Derek begins this four-week study by addressing the reality of two opposing spiritual kingdoms, which are at war with one another. These are the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Using Scripture, Derek gives us a picture of levels of rulerships within Satan’s kingdom.
I trust that all of us who are committed to Jesus here this evening do realize that we face enemies, because it is a very dangerous situation to have powerful and active enemies working against you and not even be aware that you have those enemies. The enemies that we face are not persons of flesh and blood but they are invisible spirit beings. The theme that we are going to deal with in these talks concern things which are not discerned by human senses. The Bible speaks about things which “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man,” things that are invisible and spiritual. The things we are going to talk about can only be understood through the Scriptures. There is no other source of reliable information.
A lot of people imagine, I think, that the things we see, touch, hear and taste are the truly real things. Actually, all through the ages philosophers have come to the conclusion that they are not truly real. They are temporary, they are impermanent, and they are very often deceptive. You cannot rely on your senses. It is amazing how many different philosophers down the ages have come to that conclusion. The Bible says the same. Paul says that the things that are seen are temporary; the things which are not seen are eternal. In other words, the things of the sense world are only temporary. They are only partly real; they do not endure. But the things of the spiritual world that we cannot see, that we cannot perceive with our senses, are the truly real things. They are the things that endure.
So when we come to a theme like this we have to begin by making a mental adjustment and say to ourselves: I’m not going to limit myself to the things that I can see and touch and hear and taste, but I’m going to open my heart and mind to the revelation that is given me in Scripture through the Holy Spirit to things that are of a different world. Paul prayed for the Ephesian Christians that God would give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him and I pray that for us here that God may grant us, as we open our hearts to His Word, a spirit of wisdom and revelation, because we are dealing with things that can only be known by revelation.
What we are going to deal with in essence is two kingdoms, two opposing kingdoms that are at war with one another. But they are not natural kingdoms, such as Britain and Sweden or other nations, but they are invisible, spiritual kingdoms. One is the kingdom of God and the other is the kingdom of Satan.
I would like to begin by reading from Matthew chapter 12, just two verses, 26 and 28. Jesus had been accused by the Pharisees that He was able to drive out demons because He was in league with the prince of the demons, who is called Beelzebub. And He pointed out to them that was a very illogical explanation and it could not possibly be true. In pointing it out to them, He said these two things. First of all in verse 26:
“If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?”
So Satan has a kingdom, as Jesus Himself has indicated. A lot of Christians, I think, find it difficult to understand that, but here it is clearly stated.
And then two verses further on Jesus says:
“But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
There is the other kingdom, the Kingdom of God. So here are two invisible spiritual kingdoms, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. And Jesus points out that there is one particular aspect of His ministry that brings the two kingdoms out into the open and that is the driving out of demons by His power and authority. The demons, invisible spirit beings, represent the kingdom of Satan. Jesus, and then those who are His servants and follow His ministry, represent the Kingdom of God. And in the driving out of demons the visible clash of the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan is brought out into the open. Also the fact that Jesus and His servants can drive out the demons of Satan is convincing evidence that the Kingdom of God is more powerful than the kingdom of Satan. Personally I believe that is why Satan particularly dislikes and opposes the ministry of deliverance, because it brings out into the open things which he would rather keep secret and it also demonstrates that the kingdom of Jesus is more powerful than his kingdom.
Now I want to speak in this talk about the nature and the structure of Satan’s kingdom and we will turn to Ephesians chapter 6 and verse 12, which is, I think, the main verse that brings this out. And again, I want to remind you we are now talking about things you cannot perceive with your senses. I will read, what I’m reading is the New King James which is like the old King James but a little bit modernized. Ephesians 6:12:
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
The word “places” is in inverted commas. It is put in by the translators. I think it is better to say “in the heavenlies.” Somebody commented once that most of the church has punctuated that verse wrong. The way they read it is like this: “For we do not wrestle. Full stop.” That’s not what he is saying.
I want to give you “the Prince version” of this particular verse. I studied Greek since I was 10 years old and I am qualified to teach it at university level. I do not say that to boast, but at least it gives me the right to give my opinion. I may not be right but I’m entitled to an opinion. I’d like to begin by taking a phrase from The Living Bible which says: “Our wrestling match is not against persons with bodies.” I think that is very vivid. It is extremely important to understand that we are dealing with persons. Until we grasp that, we are really like a blindfolded boxer. We are dealing with persons but they are persons without bodies, spirit beings.
Now we’ll go on. “...For our wrestling match.” Again, I want to point out that this is a very intense conflict. I think of all the forms of interpersonal conflict, wrestling is the most intense. It is one person totally pitted against another person. It is no accident that Paul uses that phrase for our warfare against Satan’s kingdom. It is total warfare.
“Our wrestling match is not against persons with bodies.” Now here comes the Prince version: “But against rulerships with various areas and descending orders of authority, against the world dominators of this present darkness, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies.” What I want to point out to you is that Satan’s kingdom is no jumble; it is a highly-organized kingdom, for which he gets no credit because he was, I believe, (and we will deal with this in a few moments) one of the chief angels in charge of a large section of the angels. And as such he had a divinely given organizational system. And when he rebelled against God and led his angels in rebellion he simply took the system with him but turned it against God. So don’t imagine that Satan does not have a highly organized kingdom. For which, as I said, he gets no credit. The credit goes to God. But let us take into account the fact that he is no simpleton. He is a very astute, powerful and evil being.
Let us now go briefly through the revised version, the amplified version that I gave you. We’re “against rulerships.” I say “rulerships” because the Greek word is abstract. It is not rulers, although most of the modern translations say that. It is “rulerships.” There is a certain level of spiritual authority in Satan’s kingdom which is the level of rulerships. And under these rulers are sub-rulers with various areas of authority. And under them are sub-sub-rulers with smaller areas of authority. So one ruler has a major area of authority. Under him are lesser rulers, each of whom has a small area part of that. Under them are sub-lesser-lesser rulers that have smaller areas of authority. All right, that’s the first picture and in a little while by turning to the Old Testament I will give you some very clear examples of how it functions.