The Elements (Stoicheia) Part II

Elements: The atomic structure, The period table,  The cosmos, The solar system, The angelic order,  The letters of the Alphabet, Soldiers in rank and file  Numbers in order, Dominoes, Traditions, Habits, Behavior Patterns

See Part One

Our observable universe appears to be about 1026 meters in diameter. Man appears to be in the middle--between the macrocosm and the microcosm. The smallest possible length, the Planck length, is 1.616 x 10-35 meters. Staggering though these numbers are, the unseen realm (off limits to science, but knowable through revelation) is far grander. But this is only what is observable! The physical world, with only four dimensions, is apparently embedded in a more solid, unseen spiritual world of perhaps ten dimensions. In the spiritual realm innumerable angels live and act, serving as agents of the Creator. In Part 2 we'll draw upon Ray Stedman's understanding of stoicheia and go from there.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says:

“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”

 (Now this, “He ascended”--what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ--from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:4-16) “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2.13-15)


Ray Stedman says this about the “elements”:

In every generation theological error takes this form. An attempt is always made to make it appear that biblical Christianity is a minority faith, held by only a few ill-educated, almost mentally deficient people, who have no basis in scholarship for what they believe. I do not have time to share with you David's answer to that charge, but I assure you it was very adequate. By the end of the debate the reporter was obviously on his side. But what a confirmation of what the apostle says. "Hollow and deceptive philosophy" rests on human traditions. That is what is wrong. It sets aside the revelation of God, disclosing himself to his people, and undermines that revelation by claiming superiority for the guesses and conclusions of the inadequate mind of man.

The second thing that Paul charges is wrong with "hollow and deceptive philosophy" is that it depends on "the basic principles of this world." There is a debate among the scholars as to whether that is a proper translation. The word for "principles" here or, as it is sometimes translated, "elements," literally means "things in a row," a series of things. The word became associated with the alphabet because letters in an alphabet are always lined up in a row. One learns a language by first learning the ABC's. Thus, some scholars feel that this word represents something rudimentary, simple and elementary---basic principles, that is the idea.
Other scholars, however, point out that this word is also used with reference to an army of soldiers lined up in a row, in ranks, as in a hierarchy. These scholars feel that this is a reference to the fallen angels; that it is a parallel passage to Paul's statement in Ephesians 6, "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and wicked spirits in high places," whom he also calls "the rulers of this world's darkness." In Galatians he calls them "weak and beggarly elements" and clearly states the Galatians are serving "those which by nature are not gods."

Which view is right? Are these rudimentary, fundamental or elementary principles of life? Or are they the teaching of "the world rulers of this present darkness?" My view is that both viewpoints are true. Oftentimes, when a scriptural phrase has a double meaning, both meanings are intended. Perhaps that is true here. These philosophies that Paul describes (or any erroneous philosophy in the realm of religion or the spirit), fits the description of what Paul calls in 2 Timothy "doctrines of demons." They are elementary, rudimentary truths, perpetuated by demonic powers among human beings, which have the effect of returning people to childish actions and childish views of life.

Have you ever noticed how easily grownups can begin to act like children? Such actions offend us and we say, disparagingly, "Oh, don't be so childish." Until, of course, we behave the same way. Then we justify our behavior on some other basis. See what happens, for instance, when you set a plate of cake in the midst of a group of children? They all grab for the biggest piece. But take a special stock option and make it available to a group of businessmen, and they too will grab for the biggest piece. They act like children. Observe how the ladies behave at a special sale, where real bargains are being offered. They are like children.” 

Outline of Biblical Usage:

...any first thing, from which the others belonging to some series or composite whole take their rise, an element, first principal

...the letters of the alphabet as the elements of speech, not however the written characters, but the spoken sounds

...the elements from which all things have come, the material causes of the universe

...the heavenly bodies, either as parts of the heavens or (as others think) because in them the elements of man, life and destiny were supposed to reside

...the elements, rudiments, primary and fundamental principles of any art, science, or discipline, i.e. of mathematics, Euclid's geometry

Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain. (Galatians 4:1-10)

Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed  (kataklyzo) perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 

Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, (luo) what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation--as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. (2 Peter 3)

The Chain of Command

There are other instances where the structured order of the created order is important. There is hierarchy and order in the way God runs the universe. There is the angelic order and there is hierarchy in government. After all Jesus Christ is King over all kings and Lord above all lords. 

There is chain of command in the military. Corporations have a CEO and his immediate high council and a support staff. Department heads report to the Chief. And so on!  Power and authority are often abused. Good kings like Israel’s King David have flaws and make terrible mistakes. (See 2 Samuel). 

The highest level of authority in our universe is that of God the Father: He is called the “high and lofty one who inhabits eternity” but involves Himself In every face that of management from outside of time. This can be seen in Isaiah 57, which applies foremost to Israel with repercussions for us, 

The righteous perishes, 
And no man takes it to heart;
Merciful men are taken away,
While no one considers
That the righteous is taken away from evil. He shall enter into peace;
They shall rest in their beds,
Each one walking in his uprightness.

