“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
Apostle Paul here speaks about the struggle that every Christian faces. From the downfall of Adam till now, this struggle has been waged. The celestial army, along with the church, are determined to win this battle.
It all started with the downfall of Lucifer, when these cherubim provoked the first rebellion of creation taking the third part of the angels along with him. “His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth.
The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born” (Revelation 12:4).
We realise that a third of the stars - in other words, the angels - fell from their original position, along with Lucifer. Those angels are, today, the army of the darkness that is commanded by the devil. His aim was always to destroy the woman that symbolises the church; and the son, that symbolises Jesus Christ, and the ministries that come from Him. Satan always wished to defeat of the church and its Head.
The church resisting, always waiting for the victory in its descendant, Jesus Christ, the son of the Living God. Since the day his own defeat and eternal punishment was promised, his one and only desire has been to destroy the church.
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
In this verse God prophesies the war that would happen through the future centuries between the woman (Church) and the snake (satan) - satan always hating the church and wishing its destruction; the Church always resisting him and always expecting the victory in its descendant Christ Jesus, the Son of the Living God.
This battle has been waged since the downfall of Adam, producing much harm to mankind. However, one conviction has grown stronger in the heart of the woman (Church): the victory is hers, and it will be consummated very soon.
Verse 15 of Genesis 3 talks about the descendant of the woman that was to be born through her but who came from God, revealing Himself to us as a man. This descendant would crush the snake's head and the snake would strike his heel.
What is it to strike the heel? Analysing the church as only one body, and Jesus Christ as the Head of this Body, we can deduce that the last human generations that accept Christ as Saviour and Lord of their lives make up the feet of this Body. The Bible in some parts refers to the feet of the Body of Christ, presenting wonderful and prophetic promises for those days. But it also affirms that the snake will strike one part of these feet.
We don’t believe that the snake can strike our Sovereign Lord Jesus, that’s why this prophetic verse is directed to the feet of the Body, and not to he Head. We can see it more clearly in the book of Revelation (chapter 12:13,17): “ When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent.
But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring - those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea”.
There will be a time that the antichrist will be the clearest expression of the power of Lucifer on the earth. This one will persecute the rest of the Church that will accept Jesus after the Rapture. Lucifer will persecute and hurt some of them. Nevertheless we should understand that our persecutor has already been defeated. His defeat was declared 2000 years ago, through the cross and the blood of our Lord Jesus.
HE IS DEFEATED
We frequently have difficulties in believing that the devil is already defeated. It happens for example, when we look at our churches and realize that many members, and even pastors, are living a life of constant defeats emotionally, physically and spiritually speaking. When we see people out side the church being dominated and enslaved by the devil, many times we think that we can do nothing to help them.
Although problems are all around us and many things disturb us, we must have the assurance that Satan is already defeated and his sentence is declared: the eternal punishment in the lake of fire and sulphur. Jesus has already crushed his head.
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). The word of God says that Jesus has already destroyed the devil and his power - even if our adversary denies and becomes furious and brave. Jesus has already defeated him, destroying his power through His life and death on the cross.
“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:15).
The power the darkness, before the authority of Jesus, is like nothing, it does not exist. We should understand this truth, and through this revelation assume our place in the celestial regions, reigning with Christ. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8).
Even if he has strength and presents himself as a ferocious lion, he is not the true Lion, the One from the tribe of Judah. We should understand that the sacrifice of the cross was enough to destroy the power of darkness. That’s why Jesus before giving His spirit to the Father, said: “It is finished.” (John 19:30). And it is really finished.
The cross-destroyed the power of darkness. Satan was dealt a deadly blow; he knows that the cross is the symbol of his defeat. That’s why we always have in our churches a cross, and at its side the affirmation: JESUS CHRIST IS THE LORD. We have to face this battle that we are waging with the demons that belong to the army of Satan having these basic weapons: chains of prayer in the church, fasting, vigils, etc. And the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary.
