In the previous post I presented my theological position on spiritual warfare in "the heavenly places", and today I wish to take a more in-depth look at what our responsibilities are as followers of Christ and members of the Ekklesia.
So, I will begin by stating that I operate in this life by a Biblical worldview; in other words, the truth of who the Bible says I am, and whom I serve, is the foundation of how I live and what I say and do. That includes my understanding of the topic today. In the light of spiritual warfare, I also want to re-establish that the Bible speaks of the First Heaven as the realm where we exist; the earth, sky, atmosphere, etc. The Third Heaven is the place where God and Jesus dwell and where they sit on their thrones. It is their domain/Kingdom and the seat of their government. Since there is a First and Third Heaven, we must assume that there is a Second Heaven. Although not specifically mentioned in Scripture, there are many indirect references to it as the place where Satan and his demons exist and exert their influence over cities, nations, the Church, and anything or anyone who restricts the kingdom of darkness. One such reference is Ephesians 2:1-2, which says, And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince (Satan) of the power of the air (the realm of Second Heaven), the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—
Since Scripture makes it clear that Satan has been expelled from Heaven for his disobedience and mutiny against God, it is apparent that Paul is talking about his influence in the Second Heaven when the apostle says in Ephesians 6:12, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. Paul is making it clear that we aren't battling with flesh and blood human beings on the earth, but rather with "spiritual forces of wickedness" in "heavenly" places. Those "places" include both the First Heaven and Second Heaven. Since we find no Scripture that says Satan lives on the earth, how are we to understand how Satan can afflict us in both of these "heavenly places? We must move beyond our Western mindset [which is based on Greek (rational) thinking], and begin to comprehend the mindset of the Bible.
We begin by grasping that there are hierarchies of demons that follow Satan. It will help if you can understand that demons are "disembodied spirits of the deceased Nephilim", who were the offspring of Fallen Angels mating with human women [noted in Genesis 6:1-4]. Since these ungodly offspring are derived from immortal heavenly beings, they cannot be destroyed completely. Neither can they return to Heaven, as is the case with our spirits. Therefore, these spirits are cursed with remaining on earth to wreak havoc in the lives of humans, causing torment and oppression. These are the "ground level" demons on earth that operate in anger, bitterness, guilt, shame, hatred, rejection, etc. -- and keep the sons and daughters of God from living in freedom.
But as Ephesians 6:12 shows us, there are higher levels of demons; namely, rulers, powers, world forces, and spiritual forces. Included in these designations are fallen angelic powers such as the "Prince of Persia" and the "Prince of Greece". They fought against the angel who was responding to the prayers of the prophet Daniel in Daniel 10:20. The archangel Michael, who is the "Prince of Israel", fought alongside this angel [sent to Daniel] so that this heavenly being could let Daniel know that his prayers had been heard, and that he came bearing a vision of what the future held for God's chosen people. This passage describes the battles that rage in the Second Heaven between the angelic forces of Heaven and those who owe their allegiance to Satan. Just like with Daniel, many times the earthbound demons receive instruction from higher-level, "cosmic" demons and work with them to attack and obstruct our assignments to take back the dominion of the earth that God originally gave us in Genesis 1:26-31.
That is a very short and abbreviated explanation that attempts to explain the spiritual layout of the Heavens, who occupies them, and the opposing forces loyal to God and Satan. So how are we to operate in this dynamic? What are our duties and responsibilities, and how far do they extend? What exactly has our Lord commissioned us to do, and what power and authority have we been given to wage spiritual war?
Sadly, "the Church" in 21st Century America has very knowledge, and let's face it ... tolerance ... for this discussion. Once the Lord revealed [to me] these higher truths of the spiritual dimensions and the activities that go on there to obstruct the Body of Christ from knowing their true identity, I have only met opposition from within the religious structure of the Church. And that only serves to allow Satan and his followers to continue their war against the Kingdom of God on earth. It is important that we take off our "religious glasses" and see the Kingdom and our position in God's army come into focus. That first requires that we know the power and authority that Jesus has given us.
