Ephesians 6:10-12 (ESV):

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 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.

What is meant by "schemes of the devil"? What are illustrative examples of these "schemes"?

  • 1
    Consider watching the movie "Needful things" from year 1993 and reading CS Lewis : the screw tape letters. Jul 20, 2021 at 14:12

3 Answers 3


The operative word here is μεθοδεία (methodeia) from which come our English word "method". It is a rare NT word only occurring in Eph 4:14, 6:11.

  • Eph 4:14 - Then we will no longer be infants, tossed about by the waves and carried around by every wind of teaching and by the clever cunning of men in their deceitful scheming.
  • Eph 6:11 - Put on the complete armor of God, for you to be able to stand against the schemes of the devil

BDAG simply defines this word as "scheming, craftiness".

Ellicott is also helpful here:

The wiles of the devil.—The word “wiles” (used only here and in Ephesians 4:14) is an almost technical word for the stratagems of a skilful leader. It is notable that these “wiles” are ascribed to the devil, the “prince of the evil spirits” directing his hosts against the army of Christ; the actual “wrestling” of hand-to-hand struggle is with these evil spirits themselves.

The only other hint we get in the text at hand is given in V16 -

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Note the metaphorical defense here is the shield of faith which is the opposite of doubt. Thus, one of Satan's weapons with which he attacks us is doubt, stylized here as "darts".

Paul gives us further information in 2 Thess 2:9, 10 -

The coming of the lawless one will be accompanied by the working of Satan, with every kind of power, sign, and false wonder, and with every wicked deception directed against those who are perishing, because they refused the love of the truth that would have saved them.

For much more information about Satan's schemes and lies, see the extended appendix below.

APPENDIX - Satan's Lies and Deceptions

  • Matt 13:22, Mark 4:19 speak of the deception of riches.
  • Col 2:8 – When human philosophies and “elemental spiritual forces” draw us away from depending on Christ, Paul calls this “vain deceit”.
  • Heb 3:13 reminds us of the sin’s deceitfulness. See also Jer 17:9.
  • John 8:44 tells us that the Devil (Satan) is the originator of lies (whose singular purpose is to distort the character of God).
  • False prophets and teachers and always tried to distort the message of God often using signs and wonders (Deut 18:20-22, Jer 23:16, Eze 13:9, Matt 7:15-20, 24:24, Luke 6:26, Acts 13:6, 2 Cor 11:13-15, Titus 1:10-14, 2 Peter 2, 1 John 4:1-6). See also Isa 8:19, 20, Gal 1:6-9.
  • 2 Cor 4:2 contains a warning to teachers and apostles not to use deceptive methods.
  • The Synoptic Apocalypse contains two warnings about false messiahs (or christs) in Matt 24:4, 5, 23, 24, Mark 13:6, Luke 21:8. Specifically such false christs will use lying signs and wonders to deceive. Compare 2 Peter 2. See also, “I AM”.
  • “Paul’s Apocalypse” of 2 Thess 2 contains an extended discussion about the work of Satan in the last days. Satan is prophesied to stand in God’s Temple (the church according to 1 Cor 3:16, 17); however, he will only deceive those who have “refused to receive the love of the truth” (v10). Again, the chosen instrument is lying signs and wonders to which the righteous are immune.
  • In 1 Thess 4:1-3 we also learn about the rise of false teachers who are liars and hypocrites because they deceive people by forbidding marriage and selected foods .
  • 2 Tim 3:1-9 predicts a rising flood of sinful and depraved people who are self-absorbed, self-centred, etc, etc.
  • “Peter’s Apocalypse” in 2 Peter 3 predicts the rise of the doctrine of uniformitarianism (v3-6) or “Evolution” as it is now popularly known. Few ideas have had a more corrosive effect on Christianity than Evolution because they demote God from His position as creator (Ps 33:6, 9) and sustainer (Col 1:15-17).
  • John’s Apocalypse (Revelation) also contains similar warnings. Rev 13:13-16 predicts the rise of a power that gives breath or spirit to an image and deceives using lying signs and wonders.
  • Rev 9 (5th and 6th trumpets) also predicts a similar phenomenon of signs and wonders used to deceive the wicked in order to keep people worshiping false gods and demons (v20, 21). Again, note that whatever we make of these trumpets, they perfectly distinguish between the righteous and wicked because only the wicked fall victim to the plagues and are deceived.
  • The sixth plague of Rev 16:12-14, 16 provides even more detail but in highly symbolic form. The waters of the Euphrates River are died up (compare Rev 17:15). This is followed by three evil/unclean spirits from the mouths of the dragon, (sea) beast, and false prophet, or Beast Trinity (which see). These three evil spirits perform lying miracles to deceive the wicked of the earth and are clearly counterpoints to the three messengers/angels of Rev 14:6-11. The three evil spirits gather kings for the great battle of (H)Armageddon (Rev 16:16). Let us observe several things about this scene:
  • o The battle of Armageddon is described in Rev 17:12-14 and Rev 19:11-21. It occurs between the kings of the earth and the armies of heaven “dressed in fine linen, white and clean” (Rev 19:14), that is, the righteous of earth (v8).
  • o The weapons of war are: for the wicked – lying signs spirits from the mouths of the Beast Trinity; for the righteous – the sword from the mouth of Jesus (compare Rev 1:16).
  • o The “evil spirits like frogs” is a clear reference to the second plague of Ex 8:5-7. Note that while Pharaoh’s magicians could replicate this plague, they could not replicate any further miracles/plagues sent by God. This, the deception of the plague of frogs by Egypt’s magicians, was the last deception.
  • While false prophets and teachers have always existed, they will become far more numerous in the last days and at the end of time (Matt 7:15, 24:11, 24, Mark 13:22, Luke 6:26, 2 Tim 4:3, 4, 2 Thess 2:1-12, Rev 13:13-16, 19:21, 20:10) often using lying signs and wonders.
  • 2 Cor 11:12-14 even predicts that Satan will stage the ultimate deception by appearing as an angel of light!

