2 Chr. 21:16-17 π Jer. 51:11 π Dan. 10:13 π Mt. 13:43 π Mt. 24:9 π Mk. 4:39 π Lk. 4:33 π Lk. 4:39 π Lk. 8:30 π Jn. 8:30-32 π 2 Cor. 4:3-4 π Eph. 6:11 π Eph. 6:12 π Eph. 6:13 π 1 Tim. 2:1-2 π Rev. 13:11-12 π Rev. 13:16-17
In the passage where Paul describes our spiritual armor, he writes,
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. ( Eph. 6:12; top )
Let us notice that the Satanic beings listed here are not flesh and blood beings but spiritual beings. Through the work of the Holy Spirit of God in our lives we can wrestle against and even overcome their works by standing steadfast in the face of their assaults wearing the whole armor of God. (see Eph. 6:11 , 13; top ) Knowing that these are spiritual beings who wield deception against us, it is significant that Paul differentiates four types of Satanic beings:
3) rulers of the darkness of this age, and
4) spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Let us briefly acquaint ourselves with the differences of each type.
1) Principalities are the evil spiritual beings behind the governments of nations and regions. They manipulate leaders and peoples into courses of action that further the cause of Satan.
The angel Gabriel, while delivering interpretation to Daniel, spoke of being withstood in his mission for twenty-one days by the prince of the kingdom of Persia, of having been left alone with the kings of Persia and of being unable to complete his assignment until one of the chief princes of God, the archangel Michael, came to assist him. ( Dan. 10:13 ) The Old Testament also speaks of the spirit of the Philistines and the Arabians being stirred up by the LORD to invade Judah ( 2 Chr. 21:16-17 ) and of the spirit of the kings of the Medes being raised up by the LORD to destroy Babylon. ( Jer. 51:11; top )
Every nation established among men, along with its leaders - including our own - is influenced in one way or another by the principality assigned to it. This is one of the reasons Paul wrote,
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority... ( 1 Tim. 2:1-2; top )
With these powerful spiritual adversaries working their deceptions behind the scenes, is it any wonder that men in positions of authority need to be prayed for?
Principalities work to insert their deceptive and destructive influences into the workings of human government. Where there are despotic rulers, the job for these principalities is somewhat easier in the sense that there are fewer players they have to influence than in a democracy. (Perhaps this explains why there is so much apathy in democracies: if a principality can instill political indifference in a significant portion of the democratic population, he has fewer potential threats to his work.) If the principality cannot instigate immorality, ungodliness and oppression in the nation, it will, especially in a “Christian” nation (a nation under a strong Christian influence - no nation of peoples can be Christian in the sense that an individual can be), it will deceive people into putting their faith into the leaders, the institutions, the policies and/or the practices of their government as if the government were capable of providing some sort of ultimate salvation. This has been particularly true in America where the nation is seen as the policeman of the world and there is a strong history of doing right and being good. The times when evil has been done and prevailed have really (and rightly!) shaken the faith of the people in their government.
That supposedly good governments perform evil deeds ought not surprise us. In the end, it will get even worse. Jesus has told us that one day every nation will hate His true followers. ( Mt. 24:9 ) Every principality will one day succeed in causing the nation he influences - the government and the people - to turn against Christ and His people. We must be prepared for that day and not be surprised by the growing darkness in our own nation. Indeed, America is a nation that looks like a lamb but speaks like a dragon. And those who trust in democracy may be the most surprised - democracy may well be the very means by which the whole world is ultimately brought under Satan’s end-time rule. (see Rev. 13:11-12; top )
2) Powers differ slightly from governmental principalities in that they are the evil spirit beings who manipulate what we would call systems or organizations (i.e., legal, medical, educational, political, etc.)
The Sanhedrin, the legal/religious body that “governed” Israel but still bowed to the Roman government in the time of Christ is a Scriptural example. Modern political parties (i.e., Republican, Democrat, etc.) and the organizations that run the systems (universities, schools, hospitals, etc.) are assigned powers who attempt to influence that group’s actions to further the cause of Satan.