THE STRATEGY AND THE ARMY OF SATAN
We should understand that the army of darkness is not a bunch of fallen angels that don’t know how to act and fight. The devil is confused, because he is aware that his sentence has already declared, but he counts on a terrible weapon, that makes him fight until the last moment: persistence. Besides persistence, in this war that we have opened against the demoniac strength there is a factor in his kingdom that we have to analyze, his organized army. We cannot forget that before the fall, Lucifer was a part of the army of God.
“You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God...” (Ezekiel 28:14). He knew the organization that always existed in the army of the Lord of the lords and King of the kings. The division of authority in his kingdom is visible. We can realize it as we read with close attention (Acts 26:18): “...to open their eyes and turn them from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
The apostle shows that the church is fighting against the power of Satan, to set man free from his claws. We, as the Church, are waging a war against an army that expresses a certain power and authority.
That's why we find so much resistance when we go out to evangelise in the streets, when we pray for sick people, drive out evil spirits in our churches or do other kinds of work to set people free. And it’s exactly at those moments that we face openly the strength of the enemy's army. He fights the war with the aim of impeding the church of the Lord Jesus from assuming the place that was given to it through the cross of Calvary.
“For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” (Acts 2:34,35). Jesus is sitting on his throne of victory because He overcame. His enemies, even though defeated, keep on resisting.
But His own word tells us that the Father will put them under the feet of Christ. Even being strong, brave and organized, they will be subjugated by the power of God, under the feet of Christ.
“For our struggle is... against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). It’s revealed to us here how the army of Satan is organized, and that there are four levels of authorities in the kingdom of darkness that we have to know. We also have to distinguish their functions in this army.
I believe that this knowledge is very important for us to fight with discernment and effectiveness.
At first, it’s fundamental for us to understand that all this army acts under the command of Lucifer. This commander of darkness does not act personally on the earth, but through his army. However, there will come the day that he himself will manifest his personal power before mankind. “For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back continues to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders” (I Thessalonians 2:7, 9).
The word of God says that the antichrist, the expression of the power and of the person of Lucifer, was not manifested yet, although it is still operating through his army. But the day will come that he himself will manifest himself to the world, and be defeated by the breath of the mouth of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
THE ORGANIZATION OF OUR ENEMY
In Ephesians 6:12, referring to the organization of the kingdom of darkness, the apostle Paul shows us the hierarchy:
a) Principality and principalities.
b) Ruler and rulers.
c) Power and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
d) Power of this dark world.
This group belongs to those who are directly linked to Lucifer. They are princes, chiefs, and commanders of the army that receive orders directly from him. They transmit his commands. They divide themselves into regions; in each one of them there is one of these principalities that oppress its inhabitants and fight to resist the growth of the Church of Jesus there. In the book of Daniel we can see this clearly: “But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia” (Daniel 10:13).
This fight is constant. For this reason, when the Church of Jesus ties up the prince of darkness of one region, the Church grows and there is a revival that reaches those who did not have the knowledge of the Living Christ as personal Saviour.
The princes work only in celestial places. From there they command all the army of darkness that is under their control. Those princes are fallen angels that had a position before of authority in the army of God, but lost it, when they fell. However in the army of darkness they occupy a place of authority similar to what they had before. They have total control in their region and the cultural, social, political and economic areas are influenced by their personality, and the region that is dominated by them expresses their characteristics.
“And he said to him: 'I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.
So if you worship me, it will all be yours.'” (Luke 4:6,7). The devil said to the Lord Jesus that all the power of the kingdom of the world was given to him. That was the way that he found to get out of the position of dominated to the one of dominator. Let’s see how he got this position. At first God planned that the kingdoms were to be under the authority of man - created by Him. He would rule all the regions of the earth.
However, when Adam accepted the proposal of the serpent, (planned by the devil himself, the archenemy), he directly rejected the authority of God and provoked a rebellion in Eden.
