In our daily meditations, we are looking at how our enemy has lined up his evil forces against the Church. To battle against an unseen enemy we don't understand is difficult at best, so yesterday and today, as well as the next two or three days, we shall seek to understand what Paul the apostle described in the Ephesians 6 passage he wrote. Paul used four phrases to categorize the evil spiritual entities in the world system against which the Church fights. Yesterday, we looked at the first category, the Rulers; today, we'll look at the second, the Authorities. Here's what Paul wrote:
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, Emphasis mine).
2) The Authorities. The Greek word used by Paul is Exousia. This word means authority. It is delegated authority from higher up the chain of command. When Matthew wrote of the centurion appealing to Jesus on behalf of his servant, the centurion used the same Greek word to describe the application of authority above him: “For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it” (Matthew 8:9). Our text in Ephesians 6 speaks of an evil spirit given permission, capability, right, and authority to act. In our meditation yesterday, we used the analogy of Germany's Adolf Hitler's men in the Second World War. Perhaps an authority would be similar to Hitler’s generals directing the battlefield, men who were given commands from above and had to exercise that authority on the battlefield. These evil spirits take orders from higher up in Satan's chain of command. They apply their power through fear of death and domination through sin and ignorance of Satan's ways.
It is conjecture on my part, but perhaps an "authority" would be a spirit holding control over a city where the people have collectively permitted a particular sin by an evil spirit "authority." It could be an evil spirit such as Moroni, who spoke to Joseph Smith and started Mormonism. This spirit uses religious deception and holds sway over Salt Lake City in Utah. Such a strong spirit could also be a "principality." It isn't easy to know. It would be wise for churches to research the roots and beginnings of their city so that they know how to target their intercessory prayer to engage the spirit over an area. One should seek God's wisdom and guidance in pulling down the stronghold of spiritual fortification for which the city is known.
An example that could be helpful to our understanding is a city such as Chicago, known for violence or racketeering over many years. In my opinion, for effective spiritual warfare to change things, it is not enough just to pray against an evil spirit's authority (although it is a great first step); spiritual warfare is waged by doing acts opposite to how the evil spirit's control is manifested, thereby weakening its power. Our good works and actions are themselves helpful in combat. We are fighting the good fight when we live in simple obedience to Jesus, going against the flow of the evil one. How do we unseat and displace demonic evil authorities over cities such as Chicago, known for violence? In my opinion, the answer would be for the churches in Chicago to go into the dark areas where violence and fear reign and share the love of Jesus with the lost. For Salt Lake City, perhaps it would be to send influential godly teachers to teach the Word of God. It's just my opinion—I could be wrong.
Tomorrow we will look at the Greek words translated into English as The Powers of this Dark World. Keith Thomas