“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
To really understand fully the concept of exorcism and possession, you must first understand the basic theology behind spiritual warfare. Each of us lives on the precipice between two distinct realms; the material created universe and the immaterial spiritual realm. The material realm is that which can be seen, felt, touched, heard, or tasted. It is the realm of the senses and is known and experienced primarily through our sensory perception. The country, nation, city, or village in which you live is part of the natural material realm. You are a resident in the natural world located on one of the visible continents of the earth. This material world is not, as many Hindus, Buddhists and New Agers claim, an illusion. It is very real. You can see and interact with your environment and the people who are part of your environment. You can communicate with them. You can experience the sights, sounds, and smells around you. However there is another realm that impacts your physical world, even if unknowingly or imperceptible to you. That world is the spiritual world. You cannot normally see it with your physical eyes, but it is just as real as the natural world in which you live. Paul speaks of this division of natural and spiritual:
“There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.”
-I Corinthians 15:40
All of us possesses a natural body which serves as our vehicle of expression in the natural world, but you are also a spiritual being with an eternal soul and spirit. Humans exist as a substance dualism- a body and soul. Your spiritual self (soul) is part of a spiritual world just as your natural body is part of the natural world. The soul dwells in the body.
"The invisible soul is guarded by the visible body."-Letter to Diognetus
“He clothed and covered man's spirit with an earthly body...”- Lactantius
This is not to suggest that in this substance dualism there is any conflict between the material self and the spiritual self. They are one. Think of it this way; H2O is water. Water is H2O. If we boil water, we boil H2O. They are two aspects of the one substance.
Within the natural and spiritual realms there exists two distinct "ways" (as the Didache calls them) or forces, if you will, that are ruled by natural and spiritual leaders.
1. The World (Modernity)- All of us live in the natural kingdom of this world. We live in and are connected to the natural world and our environment. We live in cities or villages which are part of a nation. That nation is a kingdom of the world. A natural kingdom is a territory or people over which a political leader is the sovereign ruler. The Bible speaks of these natural kingdoms as "kingdoms of the world.” The kingdoms of the world have come under the power and influence of Satan.
“Again, the Devil took Him (Jesus) up into an exceeding high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And said to Him, All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me."- Matthew 4:8-9
"As for you, you are a foreigner in this world, a citizen of Jerusalem, the city above." - Tertullian
John 5:19 further informs us of the sobering fact that "the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”
“From the beginning, He had given the devil power over the earth.”- Lactantius
2. Spiritual Realities- In addition to the natural kingdom of this world there are two spiritual kingdoms: What we will call, the realm of the influence of Satan and the Kingdom Of God. Every person alive is a “resident”, so to speak, of one of these two realities. The realm of Satan consists of Satan, spiritual beings called demons, and all who live in sin and rebellion to the Gospel. These are the spiritual forces of evil, discord, and rebellion.
The Kingdom of God consists of God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, spiritual beings called angels, and all who live in righteous obedience to the Gospel. These are the spiritual forces of good, holiness and peace.
The Kingdom of God exists individually within every person who has recognized the personal Kingship of Christ. On a national level, the Kingdom of God exists in a culture wherein the social Kingship of Christ is the rule (there are no such earthly nations fitting this definition today.). In the future, there will be an actual visible manifestation of God's Kingdom on a new earth, where Jesus will reign physically "in-person".
Between these two ways there rages a spiritual war. This invisible (to those without discernment) spiritual war is an intense conflict stemming from the very foundations of human existence which involves all men and women. Thus:
“...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
"Their great business is the ruin of mankind. So, from the start, spiritual wickedness sought our destruction." - Tertullian
Spiritual warfare is not a natural war of flesh and blood, guns and tanks, missiles and bombs. It is not a war of nation against nation, or person against person, though it can manifest in these ways. It is not only a visible battle. It is an invisible struggle in the spiritual realm. It is a sustained conflict within and around humanity. It is not primarily a visible war is because spirits are involved and we learn in Luke 24:39 that a spirit is by definition not material in any sense that we understand it.
Spiritual warfare is "multidimensional,” which means it is fought on many levels. It is...
• A socio-political, meta-political, and cultural war between the Kingship of Christ and the worldview of revolution against God. (John 15:18-27)
• A personal war between the flesh and the spirit. (Galatians 5:16-26)
• A spiritual battle between the Kingdom of God and demonic entities. (Ephesians 6:10-27)
Every person alive is engaged in this warfare, whether they realize or even choose to believe it or not.
There is no neutral ground.
Those not living the Gospel and in communion with Christ's Church are in bondage to evil to one degree or another, and are subject to the influence of demonic forces. They are the real victims of the war. Christians have been freed from the Adversary through Jesus Christ and are victors, but they are still engaged in the war. They can still be wounded and fail, and even worse if they are not careful. The verse from Sacred Scripture at the start of this chapter indicates that we fight against evil spiritual forces.
