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Principalities & the Spiritual Armor

Our Authority in Heaven

I knew a man in Christ fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knows;) such a one caught up to the third Heaven. (2 Corinthians 12:2 AKJV)

The word “heaven” refers to all of the spirit realm. Paul shows us how many heavens there are in this one simple statement. If there is a third Heaven, then there must be a second Heaven and a first. The scholars generally believe that:

  • 1st Heaven is the spirit realm around the Earth

  • 3rd Heaven is the abode of God

It is hotly debated what the second Heaven is. Many believe it is outer space, anything outside the Earth’s atmosphere. I believe it is like a “no man’s land in the spirit world.” This is where Satan and his angels reside after rebelling against God.

There are several verses people have used to suggest we have authority in the Heavens. We must understand the truth of what the Bible says to operate in our rightful authority. Paul wrote a letter to Christians in Ephesus explaining a few foundational principles and the need for the spiritual armor, along with information about beings in the heavens. We need to keep the instructions about the armor of God and “to stand” in the proper context of the letter to the new believers in order to avoid a trap of the enemy!

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). (Ephesians 5:21 AMPC)

The Book of Ephesians is actually a letter in which Paul is responding to inquiries and advising the church at Ephesus. There were no chapter breaks. In chapter five he begins talking about submitting to authority:

  • Wives submitting to husbands as unto the Lord

    • Husbands taking care of the wife as he does his own body

  • Children to parents

    • Fathers not provoking children to wrath

  • Slaves to masters (employees to your boss)

    • Even when they are not looking at you

  • Masters to the Lord (bosses and business owners to the Lord)

Ephesians 5:22-6:9

Submitting to those over you can be hard to do but Paul wraps this all together with a final instructions about where we can receive help from:

In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]. Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil. (Ephesians 6:10-11 AMPC)

Because it begins with "in conclusion" what Paul is saying next is linked to submitting to the authority over you which was discussed in the prior verses. Only the Lord can strengthen us to submit to authority, We need the "spiritual armor" to overcome "strategies and deceits of the devil" that will try to get us to rebel against the authorities we should be submitting to.

Let's look at how we are equipped:

  • Belt of Truth: a belt holds up our pants which protect our legs. To keep our walk protected, we must tighten this around us.

Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by Me. (John 14:6 AKJV)

Our Lord is the truth. We must walk with Him to come before God and to stay on the right path. This letter speaks of one particular truth:

In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation (Ephesians 1:13 AKJV)

The Gospel is the message of Jesus through which we obtain salvation. This is the very first item that must be in place. If you do not know Jesus as your Lord through the Gospel, then you are not equipped for this battle.

  • Breastplate of Righteousness: Righteousness is our right standing with God which comes from Jesus. It will keep us humble when we are firmly aware of this fact so that our heart is protected from pride.

Pride goes before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18 AKJV)

This letter speaks specifically about being equipped with righteousness:

That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

We must “put on” the new person we have become in the Lord. Strapping on a breastplate takes effort. King Solomon taught about protecting our heart:

Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from you a fraudulent mouth, and perverse lips put far from you. (Proverbs 4:23-24 AKJV)

Words can poison our hearts. We need to put away even speaking in the defiled way we used to speak to keep the breastplate of righteousness in place.

  • Shoes of the Gospel of Peace: The “gospel” is the message that we are no longer estranged from God but adopted as sons and daughters through the sacrifice of Jesus. It is through Him that we have peace.

And that He might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:16-18 AKJV)

Jesus is our peace. It is through Him that we have access by the Spirit to God. We must walk with Jesus to remain at peace.

  • Shield of Faith: We are told to “lift up” this shield “upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked one.” In the Word of God, projectiles are words. These are accusations of Satan against us. Paul mentioned faith when he spoke of principalities:

Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. For by [faith—trust and holy fervor born of faith] the men of old had divine testimony borne to them and obtained a good report. By faith we understand that the worlds [during the successive ages] were framed (fashioned, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose) by the word of God, so that what we see was not made out of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:1-3 AMPC)

A shield is a defense. Our faith in what Jesus has done and the power of our God is what enables us to stand against the accusations of Satan.

  • Helmet of Salvation: We are saved through Jesus.

In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in Whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise… (Ephesians 1:13 AKJV)

A helmet sits on your head. Inside our head is where our thoughts originate. What the Lord has done for us must always be a part of our thinking. It cannot be only on Sunday that we consider the fact that we are sworn to Jesus as Lord, ruler of our life. We must subject every thought, every idea, to the Word of God.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds: Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ… (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 AKJV)

The real battle isn’t with what exists in this world (carnal) but what is happening in the spirit. There are spiritual strongholds that need to be removed or prevented from developing by “placing” the helmet of salvation on our heads. We must be ready to remove anything that exalts itself above God.

  • Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God: Jesus is the Word, He is our defender. This letter speaks of the Word and Spirit in another scripture:

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish… (Ephesians 5:25-27 KJV)

The Holy Spirit is often referred to as “water” when speaking about Christians (John 7:38). Physical water cannot clean or sanctify us, but the Holy Spirit can. He does this by revelation in the Word of God. The point of learning about the Word is to improve and cleanse our life by revealing sin, which keeps us from deeper fellowship with our Heavenly Father.

Though we have a sword, this verse doesn’t tell us to attack the enemy with it but to rely upon the Word. There is another place where the Word of God is a sword.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 AKJV)

The Word of God will tell us what is right and wrong and will reveal anything that we need to be separated from so that the attacks of the enemy can be removed. A few verses later, we see that this is indeed the purpose of the sword of the Spirit:

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 AKJV)

If we were not under an attack, we would not need help. We must be equipped with the Word of God when we approach His throne. Every item in the spiritual armor speaks about the benefits brought when we take Jesus as Lord. After having all of these items in place, then we are told what to do:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12 KJV)

In other words, our fight isn’t with who we are submitting to, it is a spiritual battle. According to Strong's Concordance, "wrestle" means the struggle of Christians with the powers of evil. In the past I have been told and even repeated that this is a list of greatest to the least of powers. However, looking at the Greek words will help us understand this list:

  • Principalities: Strong's G746 archē - the first place, principality, rule, magistracy. (arch angels)

  • Powers: exousia - the leading and more powerful among created beings superior to man, spiritual

  • Rulers of darkness of this world: Those who Satan and his demons are working though

    • Rulers: Strong's G2888 kosmokratōr - the devil and his demons

    • darkness: Strong's G465 skotos - persons in whom darkness becomes visible and holds sway

    • of this world: Strong's G165 aiōn - period of time, age

"Spiritual wickedness in high places" is very straightforward: it is spirits opposing God in Heaven. When we look at all of these, they have one thing in common: they are the opposing spiritual forces. From the most powerful spiritual beings to those whom Satan is working through. We will need to be equipped in spiritual armor to overcome them.

​Why take to you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13 AKJV)

The true battle is in the spirit, and we are told to stand against it. If we were supposed to attack, then it would have told us to attack, not to stand. As a Pharisee, Paul knew what the Old Testament says:

The Heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD's: but the Earth has he given to the children of men. (Psalms 115:16 AKJV)

It is not our place to attack those who reside in Heaven: Principalities, powers, spiritual hosts in heavenly places. Let's skip down a bit, after Paul describes the armor, he continues showing what we should do with it.

Praying always with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints… (Ephesians 6:18 ASV)

A "supplication" is humbly asking, this is how we should approach God in prayer. This is not commanding, demanding, or decreeing. When the Holy Spirit prays through us, then God is speaking, so He will pray what is necessary. If the saints (those devoted to God) are strengthened, then God can move more through them to free more people through the spreading of the Gospel and teaching God's ways. This is the way we combat principalities, powers, and wickedness in Heavenly places.

Some people claim we can move against principalities because the “legion” of demons inside the man that Jesus cast out into the pigs (Matthew 8) would constitute a principality. After all, it is referring to a military unit. We need to stick to the facts stated in the Bible instead of presuming things:

  • The legion was in a man—we have authority to cast out what is inside someone, when God tells us to.

  • Principalities are spiritual rulers.

We cannot mix the two things together. These spirits were inside a man who was on Earth, so it wasn’t a principality. We cannot attack what is in Heaven, but when the Holy Spirit tells us to, we can cast out what is touching someone on this Earth. Unauthorized authority is wrong wherever it is done:

  • By individuals

  • In group prayer meetings

  • In prayer marches around cities

Any time we come against a spirit over a territory, a city, or a country, we are attacking something that resides in the heavens. If you joined in by saying “amen,” you will be held accountable, even if it is just online, on YouTube or social media post (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc). Some examples of principalities we attack are:

  • Spirit of abortion

  • Spirit of violence

  • Spirit of adultery

  • Spirit of witchcraft

If you have ever taken authority over principalities or powers in heavenly places, stand firm in the knowledge you now have that this is wrong. You have to know what is against you. Not the exact specific situation, but just that you have done this type of action and it was wrong. When you confess the sin (see this the way God does according to His word), and plead the blood over it, you can then have the cases overturned, even if you don’t know exactly when and where you did these things!

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