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What is Often Missing from Biblical Christian Teachings

As believers, we need to recognize a broader application of our sin nature beyond the physical realm.

When we look at our Biblical Christian systematic theology as presented on Sunday mornings and discipleship classes, what is typically emphasized is our need to focus on the nature of God and Christ as presented in and through the Holy Spirit. In a constant battle with our personal sin nature, we are reminded to pray, read our Bibles, and fellowship with other believers as we repent of our sins and grow towards the Lord (sanctification). These are the most important aspects of the Christian life. However, this is not a complete picture of the obstacles to our spiritual walk. What is missing is a recognition of the influence and the need for protection from the evil side of the supernatural or Spiritual Realm. 

What is the Spiritual Realm

We live in the natural or physical realm. However, the Bible speaks to a much larger dimension which we typically cannot see, hear, or touch. The residents of this place include God, currently Jesus, angels, as well as Satan and demons. Further, the supernatural or spiritual realm includes all of humanity, since Adam and Eve, who have passed away, both the saved (2 Cor. 5:8) and the lost (Luke 16:23). 

There is much anecdotal evidence for the existence of the spiritual realm. However, for most, who accept its reality, their basis rests on religious convictions, centered on faith. Scripture refers to this as, 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Logically, mankind, and especially nonbelievers, use our natural world as a foundation or framework for understanding the supernatural world. We expect God to conform to our view of fairness and morality rather than accepting His word, the Bible, at face value. We expect scientific, cultural, and moral laws currently in place in our world to be directly applicable to the spiritual realm as well. This includes, for example, the notion of time, war, marriage, memory, evil, entropy, perfection and many more. The reality is that the supernatural realm operates very differently than the natural.

So, without Scripture, as at least a partial guide, we fail miserably when attempting to understand the spiritual realm based on our phYsical experiences.

What is the Objective of the Spiritual Realm

There are two forces, and only two forces, at work in the spiritual realm: good and evil. These forces are in a constant battle with each other, and more significantly, their battlefield is not limited to the supernatural realm, but bleeds over into our world, the natural realm, on a regular and pervasive basis. 

God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit (who resides within the hearts of believers in the natural world) represent the Trinitarian leadership of good. Their “soldiers” are angels which includes a hierarchy of archangels, cherubim, and seraphim. There are likely millions of angels and are mentioned 273 times over 34 books in the Bible (details here). 

Satan represents the evil side of the spiritual realm. He was Lucifer, the greatest angel who, due to his pride, fell into sin and took a third of the angels with him. Those fallen angels are referred to as demons. They also have an organizational structure (Eph. 6:12).

Though there is a clear battle between good and evil within the supernatural and a recognition that that battle is also being waged in our physical realm, if one believes the Bible, we, as Christians, have already read the end of the “book” and know the final outcome of the war will be won by God. However, what is also clear is that knowing who wins the war does not predict who will win each of the battles we will take part in as we move through our lives. As mankind deals with our sin nature much of that sin comes from our own evil heart, inherited back to Adam and Eve. However, what we need to recognize is there is also an attraction toward sin promoted by Satan and his demons as he desires all to be lost forever in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:14. Matt. 18:8).

The Bible is written to mankind for our use. It intends to draw mankind to God and Christ for eternity. It also provides us with an instruction manual for life while on the earth. Therefore, the context of Scripture is focused on how the spiritual realm impacts humanity. So, from the Bible, the objective of the spiritual realm is a battle between good and evil for the hearts of man. 

What does the Bible say about Heavenly Realms or Places?

Below are just a few Bible verses from Ephesians that reference the supernatural.

  • Ephesians 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
  • Ephesians 1:20 – that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,
  • Ephesians 2:6 – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
  • Ephesians 3:10 – so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
  • Ephesians 6:12 – For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

How does man Interface with God in the Spiritual Realm?

Much of our communication with the Godly side of the spiritual realm comes through prayer. However, fellowshipping with other believers, studying the Bible, and serving our Lord, are other ways we communicate with God. Further, there are cultures in the world today that are drawn to and informed by God through dreams and miracles. 

