THE AUTHORITY OF THE SPIRIT WORLD
By Dan Luehrs
“Thus says the LORD, "Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you would build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest” (Isaiah 66:1)?
"But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God” (Matthew 5:34).
Even though we cannot see, smell, or touch the spirit world around us, it doesn't mean that it's not there. We can't see the air or the wind around us either, but it's still there. Both the Old and New Testament teaches that God’s throne (or authority) is in the heavens (the spirit world) around us, yet we can not see this with our natural eye. To begin to understand the spirit world, we must know that there are at least three heavenly (spiritual) realms around us. “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows-- such a man was caught up to the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2). God made the heavens on earth this way in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God is a spirit and has chosen to dwell in the spirit realm unseen, hiding Himself in His most awesome creation, man! His glory and majesty is also seen through all creation for us to behold His works.
“… That you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9).
God is spirit and our eternal home will be with Him in spirit. “In whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22). Because of this, Jesus came to teach us spiritual truths to give us understanding in how we can live out of this spirit realm now while we are on earth. He also desires that we learn how to receive His strength from the Holy Spirit, thereby living the abundant life of joy and peace, in the midst of a confused and hurting world. He wants to give us all spiritual wisdom and understanding; we just need to ask Him for it. In Jesus’ teachings, He continually said the kingdom of heaven (spirit) is like: "a mustard seed; leaven; a treasure hidden in the field; a merchant seeking fine pearls; a dragnet cast into the sea; a man who casts seed upon the soil." He did not say these were the spirit world, but they were like it. How do you explain to other people how something tastes if they have never tasted a certain meat? You say, “It tastes like chicken!” You must compare it to something they are familiar with to give them understanding. So it is with Jesus. He wants us to know these things of the spirit, if we will just have a spiritual hunger for them. He will gladly show us them by the help of the Holy Spirit. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit is more then eager to teach us, if we will just take the time to be with Him.
As we have seen, true spiritual authority rests with God in the third heaven. That leaves two other spirit realms under it. The first heaven we know little about. Somehow, Adam and Eve occupied this realm with God before they fell from it and became totally earth bound in their experience. If they hadn't sinned they would have never died, as sin brings death. When they did sin, their eyes (understanding) opened to know good and evil and that they were now physically and spiritually naked; their relationship with God was now torn. They now were afraid of the God they loved and of His presence they once enjoyed. From this first realm of spiritual authority, they were to rule the earth and all of creation. This was their domain until the fall. Before the fall they were able to live in the natural world while still drinking from and living out of the spirit world. This was where they received their strength and wisdom from God when they walked with Him in the cool of the day.
This is similar to the way Jesus lived; out of the physical realm and the third heaven at the same time. "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven" (John 3:13 KJV). Jesus is in heaven while He is standing upon the earth! The same can be true for us. When we are saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, we have a direct connection with God in the Spirit and can live out of both realms at the same time, receiving our strength and wisdom from God. Paul said in Ephesians 2:6, “And (Jesus) raised us up with Him (in Spirit), and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.” Most Christians are waiting to go to heaven when they die. But the truth is, we can have heaven NOW, on earth! God's presence is what makes heaven, heaven. “In His presence is fullness of joy!” If God’s presence were not there, it would be like hell no matter how nice it was. For example, movie stars have the best of everything, yet, many of their lives are a living hell because God’s presence is not manifested in their lives. On the other hand you could find a street person living in a cardboard shack with the presence of God and it would be like heaven itself. Why? Because he has learn to live out of the realm of God! If we are going to make it through these days ahead, we too must learned to live out of the Spirit of God, finding our strength and joy from and in Him daily. "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16).
