Welcome back to our Spiritual Soldier Series about spiritual warfare. We’ve been talking about all of the enemies on the battlefield. Now we will address these enemies together. Many people in our world today worship some kind of idol. Do these have any power?
As we address idols and the danger they hold we will also talk about how to handle these false gods. So let’s take a look at all of the enemies on the battlefield.
- Satan and His Demons
We have covered Satan and his demons in detail. You may want to refer to previous battlefield trainings to get a good handle on each of them. They used to be angels who served God. But one third of the angels fought against God’s angels and were cast down to the earth along with Satan (Revelation 12:4, 11).
Satan is called many things, among them being the father of lies, the accuser of the brethren, and the serpent, the great dragon (Revelation 12:9). His name means “Adversary.” He is the adversary of God and His people.
As we wage war against Satan and his demons we must remember Jesus has already defeated them at the Cross. They have been defeated ever since they were kicked out of heaven. Satan’s days are numbered. He will fight all the harder to take as many people down as he can before his final demise. We must be vigilant against his attacks and the attacks of demons.
- Unknown Gods and New Gods
Moses talks about several categories of idols in his farewell address to the second generation of Israelites before they entered the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 32:17). He states that demons are gods, a view also mentioned by Paul (1 Corinthians 10:18-21).
We can infer from these references that demons are the idols worshiped by other religions. People believe they are sacrificing to and worshiping other gods besides Yahweh God but they are mistaken. They offer themselves and their sacrifices to demons.
Paul mentions an altar to the unknown God when he visits Athens (Acts 17:22-23). It seemed the Greeks wanted to cover all the bases. They had altars to all the gods they could name. But then they made an altar to the unknown God in case they missed one.
Paul then proclaimed that the Christian God is the unknown God they did not know. In the divine council (psalm 82) any celestial being God has created must present itself before the Lord on a regular basis (Job 1-2). This divine council is not full of beings God collaborates with. They are celestial beings God tells what He will do.
New gods refers to the gods Israel worshiped from the Canaanite nations around them. This was part of their apostasy against the Lord. So these are not new gods being created but ones that are introduced to Israel whom they turn to worship and sacrifice to.
These were gods that already existed among the Canaanites. When you encounter new evil spiritual deities, they are new to you. But these demons have been around for a long time. No matter what demonic forces and “gods” you face Jesus has already defeated all of them. They are created beings and hold no candle to the supremacy of God.
- Rulers, Authorities, Powers, and Dominions
One of the places we find a list of spiritual beings or powers is in Ephesians 1:21. We will discuss the parallel to this verse in Colossians next. Paul lists four possible powers or entities in the spiritual realm.
He uses four different Greek words to name these beings. Paul first lists rulers and authorities. These may be the entities behind evil earthly rulers. These leaders of nations who stand opposed to God and His principles may be controlled by demonic forces called rulers and authorities.
Powers and dominions may refer to spiritual forces and idols or false gods. These may be referred to by some as territorial spirits. I will talk about these in depth in the last point. The question we must answer is whether or not Paul is referring to a spiritual hierarchy or if he is piling up terms the pagans believed in the in his day to describe some kind of hierarchy.
Paul probably is referring to gods and principalities the pagans and nations in his day have made a hierarchy four. In this case, Paul is piling up all the pagan hierarchies of demons and fallen Angels to show that Jesus’ name is above all of these names.
He is making clear that Jesus’ name is above all of these possible enemies and entities. When you read the rest of Ephesians 1:21 Paul declares that Jesus’ name is above all of these other names as He sits on the throne in heaven. He makes clear that Jesus’ authority over these evil spirits and spiritual forces is absolute through time, both in this age and the age to come.
- Thrones, Dominions, Rulers, and Authorities
In Colossians 1:16, a parallel passage to Ephesians 1:21, Paul mentions possible deities and hierarchies in a different order than in Ephesians. This time he refers to thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities.
