Many years ago I read this during my quiet time and it led me on a journey. Here it is:
“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 in the heavenly realms?” I asked God what all this means. I wasn’t prepared for the ride God would 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.). But, I was also all too leery of charismatic deliverance ministries. You know, the ones, right? They “exorcise” people from a “spirit of plantar warts,” or “unemployment.” I had also seen movies like The Conjuring, Constantine, and Paranormal Activity. Those seemed to exaggerate the supernatural. The truth lies somewhere between. Exorcism is another topic for another time.
Being part of the Churches of Christ, we have been almost like the Sadducees of the New Testament. We
often de-mythologizing Scripture, and say, “That doesn’t happen anymore.” Those were mental illnesses that they didn’t understand yet. Those were diseases science hadn’t found yet. I agree that there is much truth to that, but to dismiss it wholly is a grave mistake.
Upon first study, I learned that demons don’t bother people anymore. Since Jesus died on the cross and rose again they have no power. I learned that all “supernatural” stuff went away when the last Apostle, John, died in the first century. It was all meant as a teaching tool to show us the Gospel’s victory. I do believe in the supremacy of Christ and His Gospel. Jesus is worthy! Jesus overcame! Yet, it’s very dangerous to try to de-mythologize the New Testament.
Through prayer God led me to a fellow who has decades of study and experience with spiritual warfare in
the Roman Catholic Church. I sat at his feet. I listened. I apprenticed. I studied. I prayed. For years. Here’s
what I know now:
Demons are very real. And like Satan, they are still very active. They have one goal: to tear down anything
God has established. Jesus tells us:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have
it to the full.” (John 10:10)
This isn’t a metaphor or a figurative statement. We’re not embroidering this on pillows. It is literal. Steal.
Kill. Destroy. The thief Satan wants you eliminated. I could tell you countless stories of actually seeing
this play out with real people.
It is affecting people in your church. It affects the world. It has effects that reverberate through your homes. What I’m not saying is that demons are behind every rock. Not at all! They are behind every other rock. We have learned to ignore the spiritual realm and the conflict raging around us. I propose that the reason many churches are failing is our lack of awareness of what’s happening.
What is happening? War. A war that has already concluded? Yes. Jesus conquers. We find ourselves in many battles within the war. You can read about the fall of Satan and his angels (demons) in Revelation 12:7-9.
The real kicker comes when John pulls back the veil of time and space. He shows us a zoomed out nativity. We see Satan’s response. He writes:
“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.
So…who is the rest of her offspring? You. if you’re a human being, you bear the image of God and that
means that Satan is at war against you. 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 battle goes on.
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 easy. He employs an untold number of demons trying to thwart life in Christ. He also takes advantage of souls who don’t know God.
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. Yet they will try.
This affects you. This has profound effects on your kids, co workers, and everyone you meet. But, we cannot hope 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.
I pray that you will include spiritual warfare as a part of your prayers. I pray your congregations would
devote time to this. I pray that people continue to be set free in Jesus’ name! Let us not neglect such a
powerful reality at the risk of sounding old fashioned. Let us lean in to the reality of the spiritual battles we and others face daily. Let us fight with prayer and courage. Let us not fight one another. We win in the end. Not even the gates of Hell can stand against us. So what are you waiting for? Start tearing them down!