"Wrestling" by definition involves close personal contact. No one is exempt from this conflict. No one can view it from a distance. There are no conscientious objectors or pacifists in this war. You are a soldier in it whether you like it or not. The warfare between the forces of Modernity (Cultural Marxism, Atheism, Globalism, Relativism, Mono-Culturalism, etc.) and the Kingship of Christ rages all around you.
“….these contaminated and abandoned spirits wander over the whole earth.”
Satan and the forces of evil fight to maintain control of the minds of the people, the leadership of nations, and institutions of the world. Governments, sub-cultures, and false religions are all a part of the war. The Adversary does not want them to come under the authority of the social Kingship of Christ, and those cultures and people that would dare advance our Lord's social Kingship are the nations and people most attacked.
Briefly, the spiritual war started in Heaven with an angel named Lucifer who was originally a beautiful angel created by God and was a subject of the Kingdom of God. Lucifer decided he wanted to take over God's Kingdom. You can read about this rebellion in Isaiah 14:12-17 and Ezekiel 28:12-19. A group of angels joined Lucifer (now called Satan) in this rebellion- a revolution against the Kingship of Christ. Lucifer and the rebellious, revolutionary angels were cast out of Heaven by God. They formed their own pseudo-kingdom by influencing the governments and societies of earth.
“And there was war in Heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon (Satan); and the dragon fought and his angels."-Revelation 12:7
“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."- Revelation 12:9
Lucifer is now known as Satan and the angels which followed him in rebellion are now known as demons. Demons, being spiritual beings, can enter, torment, control, and use humans who are subject to Satan's Kingdom. They motivate and encourage evil acts. Satan directs his demons in their evil activities. He combines these powerful forces with the negative forces and institutions of Modernity (the world) and the frailties of the human mind to wage this war against humanity.
“From the devil comes the incentive to sin.” - Tertullian
Humanity was created in the image of God, and for the glory of God (Genesis chapter 2). The spiritual war against humanity started with the first temptation in the garden of Eden (Genesis chapter 3) Satan caused Adam and Eve to sin. Eve had been told that she should not be paying attention to the serpent. She was deceived by the serpent, and gave in to his temptation to reject the counsel of God not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This resulted in all of humanity inheriting depravity, an inclination to sin and rebellion:
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”- Romans 5:12
“Because she was in the beginning deceived by the serpent, this Eve became the author of sin. Actually it was the wicked demon, who also is called Satan, who then spoke to her through the serpent. And he works even to this day in those men who are possessed by him.” -Theophilus
It also resulted in the invisible war between man and the demonic forces.
“And I will put enmity between thee (Satan) and the woman (humanity), and between thy seed (the demonic) and her seed (humanity)...”- Genesis 3:15
From this we learn that Satan was this apostate angel and the enemy.
“For he was envious of God's workmanship and took in hand to render this workmanship into something at enmity with God.” -Irenaeus
“He deceived man because he had envied him.” -Tertullian
Because of sin, humanity was separated from God and condemned to experience old age, disease, and death. Not only physical death, but due to the separation from God, spiritual death-hell. But God loved humanity so much that He made a special plan to save us.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.”- John 3:16-17
Through belief in and discipleship to Jesus Christ, confession of and repentance from sin, and cleaving to His Church, we can be released from the power of the Adversary. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ not only resulted in salvation from sin, it also defeated Satan.
“...For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” - I John 3:8
But if Satan is defeated, why does the war still rage?
Following any war there are always pockets of enemy resistance, revolutionary troops that will not give up until forced to do so. Although Christ defeated Satan, we are living in territory which is still occupied by enemy revolutionary forces. Understanding spiritual warfare strategies gives us the ability to deal with these evil powers. Satan is trying to keep humanity captive in sin and take down as many of us with him as he can before the final judgment. Through deceptive methods he is enticing men and women to temporary lusts of sinful living. Thus, Modernity offers a license to sin freely, rejecting objective morality, rejecting the traditional family, promoting, sodomy and every other kind of sexual perversion. He aims for the affections of the soul and spirit which rightfully belong to God:
“The thief (Satan) cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” - John 10:10
“That most stubborn Enemy never gives his malice a rest. Indeed, he is then the most savage when he fully feels that a man is freed from his clutches.”
Satan still wants to be the supreme ruler and to be worshiped. He is waging an intense battle for the mind and soul of every man, woman and child. His strategies are directed at destroying the personal and social Kingship of Christ, His plan of salvation, and disciples of Christ. This is why we witness such an onslaught of immorality, the destruction of Traditional Christian culture, the push for Globalism-a mono-culture, and removal of personal and national identity. All of these are designed to enslave humanity to the forces of Satan.
Spiritual warfare then is the analysis of and active participation in the exposure and direct confrontation of demonic forces and their activities on a personal and cultural level. It includes study of the strategies of Satan, and God's spiritual strategies for overcoming this Adversary. Spiritual warfare is more than a mere analysis of spiritual principles. It includes active participation in spiritual warfare by application of these strategies in all aspects of life and ministry.