The Rulers of the Darkness of This Age

Lords of Darkness

Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Chapter:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Psa. 62:12 π Prov. 16:2 π Prov. 21:2 π Prov. 24:12 π Jer. 17:9 π Ezek. 18:4-9 π Mt. 1:18-19 π Mt. 4:4 π Mt. 5:6 π Mt. 16:16-17 π Lk. 4:41 π Lk. 9:23-24 π Jn. 8:25 π Jn. 8:25-29 π Jn. 8:30-31; 2nd; 3rd; 4th; 5th π Jn. 8:30-32 π Jn. 8:31 π Jn. 8:32 π Jn. 8:33-36 π Jn. 8:35 π Jn. 8:37 π Jn. 8:37-39 π Jn. 8:39-41 π Jn. 8:42-43 π Jn. 8:44-48 π Jn. 8:46-47 π Jn. 8:49-53 π Jn. 8:54-56 π Jn. 10:9 π Jn. 15:4-7 π Acts 2:47 π Acts 16:31 π Rom. 2:6-11 π Rom. 3:23 π Rom. 8:24 π Rom. 10:9 π 1 Cor. 1:18 π 1 Cor. 1:30 π 1 Cor. 2:10 π 1 Cor. 15:2 π 2 Cor. 2:15 π 2 Cor. 3:18 π Gal. 3:24 π Eph. 2:5 π Eph. 2:8 π 2 Tim. 1:9 π Tit. 3:5 π Jas. 4:6 π 1 Pet. 2:5 π 1 Jn. 2:27 π Rev. 21:7-8

To see how Jesus dealt with these lords of darkness, we must turn to John’s account of Jesus’ encounter with some Jews who asked Him who He was. (see Jn. 8:25-29; top )

As He spoke these words [in answer to their question, “Who are You?”], many believed in Him. Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” ( Jn. 8:25 , 30-32; top )

There is a monstrous deception being taught in Christian circles that a Christian cannot be demon possessed. There are two layers of deception in this teaching which need to be examined one at a time.

First, what is a Christian? A genuine Christian is one who has received and is living the life of Christ by rejecting his own sin and self-centered nature. Merely attending a “church” or being in moral or intellectual agreement with the teachings of Christ does not make one a true Christian - it only puts that one under a Christian influence.

Some have tried to draw a theological distinction between believing and believing in (as is used here in Jn. 8:30-31; top ) and being saved. This theological distinction exists only in the minds of scholars who have found it necessary to justify their own or someone else’s lack of Christ’s life within by resorting to some manipulation of the Greek text that allows them to convince themselves that one can somehow follow Christ while in truth remaining apart from Him. The demonic is very happy to assist such ones reach these erroneous interpretations.

We must rethink what salvation really means. Paul wrote:

[God] “will render to each one according to his deeds” [ Psa. 62:12 ; Prov. 24:12 ]: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness - indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. ( Rom. 2:6-11; top )

There are two types of people here:

1) Those who receive from God eternal life, glory, honor and peace; and

2) Those who receive from God indignation, wrath, tribulation and anguish.

Those of the first group are characterized by:

- patient continuance in doing good to attain to glory, honor and immortality,

- being attentive to the needs of others, and

- being obedient to truth and righteousness.

This is salvation! Let us notice that the notion of beginning with a “sinner’s prayer” and maintaining a superficial religious “Christian” facade by routine “church” attendance is not even mentioned as part of the lifestyle of the first type of people.

We ought to notice too that, in one sense, this is a Christ-less gospel. That is, those who have no contact with the truth of Christ (the unreached “heathens,” etc.) may still enter into eternal life with God by virtue of what they do with their lives. Those who, when presented with the truths of Christ, reject or disobey those truths for whatever reason are those who place themselves into the second group and they will receive indignation, wrath, tribulation and anguish. Those who embrace the facts of Christ but whose lives do not change from evil and self-seeking are still within the second group who will receive indignation, wrath, tribulation and anguish. Woe to those who possess the truths of Christ but who do not obey them! And woe to those whose minds have grasped the concepts of the gospel of Christ but whose lifestyle is so embedded with deception that it causes one who seeks truth to be turned away from Christ! Christ Himself is the source and epitome of all that brings men into eternal life - it is not just the facts of the gospel by which we are saved. False religion has deceived us into looking at this backwards. It is not so much that those who hear the facts of the gospel are suddenly changed (though in outward mannerisms and appearances this may certainly be so) but rather

...those who hunger and thirst for righteousness...shall be filled. ( Mt. 5:6; top )

The soul that, deep down where no one else can enter, hungers for the things that are truly God will come into His light. Those content in evil darkness will not - no matter how many facts of the gospel of Christ they subscribe to!