For this reason he lost the authority that he had received from God, giving it over to Satan, the one whom God created to be under his rule.
Through this voluntary surrender, all the kingdoms of the earth were given to Lucifer; that gave the control to the principalities, putting them in the regions that they control.
All the areas of each region - political, social, economic and so on - are under the rule of one prince of darkness, being under his influence totally. The aim of these princes is to take mankind to eternal prison. The one and only power capable of impeding the growth of the kingdom of darkness is the Church of Jesus. God determined that it would be the instrument to defeat Satan. “In fact, no one can enter a strongman’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house” (Mark 3:27).
The purpose of God is that we, as the Church, tie up all the principalities of each region, taking back the rule of mankind over all creation.
The main mission of the princes of darkness is to rule over the regions, so that they will not have justice, holiness and prosperity.
The princes are the ones who impede some churches from being full of the Spirit, impeding them to have a renewal, and consequently miracles. It has been their principal target to strive against the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, faith, healing, and miracles and so on...
It’s necessary to explain that each region has its prince. In God’s army there’s also an angel responsible for it, and when he takes an order from God in Heaven to bring His word, his visit will also bring a visit from God.
Being aware of it, the prince of that region will concentrate all his efforts in impeding the messenger angel of the region from getting in.
At that moment a battle in heaven starts, being decided by the action and the participation of the Church.
Because if the church of this region doesn’t have the discernment of what is happening, or doesn’t know the principles they need to practice in the battle, the army of darkness can become the “winner”, even though it will be a temporary victory.
This was exactly what happened to the prophet Daniel, when he understood, “from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.”
As soon as Daniel turned his face to the Lord, to seek His presence with prayers and petitions, in fasting and sackcloth and ashes, and interceded for the people, the battle started between Gabriel and the prince that had jurisdiction over the region. “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.
But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days.
Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia” (Daniel 10:12, 13).
We don’t mean that the forces of the army of God are not enough to overcome the army of darkness. We mean that the Lord Jesus planned the victory of His army of angels with the participation of His Church.
How we must fight against the principalities.
a) Being submissive to the authority that was granted to us by Jesus.
This principle is fundamental in the confrontation with this sort of demons: “But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, 'THE LORD REBUKE YOU!' (Jude 9).
Here the Lord shows us that the understanding and the practice of complete submission to His authority will make us triumphant in the confrontation with the enemy.
We have to understand that it is not our strength or human authority that he respects; on the contrary, the human aspects are despised by him.
Let’s see an example of David against Goliath: Goliath - instrument of the devil, despised the human aspect of David -a child -. However David, even being a child, with the authority of God overcame him.
What the devil respects and fears in us is exclusively the authority of the Lord Jesus that covers us and gives us the capacity to face and defeat him.
b) Despising vanity and self-sufficiency
The tendency of man, when he becomes prosperous in his ministry, or famous in the work of God, and the praises are constant; is to keep in his heart the idea that his growth and success are only his merit. This feeling comes from the devil! When spiritual vanity enters the heart, the self-sufficiency starts being fed. From this moment he is running the risk of facing the princes of darkness.
If he is counting on himself more than on God, he is not submissive to the authority of God. When this happens, the ministry or the work of that man runs the risk of being deeply attacked by the devil. And it can be lethal!
c) To recognize the authority of the ministry granted by God
Another thing that we observe in this fight against the principalities is that our enemy recognizes the value of a man with the authority granted by the Lord Jesus. And for this reason the Christian that is not recognized in position of authority in the church of Jesus must not face the prince of darkness.
Satan knows the value that God gives to the authority legitimately established by Him. We are talking about the authority established by God, and not the one established by man. Satan knows that God will be involved with our ministry, that He Himself formed: “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be lost in heaven” (Matthew 16:18,19).