“But come here,
You sons of the sorceress,
You offspring of the adulterer and the harlot! 4 Whom do you ridicule?
Against whom do you make a wide mouth
And stick out the tongue?

Are you not children of transgression,
Offspring of falsehood, Inflaming yourselves with gods under every green tree,
Slaying the children in the valleys,
Under the clefts of the rocks? Among the smooth stones of the stream
Is your portion;
They, they, are your lot!
Even to them you have poured a drink offering,
You have offered a grain offering.
Should I receive comfort in these?
“On a lofty and high mountain
You have set your bed;
Even there you went up
To offer sacrifice. Also behind the doors and their posts
You have set up your remembrance;
For you have uncovered yourself to those other than Me,
And have gone up to them;
You have enlarged your bed
And made a covenant with them;
You have loved their bed,
Where you saw their nudity.  You went to the king with ointment,
And increased your perfumes;
You sent your messengers far off,
And even descended to Sheol. 10 You are wearied in the length of your way;
Yet you did not say, ‘There is no hope.’
You have found the life of your hand;
Therefore you were not grieved.
 “And of whom have you been afraid, or feared,
That you have lied
And not remembered Me,
Nor taken it to your heart?
Is it not because I have held My peace from of old
That you do not fear Me? I will declare your righteousness
And your works,
For they will not profit you. When you cry out,
Let your collection of idols deliver you.
But the wind will carry them all away,
A breath will take them.
But he who puts his trust in Me shall possess the land,
And shall inherit My holy mountain.”
 And one shall say,
“Heap it up! Heap it up!
Prepare the way,
Take the stumbling block out of the way of My people.”

15 For thus says the High and Lofty One
Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend forever,
Nor will I always be angry;
For the spirit would fail before Me,
And the souls which I have made. For the iniquity of his covetousness
I was angry and struck him;
I hid and was angry,
And he went on backsliding in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him;
I will also lead him,
And restore comforts to him
And to his mourners.
 “I create the fruit of the lips:
Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,”
Says the LORD,
“And I will heal him.” 20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea,
When it cannot rest,
Whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
 “There is no peace,”
Says my God, “for the wicked.”

The Divine Council

In the Bible and also in secular philosophy conventions involving "god" and "the gods" are common.

The Book of Psalms (Psalm 82:1), states "God (אֱלֹהִ֔ים Elohim) stands in the divine assembly (בַּעֲדַת-אֵל ‘ăḏaṯ-’êl); He judges among the gods (אֱלֹהִ֔ים elohim)" (אֱלֹהִים נִצָּב בַּעֲדַת־אֵל בְּקֶרֶב אֱלֹהִים יִשְׁפֹּט). The meaning of the two occurrences of "elohim" has been debated by scholars, with some suggesting both words refer to Yahweh, while others propose that the God of Israel rules over a divine assembly of other Gods or angels. Some translations of the passage render "God (elohim) stands in the congregation of the mighty to judge the heart as God (elohim)" (the Hebrew is "beqerev elohim", "in the midst of gods", and the word "qerev" if it were in the plural would mean "internal organs"). Later in this Psalm, the word "gods" is used (in the KJV): Psalm 82:6 - "I have said, Ye [are] gods; and all of you [are] children of the most High." Instead of "gods", another version has "godlike beings", but here again, the word is elohim/elohiym (Strong's H430).This passage is quoted in the New Testament in John 10:34.

In the Books of Kings (1 Kings 22:19), the prophet Micaiah has a vision of Yahweh seated among "the whole host of heaven" standing on his right and on his left. He asks who will go entice Ahab and a spirit volunteers. This has been interpreted as an example of a divine council.

The first two chapters of the Book of Job describe the "Sons of God" assembling in the presence of Yahweh. Like "multitudes of heaven", the term "Sons of God" defies certain interpretation. This assembly has been interpreted by some as another example of divine council. Others translate "Sons of God" as "angels", and thus argue this is not a divine council because angels are God's creation and not deities.

"The role of the divine assembly as a conceptual part of the background of Hebrew prophecy is clearly displayed in two descriptions of prophetic involvement in the heavenly council. In 1 Kings 22:19-23... Micaiah is allowed to see God (elohim) in action in the heavenly decision regarding the fate of AhabIsaiah 6 depicts a situation in which the prophet himself takes on the role of the messenger of the assembly and the message of the prophet is thus commissioned by Yahweh. The depiction here illustrates this important aspect of the conceptual background of prophetic authority." (Wikipedia)

Michael Heiser is a contemporary Bible scholar writing extensively on this subject. There is no doubt, at least in Job's day, that Yahweh admininstered the planet with angelic beings including the chief fallen angel, Satan.

