16.2 Principalities and Powers
16.2 Principalities and Powers
© 2016 Christ Revealed Bible Institute
Principalities and Powers
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 (Ephesians 6:12).
May I suggest that this is a critical verse; very close to Revelation 12:10-11, the fourth most important verse in the Bible. We FIGHT against primary rulers. We fight against authorities. We fight against the cosmic powers of darkness. We fight against spiritual forces of iniquity – and all in the realms of heaven, the very place where we, the church, also dwell. Yet we see this fight so differently than we once saw it.
I Am Not an “Expert”
But we will look at our continuous and overwhelming victory in the next lesson; here we want to understand these “principalities and powers.” Nothing is to be gained by trying to separate Paul’s four terms, here, into four different categories. I would rather conjecture out from my present understanding, drawing in a Bible verse here and there. This is all I can do, conjecture. I am not and will not be an “expert” in these things. Anyone who is an “expert” is not, but is mostly going in the opposite direction. Yet God has given me experience in these spirit realities, with others and entirely inside the immediate presence of His Holy Spirit.
Feeding Off Each Other
If I am correct in my assumption that the serpent was not sealed into sin except by Adam’s action, then our understanding of how all this works changes.
We do not then assume that the serpent invented the whole paradigm of command and control out from knowing “God” through good and evil. Rather, it is probable that men and demons developed that whole system by feeding off of each other. More than that, the wickedness of command and control began with Cain. What we then see is that the development of the mystery of iniquity among humans and the rule of fear and darkness among demons happened as an interlocking together.
It’s All about Control
It is hard to separate the kingdom of darkness from the mystery of iniquity because they both come from the same source. And by “kingdom of darkness,” I mean the angelic side of this symmorphic relationship between men and demons, and by “mystery of iniquity,” I mean the human side of the same thing, but as it works through human experience and history.
It’s all about control, and the means of control is fear. In human society, the aggressive predators rise to the top, controlling others through the use of fear. Then those beneath turn and do the same to those beneath who turn and do the same to those beneath. The exact same thing happens among fallen angels.
And so Paul uses terms that equate with a structure of control when referring to the kingdom of darkness. On the one hand are “primary rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of darkness,” and on the other hand are the “spiritual hosts of wickedness,” a far larger number.
Every one of these as individuals have three interests regarding the humans with whom they share a form. One interest is to eat, that is, to satiate lusts (hunger), a second is to hide from God, and a third is to deface and destroy God’s real image. We understand this by looking at the invaders of our physical body – worms, parasites, bacteria, and viruses.
Worms, parasites, bacteria, and viruses differ in size, first, yet of these, viruses can be the most dangerous because of how rapidly they multiply. What these invaders want first is to eat. Then, they want to hide, that is, not to be found out. Finally, their very presence threatens their host and will kill it. Thus they balance their eating with the moment when they have come to the full before they destroy the human body.
What happens in our physical body with parasites and viruses, a physical symmorphy, mirrors what happens in our spirit body with angelic parasites, a spiritual symmorphy. Neither symmorphy is to life; both are to death.
Fear that sits in a person’s gut is a powerful demon – always. And that demon sits there as the rule over all others. But the most dangerous is the “viruses.” You see, a virus is not a living thing like worms, parasites, and bacteria. Rather, a virus is a piece of genetic code without any connection to anything else. A virus uses the factory of the human cell that normally produces proteins, etc., for the body, as a means of duplicating itself. In the kingdoms of darkness, a virus, then, is not referring to an “angel,” but rather to snippets of dark words flowing through the brain and out of the mouth, speaking curse, gossip, and complaint instead of Christ.
Snippets of Dark Code
The seven years I sat under Joel Osteen’s teaching every Sunday was God’s time of removal of all the “viruses,” all the snippets of dark words that flowed through the back recesses of my brain, beneath my conscious thoughts.
You see, parasites live in our physical bodies and angels (have lived) in our spirit bodies, but neither body is who and what we are. We are a living soul; we are the story we tell of ourselves, here at the junction of heaven and earth. Thus the most dangerous killer is not the angelic persons who have been symmorphosed with our spirits, but rather the snippets of dark code that flow all through our self-story.
But that brings us to the BIG question – Can a Christian have a demon? We will ask another – Can a Christian have a dog?
No Absence of Demons
The clear teaching of the gospel is that no Christian should be subject to sickness and no Christian should die. Yet we get sick and die, including those who believe in all victory over death.
When I embraced the truth of Christ my only life, I rejected all thought that any darkness had any part in me. Yet demons assaulted me, yet I refused to consider them as having anything to do with me. They tried and I refused. But union with Christ has never taken me into a realm where no demons exist. You see, no demon has ever possessed a human; it is entirely the other way around.
Making Pets of Demons
If a Christian wants to have a demon in his heavens just like he wants to have a cat in his house, no one can stop him from engaging with and making use of his “pet.” The problem is never the demon in “control” of the Christian, but the Christian in control of the demon. And yes, Christians DO make use of demons for their own advantage on a regular basis, especially as the lens through which to see and to define God.
The question for us is entirely this – What is happening inside our souls, inside our own self-stories? What do we tell ourselves about ourselves? Especially in the midst of self-difficulty?
Man Is the Master
A Christian who sits in bitterness against another and feeds that bitterness WANTS to be bitter and is making use of a demon to anoint and enlarge that bitterness. When that same Christian asks forgiveness and forgives, it is not the demon “letting go” that happens, but the Christian who is letting go of the demon.
