The Hidden Battle
The Scriptures often refer to “heavenly places” or “the heavens.” The Greek word is epouranios and simply means “of or pertaining to heavenly realms or regions.” We’ll define it more momentarily, but first, listen to the following 5 verses in Ephesians that speak of “heavenly places”:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places. And raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
This sounds like one uninterrupted passage of Scripture, doesn’t it? It is actually 5 separate verses from Ephesians 1:3, 1:20, 2:6, 3:10, 6:12. I became fascinated one day as I read these verses consecutively, with none of the in-between sections. When I saw how well they flowed together, I realized they really do provide a continuity of thought. In summary, they tell us: we have been given everything we need in order to operate in heavenly places; Christ has been given all authority in this realm; we have been legally seated there with Him in His position of authority; through us, from our position there with Christ, God intends to defeat the kingdom of darkness; finally, the last verse describes that evil kingdom, listing its various components.
Let’s consider this realm, “heavenly places,” a little more fully. It not only refers to heaven, God’s home, but to all of the invisible, spiritual realm around us. We must consider this relatively unknown dimension in order to fully partner with God and experience the fullness of His blessing. It is the unseen realm of the spirit - invisible yet real, hidden yet very active. Much of what happens on earth is influenced by it; certainly anything of eternal significance or regulating the destinies of people and nations is influenced from it.
Most people, including Christians, give little thought to an unseen world impacting the natural world we see. Many, especially in cultures that emphasize higher education and intellectualism, are actually cynical of this dimension’s existence. But the Bible is filled with descriptions and accounts of it. Apart from the invisible realm, there is no God, Satan, angels, demons, fall of humankind, birth of Christ, redemption through the Cross, miracles, or resurrection of the dead. Yet again, surprisingly, most American Christians live their lives without weighing how much this realm affects us, let alone how we can operate in and influence it.
Consider the following significant statement from Chuck Pierce’s and my book Releasing the Prophetic Destiny of a Nation: the more we learn to function in the invisible spiritual realm, recognizing and applying its governing principles, the more we can partner with God, positively impact our world, avoid the snares and influence of the evil one, and enjoy the blessings of our salvation. (1) As I meditated on the above Ephesians verses, God began showing me that I was not conscious enough of this realm. It was not a new subject to me - I have comprehended it for many years and realized that we can influence it through our prayers and actions. However, Holy Spirit began revealing to me that I was not as cognizant of this dimension as I needed to be.
I saw clearly that if I was to be as effective as was possible in changing situations on earth, I had to understand more fully how forces in these “heavenly places” affected them. Also, I needed a greater understanding of how I could influence the invisible world. And, hopefully, how I could do so without becoming weird!
The more I meditated on this spiritual realm, the more I realized it is the Bible’s major theme - two invisible kingdoms working to control the world. If we humans could see what takes place around us in this dimension, we would no doubt see a great clashing of kingdoms - angelic and demonic forces engaged in phenomenal warfare. I don’t know exactly what it looks like, but I know it is occurring. The following vivid account of the unseen gives us a glimpse:
When the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he saw; and behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Strike these people with blindness, I pray.” So He struck them with blindness according
to the word of Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-18, NASB)
The invisible, spiritual forces were present all along - it was just that Elisha’s servant could not initially see them. And so it is with us. We live in a world filled with constant angelic and demonic activity. Our natural eyes, however, cannot perceive it.
It amazes me how many Christians, though they claim to believe the Bible and would say they believe in this invisible realm, still have a problem with consciously relating to it. Many, for example, take issue with any form of prayer, visions, or dreams that speak of demons, angels, or invisible strongholds.
Many who do not profess to be Christians have an even greater problem with acknowledging the invisible spiritual realm. The very suggestion of an invisible sphere influencing the visible world usually elicits immediate skepticism - even mockery - and often an inference that anyone who believes in this realm is not in touch with reality.
What a boost for the devil’s activities!
At some point, however, if we are going to be truly effective in prayer, we must acknowledge, understand and learn to influence this spiritual realm through prayer, fasting, speaking God’s word, binding and loosing, repentance, and living righteous lives. We believers must move beyond our fear of criticism and agree with Scripture. Jesus is our example, and He frequently dealt with the invisible. He was aware of it and consistently engaged unseen entities, stirring up demonic opposition everywhere He went. He released His spiritual authority into this realm through His words and actions.
The early church in Acts also did so, releasing Spirit-led decrees and confronting forces of darkness when appropriate. We are inconsistent if we confess to be Bible-believing followers of Christ and yet refuse to acknowledge and operate in the invisible realm. Failure in this area has rendered us largely impotent.
Pray with me:
Father, teach us more about the spiritual realm around us. Give us greater understanding of how to impact this dimension and extend Your Kingdom influence into it. Christ’s victory is secure; we ask for greater revelation of how to release His victory into the earth, changing nations, cities, and people. Make us more conscious of the invisible realm where much of what happens on earth is determined.
We pray that anointed teachers will be raised up to skillfully teach on this subject. Please awaken them to the need for this so that we can influence the spiritual realm with balance, skill, and accuracy. And please break off of the church all hesitancy of operating in this spiritual realm.
And as we do so often here, we ask You for and thank You in advance for sending the greatest awakening/revival that has ever occurred to the nations of the earth. We are asking for entire cultures and people groups to be swept into Your family. With the authority You have given us, we break off them the control of principalities and evil spirits, freeing them to see truth and receive Your love and provision. We break the demonic strongholds off our nation and close every door through which demonic rulers have entered. We declare the exposure of evil, and we command the door of awakening to open! We ask all of this in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.
We boldly declare that the spirit of wisdom and revelation is being released to the Church, bringing new levels of faith and authority.
Portions of today’s post were taken from my book Authority in Prayer.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
Dutch Sheets and Chuck Pierce, Releasing the Prophetic Destiny of a Nation, (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 2005) pp 75-76.