The absence of one’s connection to the facts of Christ’s gospel in relation to that one’s eternal consequences is also found in the book of Revelation. God says:

He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. ( Rev. 21:7-8; top )

There are two classes of people here:

1) those who overcome evil by means of whatever light and truth they possess, and

2) those who practice some form of wickedness so much so that it is the primary characteristic by which they are labeled.

The “believer” in Christ (even though he claim to be a “pastor” or “elder” or whatever), if he habitually and regularly practices any of the wickednesses listed here, he will be condemned to the lake of fire. Let he who has ears hear.

This perspective of the saving grace of God is also echoed in the prophecies given to Ezekiel. The Lord GOD said:

“Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die.

“But if a man is just and does what is lawful and right; if he has not eaten on the mountains [pagan, idolatrous rituals], nor lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, nor defiled his neighbor’s wife, nor approached a woman during her impurity; if he has not oppressed anyone, but has restored to the debtor his pledge; has robbed no one by violence, but has given his bread to the hungry and covered the naked with clothing; if he has not exacted usury nor taken any increase, but has withdrawn his hand from iniquity and executed true judgment between man and man; if he has walked in My statutes and kept My judgments faithfully - he is just; he shall surely live!” says the Lord GOD. ( Ezek. 18:4-9; top )

The main point of Christ’s salvation (from an individual’s point of view) is that no man is capable - in himself - to practice the fullness of this kind of righteousness. ( Rom. 3:23 ) Even where there is outward conformity to these things, God weighs the heart which is deceitfully wicked. ( Jer. 17:9 ; Prov. 16:2 ; 21:2 ) Only in Christ may we truly practice - in ever increasing godliness - this kind of righteous living and that only because God gives us the righteousness of Christ. ( 1 Cor. 1:30; top )

Those who embrace the slogan “Christians aren’t perfect; they’re just forgiven,” have one element of the truth. But this looking only at past forgiveness ignores the need for present tense transformations that point toward and confirm future glorification. ( 2 Cor. 3:18; top )

Saved is a word that introduces cloudiness into our thinking about salvation. Hyper-evangelistic people will ask, “Are you saved?” The obvious answer - even for a genuine believer in Christ - is, “No, I’m not dead yet! The process is not yet complete. My salvation will not be past tense until I am in that place where time has no more power over me.” We have been called, appointed, reserved, set apart, and imbued with new life in Christ but we are not saved (past tense) from ultimate destruction (the second death) until we pass before the judgment throne of Christ and God. We are being saved ( Acts 2:47 ; 1 Cor. 1:18 ; 2 Cor. 2:15 ) and, if we remain in Christ, we will be saved ( Jn. 10:9 ; Acts 16:31 ; Rom. 10:9; top ; etc.) There are a few Scriptures that refer to believers as already saved but every one of these Scriptures also points to a condition that could change that saved status. We must continue to hope ( Rom. 8:24 ), continue to hold fast ( 1 Cor. 15:2 ), continue to live (abide, remain) in Christ ( Eph. 2:5 , 8 ), continue to trust in His keeping power ( 2 Tim. 1:9 ), continue to experience His washing and regenerating in this life ( Tit. 3:5; top ) if we would enter into the fullness of His salvation in the next life.

The idea of “once saved, always saved” is therefore flawed from its beginning. We are not saved (that is, fully, finally and completely) at our conversion to Christ - merely diverted from the direct route to the lake of fire and placed on the narrowing road that leads to life. If we persist in selfishly living our life in ways that really only follow the ways and deceptions of the devil - even if we had some real encounter with Christ and truly followed Him during some portion of our life - by what irrational logic might we suppose ourselves entitled to receive from God eternal life, glory, honor and peace? Let he who has ears hear.