When we are saved we must have both natural and spiritual nutrition. Because we live in a body that is made of the earth, it must have food from the earth. Everything our bodies digest grows from and out of the earth. When we are first saved our spirit-man is an infant and needs spiritual milk in order to grow. This "milk" would be the elementary teachings of Christ (see Heb. 6:1-2). But when we mature in Christ, we need spiritual meat, teachings on a higher level of understanding of spiritual things. “For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Hebrews 5:13-14). A baby will put anything in its mouth, but not a mature person. If we are going to grow, both naturally and spiritually, we must gather food for ourselves. Someone else must feed an infant, but an adult can gather and cook his own food and grow from it. If you are only fed once a week in a church service, you’re probably still an infant in Christ. But if you need to seek God and bask in His presence daily, you are on your way to becoming a mature Christian, one who God can reveal Himself to in greater ways than most Christians could possibly comprehend (and they may end up calling you a heretic). Don’t let that worry you. If people left you when you first came to Christ and God gave you new friends, then He will give you new friends as you climb the mountain of God in faith.
EVIL SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY
“We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).
Many non-Christians think that they are in control of their lives and can do as they please. They call this "freedom." What they don’t realize is that Satan is the god of this world system and actually controls their lives through his manipulative process. Satan stole this power from Adam and is now controlling the lives of unregenerated people (and even many undiscerning Christians). “And they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:26). After the fall of man, Satan and his dark kingdom reigned in the place of light and truth in the heavens, beginning his spiritual terrorism, lies, and deception. Demonic powers now have their stronghold of authority in the earth over man, which I believe is in the first and second heaven.
However, even the darkness is still under God’s authority, for it is under His control. “He bowed the heavens also, and came down with thick darkness under His feet” (Psalms 18:9). Instead of destroying the darkness, God uses it to test the saints to see if they will stay faithful to Him; He uses it to train His people for spiritual warfare. We must remember that the devil is still under God’s grace and is being used for His purpose. God wastes nothing and nothing ever takes Him by surprise; His plan always prevails in the end. God now wants us to put the darkness under our feet and control it, and not let the darkness control us. This is what an overcoming Christian is! Listen to what Paul said, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1-2). When we were in ignorance, the evil powers controlled us, but no longer are we to be ignorant of their schemes. People that are disobedient to God are still under demonic control whether they like it or not.
Satan is not being tormented in hell or the lake of fire. Yet He is now the prince of darkness over the earth, controlling people and the world system through his demonic reign in the second heaven. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). The word "heaven" does not necessarily mean the place of God’s abode; heaven means a place of authority and rule. When Adam obeyed Satan, he gave him the right to rule over the whole earth.
"And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him" (Revelation 12:9).
If you think things are bad now on earth with violence its and perversion, you haven't seen anything yet! Wait until Satan and his demonic powers are cast out of the second heaven! Their wrath will be hot and heavy. God told Satan in Ezekiel 28:16-18, "… I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God... I cast you to the ground… And I have turned you to ashes on the earth…" It is very clear that Satan had a very high place in God and was thrown down to the earth. The darkness of sin was thrown down with him, so now spiritual darkness prevails on the earth. Have you ever wondered why God said, “Let there be light” twice in the first chapter of Genesis?
"Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness" (Genesis 1:3-4).
"Then God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth;" and it was so" (Genesis 1:15).
When Satan was cast out of heaven to the earth the first time, there was only spiritual darkness here. Lies and deception reigned. The truth of God’s word did not prevail on the earth at this time. Only after God spoke, “Let there be light,” did spiritual light come forth on the earth. Just as man could not have survived on earth without the natural sunlight, he could not live on earth in such spiritual darkness either. This is why Adam had a choice to obey or disobey, because there was the light of God’s word on earth. Just like Noah, Abraham, and David, we have this same choice of obeying light or darkness each day we live. This is why the Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:6, "For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." The light of God’s word has shone in our hearts and we have no excuse for obeying darkness any longer.
Satan will soon be cast to the earth, out of the second heaven, and thick darkness will cover it, as it did when Satan was first cast down, to fulfill Isaiah, chapter 60:2. “Darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the people.” No wonder Jesus said in Matthew 24:12, "And because lawlessness (darkness) is increased, most people's love will grow cold." This is why we must continually be spending time with Jesus and being filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit, keeping our lamps burning brightly so we do not fall into sin.
"And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect (chosen ones) those days shall be cut short. For false Christ’s and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:22-24).
