A special note:The purpose of this teaching is that we may begin to understand the goodness of God, as opposed to the evilness of the devil. These two parameters are often blurred and confused: whereby evil is wrongfully attributed to God, the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Understanding the goodness of God is first and foremost in spiritual warfare, in order to build the kind of faith that will move mountains, and fulfill God's promise of victory in our lives.
What are "Principalities, Powers, World Rulers of Darkness, and Spiritual Wickedness in High Places"?
The Apostle Paul instructs us to put on our spiritual armour because our battle in this world is a "spiritual" one. A warfare that involves the trickery and power of the devil, as opposed to a human battle. Even though human beings will certainly play a role in line with the schemes of the devil, but they are being used by these entities for the purposes of accomplishing evil. Evil spirits are the true power behind those who oppose the things of God (knowingly or unknowingly). We read,
Eph 6:12: For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Our Spiritual Warfare is Against "Principalities"
The concept of principalities is understood by the Greek word arche meaning chief or ruler. These principalities are ruling devil spirits possessing executive authority or governmental rule in the world. As we will see, this ruling power usually involves a particular nation, people or race. There are evil angels ruling the kingdoms of the world that oppose the truth of God, and of which Satan is the chief prince or ruler, of both the world system and its organization of demons, as noted in the gospel of Matthew.
In Matthew 12:24, the devil is called "Beelzebub" meaning lord of the dwelling, in which these wicked spirits are subject to and operate under Satan's dominion. They, like their chief prince, direct, control, rule and carry out the present darkness of this world.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines principalities as:
1. A territory ruled by a prince or from which a prince derives his title.
2. The position, authority, or jurisdiction of a prince; sovereignty.
The idea of prince devil spirits ruling or controlling a region is supported in the Old Testament book of Daniel, chapter 10. Daniel is visited by an angel in response to his prayer to God. This angel, who was sent by God to answer Daniel's prayer, was delayed for 21 days because of a battle that took place between God's angel and "a prince of the kingdom of Persia."Daniel reveals the angel's message in the following verses:
"Then said he [the angel] unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten [humble] thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia."
The spiritual battle, for this angel, was of such magnitude that Michael, the archangel of God and designated prince of Israel, assisted the angel in battle. Another enemy of God, the prince of Greece, is also mentioned in the verses below.
"Then said he [the angel], Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince."
The book of Daniel gives us an excellent example of how these unseen spiritual entities fight to increase and maintain their realms of influence and control in order to hinder God's purposes. In addition, as previously stated, these princes are named after the nations or rather their principalities in which they rule.
It is Satan's purpose to deceive these nations and to keep them from obtaining a knowledge of God's truth and salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. In the book of Revelation, chapter 20, Satan is depicted as a deceiver of nations. The Greek word for deceive is planaho, and according to Strong's Greek Dictionary, this word means to "cause to roam from safety, truth or virtue, go astray, seduce, wander, and to be out of the way."
Satan's major success, in deceiving a nation, is due to a lack of discernment on the part of the people. The people are blind to the invisible forces of supernatural evil that are operating and influencing their visible human agents of political, social, religious and philosophical programs. Satan's greatest victory would be to convince the world that he just doesn't exist. However, God signifies the devil as the author of sin, sickness and death, and warns us to be alert and vigilant because the devil, as a roaring lion roams about seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8).
The devil controls the kingdoms of the world and we are not to underestimate his influence and power, nor believe that this is the will of God. God is telling us to "stand" against these evil forces by equipping ourselves with the power of God, and looking unto Christ as our example.
Luke 4:5-7: And the devil, taking him (Jesus) up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered (to surrender or yield up) unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.
These are "kingdoms" - From G935; properly royalty, that is, (abstractly) rule, or (concretely) a realm(literally or figuratively): - kingdom, + reign.
There will also come a day in which we are told in the book of Revelation,
Rev 11:15: And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
However, until this Scripture is fulfilled we can only conclude, as the Apostle Paul instructs, that our wrestling involves principalities or peoples or regions under the influence and deception of Satan. Satan is the prince or ruler of the kingdoms of this world, also described in the Bible as the "kingdom of darkness," in which we have our spiritual warfare. In addition, let us not be fooled, because Satan can and does prosper evil people in the world.
