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Thoughts on Territorial Spirits

November 6th, 2017

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. (Daniel 10:13 NKJV)

In light of the recent shootings in America, the subject of territorial spirits has seemed to me somewhat relevant to the matter. The topic of territorial spirits has been treated by Christians by giving it both too much and not enough emphasis. The Bible does, however, present this spiritual reality in Deuteronomy 32:8, Daniel 10:13 and 10:20, and in Mark 5:10.

I blogged on this matter December 19, 2016, and there I explained the dangers of over-emphasis and under-emphasis. In summary of my blog, the Bible does not teach us very much about territorial spirits, except that they do seem to exist - or at least the manner in which the domain of Satan operates gives certain demons certain territories. The biblical emphasis is on resisting the devil through knowing and believing the truth - standing against Him (Eph. 6:11), for which we need to whole armor of God. We do confront the kingdom of darkness through preaching the gospel, and through prayer. Yet our victory is in Christ alone and in the power of His Word - not in ourselves. Jude warns us not to arrogantly tread into this matter.

But even when Michael the archangel was arguing with the devil and debating with him concerning Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring a slanderous judgment, but said, “May the Lord rebuke you!” But these men do not understand the things they slander, and they are being destroyed by the very things that, like irrational animals, they instinctively comprehend. (Jude 1:9-10 NET)

The emphasis of the scripture is to preach the gospel, to teach the truth, to resist the deceptions of the devil, and to stand in the full armor of God against the work of the devil as we depend on the power of the Spirit of God to enable us. We are not helpless - we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us (Rom. 8:37) - yet the power to resist comes from God, not us.

We are reminded of the seven sons of Sceva in Ephesus who tried to command demons to come out “in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches” (Acts 19:13-14). Sceva had been a Jewish chief priest, so these sons enjoyed some influence through their father’s connections. They made the mistake of assuming the same would be possible in the Spirit world, that the mere mention of Jesus’ name would be enough - even though they did not know Him nor believe in Him. The demon they were trying to cast out answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” and turned on them causing them to run from the house naked and bleeding.

I have lived in four different nations: Philippines, Singapore, Germany, and the United States. In addition, I have pastored international churches overseas, which has given me the opportunity to minister to people from many more nations. And I have also traveled in served short term in different nations as well: twenty at last count. Each of these places has unique challenges in service. Satan is called “the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Eph. 2:2). I have to admit that more than once it has occurred to me or seemed to me that different nations have the unique mark of some deceptive spirit.

Satan is a deceiver and his demons seek to confuse and deceive. If demons are anything like human beings - and since we are made in the image of God, and they apparently share similar traits with us, it is not illogical to assume we are similar at least in some ways - then personality and preferences and strategies would naturally come into play. Demons are fallen angels. Demons are greater beings that we are - mankind is made “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8:5) - so they have more personal resources to draw on. Yet it seems that they stick to a major strategy of deception in certain regions.

So in some areas of the world people are trapped in fear, while in other areas - Europe for example - people are trapped in the denial that Satan exists. In America at present there has been an incredible turn to violence lately - from the big gambling city of Las Vegas to the small town of Sutherland Springs and to a quintessential small country church. The connection seems to only be that they are in the same land. At least on the surface they seem to bear the same mark of demonic influence - to kill as many people as possible.

This is a concerted effort by the devil and his demons - using the media that has glorified violence for years, both music and film, and corrupting the families of America, causing divorce and increased violence. America is still NOT the most violent nation on earth - not by a long shot. African nations, South and Central American nations, and Caribbean nations have much more violence toward one another than America. In the broader picture, America still has one of the world’s lowest murder rates. Yet it is characterized by sudden outbursts of mass murder - people suddenly and without logic or reason using automatic or semi-automatic weapons to destroy their fellow Americans.

I do not have a definitive answer to this question as to “Why America?” or to the question “Why now?” But I do suspect that in eternity we will learn that it has the mark of some territorial spirit that is at work in the nation.

So what are we to do? We are to stand strong against the evil one, stand in the truth of God and put on the armor of light (Ephesians 6:10-18 and Romans 13:12). We are to share the love of God with a lost world, preaching and teaching the biblical gospel of Christ. We must pray for God’s truth to triumph and for Satan’s lies to be defeated. We must reach out and seek to know our neighbor and to love and serve him. We must protect and promote healthy families, for violence against others has a direct correlation to divorce rates.

These are my thoughts today in wake of the tragedy of Sutherland Springs.

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