Few studies in the Bible have greater impact on our lives than knowing our arch enemy, Satan. In our little world of empires and dictators, nuclear weapons and terrorists, space travel and internet, we often forget that the Scripture tells us “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). We can become occupied with the darker beliefs of witchcraft, spiritism, and the occult, or we can spend our time answering the so-called Christian spiritists who practice contemplative or centering prayer, lectio divina, and ancient-future cults. We are often so concerned about chasing various winds of doctrine we forget that Satan and his minions are the real forces behind these and other false beliefs and practices.
Satan is a created being as are his demons. He was created perfect as the anointed cherub who covered God’s throne until sin was found in him (Ezek. 28:14-15). His rebellion was an all-or-nothing attempt to usurp the very throne of God (Isa. 14:12-15) and in his failed attempt he drew a third of the angels with him to a fallen position (Rev. 12:4) who then were relegated by God to the status of demons. They are not atheists. Human beings are the only creatures who are so foolish as to deny their Creator’s existence. But they are deceivers and seducers, impersonators and controllers, turning the humanistic dreams of humans into seemingly real things such as witches, shamans, channelers, and ghosts. There are no spirit beings other than angels and demons. The souls of deceased humans are either in heaven or hell where it is impossible to contact living people (Lk. 16:19-31). All other phenomena are the deceiving manipulations of Satan and his armies, successfully luring people to a sinner’s hell. Many are there today having relied on some spiritual or near-death experience, being deceived into believing that life after death was not to be feared.
Their jurisdiction is the whole world; “The whole world lieth in wickedness” i.e. “the wicked one” (1 Jn 5:19). All who are not children of God have Satan, the father of liars, for their spiritual father (Jn. 8:44; 1 Jn. 3:19) and one day all liars will be sent home to their father (Rev. 21:8). Hell was prepared for Satan and his demons but will be the eternal abode for countless millions who, though scoffing at the Bible’s description of the fall of Satan and demons, will fall with them into the eternal lake of fire to pay forever for that which no human or demon can ever pay.
The spiritual armor that Paul describes in Ephesians is commensurate to the spiritual warfare in which we are engaged. Though we do not wrestle against human kind, we do indeed wrestle. Spiritual warfare is a battle to the end. Believers are partakers whether they think they signed up to be or not. Some are on the battle field without the belt of truth and the rest of the armor hangs very loosely; others are without a shield or without a breastplate and their heart is not protected by righteousness; some are barefoot, having no preparation for the gospel, who tip-toe through life never engaging the enemy. Those without a helmet are never secure in their position, always ducking but never delivering a blow. Worst of all, many have no sword. They try fighting with methodologies, with spirit experiences, with emotion, but never with the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
The apostle gives four descriptions of the demons which we take as real categories within their ranks.
These are rulers with global jurisdictions. They are the arcas or “princes.” Even Webster defines our English word “principality” as “the territory or jurisdiction of a prince or the country that gives title to a prince; an angel of the third lowest rank” (Seventh). Jesus called Satan “the prince of this world” (Jn. 12:31); Paul calls him “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2) and the demons are called “principalities and powers” (Col. 2:15). When Gabriel was sent with explanation to Daniel, he told of his fight with “the prince of Persia” and also with “the prince of Grecia” and even assured Daniel that “Michael your prince” would stand up for the nation of Israel (Dan. 10:18-21). There are good principalities and bad but both seem to have authority over global territories.
We must not forget that Satan has a kingdom (Matt. 12:25-26) and once offered this kingdom to Jesus by saying, “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it” (Lk. 4:6-7). His kingdom is organized better than any business or any country. It has a doctrine and creed by which the demons operate: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1). Jesus warned the church of Thyatira not to fall into “the depths of Satan as they speak” (Rev. 2:24). Paul warned the Colossians not to lose their reward by a “voluntary humility and worshiping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind” (Col. 2:18).
These doctrines have teachers who pretend to be faithful Bible teachers but are in reality “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers be transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:13-15). Paul was so confident that whoever teaches contrary to Scripture is demonically influenced, that he was willing to “let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8-9). People who fall for such teachers by saying, “It was so real. How could it not be of God,” have fallen for deception 101. Paul said to the Corinthians, “For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face” (2 Cor. 11:19-20). They would say “thank you very much” and go on being deceived.