The Lord Jesus here is expressing wonderful promises: one for His church and the other one for Peter (and it is also for all those who are covered with the same authority in the work of God). He says to His Church: “and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” For Peter - that represents someone chosen by God for a position of authority - “the power of binding and loosing in heaven, power of healing, performing miracles and so on, without any interference from the principalities, as we saw in the case of Daniel, who overcame the prince of the kingdom of Persia.
Ruler and Rulers
The rulers act submissive to the principalities. They also had kept their position when they fell, but they remained in darkness. They operate in celestial places, acting along with the principalities and having as a principal target those who are covered with authority in the House of God. These evil angels want to divide the Church through discord, rebellions, jealousy and so on, between pastors, assistants and spiritual authorities.
One of the most outstanding examples to illustrate an action of a ruler is the one that happened with King Saul that provoked a division in the Kingdom of Israel. When Saul was anointed King of Israel, he received an order from the prophet Samuel - with all the authority of God, but he was not fully obedient. “Samuel said to Saul, 'I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt.
Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them, put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkey's!'(I Samuel 15:1-3) So, Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt.
He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed by the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs - everything that was good.
These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: 'I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.' Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the Lord all that night. Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul...” (I Samuel 15:7-12).
We, as the church, have to open wide our spiritual eyes, in order to detect the action of these specific kind of demons that are trained for this aim. They know that a confused leadership divided by the flesh cannot bear good fruits, and certainly will not conduct the flock in the right and victorious direction, capable of manifesting the glory of God to this world.
What those fallen angels want is the division of the Church of the Lord Jesus. The devil knows that there is power in its unity. For this reason he has spread seeds of doctrines that produce division and discord, human rules that don’t have the approval of God, for they reduce the possibility of reaching unity.
How to fight against the rulers
a) Rejecting all the seeds of faction
The devil has sowed this evil seed for many years inside the church. Subtly the hearts have leaned toward the exclusiveness and division. Since the Primitive Church attention has been diverted from the unity that the Lord preached and longed for so much.
Several churches appear among us; several parties - some with a doctrinaire body “holier” than the others; others consider themselves responsible for the revelation of the “eternal truth”. No one wants to submit themselves to the others.
And that’s why there have been innumerable fake parties - all of them proud and “owners of the truth”. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:20-22).
Jesus himself always demonstrated that his purpose was the unity of the Church - His church. He came and died in order to have only one flock that expresses the unity of the Father and the Son. But the devil has sown the seed of faction in order to try to frustrate the purpose of Jesus.
For this reason, when we detect this kind of seed amongst us we must destroy it immediately, for only like this will we be contributing to the realization of the purpose of the Lord Jesus.
b) Being aware of the competitive spirit
When we have a vision, a doctrine, an inspiration, etc., we will have consequently a competitive spirit regarding the rest of the Body of Christ. Because from the moment our heart accepts that seed, we start thinking that the vision that we have, our point of view, is the only one that can restore the Church and produce unity. When we BECOME EXCLUSIVISTS IN WHAT WE HAVE, all revelation that comes from the other part of the Body is disregarded by us, and we start wanting that other revelation to be frustrated.
Here starts the competition with the rest of the Body THAT IS ALSO WALKING IN SINCERITY in the presence of God.
We have to understand and accept that WE ARE NOT the “owners of the truth”, and that when we consider ourselves like this we are helping the kingdom of darkness and not the kingdom of God. We are not the owners of the truth NEVER!
For the TRUTH IS JESUS: “I am the way and the TRUTH and the life” (John 14: 6).
One of the biggest problems of Sail’s was his competitive spirit that impeded him to see that the Spirit of God was guiding David. If we want to overcome the rulers, we need to desire the destruction of this spirit among us, for it is a flaming arrow from the evil one. May God set us free from having in us the seed of faction.
c) Taking care against the envious heart
“As they danced, they sang: 'Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.’ Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him.’ They have credited David with tens of thousands,’ he thought, 'but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?' And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David” (I Samuel 18:7-9).
