But an Apostle of Jesus teaches readers of his letters to rise above conventional forms of personal, military, or political conflict. He reminds us that our real struggle is not with flesh and blood (Eph 6:12).
The way Paul defines the enemy is important because human instinct is for both sides in a conflict to demonize the other. Demonizing is a spiritual parallel to the tactic of war whereby soldiers are prepared to kill another human by learning to think of the enemy as a devil or an animal.
But the kingdom of God doesn’t move forward by demonizing and dehumanizing people for whom Christ died.
That may be why when Paul writes to Timothy who has been left in Ephesus to face the intimidating challenge of false teachers. With a lot at stake for both Timothy and the Body of Christ, Paul writes, “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24–26) (NKJV)
Seems like the reminder here is that, even if we end up on the wrong side of a conflict—acting in a Christ-like manner, even in a misinformed cause, will lessen the harm we do not only to people like ourselves, but to the name and mission of the God who loves our enemy.