Even when one believes that Jesus is the Christ, as did these Jews with whom Jesus was having this encounter ( Jn. 8:30-31; top ), one can still be in bondage to demonic deceptions - as we will see was still true of these Jews who had believed in Him. The second layer of deception is in our understanding of the term demon possessed. The Greek word is better rendered demonized. That is, they are under the influence or control of a demonic being, one of the four types we are now studying. Whereas the spirit of a man has been brought to newness of life by being joined to the Spirit of God, the soul of that man, his soulish mind, will and emotions, by virtue of his refusal to depart from some iniquity, is still controlled to some degree by a Satanic being. The man’s refusal to depart from iniquity may indeed be the result of believing some lie, the result of deceptive blindness, and not the result of stubborn, willful rebellion against God - but it is a refusal to depart from iniquity nonetheless. The resultant failure to depart from iniquity is the ground or basis upon which the demonic gains control of the man, even if he is a believer in Christ. Being demonized begins with a single deception and builds up to the extreme control over a person’s will and actions that is most commonly associated with demonic possession. But being demonized refers to any point within the spectrum of being deceived, influenced and/or controlled by the demonic - not just the extreme cases of complete control.

Jesus points out the way to freedom from all Satanic beings and schemes when He says,

You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. ( Jn. 8:32; top )

Many people want to claim this promise but neglect to notice the condition we must fulfill in order to receive this promise.

If you abide... ( Jn. 8:31; top )

This is the condition we must meet. We must abide in Him and His word. (see Jn. 15:4-7 ; 1 Jn. 2:27 ) This is not an intellectual knowledge of Christ’s teachings, nor an emotional attachment to our concept of Christ, nor even a willful choice to do what we think Christ would do. It is a total immersion into the Person of Christ through His Spirit living within us in our spirits. It is a rejection of one’s self and a following only after Him. (see Lk. 9:23-24 ) Anything less is not abiding in Him and will render us ineligible to enter into the truth that will free us from all demonic control and manipulation.

Let us read on in John’s account to see how these Jews, who had both believed and believed in Christ, respond to Jesus’ instructions on how to become free of the demonic control over their lives.

They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” ( Jn. 8:33-36; top )

Here we see the first layer of their bondage to deception. They believed the lie that being physically descended from Abraham, that is, being Jewish, made them exempt from slavery. Had they never heard of Egypt, Babylon or even Rome? Or, as Jesus’ answer might suggest, did they believe that even though the Jews might have been forced to physically bow down and serve these human masters, their Jewish souls and spirits had remained unconquered? Jesus cut past all the human elements and spoke directly against the sin nature that is present and prevalent in all men, pointing out the deepest inconsistency between reality and the words of these Jews. Slavery to sin, though it is the curse of all mankind, has its epitome under demonic control. We are all born into this slavery but the demonic works very hard to get us to “upgrade” our chains, as it were, into ever deeper levels and ever greater forms of bondage to sin. Being unable to grasp reality, especially the deep realities of the spirit, that is, unable to walk freely in the light of truth, is a sign of being demonized.

There is a chilling warning in this passage that strikes at the heart of the “once saved, always saved” deception. Jesus said,

...a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. ( Jn. 8:35; top )

If we refuse or neglect to forsake our slavery to sin so that we may truly enter into our sonship with God, there will come a day when we are no longer welcome in His house, that house built with living stones. ( 1 Pet. 2:5; top ) One who is still a slave to sin is dying and one day will fully die in his sins. Corpses have no place among the living. Let he who has ears hear.

Jesus continued:

“I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.”

They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” ( Jn. 8:37-39; top )

Notice two things here. First, Jesus exposes their desire to kill Him - a direct manifestation of the hatred the devil has for the Son of God - and points toward this link with the devil. And second, their clinging to their faith in being Jewish is their way of denying both of Jesus’ charges against them. This refusal to relinquish their misbelief is the source of their blindness, their inability to receive the truth that only Christ, not their Jewishness, could set them free from sin.