Interestingly, there are times when those in the spiritual realm have directly appeared to mankind. Some examples include,

  • Genesis 19:1 – The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth
  • Matthew 4:3 – And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
  • Peter in jail – Acts 12:7 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands.
  • With Mary, at Jesus’ tomb – John 20:11-12 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.

How does man Interface with Evil in the Spiritual Realm?

Not only are God’s angelic ambassadors active on earth, but Satan and his demons are also present. Some examples from the Bible include, 

  • Matthew 12:22 – Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw.
  • Demoniac… Luke 8:30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him.
  • The testing of Job by Satan as found in Job 1:6-12.
  • Genesis 3:1-5 – Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
  • Matthew 8:29 – And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?”
  • Mark 5:9 – And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.”
  • 1 Timothy 4:1 – Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,

What is Spiritual Warfare

The battle between good and evil, in both the supernatural and natural realm can be summed up in the phrase, “Spiritual Warfare”. It is a battle for the heart of man, both in our current physical state as well as our final destination, Heaven or Hell. 

  • Ephesians 6:12 – For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

This is a battle unlike any fought in the physical realm. It is a battle over influencing mankind to do good or do evil in the eyes of the Lord. The unusual nature of spiritual warfare from a supernatural perspective is the realization that no angel, either good or bad, can be killed. However, at the end of the age, as God presents the New Heaven and New Earth, Satan and his demons will live forever sealed in the Lake of Fire (Matt. 25:41). 

It is important to note that in this battle between good and evil, man is not called to engage in the war directly. Instead, we are called to swear our allegiance with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Tim. 6:15) and call on His power to protect us from the evil one. 

  • James 4:7 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Note that we are told to “resist the devil” rather than to attack the devil. Man is not equipped to be the attacker in spiritual battles. We are to use our “full armor” (Eph. 6:10-18), presenting the Bible as our only offensive weapon (the “sword”). 

Evil comes from two sources, the supernatural realm and man’s sin nature. 

At the outset of this article, we offered the point that the focus of most Biblical Christian teachings centers around the battle between our internal sin nature and our desire, as believers, to do the Lord’s will. However, our intent with this post was to remind the Christian that we must also take into account the influence of Satan and his demons, who also desire to influence humanity. A question one could ask is how do we know if we are being negatively influenced by our own sin or from an outside evil influence? The answer to that question is both difficult and somewhat irrelevant. Regardless of the source, the power to resist comes from a relationship with God, by accepting Christ as our Savior and Lord.

Conclusion

The six points below should always be part of our awareness of the potential for evil that exists all around us. 

  • We have an internal sin nature waging war against the Holy Spirit.
  • There is external spiritual warfare, between angels, demons, and man.
  • We need to be confident that the Bible confirms God wins the war between good and evil.
  • To remain balanced, we need to be careful not to see demons under every rock but accept responsibility for our own actions.
  • We can impact spiritual warfare within and outside of us through prayer, fellowship with believers, and the study of God’s word.
  • We know God will win the war, but we need to be on guard that Satan can win many battles as we move through our lives. 

1 Peter 5:8 – Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour


POSTSCRIPT: A reader’s comment needs to be included here as a final caution. He made the point that the sword (Bible) is not an offensive weapon, and I stand corrected. The sword is only a weapon of DEFENSE in the sense that the Bible “enables us to stand our ground against evil (Eph. 6:13). There is the passage in Heb. 4:12 that references the sward as an offensive weapon, but more in terms of an illustration regarding the heart, not toward an external source of evil.

However, the verses in Ehpesians do start with the words, “wrestle against… the spiritual forces of evil” So, if we are wrestling there is a sense of the sword (Bible) being something more than pure defense as the rest of our armor is. We do not need to be starting a fight with the evil one. 

That all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.” — 1 Samuel 17:47


Salvation – Eternal Life in Less Than 150 Words

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AuthorJeff Hilles | BCWorldview.org 

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