Now  there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From  going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there  is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side?  You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely  curse You to Your face!” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. (Job 1:6-12)

Again  there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there  is none like him on the earth,  a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he  holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him,  to destroy him without cause.” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his  bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils  from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself  while he sat in the midst of the ashes. (Job 2:1-8)

Obviously Satan ("the god of this age" [aion]) is a murdering enemy of God and man, but he is a spirit being constrained to clear boundaries beyond which he can not go.

Ray Stedman said, in regard to the present "angelic conflict" and spiritual warfare,

In this present series we are seeking to understand the evident bafflement of the world leaders today who are trying to grasp and solve the problems of our human situation. We have already noted that the clearest thinkers among the world leaders acknowledge abject defeat when it comes to really grasping the problems we face. The statesmen of the world have long ago abandoned any attempt to formulate long-range policies. They are content now to grapple with each problem as it arises. The policy of the nations is to play each situation by ear and to do the best they can under the circumstances, for the problems of the world have long since grown so complex and so difficult that no one can anticipate what is coming.

Further, we have seen that we will never understand and comprehend what is going on in our world for these many centuries until we accept the biblical diagnosis of life. Paul puts this diagnosis very plainly in Ephesians 6:

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:12-13 RSV)

We have noted already that our experience confirms the suggestion of this passage -- that life is basically a struggle. Life never conforms to the rosy idealism of our dreams, or to the romanticism of our songs. We saw, further, that the explanation of this struggle lies deeper than we ordinarily think. The common view of our struggle in the present world situation, as in every situation of the past, has been that we are engaged in conflict against flesh and blood, against other men and women. But Paul says the battle is not against flesh and blood; it lies deeper than that. The basic problem is that this is a battle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, and that man himself is the battlefield. The battle is visible not only in the wars, revolutions, and crime waves which oppress us, and fill our newspapers, but it is also seen in the inner tensions and fears of individual lives, in the neurotic problems and mental illnesses which afflict us today, in family fights and church struggles. It is even visible in nature, where all of life competes in a ruthless, deadly struggle to survive.

We saw that the whole race, according to this passage, has fallen under the control of satanic forces, whom Paul calls, "the world rulers of this present darkness" -- a most significant phrase. Jesus confirms this in his figurative description of Satan as the strong man who, armed, rules his own palace and keeps his goods in peace. The picture of the Bible from beginning to end is that all human beings, without exception, regardless of how clever or educated or cultured they may be, if without Christ, are the helpless victims of satanic control. Under the control of satanic forces human beings are uncomfortable and unhappy, but also completely unable to escape by any wisdom or power of their own.

But the good news is that some have been set free, some have been delivered. Through the coming of that "stronger one," Jesus himself, who came, as John tells us, "to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8b), deliverance is obtained. Through the amazing mystery of the cross and the resurrection, Jesus has broken the power and bondage of Satan over human lives. Those who individually receive and acknowledge this (i.e., those who believe, for Scripture always addresses itself to belief), are set free to live in the freedom and liberty of the children of God.

But they are not set free to live unto themselves. That is a common misconception of Christianity. Many believe that Christ has come into their lives by means of the cross, and the things which have bound them and blasted them and ruined them have been stricken away, and they have been set free. All too frequently they feel they have been set free to do as they please, to live as they want to live. But they are set free in order to battle. That is the call which comes to all Christians. We are not set free in order to enjoy ourselves. We are set free to do battle, to engage in the fight, to overcome in our own lives, and to become the channels by which others are set free. Thus there comes this call to us in this closing chapter in the letter to the Ephesians:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, (Ephesians 6:10-11a RSV)

We must now give closer attention to the actual conduct of this battle. If this conflict is the basic problem of human life, how much devolves upon us in conducting or fighting this battle? How do you do this? Paul's answer is in one phrase: "Put on the whole armor of God." Full provision has been made that you might win in this battle. This is the amazing thing we must learn. It is something we seldom take seriously. God has made full provision for us to fight these great and powerful forces which hold the world in their grip. But it would be a mistake to start there, to begin with the armor of God. If we start there, we find that this figure of armor strikes people with a note of unreality. It does not sound real. It is like a game they are playing, and there is no sense of the importance of this. We must end up talking about the armor of God, as we shall in this series, but we cannot start there.

We must start by seeing what it is we are opposed by. Armor is made for defense, and we will see no value in these pieces designed for our defense until we see what we are defending against. Let us realize something of the cleverness, the cunning wiliness of the forces against which we are battling, and we will begin to appreciate the armor with which we have been provided. Therefore we shall start there. Today, I want primarily to look at this phrase of Paul's, "the wiles of the devil." The first step for any soldier in training is to be introduced to the strategy and weapons which the enemy will use against him. The devil is a very cunning and wily strategist. Martin Luther is quite right when he writes,

For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

The record confirms that. Read the Old Testament and you will see that every saint, every prophet, every patriarch, every one of the great and glorious kings of Israel was defeated at one time or another by the devil. The wisest and greatest of men are absolutely helpless and futile in attempting to outwit the devil by themselves. Yet, as we have already seen, the Bible indicates that it is quite possible to walk in victory.

