|Sunrise at altitude|
For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers,with the world rulers of this present darkness,with the evil spirits in the heavens. Ephesians 6:12Sometimes there are passages in scripture that set me back on my heels. This is one of them. Paul makes no bones about the struggle that we face. It is not against ourselves or even against other people. Our struggle with the "principalities and powers" of our present separation from the Divine One. This is the darkness of our present world. He equates those with the "evil spirits in the heavens."
It is the devil, the Evil One, who is in eternal and unrelenting conflict with the Divine One. Our fight is with that Evil One. I know there are different ways of understanding the identity of that evil one. There is the more or less traditional and biblical approach. The angels in heaven with the Divine One staged a revolt, were defeated and sent out of heaven. These once holy and powerful forces for good became nefarious and tricky forces for evil. It has been a long time since I believed that.
Another approach is to under the Evil One as a spirit of the evil that humans do to each other--individually and systemically--that has become so pervading that it presents as an actual spirit of evil. I am more inclined toward this view but I have to admit that Paul seems to contradict that by saying our battle is not with "flesh and blood," that is with other humans or ourselves.
I am reminded of St. Ignatius Loyola whose spirituality was organized around a fundamental choice. In his military culture, he saw that as a choice of whose banner we would rally toward: Christ's or the Devil's. He quite clearly perceived an enemy who was a person and whose goal was to take the world from Christ, to subvert us into disloyalty to the Divine One.
I guess I have two choices when an evil thought begins to form itself in my consciousness. I can either experience it as something that an evil outside force or spirit is causing or I experience it as arising my own nature and humanity. Either way, I cam called to resist it. Whichever approach makes it easier for me to resist it is the one on which I should focus. Perhaps even, both approaches are real.