation. Life today is not like yesterday and each of our daily problems are not exactly like others.
Can we be flexible enough to believe what God speaks to us today, even if it disagrees with what we were taught or our past experience?
The early concepts we accept and believe become ‘high places’ in our minds that exercise great influence over our actions and reactions.
a) Ephesians 6:10-12 KJV; b) Mark 10:6; c) John 1:1-2; d) Revelation 22:13; e) 1 Corinthians 13:11; f) Genesis 3:8-10; g) Deuteronomy 5:22-24; h) Exodus 20:19; i) Luke 9:35-36; j) John 10:27-30; k) Matthew 27:1-5; l) Exodus 16:3; Numbers 13:3-4; m) Exodus 20:19; Hebrews 12:19; n) Luke 17:20-21; o) John 16:12; 1 Corinthians 3:1-3