James says, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you," (James 4:7b). Think of that! This clever, cunning strategist who has held the world for centuries in defeat, whom no man is able to out-maneuver, will flee from you when you learn, like Paul, not to be ignorant of his devices.

Now the questions we must ask are, "What is the general strategy of the devil? How does he plan to do this? How is it that he keeps the world in such bondage and such powerlessness?" The only one in all history who has ever consistently and unbrokenly defeated the devil, not only in his life but also in his death, is the Lord Jesus Christ. He put his finger squarely upon the strategy and the tactics of Satan when he said, "The devil is a liar and a murderer from the beginning," (John 8:44). The strategy of the devil is to murder. The tactic by which he accomplishes this is to lie. If we consider these phrases carefully we will see how accurate they are.

How does the devil plan to oppose the work of God in the world? Well, by murdering, by destroying. One of the names given to the devil in the book of the Revelation is "Apollyon," the "Destroyer." What does "destroy" mean? It is to create chaos, to lay waste, to ruin, to make desolate. There you have the explanation for the whole tragic story of human history: A destroyer is at work among men. Our God is a God of beauty, harmony, order, and perfection, of love, of light, and grace. There is enough evidence left in the world of nature, including our own being, and in the world of ideas, to see this marvelous symmetry, beauty, and perfection of God. God is a God of harmony and order. The world was created as orderly, and man along with it.

But into this scene a destroyer came. It is his delight to smash, to mangle, to twist, to mutilate, to disfigure, to darken and blast in every way he can. It does not make any difference whether it is bodies or souls, flesh or ideas, matter or spirit, the aim of the devil is exactly the same in every case: It is to distort, to blast, to twist, to destroy. That is why the devil can never offer anything positive to human life. He can make nothing. He has never made anything and he never can make anything. All he can do is destroy what God has made. His power is totally negative, completely destructive in every way.

What are the tactics the devil employs to accomplish this dastardly destructiveness which is so abundantly confirmed as you look around at life and read your newspaper and review the story of human history? How does he do it? Well, by deceiving, by lying, by distorting, by counterfeiting, by play-acting and masquerading, by illusion and fantasy. This is what Paul calls "the wiles of the devil." Read through the Bible and see how many times the work of the devil is referred to in that manner -- the snares, the traps of the devil, the illusions, the stratagems, the wiles. We shall content ourselves now with a general survey of these wiles. In our next message we hope to take a much closer look at the actual tactics the devil is employing in your life and mine to defeat us and keep us in weakness, to ruin and lay waste our lives.

The Bible makes clear that the tactics of the devil fall into two major divisions. He attacks the human race both directly and indirectly. He is capable of a direct confrontation with human beings, and an indirect approach. And through these two avenues he maintains his world-wide control over the race of men. The Bible indicates that there are fallen hosts of angels called demons, whom Paul calls here "the principalities and powers, the world rulers of this present darkness, the spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places." Now "heavenly places" does not mean far off in heaven somewhere. "Heavenly" means "the realm of the invisibilities," i.e., the invisible realities of life. The devil and his hosts are not visible. That is what he is saying. The devil's activity is in this realm of the invisible reality of life, the heavenly places where God works, as well as the devil.

In the Bible, we are told very little of the origin of the devil and his angels, these principalities and powers. There is enough to suggest that here was a being created originally as an angel of might and strength and beauty and power. There is a brief reference to the fall of this great angel, whose name was Lucifer, and who was lifted up by pride. Pride is always the mark of the devil. Lifted up by pride, he chose to rival God and, in doing so, he fell from his station of might and glory and beauty and became the devil. He drew a third of the angels with him, and these constitute the principalities and powers, the organized kingdom of darkness, as opposed to the kingdom of God. It is through these hosts of wicked spirits that Satan is able to make a direct assault upon human life. This direct assault covers what the Bible refers to as "demon possession," the outright control of human personality by the power of a wicked spirit. It also extends to such activities as soothsaying, occultism, spiritism (or spiritualism), and related black magic arts such as astrology, horoscopes, voodooism, fortune telling, etc.

A word of warning is in order right here. There is no question that there is much chicanery and deception in this whole field of black magic. There are charlatans at work who make their living off the superstitious fears of people and who engage in deceptive tricks which give the impression they are genuinely dealing with the occult. It is very difficult to tell the difference between the genuine and the false in this field. Great care must be displayed by anyone attempting to investigate it, because there is very much smoke, but the Bible makes clear there is considerable fire as well. There is truth behind this black magic.

The Bible consistently warns against dabbling in these matters. Under the Law, the people of Israel were strictly forbidden to have anything to do with wizards "that peep and mutter" (Isaiah 8:19), and those who try to make contact with the dead, or those who deal with the world of the occult. This prohibition was largely because any investigation into this realm immediately lays one open to powers beyond men's ken and makes possible control and influence beyond the will of the individual investigating. This is dangerous ground. It opens the way, oftentimes, to outright demon possession.