The same arguments can be made for whether this is a hierarchy Paul recognizes in the spiritual realm of demonic forces or if he refers to them because pagans believe in this demonic hierarchy. The context of Paul’s argument is that through Jesus all things, visible and invisible, were created.
These demonic forces were created by God. They are created beings. They may have not started as enemies of God, possibly being fallen angels who failed to win the war against God and His angels in heaven somewhere shortly after creation.
The opinion of most biblical scholars is that Paul is referring to pagan beliefs in this hierarchy of spiritual forces. He is not acknowledging that they exist but pointing out that they are created beings and therefore not nearly as powerful as God who existed before creation.
As we fight spiritual battles we know Jesus is the Conqueror and Victor over everything that is created. When He sat on His throne in heaven after His ascension He placed all of these forces under his feet (). He is supreme King over all created things. He holds authority and power over them.
- Territorial Spirits
Satan, his demons, and the spiritual forces described by Paul have real power while Satan rules this world (Ephesians 2:2). We must not be nonchalant about the powers in this world. I must confess I have not come to a position on territorial spirits as of yet. I need more study on the subject.
But I include them here because there are many who teach that there are territorial spirits in certain areas of the world that may control nations and regions. Some teach that they are attached to geographical areas.
While I am further studying the subject of territorial spirits I will say I may have encountered this phenomenon in my ministry already. When I was pastoring my church I experienced a heavy dark spiritual presence from time to time.
Especially during Halloween I would have nightmares about these dark forces. I don’t know if this was simply because it was Halloween or there are other factors. I didn’t experience this presence all the time. The people in general were hardhearted toward the gospel and spiritual matters.
People also talk about spirits attached to every vice in the world. They talk about the spirit of alcoholism, spirit of addiction, and every other kind of spirit. I do not see anywhere in Scripture where specific spirits of vices or sins appear. When the Bible does talk about a “spirit of…” it tends to be referring to an attitude rather than a spiritual force behind our sins and vices.
One other problem with this idea of spirits of vices and sins is that they release us from personal responsibility for our sins. If we believe a spirit is causing every type of sin or vice in us then it’s not our fault. We did not choose to sin if we’re being controlled by these spirits.
Check out my battlefield training that talks about Christians and their freedom from demons and spirits. No demon or spirit can inhabit a Christian because the Holy Spirit resides in that individual. Therefore, none of these spirits have any control over us. If we sin it is because we choose to sin.
I will probably come back to this subject and do a battlefield training on it after I have studied it more. But for now, whether you believe these territorial spirits exist or not, know that through prayer and emphasizing Jesus you can win every spiritual battle.
A Final Word
As I have emphasized throughout this battlefield training we need not be too concerned with the darkness and evil spirits that roam this world. We have victory through Jesus and His Cross. Jesus has already conquered any evil spiritual forces that exist.
We do not walk into battle fighting uphill. We have the high ground already. We can see these spirits coming. We know their tactics. We need not be afraid of them because Jesus has already conquered them. We stand on the truth of Scripture and Jesus’ victory.
Cast out demons as Jesus and the apostles did. You are children of light (Matthew 5:14-16). Everywhere you walk you penetrate the darkness with the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. By the very nature you have conquered demons and evil spirits.
Fight with the strength of Christ. Defeat evil spirits and demons because of your strong relationship with Jesus. Don’t get too involved in studying evil spirits to give too much credit to them. Stand firm.
There are spiritual forces in the world today who have real spiritual power. They are dangerous to anyone who is not a child of God, a Spiritual Soldier in Christ. No matter what power they hold over people the power of Jesus breaks the chains of every spiritual force that opposes Him.
You fight from a place of strength, from the high ground of Jesus’ victory over every created being. He is the supreme King of the universe. Everything in creation bows in the name of Jesus. What have you learned in your ministry for Jesus about the spiritual forces?
Now that we have considered all of the evil forces standing against us we turn to talking about exorcism, misconceptions about casting out demons. Stay tuned to continue preparing as a Spiritual Soldier on the battlefield of spiritual warfare.