Jesus’ words, seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you... ( Jn. 8:37 )

point again towards our option of abiding in Him or risking coming under demonic control. These Jews had believed in Him ( Jn. 8:30-31; top ) yet they were experiencing and manifesting the devil’s hatred for Christ. Why? Because their souls could not keep in step with what their spirits had grasped. Though light had come to their spirits, it had not penetrated the darkness in their souls.

Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father.”

Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father - God.” ( Jn. 8:39-41; top )

For those of us who hold the advantage of looking back over the centuries and studying it from afar, this exchange is becoming painful. The blindness under which these Jews languish is causing them to lash out at the One who loves them enough to die for them. And more of their misbeliefs are exposed. Though they have believed in Jesus ( Jn. 8:30-31 ), they also still believe the rumors of Jesus’ “premature,” “illegitimate” birth. (see Mt. 1:18-19; top ) As Jesus’ words stirred their conscience, they had the opportunity to repent of having believed evil of Him. Instead, because the rulers of darkness still held them under their sway, they were stirred up to lash out at Jesus. Jesus’ words of truth were exposing the demonic’s hot pad - that misbelief that afforded them a secluded nest within these men’s souls - so the demonic stirred these men to anger to keep out the light.

Their claim to have only God as their Father is still only an extension of their Jewishness. God is their Father because He was Abraham’s Father. They are still denying their link to the demonic. Persistent denial of what the Lord is exposing is a sure indicator of demonic enslavement.

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word.” ( Jn. 8:42-43; top )

Why could they not listen to and hear Jesus? Because if the lords of darkness allowed the light to penetrate the minds of these Jews, they would know the truth and be freed from their control. The battle rages as, in effect, Jesus was saying in their one ear, “I can set you free,” while the demonic was screaming in their other ear, “Kill Him!” And these Jews had chosen long ago to place their faith in their Jewishness and were now unable to transfer that faith to Christ. They had misappropriated the law that was supposed to lead them to Christ (see Gal. 3:24; top ) and used it instead to practice a smug, self-righteous sense of moral superiority. This false sense of self-righteousness was the open door for demonic entry and the ground or place where they attached themselves within these men’s souls and exercised near-complete control over them.

Jesus continued:

“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”

Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” ( Jn. 8:44-48; top )

If these were mere literary characters, the irony of this interchange would be laughable. People claiming to be God’s grandchildren who are deeply ensnared under demonic control deny the real Son of God’s sonship and accuse Him of having a demon! But these were real people and this situation, with minor variations on the theme, has been re-enacted countless numbers of times over the centuries, especially in “church” splits!

Again we see more of their misbeliefs surfacing. Not only did they believe Jesus was illegitimate, His human father was really a Samaritan, the worst kind of half breed known to a Jew. And, worse still, Jesus was (according to their gossip mill) really demonized, deceiving all those who followed Him. The closer Jesus gets to the real link with the demonic, the more the demonic goads them into fury - all in the attempt to keep light out of their stronghold of darkness, to keep these Jews from receiving the truth that would set them free from the demonic’s control.

Jesus’ words here point to the root of the problem. He said,

“...if I tell you the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear because you are not of God.” ( Jn. 8:46-47; top )

Here we see how these Jews have listened to men (the scribes, the rabbis, etc.) for so long that they cannot hear God. They have claimed allegiance to some man’s ideas and are now unable to hear God because they (their thoughts, opinions and beliefs) belong to that man and not to God. Today people claim allegiance (or practice it while denying the connection) to some teacher, sect, denomination or cult and do not really belong to God. In fact, when God’s truths are presented to them, because His truths contradict these people’s preconceived notions, they reject God’s truths. The one who would follow after only God must first learn to think for himself and then must learn from God how to discern and differentiate between what truly comes from God and what comes merely from men or the demonic.