As to this subject of demon possession, I am very well aware there are many people who raise their eyebrows in incredulity whenever this subject is mentioned. They say, "Surely you don't believe in that kind of stuff anymore. In this 20th century day you're not telling us there are such things as demons! After all, the days in which the Bible were written were primitive times. People believed in that type of thing then, but we're much better informed now. What was once called demon possession we now know to be only mental illness. We can treat it with drugs and other therapy." What is our reply to that? Simply this:

First, the Bible itself is very careful to distinguish between mental illness and demon possession. The Bible is not as primitive a book as many people imagine. It makes a very careful distinction between these two things. The writers of the Scriptures were certainly aware of this distinction. One of them, Luke, was a physician himself and was certainly acquainted with the distinctions between diseases and mental illnesses, as well as demon possession. In Matthew 4:24 a careful distinction is made between those who were afflicted by diseases, those who were demon possessed, and those who were lunatic or mentally ill. Dr. Luke refers to the same thing in Luke 4:40-41.

Second, it is important to notice that the biblical cases of demon possession do not conform to the clinical pattern of any known mental disease. There are diseases of the body and there are diseases of the mind. Diseases of the mind, like those of the body, present standard clinical patterns which can readily be recognized. But when you examine carefully the biblical accounts of demon possession you find these do not fit any of the standard patterns of mental diseases. They are not the same thing; they do not conform.

In the first place, there is always a debasing element in the biblical cases of demon possession, an uncleanness, a moral debasement. Also in the biblical accounts of demon possession there was an immediate recognition by the demon within of the character and identity of the Lord Jesus Christ. When Christ approached these demons, many times they would call out and say, "What have we to do with you, thou Son of God?" (Matthew 8:29, Luke 8:28). They called him by name and used titles for him which the victims they were possessing were not at all acquainted with. There is so often this immediate and strange recognition of the authority of Jesus Christ. Further, there is always the presence of a totally distinct and different personality involved. In some cases many personalities were involved, as in the incident when Jesus asked the name of the demon and the reply was, "Our name is legion. There are many of us here," (Mark 5:9). Finally, there is the ability on the part of Christ to transfer demons from an individual to animals. How do you explain the case of the Gadarene swine? If demon possession is merely mental sickness, if it is only hallucination, if it is some kind of schizophrenia, then how do you explain these demons leaving the man and entering the swine, causing them to rush down the hillside and drown themselves in the sea? These cases simply do not conform to any clinical pattern of known mental disease.

A third factor is that Jesus himself invariably described these cases as demon possession. This is what he said they were, and he treated them that way. He dealt with this kind of thing continuously. He sent out his disciples and gave them authority to cast out demons. "Well," someone says, "we have an explanation for that. It is simply a recognition that Jesus was accommodating himself to the thought of the men of his day. They believed in demons and devils and he is simply speaking their language." But it is impossible to take that position and be consistent with the rest of the account of Christ's ministry, for we see him constantly correcting misconceptions like that. On one occasion he said to his disciples, concerning another matter, "If it were not so I would have told you," (John 14:2). He came to reveal the truth about things, and in other areas he was constantly correcting the misconceptions they held.

Finally, as a last suggestion along this line, throughout the Christian centuries there have been various outbreaks of demon possession described by missionaries in many lands. It is significant that wherever Christian teaching spreads, the direct assault of these evil powers upon human life is kept in abeyance. Even secular teaching which is based upon the Bible and Christian values and is moral and uplifting has an ability to keep these manifestations under control. But when education becomes purely secular and denies the Bible and denies God then, even though men and women reject superstition and profess a degree of sophistication about these matters, this is not enough to keep these powers at bay. As our world grows more and more godless and more and more secularized, we will find an increasing tide of demonic manifestation creeping into our culture and insinuating itself into our civilized life. There is no power in man to withhold these or to stand against them.

I was interested to read in the newspaper recently that the defense attorneys for a young man in Nebraska who killed three people and wounded another in a bank robbery are suggesting, as one of their maneuvers in trying to defend him, that perhaps he was demon possessed.

I wish to say one more thing before I leave this description of direct demonic attack. I want to recognize this briefly and then move on to that which is more important to us. When Christians are confronted with what they suspect is demon possession, the one thing we are told to do in order to help such people is to pray. These cases of demon possession, Jesus said, yield themselves to concerted and persistent prayer. Prayer is the recommended therapy in any case of this type. Let us give ourselves to prayer and nothing more. I feel there is altogether too much concern among Christians about this matter of demon possession. That sounds almost as though I am contradicting what I have said before, but I am merely trying to balance it. I know certain Christians who feel they must bind Satan before they do anything. When they go into a room to have a meeting they will pray to bind the powers of darkness before they hold the meeting in the room. I know others who ascribe every common problem of human life to some manifestation of demon activity.