Powers also use deception to bring people into bondage to the Satanic. When a system or organization does not lend itself to oppressing people, the power operates behind the scenes to cause people to rely on the system in some way and then makes ways for that system to further enslave people to the Satanic kingdom. The medical system offers a clear example. Much good is done through doctors and health care but the system of delivery is loaded down with bureaucracy that demeans people and traps, especially, the poor. The government subsidizes the health care industry and soon will insist that everyone who receives governmental health care benefits receive a computer chip or tattoo (at the least, this will be something very much like the Universal Product Code - the UPC bar code - the mark of the beast, with its three sixes - see Rev. 13:16-17; top ) in order to track and maintain their accounts with “security” and “privacy.” Those who rely on medications to remain alive or healthy will one day be faced with the choice of taking the mark (receiving the chip or tattoo) or of trusting Christ with their very lives - leaving it to Him whether He allows their life to end or whether He will sustain them without the medications or provide them with needed medications from outside the world’s system. The system, in this case, is manipulated by the power behind it to facilitate, encourage and ultimately enforce the taking of the mark.
3) The rulers of the darkness of this age is a phrase which requires some opening up. Paul tells us that the god of this age has blinded the minds of men who are perishing so that they cannot experience the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, the personification and very likeness of God. ( 2 Cor. 4:3-4; top ) The darkness of this age is the spiritual blindness of unregenerate mankind. The rulers of that blinding darkness are the spiritual beings whose job it is to construct, institute and maintain elaborate deceptions that effectively prevent the light of Christ from penetrating their darkness. In short, this is the propaganda ministry of Satan. We will probe the depths of their identities and strategies later.
Let us simply note, with all sobriety, that the veil the god of this age places over men’s minds is a sign that those men are perishing. While there is life there is hope and opportunity for repentance. But he who fails to come out from behind the veils of darkness will perish. As we will see as we continue to study this line of revelation through the Scriptures, these veils are in use much more widely than most believers realize.
When the Lord opened my understanding to the overall strategy of the enemy, I was sitting in front of a kitchen table. As I tried to explain what I was seeing to my wife, I made use of the objects that were on the table as they lent themselves very nicely to the concept at hand. The table, I explained, represents the whole of one’s existence - spirit, soul and body. The hot pad lying on the table represents some lie - a misbelief we have held onto in ignorance of some spiritual reality. That lie might be anything untrue - a false religious notion, a mistaken idea gleaned from traditions of men (science, philosophy, psychology, etc.), a baseless fear - anything untrue will suffice. The demonic comes in at this very place - I placed my hand on the hot pad - and from there - I reached with my fingers and touched the salt shaker - the demonic begins to exert its influences deeper into that one’s life. He will torment that one as much as he can in the area of the salt shaker, the coffee cup and the spoon - each representing his interference with our spirits or his domination over our soul and body - but he will never say or do anything that will expose the hot pad, the lie which gives him a place to remain hidden within our sphere of existence. He will not even mind particularly if he or one of his companions is removed (cast out) of the areas of the salt shaker, coffee cup and spoon so long as he can remain firmly entrenched on that hot pad.
This is the particular work of the rulers of the darkness of this age. They propagate lies through the various people and organizations they lurk behind and deceive people into grabbing onto false notions. The demonic then is able to further infiltrate and control the individual’s life because that one believes his actions to be right and good. If that control remains unchecked, though, the control will become more pronounced and extreme, becoming what we more usually think of as demonic possession.
4) Spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places is a reference to the lesser beings who inflict their damage upon individuals and on a smaller scale. Legion ( Lk. 8:30 ) was a group of such beings. So too the unclean being cast out by Jesus in the synagogue. ( Lk. 4:33 ) When Jesus rebuked a fever ( Lk. 4:39 ) and the wind ( Mk. 4:39; top ), He may have been speaking directly to the wicked spirits creating those effects.
Jesus’ three-year ministry was characterized by his face-to-face confrontations with these spiritual hosts of wickedness and His complete authority over them was consistently and clearly displayed. I believe that the deepest challenge the people of Christ will face in the last days will not be a test of power as Christ faced but rather a test of our abiding in Christ - that is, remaining in His Spirit (not our own or some other spirit), in His truth (not our own or someone else’s opinions and notions) and in His character and attributes. This is to say that Jesus faced an enemy who controlled their victims from inside them and made them do things that were sometimes against their victim’s wills - and Jesus consistently overwhelmed that control. In the last days there will certainly be some of this same commanding and casting out of the spiritual hosts of wickedness. But, as we will see throughout this study, only the truth will set us free of all the bondages the demonic has brought upon most, if not all, of the people who claim to believe in and follow Christ. (see Jn. 8:30-32 ) In essence, we will be facing an enemy who has so refined his tactics that he engages the will of his victims so that the victims - precisely because they believe their thoughts and actions are of Christ and God - are blindly zealous to do the work and will of Satan. The end times will be a dark time indeed so that those who truly walk in the light will shine like the sun in their day. (see Mt. 13:43; top )
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