This may indeed be one of the “church’s” most effective deceptions: the pulpiteer speaking down to a passive audience - even when he speaks truth - produces a zombie-like group mentality that precludes original and independent thinking. The most one can do at even some of the more relaxed “churches” is call out a hearty “Amen!” - and even that must be supplied at appropriate moments. It is true that original thinking, when not truly surrendered to the Spirit of God, can lead to heresy and error. But no man has ever thought the thoughts of God by thinking and regurgitating only the thoughts and words of men. (see 1 Cor. 2:10 ; Mt. 4:4; top )

Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”

Then the Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’ Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?” ( Jn. 8:49-53; top )

Though these Jews had believed in Him ( Jn. 8:30-31 ) they certainly did not understand Him; they had not received divine revelation about who He was. (see Mt. 16:16-17; top ) Now Jesus says something that requires Holy Spirit illumination to apprehend and it only serves as confirmation to them that Jesus has a demon!

This is a typical demonic ploy. The demonic gives a false “revelation” to the demonized one that acts as a smoke screen to keep the light of Christ from penetrating the darkness that clouds the mind of that demonized person. Most often, that false revelation is simply that the person genuinely speaking the truth is “deceived” while the one truly deceived and demonized has “the better grasp on the truth.” This false revelation is the more readily believed when the alternative is to be forced to admit that what the genuinely demonized person has invested so much time, effort, energy and passion into has always been mere deception. It takes a great deal of courage to admit being wrong. When one has been wrong for decades and has received the aid of the demonic in being wrong, it takes the grace (the liberating power) of God - something which is given only to the humble and not to the proud ( Jas. 4:6; top ) - to embrace the truth and overcome the strength of the lies. These Jews were more interested in maintaining their facade of religious superiority than they were in being truly righteous before God. This is equally true of many so-called “Christian” “leaders” today.

As confused as these Jews are, though, they ask the right question. It is highly likely that this question is only a setup prompted by the demonic. They know the truth about Jesus being the Christ (see Lk. 4:41; top ) and they also know these Jews will consider the truth to be blasphemy against God.

Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” ( Jn. 8:54-56; top )

Jesus responds to their taunt because He knows the truth, that He is truly the Son of God, is the only thing that will set them free of their entrenched Jewishness - and from the demonic’s control. In effect, Jesus is saying, “You question My eternal nature? The truth about My eternal nature will set you free. Here it comes because your being liberated is more important than My life.”

This passage also strikes at the “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” myth. In a situation where His life is being threatened, Jesus is not at all soft or nice or gentle or meek or mild or anything that might be remotely labeled effeminate with these guys. No, He straightforwardly calls them liars - just as in other places He straightforwardly calls them vipers ( Mt. 12:34 ) and hypocrites. ( Mt. 15:7; top ) Grace is still reserved for the humble while the full weight of the law is meted out to the proud. The Spirit of God within is a lot different than many “Christian” sects have taught. Yes, there is place for self-control - but there is also place for the truth that offends.

Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” ( Jn. 8:57-58; top )

To any Jew who knows the story of Moses, this is a direct reference to the name of God. (see Ex. 3:14 ) In short, Jesus said, “Before Abraham was born, I am God.” It is a direct challenge to their blind misplaced faith as well as an insight into the nature of eternity - both concepts requiring Holy Spirit illumination they were not prepared to receive. (see 1 Cor. 2:14; top ) It is an offense to their religious notions - just as the truth about how much the demonic really controls modern followers of Christ offends many. The question we must ask ourselves whenever we are offended is “Just who is offended here?” Is it

a) Christ within me or

b) my own notions, opinions and beliefs (in which my own security and identity are founded) which are being challenged?

The honest, truthful, accurate answer to that question exposes the root of the offense - and opens the way for liberation for those whose purpose in life is to follow only truth.

Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. ( Jn. 8:59; top )

The response of these Jews to His answer proves that they were never really interested in the whole truth, a problem that afflicts most people today who claim to follow Christ. Some consider Jesus’ departure a miracle - and it is - but it is also a statement against these Jews who, when forced into a position whereby they had to choose between light and darkness, chose very poorly. They were so blinded with the devil’s fury and hatred that they could not see and understand who Jesus really was. Jesus simply extended that blindness over their physical eyes and so passed them by - just as today Jesus still leaves people in their blindness and passes them by so long as they refuse to relinquish their preconceptions and misconceptions so that they can be led into all truth. Let he who has ears hear.

Powers π Spiritual Hosts of Wickedness in the Heavenly Places
Lords of Darkness

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