The New Testament gives absolutely no warrant for this type of approach. The apostles very seldom mention the direct attack of Satan against human beings. There are a few instances of it, but after our Lord physically left the world there seems to be a diminution, a dying down of the evidences of demonic activity. These dark powers were stirred up by his presence on earth, but to a degree this faded away after he left, so that in the epistles you do not get the same concern for demonic activity as you do in the Gospels. There is much about Satan in the letters of Paul, but there is little of the direct attack of satanic forces. Nowhere do you read that Christians are instructed to go around binding the powers of darkness before they enter a room, or to ascribe all the common problems of life to demonic activities. That idea is not in the New Testament. Therefore, I say there is far too much concern along these lines.

By far, the majority of the attacks of the devil against Christians are not direct but indirect. That is why they are called the wiles of the devil. Wiliness means deviousness, circuitry, something not obvious. A direct attack of the devil upon a human life is an obvious thing, but this is something devious, something circuitous, difficult to detect. This is what we shall concern ourselves with in our next message. We need to examine this more thoroughly, for the major attack of the devil and his powers against human life is not by direct means but indirect -- by satanic suggestions through the natural, commonplace channels of life.

This indirect approach comes largely through two media, or channels. One is what the Bible calls "the world," and the other, "the flesh." We often hear the idea, "The enemies of the Christian are the world, the flesh, and the devil," as though these were three equally powerful enemies. But there are not three. There is only one enemy, the devil, as Paul brings out here. But the channels of his indirect approach to men are through the world and the flesh. If you would like to see these in Scripture in one passage, I suggest you study Ephesians 2:1-3. Writing to Christians, the apostle says,

And you he [i.e., Christ, the "stronger one," who comes to set us free] made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world [there is the first channel, the world], following the prince of the power of the air [there is a description of the devil], the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 2:1-2 RSV)

He says, "Do not forget, you Christians, that you too once were following the course of this world, under the grip and in the control of the prince of the power of the air, the evil spirit which is now at work in all the children of disobedience." Further, he says,

Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh [there is the flesh], following the desires of body and mind ["Oh," you say, "we were not aware of any control of the devil." No, of course not. You did what you felt like doing, the natural desires of the body and the mind. You responded to these so-called natural stimuli.], and so [because we were doing these things, following the course of this world under the direction of the prince of the power of the air, and obeying the impulses of the body and the mind] we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:3 RSV)

Do you see how consistently the Bible presents this picture? Now the most basic of these two channels of approach to subverting the Christian life is "the flesh." I would like to say a word about it now: When the Bible speaks about the flesh, of course, it uses it in a symbolic sense. Many of us approaching middle age are troubled with too much flesh. But that is not the sense in which the Bible uses the term. The flesh, in this sense, is symbolic. It is not our bodies, not the meat and blood and bones of our physical life. It is a term which describes the urge to self-centeredness within us, that distortion of human nature which makes us want to be our own god, that proud ego, that uncrucified self which is the seat of willful defiance and rebellion against authority.

You recognize that we are all born with this. None of us had to go to school to learn how to do these things. Who taught us to lie? Who taught us to be proud, and bitter, and rebellious, and defiant, and self centered? We never had to take classes in these, did we? We were all experts in them by the time we were ready to go to school. We were all born with "the flesh," and it is the presence of this which makes us sinners. James calls this the wisdom which is from beneath, which is "earthly, sensual, devilish," (James 3:15 KJV). Devilish! It is the devil, attacking indirectly, through the essential character of human nature, distorting it and twisting it, changing it from what God designed it to be. You can see the satanic origin of this in the fact that it is a distortion of the beauty which God intended man to have. Romans 3:23 says, as Philips translates it, "Everyone has sinned and has missed the beauty of God's plan."

The world, on the other hand, is the corporate expression of all the flesh-centered individuals who make up the human race. Since the flesh is in every one of them -- acting satanic, devilish, sensual, earthy -- therefore the total combined expression of such beings constitutes the world, and determines the philosophy of the world. It is that tremendous pressure of the majority upon the minority to conform, adjust, keep in step, not to digress or to be different. When the Bible addresses itself to Christians it says, "Be not conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2a KJV), i.e., "Do not let the world around you squeeze you into its mold." Why? Because the world is flesh-centered, flesh-governed, and as Jesus said to Nicodemus, "That which is born of the flesh remains flesh. It needs a new birth in order to be changed. It must be born of the Spirit," (John 3:6). So this is the world -- that human society which insists on satanic value judgments, and is guided by satanic pride and philosophy. It is totally unaware of it, yet nevertheless it is under the control of satanic philosophy.

Next time we shall examine how this affects us. But remember this: The aim, the goal, which Satan has in all this clever stratagem by which he has kept the human race in bondage through these hundreds of centuries is to destroy, to ruin, to make waste. That is what he is aiming at with you; that is what he is aiming at with me. Only yesterday I talked with a man concerning a young man who had been raised in this church, one of our own boys. Though he is only twenty-one years of age, already, because of the rebellious determination of his heart to reject the truth of God and to live his own life, he is a mental and physical wreck. Why? Because he has turned aside from the truth and he has followed the philosophy of Satan. Satan is accomplishing his aims, destroying this life which God loves, wrecking, mutilating, laying it waste, ruining it. That is what he is attempting to do with us all. Against this we who are Christians are called to battle, not only for ourselves, as we will see in this account, but also for others as well.