If you are familiar with Luke 10:19, then you know that Jesus says, Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. It is important -- no, I believe vitally important -- that we understand that Jesus is referring to power and authority we have in the world; in the realm of the First Heaven. The reason I believe this is because He repeatedly instructs His Disciples and us [as subsequent followers], to "cast out demons" as part of exercising our power and authority in the commission He has given us. Note this exhortation from our Lord in Matthew 10:1, And when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. When Jesus walked the earth as a human, He cast demons out of afflicted human beings on the earth, and healed human disease and sickness, and instructed His followers to do the same. These are the demons that are earthbound and "ground level", NOT the higher level rank and file demons that exist in the Second Heaven.
Furthermore, what is known as "The Great Commission" in Matthew and Mark, supports this argument. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus says, All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you;. This assignment is obviously to be carried out on the earth, NOT in the Second Heaven. They are to make disciples of nations, baptizing people, and teaching people on earth to do what He commanded them, which was to cast out demons and heal the sick and raise the dead; all earthly activities.
Mark 16:17-18 also supports this thesis: And these signs will accompany those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Again, these are all evidence of the power and authority the followers of Jesus have been given to minister on the earth. NOTE: Do your own research on what Jesus meant when He talked about picking up serpents and drinking poison. His listeners would have understood these idioms that He used.
This understanding of our power and authority in the First Heaven [to defeat the schemes of Satan] must necessarily lead us to ask the question, "Do we have power and authority to wage war in the Second Heaven"? Remember, this is where the demons of high administrative rank and great authority reside; and they are in full obedience to Satan who resides in this realm. This is my understanding, and as always, I advise you to do your own research and seek the counsel of the Lord and Holy Spirit. But I have discerned through study and experience that the way we battle in this realm is through mighty and fervent prayer. Satan has assigned high level demons (principalities, powers, rulers, etc.) to conduct warfare against cities, governments, nations, organizations, and yes, even individuals who stand in his way of dominating the earth. James 5:16 clearly emphasizes this principle: Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]. Jesus also proclaims this truth in Mark 9:29 : And He said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” I believe Jesus distinguishes the higher ranking of that demon by calling the attention of His Disciples to the fact that "this kind" requires more than just casting out because it is a higher level demon.
Unless we are specifically commanded by the Lord, we do not engage in Second Heaven warfare. That is the domain where God's mighty angelic army battles the high-ranking demonic army of Satan. We were given dominion (authority and power) "over the earth" in our Genesis 1:26 mandate, not the Second Heaven. And that is all the more reason that we endeavor to comply with "everything Jesus commands us to do" in Matthew 28 -- cast out demons, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers (the spiritually and physically unclean); raise the dead, and spread the Good News of the Kingdom... that God's heavenly government has once again been re-established on the earth where there are to be no demonic torment, no sickness nor disease, and no death -- if we step into our identity and power and authority! As the followers of Christ, we are called to "do the things that He has done, and even greater" (John 14:12). That involves keen discernment and proper training and instruction. The Disciples spent three years at the foot of the Master to learn their assignments. Don't you think we should spend considerable time learning from those who are successful in this sphere and whose obedience is pleasing to God?
We, the Body of Christ, must rise up in our commission; battle in the First Heaven; doing what Jesus did; and fervently praying into the Second Heaven war so that God can put our cries into action on His behalf. He has invested SO much into us, His creation, and He desires that we work with Him to bring about the final defeat of Satan and his hordes. Do not be afraid! Increase your knowledge and training! Be wise and courageous! Stay in your lane! Fulfill what is written in your pages in the Book of Life! And most importantly, remember that the victory has already been won, and WE WILL PREVAIL!
Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to all these things? If God is for us, who can be [successful] against us?