The factious feeling that makes a man want to have a kingdom turned to HIS revelations (and not to God’s), the feeling that makes him gather people around HIMSELF and not around God and his work, certainly comes from the devil. The example of Saul is very outstanding, for he had many actions against the word of God.
When he disobeyed the command of the Lord, he started ruling a kingdom in which he and his vision would be the centre of attention.
His heart became envious, and when the Spirit of God started raising David, he had a contrary reaction; in other words, he didn’t accept another one in his place, even if God raised this one. God could have forgiven the initial mistake of Saul’s if he had recognized the divine action.
If in his heart there were only the desire that the kingdom of God was introduced in Israel and not his own kingdom, he would have given a place to David, because it was the Sovereign God who was doing it.
But Saul acted moved by envy. For this reason his aim started being the death of David.
He did not have a conscience anymore about what he was doing; the darts of the devil had blinded him, because in willing the death of David he was simply willing to destroy what the Holy Spirit was doing.
May God set us free from envy, for it is the consequence of one satanic seed that makes man become blind and crazy. There are other actions of that sort of demon called ruler, but in my opinion those three are the most dangerous: seeds of faction, competitive spirit and envious heart.
This sort of demons acts exclusively on the Earth. They are evil spirits that have the aim of enslaving the body of man. They have the necessity of living in a body, for they need to express their personality. We can see a clear example in the Gospels. When the Lord Jesus drove out a legion of them from a man, they begged Him to allow them to enter a herd of pigs. Immediately they threw themselves down a precipice.
This passage shows us two truths: 1st) these spirits need a place to stay; 2nd) the spirits came to kill and destroy. That’s what they did with the pigs, and certainly that's what they wanted to do to the man.
Another obvious example, that expresses the action of the dominators, is the case of the young lady, Mary Magdalene. She was possessed by 7 (seven) evil spirits, and lived in prostitution and addiction - in other words, she expressed the demon dominators' personalities. When the Lord Jesus set her free, she became a God-fearing woman.
Now we can understand better the reason why many sick people become totally healed when they are free from the demons You should remember that when Jesus met a deaf and dumb possessed man; after driving out the demon the man was free from deafness, for that disease was the characteristic of the personality of that spirit. We can see other examples in people that have the addiction of lying, stealing, using drugs, etc. They only repeat a characteristic of the evil spirit that lives in them. When they are freed from these spirits the addictions will consequently leave them. These spirits also express their personality in other ways and vehicles, such as media, music, theatre, soap operas, movies, dance, etc. Through these ways they influence people to act as they act.
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8).
This verse shows us that the devil is roaring like a lion. He attacks like a lion, trying to intimidate us, and if we leave gaps for him to sow the fear, the insecurity, etc. he gets his aim. But what must be well understood is that he acts like a lion, however he is not a lion. He only imitates the lion, for the True Lion is inside of us; His name is Jesus Christ, the true Lion of Judah, the one that has already given us the victory against any and all spirits of darkness, it doesn’t matter if it’s a principality, ruler or dominator.
SPIRITUAL FORCES OF EVIL
Paul tells us about these kinds of fallen angels that act to produce dejection and lack of interest in those that have been devoted to God. When we talk to people that have attended the services in our churches we realize that many of them want to give up, saying that after having attended the chain of prayer their lives got worse. This happens because those demons have found a gap. They act there, in order to leave these people oppressed, desperate, and doubtful, that they will not overcome their problems. They try to weaken their faith making them think that there is no more solution, making them even think of committing suicide. The spiritual forces of evil have sowed the fear in the hearts of many men, and this fear becomes terror, putting them in a desperate situation.
We've spoken here about the fallen angels of darkness, their actions and our way of fighting against them. It’s good to know that the best and only way of being free from them is to follow Jesus. Christ himself declares: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
“Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right.”