Battling against these forces of darkness is what makes human life possible on this earth at all. If Christians, who are the salt of the earth, are not giving themselves to an intelligent battle with Satan and satanic forces, fighting along these lines which Paul suggests -- being "strong in the Lord and in the power of his might" -- it would be absolutely impossible for human life to exist on this planet. If this were not going on, life on earth would be one horrible, unending hell. It is the presence of Christians, and those who are affected by their testimony and by their teachings, and the spread of the gospel throughout the world which makes possible those moments of enjoyment of life which even the non-Christian is able to know. That puts things in right perspective, doesn't it? There you see life as it really is. What a mighty call this is then!

"Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might," in these terrible and glorious days in which we live! Many are falling by the way. Many are slipping back under the control of satanic ideas and satanic philosophy and are denying the essential truth of God. But these are the days when, more than ever before, we are to respond to this mighty call: "Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might."



A Power Transfer Behind the Scenes

The aged Apostle John, about 60 years after he was discipled by Jesus, was invited to personally visit Supreme Headquarters where he was given a personal tour and invited to record all that he saw and heard there!

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:

“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:

“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”  (Revelation 4)

John, a mere mortal man then was given a guided tour of “heaven” viewing as it were various centers of decision making and activity in a different time and space zones. His report constitutes the last book in our Bibles, the Book of the Revelation, the only book in the Bible promising a blessing to all who read it:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

 John, to the seven churches which are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and,“What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” 

Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. 19 “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. “The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.
 

God manages everything from Supreme Headquarters. Originally He put Adam in charge of Earth but our forefather defaulted and the chief fallen angel haSatan took over.

After leaving headquarters, the Son of God entered the stream of human life as the Second or Last Adam.

In this was made known the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this we know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God. (1 John 4:9-15)

Upon completing His assignment which was to reconcile our fallen race to Himself by means of the Cross, all authority and power in the universe was handed over from the Father to the Son. This is recorded in Revelation 5.

And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne  a scroll written inside and on the back,  sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice,  “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold,  the Lion of the tribe of  Judah,  the Root of David, has  prevailed to open the scroll  and to loose its seven seals.” And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood  a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and  seven eyes, which are  the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand  of Him who sat on the throne.

Now when He had taken the scroll,  the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the  prayers of the saints. And  they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And  have redeemed us to God  by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us  kings and  priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.”

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” And  every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him  who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.

Under New Management

The transfer of all authority from God the Father as described above, has further consequences for how God now rules everything in heaven and on earth. Ephesians and Colossians provide further details:

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;  giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

God has given His people full forgiveness of all their sins and He is now restoring them to all that was lost in the Fall of Adam. This authority transfer is taking place now as Jesus unseals the Scroll of authority handed to Him by God the Father.

Jesus, in turn is taking a bride, known as the true church. The true church which has been building personally for two millennia, must not be confused with the enemy's counterfeit!



Psalm 68 

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. A Song.

Let God arise, Let His enemies be scattered; Let those also who hate Him flee before Him.

2 As smoke is driven away, So drive them away; As wax melts before the fire, So let the wicked perish at the presence of God.

3 But let the righteous be glad; Let them rejoice before God; Yes, let them rejoice exceedingly.

4 Sing to God, sing praises to His name, Extol Him who rides on the clouds, By His name YAH, And rejoice before Him.

5 A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation. 

6 God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.

7 O God, when You went out before Your people, When You marched through the wilderness, Selah 

8 The earth shook; The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God; Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel. 

9 You, O God, sent a plentiful rain, Whereby You confirmed Your inheritance, When it was weary. 

10 Your congregation dwelt in it; You, O God, provided from Your goodness for the poor.

11 The Lord gave the word; Great was the company of those who proclaimed it: 

12 “Kings of armies flee, they flee, And she who remains at home divides the spoil. 

13 Though you lie down among the sheepfolds, You will be like the wings of a dove covered with silver,and her feathers with yellow gold.” 

14 When the Almighty scattered kings in it, It was white as snow in Zalmon.

15 A mountain of God is the mountain of Bashan; A mountain of many peaks is the mountain of Bashan. 

16 Why do you fume with envy, you mountains of many peaks? This is the mountain which God desires to dwell in; Yes, the LORD will dwell in it forever.

17 The chariots of God are twenty thousand, Even thousands of thousands; The Lord is among them as in Sinai, in the Holy Place. 
18 You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men, Even from the rebellious, That the LORD God might dwell there.

