I guess various reactions are to be expected when we Christians become bold enough to speak publicly about "Spiritual Warfare" and "Spiritual Realms" and doing battle with "Spiritual Beings". There will be those who do not share my faith, and are either agnostic or atheistic, and see these subjects as contrary to their scientific mindset, and those who believe in rationalism, a theory that opinions and actions should be based on reason and knowledge rather than on religious belief.
But we should also expect that our fellow Christians may have differences of opinion with us; especially over terminology and just how far we are to go in waging our battle. We must remember that, as 21st Century Christians, the theology of spiritual warfare is largely unrecognized and we are essentially, still trying to come to terms with what it all means.
Because of these two distortions, Christians suffer from a fundamental problem: they don't see the unseen world from the same point of view as the ancient Biblical writers. One group assigns the spiritual and supernatural to the periphery of theological discussions; while the other group is so obsessed with experiencing the supernatural, that they are indifferent to whether their theology is Scriptural or not.
That's why I think it is important for us to examine and recover a Biblical context when discussing spiritual warfare, and we must not dismiss, ignore, or wrongly interpret what the Bible is telling us. I find it interesting that most people, whether devout in their faith or not, will agree that God exists. Yet how do they see Him? If forced to define Him, I suppose most would agree that He is not flesh and blood like us, but is a Spirit. So they can conceive of God, the Creator of the Universe, as a Spirit, but these same people can't agree that there are evil spirits, or that Satan is real.
I think that it all comes down to a fundamental lack of knowledge about what occurred in the Garden of Eden. Let's start at the beginning: The Bible reveals to us that God and the Word (Jesus) have existed eternally. That's what John 1:1-2 plainly says. As Genesis tells us, They created everything .... the earth and all things on it; the first and second heavens (our sky, and the heavenly realm beyond our atmosphere); and all the plant and animal life. God also created angels to help Him create, govern and manage His creation. Angels are ministers, agents and helpers in God’s creation. They are servants of God, playing a critical role in fulfilling His eternal purpose.
Lucifer was created to hold a special office: one of just two cherubs covering and protecting God's throne. Ezekiel, Chapter 28 gives us a good vision of how God saw this angel He created, whom He refers to as the prince of Tyre. He describes Lucifer as having "the full measure of perfection and the finishing touch [of completeness]; Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty." God created and educated Lucifer for his assignment on Earth’s throne, which was placed in the Garden of Eden—before human beings were even created! Lucifer received this special training from the “holy mountain of God,” God’s throne! Yes, God had great plans for Lucifer to manage His creation of Earth for Him.... that is until we get to Ezekiel 28, verse 15: "You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness and evil were found in you."
We all know the rest of the story. Lucifer, in his pride and arrogance, sought to usurp God's throne, and when God (and Jesus) created man to have dominion over the earth and manage their creation, Lucifer became known as Satan and plotted to steal back what he believes is rightfully his. Through Satan's tempting scheme, mankind experienced The Fall, and we have been in battle ever since with Satan and the angels that chose to follow him.
Here's what we need to understand ... God operates in the spiritual dimensions of our reality, but He also created and sustains the physical world. The sad fact is that the ancient Biblical writers understood this concept, and up until about 300 years ago, so did modern man. But then a European intellectual movement of the late 17th and 18th centuries, called the Enlightenment, emphasized reason and individualism over accepted traditional thought. Combine that with modern education, and we all but wiped out our awareness of the spiritual world.
But there's another important concept to understand when it comes to recognizing the overlapping of the spiritual and physical worlds. It is the concept of AUTHORITY. God had authority over all the angels in heaven. At some point, when Lucifer rebelled, one-third of the angels decided to follow him and he was allowed to set up an alternative kingdom, under some semblance of his authority. (Remember: nothing happens without God allowing it, even though we may not understand His Sovereign choices). God created the earth and placed humans in it. He gave authority over the earth to the people He created, but kept authority in heaven for Himself. Satan wrestled authority from Adam and Eve by persuading them to believe a lie. This gave his spiritual forces of wickedness a place in heaven and authority over the earth, but it was stolen authority. The devil also devised a place in the spiritual realms by acting as accuser /prosecutor of God's people before the presence of God. (We see that played out in the Book of Job). And now, all this is being played out in our lives, and upon the earth and the heavenly realms.
This is what it looks like: Sin and The Fall destroyed the unity that had existed in the spiritual realms. God still dominates the spiritual realms, and two-thirds of the angels remain loyal to Him. However, Satan drew together the angels that had rebelled with him and squeezed them into an alternative power structure within the spiritual world. This division in the spiritual realm results in struggles here on earth between the Kingdom of God and the forces of wickedness. That is why Paul tells us "we do not struggle/wrestle with flesh and blood" -- there is an overlapping and interaction between our physical world and the spiritual realm.
I realize that this leads to all kinds of questions ... questions that we will consider in the coming days and months. A question that naturally occurs at this point is, God is Sovereign. Why doesn't He just stop Satan (or people) from carrying out their wicked plots and schemes? That is a tough question, and I do not claim to know the mind or counsel of God. But perhaps He plays by His own rules and His immutability (His unchanging Character). When He gave authority over the earth to man, it is not in His character to take it back, even when man so carelessly gave it away. Or perhaps, once man handed over his authority to Satan, God planned a way for us to get it back, but it would involve making a choice on our part to believe in His Co-Creator, Jesus. I'm not sure we are capable of answering that question, or that it even matters.
I believe, however, that prior to The Fall, Adam and Eve could see into the spiritual world. They were able to walk with God in the cool of the evenings and speak directly to Him. They were even able to see the devil, when he came to tempt them. But after they disobeyed God, they were blinded and could no longer see into the spiritual realm. I believe that this is the state in which most of us find ourselves today. I also believe, that at His discretion, God is able to restore sight to those Christians who can forego their doubt and unbelief and accept His direction.
But I also believe that Authority will come into play as we near the final struggle for dominion over this earth. God is revealing exactly what we're dealing with, so that we can prepare ourselves for the battle that Satan and his wicked partners plan to bring against us. They know that Jesus is readying Himself and His army to stop the reign of the Lawless One and take back Authority over His creation. Until then, He has given us a measure of His authority, and that's what I want to explore with you on my next post. That is where it gets exciting for me, and I can't wait to share with you what that can look like!
Ephesians 3:10 "So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places."