Now there remains a question that must be answered: If Satan is cast down from the second heaven, who will reign in his place? The overcomers will! "And he who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS" (Revelation 2:26). Notice that it does not say that we will reign “ON” the earth, but that we will reign OVER the earth, as Satan does right now through the power of deception. But the overcomers will reign through righteousness! This is where the real authority is! Revelation 5:10 uses the word, will reign “upon” the earth. "And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom (kings, KJV) and priests to our God; and they will upon the earth" When you look this up in the Greek, it clearly says to reign “over” the earth.
Right now darkness rules everywhere on earth, except in the hearts of the redeemed. Very soon God's light will shine through His people as He first designed it to be. Satan is blinding the world to the truth of God's word through his lies and deceptions, so that they might not see the glory of Christ. "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Corinthians 4:4 KJV). We cannot see the ozone layer that covers the earth, but it is there. So it is with the realm of darkness that covers the earth. We can’t see it, but it is there. We most definitely can see the working of evil across our world.
Satan is trying his very best to keep the light out. But with every person saved and serving Jesus in righteousness, the light of God gets brighter and brighter upon the earth, until the full day of Christ’s revealing. Then, we will reign with Him forever and ever. Hallelujah!
"And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them" (Revelation 20:7-9).
These verses have always troubled me somewhat. How could all these people turn on Jesus after seeing Him and the glorified saints after a thousand years of peace and bliss? Could it be that during the millennial reign of Christ, the church is ruling with Jesus in the heavens where Satan was? If this is where true authority is in the heavenlies, (and it is), then this could be a very real possibility. How else could they turn on the Lord like this if they had seen Him and knew of the wrath of God to follow such actions?
In Ephesians 2:2 Satan is called, “The prince of the power of the "air",” the place where he has dominion. But in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 it says of us, "Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the "air," and thus we shall always be with the Lord." Do you see where we will always be with the Lord? In the "air," or the heavenly realm of authority.
This is obviously the most well known scripture on "being raptured." Many, however, only look at this with their natural understanding; never rising high enough to see with the eyes of their spirit. Read these verses below to give you understanding spiritual clouds.
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
"These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever" (2 Peter 2:17 KJV).
"These men are those who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted" (Jude 1:12).
What are the clouds? Or should I say who are the clouds? According to these three different New Testament writers, people are the clouds spoken of here. This is the evidence of two or three witnesses. I believe those in heaven are considered clouds because they are above in the heavens around us and are covering the earth just like the natural clouds do, bringing their bounty of blessing with them, not spiritual darkness and death. So it will be when they come again with the Lord. They will be witnesses of truth, not the false witnesses (clouds) that bring no life through their life and ministry. Also they have a spiritual body which would be like a cloud or a mist. Natural clouds cover the earth as a mist and so will the saints of God. "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:30 KJV). Notice where Jesus returns, “In heaven (spirit)” not the natural earth. He will be seen in and through His people.
The scriptures do not say that Jesus is coming "on" or "out" of the clouds, but "with" and "in" the clouds of heaven (spirit). People incorrectly teach that Jesus is one day going to peak out of the clouds, blow a trumpet and then we're gone. I have written down several scriptures that will give you understanding in this.
"Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven" (Matthew 26:64 KJV).
"I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him" (Daniel 7:13 KJV).
"And Jesus said, "I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN" (Mark 14:62).
BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen" (Revelation 1:7). The word "behold" means "to know or understand" this truth because it is very important. He is coming with and through His saints and we must be prepared!
"And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints" (Jude 1:14).
"So that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints" (1 Thessalonians 3:13).
We must be very careful in how we interpret scripture. Otherwise, we too, mislead people with church tradition and doctrine. We then become the clouds without water, with no eternal seeds of God's word planted within His people. My belief is that all things will be restored on the earth as they were before the fall. We know that there is a second and third heaven. The second realm is where Satan is prince and the third one is where Jesus is King of kings. That leaves us with the first heaven, which we know little of. But it, too, must be restored to its rightful place during the millennial reign of Christ through the sons of God.