Over the last few days at groupbiblestudy.com, we have been thinking about Paul’s words in his letter to the Ephesian church about the Christian's struggle with four categories of supernatural evil forces. Today we come to the fourth category. Here again, is the text:
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).
4) The Spiritual Forces of Evil in the Heavenly Realms. We can compare these evil spirits to your basic foot soldiers. These demons of varying lower ranks oppose and obstruct men and women from searching and finding the truth in this world. They target not only non-Christians but also hinder the spiritual growth of God's people after they commit their lives to Christ. We lack information on this, but all believers in Christ may have been assigned a demonic spirit that looks for ways to weaken and try to destroy their testimony. The principal weapon of these forces of evil is to sow destructive thoughts in the seedbed of people's minds. Negative evil thoughts, if we allow them to, can germinate and grow and become attitudes and habits designed to enslave people and bring them into bondage to Satan. The greater your influence in the Kingdom of God, the higher the rank and cleverness of the evil spirit assigned to you. The enemy also assesses your potential to damage his kingdom. If he thinks you are a threat to the realm of darkness, he will oppose you and try to stop you from becoming a challenge. Be strong in the power of God’s might, not your own—pray through every opposition to your growth in Christ. Be diligent in the things of God.
Some attacks may be more than thoughts and go deeper into oppression. You cannot stop the birds of the air from flying about your head, but you can prevent them from making a nest in your hair. If we buy into dark thoughts and mull over them, they can become feelings, such as depression, discouragement, frustration, bitterness, and resentment, among many other things. As you grow older and more mature in Christ and can cast down such thoughts, you may find that the enemy changes his attack strategy. In my early days as a Christian, the enemy would plant a thought, such as, "You don't really believe in God, do you?" As I got older and more mature in my walk with Christ, that thought would no longer come to me, for the enemy knew he was wasting his time sowing that seed thought. I had come to a firm, logical, Bible-centered belief in God. I had thoroughly researched and weighed the evidence and come to reliable conclusions on which to base my faith.
A Disarmed Enemy
You may not be aware of being in a battle, but let me assure you, if you are a disciple of Christ, you are in a fight whether you like it or not (2 Timothy 3:12). Some Bible expositors believe that Revelation 12:4 indicates that Satan has won over to his side a third of the stars of heaven. The belief is that the stars mentioned are supernatural beings now called demons. I don't know if that is the proper interpretation of that passage, but I believe there are many spiritual forces of evil that inhabit the unseen realm. They are structured in such a way to do the maximum damage they can to the Kingdom of God. We need not fear these demons and evil spirits against us because Christ has triumphed over them by 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 Word of God reminds us of the authority and power given to those who are born-again of the Spirit; the Scripture says, “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Who is in us? If you are a believer, Christ Jesus took residence in our hearts when we received the gift of eternal life. The Lord Jesus said: “I have given you the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you” (Luke 10:19).
The apostle Peter also assures us that Christ has conquered all the power of the enemy and sat down alongside the Father in the throne room, and enemy powers are under His feet:
Who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him (1 Peter 3:22 emphasis mine).
We have nothing to fear from our defeated foe, for Christ disarmed him 2000 years ago at the hill of Calvary. He may still be a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8), but he lost his teeth and claws at the cross of Christ. Keith Thomas