What is meant by “schemes of the devil” in Ephesians 6:11?

Ephesians 6:10-12 (ESV):

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 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.

Eph.6:12 We have to wrestle against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Every Christian must realize that they have a fight against the devil and the demons. Demonism involves supernatural things that bring a person into contact with the demons, things such as fortune-telling, witchcraft, casting spells, or trying to speak with the dead. The Bible tells us that demonism is “detestable” and that we cannot be involved with demonism and at the same time worship God. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Revelation 21:8)

Satan tries to confuse the thinking of people. He gradually creates doubts, until people think that “good is bad and bad is good.” (Isaiah 5:20) The Devil promotes the idea that the Bible’s counsel does not work and that we would be happier if we ignored God’s standards.

Today, many movies, videos, television shows, computer games, and Internet sites feature demons, magic, and supernatural powers. Many see these things as harmless fun and do not realize the danger of letting demons into their lives. A person could also become involved in demonism through things such as horoscopes, palm reading, tarot cards, and crystal balls. The Devil hides the danger and tries to make such things seem mysterious, fascinating, and fun.


What is meant by "schemes of the devil"?

"a plan or scheme, especially one used to outwit an opponent or achieve an end."

One of the slanders end is to perpetuate a false image of God that He is hostile towards mankind. Genesis 3:4-5

What are illustrative examples of these "schemes"?

First thing Scripture is telling us is who our true enemy is. It is not flesh and blood.

"it is not ours to wrestle with blood and flesh, "

This is who our struggle is with.

against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms

"Politics" Is a great example of wrestling against flesh and blood.

Hearts and minds become filled with discord, bitterness, division, hatred. The enemy then steals away our peace.

The enemy infiltrates our minds even further by speaking false condemnation and slanderous thoughts against us!

We forget that we've been delivered out of the old creation where the first Adam was our head. Ephesians 4:22 - 24

The enemy can then have a strong hold in our minds and make us very ineffective In speaking the truth in love.

It is not ours to wrestle with flesh and blood but to look beyond the human instrument to the real adversary in the spirit world. Our attitude toward men should be one of conciliation, not strife. Eph. 6:15

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