I read this a long while again my daily devotional time and it really stuck out to me:
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:12, NIV)
So I asked myself, “What are these rulers? Who are these authorities? What powers of this dark world? What are spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms? So I simply asked God what this meant. I wasn’t even in the remotest sense ready for the ride God was going to take me on.
I’ve always been a believer that God and Satan are at war. I mean Scripture points that out all over the place (Gen. 3; Rev. 12, etc.). However, I was also all too leery of charismatic deliverance ministries that would “exorcise” people from a “spirit of plantar warts,” or a “spirit of rheumatoid arthritis.” I had also seen movies like The Conjuring, Constantine, and Paranormal Activity. You also need to understand that I am part of a tribe in Christianity that has historically been almost like the Sadducees of the New Testament, discounting spiritual things, de-mythologizing Scripture, and saying, “That doesn’t happen anymore.” Those were mental illnesses that we didn’t understand yet. I agree that there is some truth to that, but to dismiss it entirely is a grave mistake.
When I approached the subject of the demonic and diabolic influence, I was taught very early that demons don’t bother people anymore since Jesus died on the cross and rose again. Often the lesson I heard or would even teach is that all that “supernatural” stuff went away when the last Apostle, John, died in the 90’s of the 1st Century. It was all meant as a teaching tool to show us the Gospel’s victory. While I do believe in the supremacy of Christ and His Gospel, I think it’s very dangerous to try to de-mythologize the New Testament.
Maybe, just maybe, we’ve gotten too big for our theological britches.
Through prayer, and intense study of God’s word, God led me to a fellow who I now call a friend who has several decades of study and experience with spiritual warfare. I am sitting at his feet, learning, absorbing, listening…praying.
So am I going to tell you a bunch of ghost stories? Absolutely not! Why? Because ghosts aren’t real. They never were. There are no disembodied spirits, there are not “wandering souls” and there are no humans trapped in limbo waiting for the afterlife. It’s all been a big scheme. Instead, what one might call ghosts, I assert, as do the Holy Scriptures, are instead demons.
Demons are very real. And just like their ‘leader’ Satan, they are still very active. They have one goal – to tear down anything God has established and they are very cunning. They have been at this for eons. So where did they come from?
For in him [Christ] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. – Colossians 1:16, NIV
There are those powers and authorities again. It says God created them, right? So does that mean God intentionally created demons? Nope. Sorry for all you theological misfits who assume God has messed up somewhere. Instead, we learn in the context of the whole story of God, the Bible, that God (who exists eternally and has no beginning or end) at some point before creating the universe and humanity, created angels as servants. These are mighty beings who possess great power and carry out the will of God.
We learn that one in particular, perhaps the most incredible of all the angels, Lucifer (literally, “Light Bearer”) decided he could do a better job than God (You can read snippets about this in Isaiah 14:12-17 and Ezekiel 28:12-19) and tried to overthrow Him…and he led a bunch of other angels in a rebellion against the Sovereign God of the Universe…but he lost.
7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. – Revelation 12:7-9, NIV
So he was thrown down. Hard. Jesus said: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven (Luke 10:18). That’s how hard and fast God threw him down. Then the account of the war in Heaven ends, but the battle for the souls of mankind is just beginning:
Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus. (Rev. 12:17, NIV)
So if you’re a human being, you are made in the image of God and that means that Satan is at war for your soul. Even more so Satan is at war with those who follow Jesus. Why? Because he hates Him. He despises Jesus’ victory on the Cross, and so until the end of time, Satan will “Steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10) until Jesus returns and Satan and his demons will be cast into Hell forever.
The war rages today. The war is against God, His Church, and His children – all who call on the name of God and serve Him. Two kingdoms are fighting – the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, and Satan will not go down very easily. He employs an untold number of demons who are actively trying to thwart our progress toward God and take advantage of souls who don’t know God.
So Who are those rulers, authorities, powers of darkness and forces of evil in the heavenly realms that Paul was talking about? Satan and his demons. That’s where the fight is. It isn’t against each other – it’s against the darkness. The powers of hell. But they will fail. However, we cannot sit idly by, hoping that if we ignore or rationalize these biblical facts they will somehow ignore us. Too much is at stake for you and me to sit the bench any more. We must rise to battle. So I hope you’ll join me in learning and fighting in the Kingdom. Evil is real, demons are real, Satan is real, and people are being “devoured” all the time through the deceptive philosophies of this world. It’s time to go to war.