19 Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation!  Selah 

20 Our God is the God of salvation; And to GOD the Lord belong escapes from death.

21 But God will wound the head of His enemies, The hairy scalp of the one who still goes on in his trespasses. 

22 The Lord said, “I will bring back from Bashan, I will bring them back from the depths of the sea, 

23 That your foot may crush them in blood, And the tongues of your dogs may have their portion from your enemies.”

24 They have seen Your procession, O God, The procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary. 

25 The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after; Among them were the maidens playing timbrels. 

26 Bless God in the congregations, The Lord, from the fountain of Israel. 

27 There is little Benjamin, their leader, The princes of Judah and their company, The princes of Zebulun and the princes of Naphtali.

28 Your God has commanded your strength; Strengthen, O God, what You have done for us. 

29 Because of Your temple at Jerusalem, Kings will bring presents to You. 

30 Rebuke the beasts of the reeds, The herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples, Till everyone submits himself with pieces of silver.
Scatter the peoples who delight in war. 

31 Envoys will come out of Egypt; Ethiopia will quickly stretch out her hands to God.

32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; Oh, sing praises to the Lord,  Selah 

33 To Him who rides on the heaven of heavens, which were of old! Indeed, He sends out His voice, a mighty voice. 

34 Ascribe strength to God; His excellence is over Israel, And His strength is in the clouds. 

35 O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places.
The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people.

Blessed be God!

A Conversation

Lambert asks Bryce Self: Among the stoicheia are the orders of angels which are thrones, dominions, principalities, powers.  I suppose now at this time in history there are good and fallen angels in this ensemble? They are In a changing configuration to suit our Lord as He directs history? 

At the rapture we will ascend up through this host to the throne room? We will “pass through” the heavens in the time frame of eternity? 

Hebrews 2 says the world is now ruled through angels but the age to come will be restored to man.

Bryce Replies,

I know of no indication there are any that any angels in the chain of command of earth remain unfallen — they are only depicted in the Bible as arrogating divine worship to themselves. The gods of the nations are idols and demons. Scripture says nothing good of them.

"When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, When He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of [the children of Israel].

[originally: “bene Elohim” the sons of God, noted in Hebrew as emended by the Sopherim]

But the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance.”

The only order is a hierarchy of hatred—even satan knows enough to try keeping his house undivided (even if not united). It was in reference to the kingdom of darkness that Jesus spoke satan not casting out satan. The whole world lies in the wicked one. This is not gnostic anti-materialism but biblical frankness, and not without hope. What good the powers do accomplish (such as order and stability in government) either tends to their own corrupt ends (babylon/antichrist) or is only partial and mixed residual impulse from fallen human rulers (almost always brought to nought by unintended consequences).

The powers have never been out from God’s control, and have now been conquered by and delivered to Jesus of Nazareth, who governs and directs their operations (in their limited freedom) to His own ends. Eventually, the Church is destined to take their place of heavenly rule as counterpart to the earthly Kingdom of God with it’s focal point in restored Israel, Jerusalem, and the Throne of David.

We simply do not know when they fell—maybe at the same time as the devil (which though “time” runs differently in the heavenlies, was still sequentially after the 7th Day but obviously before the Fall. Sin was “found”originated—in him). The account of Genesis 6 (developed apocryphally into “The Watchers”) does NOT demonstrate that they fell at that time through sexual intercourse with human women, that account actually presupposes that the ‘sons of god’ involved were ALREADY corrupted and the sin of those particular ones culminated in that specific sin. These and their offspring seem to be the spirits already imprisoned in Tartarus to whom the victory of Jesus was announced. The others will join them there soon enough.

At present, we are seeing the rejecters of Jesus Christ in all nations being delivered in subjection to these evil spirits, so that entire populations (or large segments) are rapidly becoming fully deionized in preparation for the final great insurrection/apostasy, and thus set up for deconstruction. Exactly the same process Jesus warned the Jews would happen to Israel if they rejected Him—and they did, and so it happened. the difference is that Israel alone has a covenant promise of ultimate restoration to a remnant. For the all the other nations, the Church is the saved “residue of mankind” “called out (ekklesia) from the nations” to be “a people for His name” “from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” and "has made us kings and priests to His God and Father.”

It is very easy, far too easy, to go astray and be unwittingly ensnared when studying the powers. They are ancient, powerful, experienced, and cunning—and have destroyed better men than us, and greater nations than the USA. Exercise extreme caution. Some, no doubt, of all or most of the “ranks” of angelic beings were among the 1/3 that fell with satan. That accounts for the their various relative potencies and roles. We are not told enough to know about comparable functions of the unfallen vs. fallen—only that there is warfare and it is constant Unlike with us humans where there is always a mixture of good and evil on both sides (in intention, operation, and outcome all alike), with the spiritual beings it is unadulterated evil against pure and pristine good. The evil angels cannot be redeemed and are as corrupt as it is possible to be. The good angels have been confirmed for eternity in their right standing before the Lord and have no possibility of a future fall.


The Coming Cosmic Shakedown
 
God and the Angels
God's Rule Through the Angels
Signs of the Times or Signs of the End
What Holds the Universe Together 
Science in a Broken Universe
Absolute Geocentricity

July 18, 2020