Man is the master and, although God is the One who has made Christ our only life, we cannot know such a thing until we ourselves willfully and persistently call forth Christ as our only self-story. A Christian has to go out to commit adultery with another person, but committing adultery with a demon seems to be private, easy, and personal, yet it is still as a member of Christ.
Here is my present understanding. No unclean spirit is to be found in our souls, in who and what we are. Yet angels we have cavorted with in the past can and do hang around in our heavens. There, in our heavens, their one power is to continue to speak to us. The problem is that they know us almost better than we know ourselves; thus they speak the very things we are most likely to weave back into our own story of self.
This is part of why speaking Christ personal as us is so very important. The viruses of dark code that have continued in our minds and have come out of our mouths are not themselves demons, but they are the familiar words of demons that we block out by acknowledging the good things of Christ in us.
Listen, the cosmos in which we live is real. And those who teach otherwise are not doing themselves or anyone else any favors.
HOWEVER, we do not know victory over the evil one by “fighting against” the evil one as if the weapons of our warfare are carnal, as if we battle inside the tree of good and evil. We know all victory by one means alone, by declaring Christ to be the ONLY life we are, and by seeing all things out from the eyes of the tree of Life.
My own experience with spiritual warfare was real and was together with mature brethren moving in the freedom of Christ and with all the anointing of the Spirit. Yet as I look back now, I see how little we really knew Christ.
The Strong Man
I want, now, to set before us some understanding of how the hierarchies of violence work in the kingdom of darkness.
If I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters (Luke 11:20-23).
We understand that the “strong man” is Satan, specifically as the authority over a kingdom, and that Jesus is the “stronger than he” who has defeated and taken possession of all things.
Put on the Lord Jesus Christ
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them (the spirit of anti-Christ), because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the cosmos (1 John 4:4). What is true in God is true in us, yes, by substance, but it does not become our self-story until we make it so by declaring with our mouths Christ in our hearts and then by seeing all things through that Word. We actively and willfully put on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Yet in the appearance of the old creation, the hierarchy of control operating as the kingdom of darkness over all the affairs of man in this world continues right on. And at the center of that appearance is the fear of pain and loss.
A Release of Predators
When I read The Iliad by Homer, I was struck by how the prevalence of demons in the affairs of men and an open relationship between angelic rulers and human rulers was much greater before the cross of Christ than it has been since. Then John, through his vision, suggests that there will come a time when there will be released, once again, predatory aggressive angels that have been bound in the abyss, most likely as a result of the cross.
We must place all of this in context. God’s purpose is to prove Jesus faithful and true through us, His body, and on this earth. These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them… and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful (Revelation 17:14).
Missing the Main Point
Now, Sam Fife taught an excellent and Biblical series of teachings on demons and spiritual warfare. Jane Miller did the same in a course I took in college at Blueberry, a course that included great practical application in the demonstration of the Spirit and power. There are also texts one can study, such as Pigs in the Parlor, by Frank Hammond. And one can learn much through such study. However, I know that they all miss the only point that counts, and that is Christ in Person as the only life we are.
(I do not recommend He Came to Set the Captives Free by Rebecca Brown, however. Those who are “experts” are not, actually, and much study can result in greater darkness.)
What Lens Do We Use?
Now, I accept my inability to make this lesson a systematic layout of study as being of the Spirit of the Lord. What I am always after as far more important is perspective, that is, what lens are we looking through.
In the end, all spiritual warfare I have known was little more than moving the sand around as the waves swept through. When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first (Luke 11:24-26).
Cleaning House Is NO Help
This is what Christians are taught to do by all who practice spiritual warfare as a ministry in the church; they are taught that, if you want to stay free, you must sweep regularly and keep your life in God’s order. This is exactly what Sam Fife and Jane Miller and Frank Hammond taught us, that the thing to do was to keep your house swept and put in order. That is, refuse temptation and obey God.
Jesus said that the end result is worse, but He did not say what would be the answer. Jesus did not say because the answer is Paul’s gospel and Jesus could not teach what had been reserved by the Father for Paul – Christ IN us, the only life we are.
The Warfare Is Father Revealed
What good does it do to cast out all demons while continuing to see and define God through the lens of the serpent? What good does it do to claim that Christians cannot “have” a demon while continuing to accuse God of being a liar by unbelief?
The warfare is NOT to be “free” of demons; the warfare is Father to be revealed through us.
Sam Fife laid out five levels of the workings of demons: temptation, deceit, unbelief, oppression, and possession. I see little value in those distinctions. Let me give you a different layout from my present perspective, and beginning with the greatest first.
The Works of the Devil
The primary work of the evil one is to persuade humans to define God through his likeness. This is also his most successful work among Christians, especially Bible translators. An arrogant “God” will always produce arrogant Christians lining the church up under a system of violence.
The second work of the evil one is to distract Christians from the tree of life, to get them looking at the issues of sin—do not sin, obey—do not disobey, that they might keep their backs turned against Christ as their only life.
The third work of the evil one is keep Jesus far away from the believer by casting a veil of unbelief over the most important verses in the Bible, joining the Christian to his original accusation – Did God really say that?
And They Overcame Him
The fourth work of the evil one is to attack the flesh by getting Christians to attack the flesh. The purpose of this maneuver is to debase and discredit human weakness, the very entrance of God through which He would be seen and known by all.
And the fifth work of the evil one is to move through the world (and the church) to silence any believer in Jesus who throws off all the other works of the devil by standing forth as the image and likeness of God upon this earth.
Finally, the Lord has given us a systematic layout, and we will use this layout in the next lesson on spiritual warfare, our response to each of these levels of demonic assault.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death (Revelation 12:11).