Our Spiritual Warfare is Against "Powers and World Rulers of Darkness"
The Greek word for "powers" is exousia which means derived or conferred authority, the warrant or right to do something, or delegated influences of control. Although the word "powers" is left unclear as to Paul's precise meaning in the verse, this expression is used elsewhere in scripture to infer the powers that be in authority. In keeping with the context of this verse, this would include all high-ranking, evil supernatural powers and the power of sin and evil in operation in the world. The fruits of this type of evil can probably be seen in drug cartels, gross poverty, plagues, terrorism, and other heinous crimes against humanity, even toward the animal kingdom.
Some Christian authors also associate "world rulers" with magic and demonic pagan gods such as the Ephesians' Artemis and seems to be in line with the pagan culture of ancient times, in which temples were dedicated to these demonic pagan deities. And let us not forget "Molech," the national god of the Ammonites' in Old Testament history. The priests would place the sacrificial children into the brass hands of the image, in which these helpless victims would slip into the fire below. This is described in Scripture as the "abominations of the nations" (2 kings 16:3 ASV).
Our Spiritual Warfare is Against "Spiritual Wickedness in Heavenly Places"
The Greek word for wickedness is ponēria and means depravity and particularly in the sense of malice and mischief, plots, sins, and iniquity (Strong's Gk. Dict.).
Malice [A. H. Dict.] is defined as:
1. A desire to harm others or to see others suffer; extreme ill will or spite.
2. Law -- The intent, without just cause or reason, to commit a wrongful act that will result in harm to another.
Satan is also depicted as the prince of the power of the air
Since Satan is the prince of the power of the air, these wicked spirits, in high places, are often understood to be the collective organization of all of Satan's devil spirits. These malevolent spirits work evil and mischief and operate in our atmosphere. They operate as close to the very air we breathe, and reach to realms beyond. All kinds of spiritual filth are propagated , in these realms, for the purpose of humanity's deception and subsequent destruction. Prior to becoming a Christian we too walked according to the prince of the power of the air.
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (This verse will be treated in a separate post)
As Christians we are delivered from the power of the prince of the air, and from the sinful nature that once ruled our path in life. When we received God's Holy Spirit, at the moment of our conversion to Christ, we were translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God's light, in which we now have God in Christ in us. We are continually delivered and empowered by God as we walk according to His Word and Spirit that He has given us. As we do this, we take our seat in the heavenlies with Christ, for scripture reads,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Jesus is also called a Prince, He is called the Prince of Peace and of Life (Isa. 9:6 and Acts 3:15) Whose kingdom plays no part in this present world system of darkness. Prior to His arrest, Jesus said to His disciples,
Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
"Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."
Please note: Jesus is not speaking against the Jews, for Jesus and His followers were Jewish. He is speaking against the hypocritical religious authorities who would have Jesus killed versus lose their sphere of control over the people of God, in which their own belly was their god.
The details of God's plan, His provision of escape from Satan's kingdom of darkness through faith in Christ, was kept a mystery from the beginning of time. It wasn't until the revelation of the Son of God on earth, and His complete victory in His death and resurrection for the salvation of humanity, that the mystery of salvation through Christ is revealed to us. The Apostle Paul states,
1Co 2:7-10: "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory. Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."
In other words, if God's enemies knew that the Lord's death would bring the Kingdom of God and His power into the hearts of every believer, with His gift of Holy Spirit, and thus bring God's light into the world, they would not have crucified Him.
Who is your prince?
For the Christian, Jesus Christ is our Prince of Peace and Life, and we will reign with Him forevermore.
The Mystery Revealed
The Mystery Revealed - Col. 1: 26-27
The mystery revealed is stated in Scripture as, "...Christ in you, the hope of glory." Jesus Christ, Who came as a light in the world, a light that the kingdom of darkness tried to extinguish. But through the sacrifice of Christ, the Son of God, God's gift of Holy Spirit is given to every believer in Christ (Christ in you), in which, through the manifold wisdom of God, one Lord and Light, continues to sow a vast Kingdom of Light.
1Co 2:8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Updated: May 20, 2011
(orig. post 8/18/05)
*Click on the link below if you would like more information on Salvation:
What is Salvation and How Do We Know if We Are Saved?
*Click on the links below for discerning the difference between good and false shepherds, and God's promises for abiding in Christ.
Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd
The 3 promises of God for abiding in Christ
David's witness " O taste and see that the Lord is good"
**Click on the links below if you would like to read more on Spiritual Warfare:
Why the World, the Flesh, and the Devil in Spiritual Warfare?
The Battlefield of the Mind (Part I) Prepare Your Heart for War
Battlefield of the Mind II - Spiritual Armor of God in Spiritual Warfare