The “powers,” exousias, are authorities in the air and earth. Satan is both the “prince” and also the “power” (our word) of the air” (Eph. 2:2). These powers that rule in the “high places” may affect more than we know. We may not be able to say that Satan and demons control all the air waves or sound waves or radio and satellite transmissions around the globe, but they may have more influence on the effects than we know. Certainly they use this medium to reach millions of people with their messages of unbelief just as millions more are reached with a message of true belief. Could we not say the messages transmitted in the “air” will take as many people to hell as to heaven? Or that the medium of the air is a powerful controller of people’s intellect, emotion, and will?
The demonic powers are also authorities in the earth. Demonic activity is usually related to the places where humans dwell. “The LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou: Then Satan answered the LORD and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it” (Job 1:7). Satan, “as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). The false prophet who arises with the antichrist in Revelation 13, comes from the earth and deceives the whole world with signs and wonders. The world is headed toward a new-age type of spirituality in which “mother earth” is worshiped in many facets. Even today environmentalism has become an inviolate authority; pantheism and panentheism still grow; even quantum physics gives witchcraft and similar demoniacs reason to believe that the earth is always speaking to us because it is always moving and therefore giving off new information. These all give access to “the powers that be.”
The rulers of the darkness of this world
These are world tyrants who influence dark domains and passions. Kosmokratoras, are “world potentates” which tempt men into the darkest corners of a sinful world. Believers have been delivered from “the power of darkness” (Col. 1:13) and are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers because light has no communion with this kind of darkness (2 Cor. 6:14).
The proof of this is easily seen in the world’s doctrine of “tolerance.” The rulers of darkness are tolerant of any and all religions and philosophies which have no power to keep souls from hell. But ask them be tolerant of Christianity, the only way for a soul to come to God, and we see immediate intolerance! And why should we be surprised or even upset? This only proves the Bible true. Satan and his rulers have “blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:4).
These rulers seem to specialize in inflaming fleshly passions and all human beings, even believers, who are still in fleshly bodies are susceptible. James said, “This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish” (Jas. 3:15). Romans chapter one describes in detail the downward descent of those who turn from God to these passions and fall into sexual sins, especially homosexuality and worse. These rulers are delighted with this progression because God may well give them up to these vile affections and then escape from hell becomes impossible (Rom. 1:21-32).
When the bottomless pit is opened in Revelation, demons who were confined, flood the earth and take possession of every person to torment and keep them from dying for five months (Rev. 9:6-7). For all of that they still will not stop their “worship of devils” nor “repent of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts” (20-21).
Spiritual wickedness in high places
These are invisible armies of Satan controlling the highest levels of religion and government. They are thepneumatika ponhrias, the “spiritual hosts of evil ones.” They are said to effect the “high places” or literally, the “heavenlies.” Believers are also seated in these “heavenlies” (Eph. 2:6) and ought to be above their deception. Demons are “seducing” (“impersonating,” 1 Tim. 4:1) spirits who pose as religious teachers and leaders, as we have seen (e.g. 2 Cor. 11:13-15). Religious deception often comes through impersonation or imitation. The signs and wonders movement abounds with alternate revelations and visions supposedly from God. Contemplative Prayer invites spirits to lead the suppliant into new realms of spiritual experience. Emotional worship services invite trance-like people to trade their word-based doctrine for experience-oriented beliefs.
These spiritual hosts have long controlled the nations of the world. We may notice that powerful people with money and influence, throughout history, have manipulated kings and presidents. They are all puppets in Satan’s kingdom, waiting for a final manifestation of his earthly (howbeit temporary) rule. When that time comes, the conspiratorialists will finally be right. But the real power behind that world-wide government will be Satan, not the illuminati.
Satan offered his kingdom to Christ who refused such two-bit fame. But there is coming one who will accept Satan’s offer whom Satan will indwell to the fullest (Rev. 13:1-8; 16:13-14) and through whom he will control the final form of demonic earthly government.
And So . . . .
And tho’ this world with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of darkness grim-
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Thro’ Him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.