“To attack principalities and powers over a geographic area is as useless as throwing hatchets at the moon and leaves you open to unforeseen and unperceived attacks.” (John Paul Jackson)
A powerful teaching by the late prophetic teacher, John Paul Jackson, addresses the problem with “tearing down principalities” in the spiritual realm (CLICK HERE for the link to the 30-minute video: “Dreams and Mysteries: The Mystery of Spiritual Warfare”). He presents the scriptural understanding of three different “heavenly realms” and where the believer’s authority lies. Though we have been given spiritual authority by Jesus (Luke 9:1; 10:19), it is in the “second heaven” where demonic forces operate, that a believer has not been given jurisdiction (authority).
Second heaven? In 2 Corinthians 12:2 the Apostle Paul talks about being “lifted up into the third heaven”, which suggests there is a first and second heaven. In Genesis 1:1 it is said that God created the “heavens” and the earth, implying more than one heaven. In Ephesians 4:10, it says that Jesus “ascended higher than all the heavens”, again implying more than two. In Daniel 10:13, the archangel, Michael, describes to Daniel how he was detained by demonic forces as he came to answer Daniel’s prayer (from God’s throne in the third heaven to the first heaven where earth is). In Ephesians 2:6 we are to be “…seated with Christ in heavenly places”, which would be the highest heaven where God’s throne is. It is from this place that we experience kinship with Jesus who secured our identity as sons and daughters of God through the cross. Being seated with Christ is spoken of, not to secure a right to do battle now, but rather “…so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.…” (verse 7).
The believers domain? In Genesis 1:28, God establishes the boundaries of our dominion (right to rule) “…over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” It is in this “first heaven” or the “terrestrial realm” where believers have authority over the works of Satan. In Psalm 115:16, it states that “The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.” It is here on this earth that Jesus gave us authority “…to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy…(Luke 10:19). This was the spiritual authority He gave to every believer – to destroy, not Satan himself, but “…all the works of the devil.” (I John 3:8) It will be the Lord God that will destroy Satan and throw him into hell on that final day (Revelation 20:2-14). Until that time, we are called to minister the love of Christ in order to destroy sickness, disease, curses, and every other demonic work that affects people around us.
What about our wrestling with “powers and rulers…”? In Ephesians 6:10-18, we are told to wear the spiritual armor of God because “…our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” This simply says that our struggle is due to the demonic forces at work all around us, but the scripture exhorts us to “…stand firm then…”, “…take up the shield of faith” to deflect the darts of the evil one, and then to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions.” This Scripture does not suggest that a believer fight or “take down” these demonic rulers and principalities. Rather, it clarifies the source of our battle and exhorts the believer to stand firm, resist the devil, and affirm our faith in prayer.
Where is our battle? John Paul states, “Our warfare is against personal attacks on earth, not principalities. That which affects the earth…our focus is to change mindsets and hearts …principalities have the right to be there (because of corporate mindsets and beliefs). It’s our heart that determines what rules in the second heaven. We don’t tear it down unless we tear down the high places in our own hearts first.” UNTIL we change our own hearts and help change the corporate mindsets around us, the principalities have a right to be there. Just as vultures circle dead carcasses, so demonic forces are attracted to things of the flesh. Even in personal deliverance, until a person has the proper knowledge and will-power to change their ungodly beliefs and start walking in obedience, they are not ready for deliverance. To do so prematurely will only make matters worse (Matthew 12:45).
In the days to come, demonic forces will increase and believers will need to pray effectively. We must have a proper understanding of how to use the spiritual authority we have been given and not to “throw hatchets at the moon”. This is not a show of power, but a yielding of control to a Higher Authority. As we remove the dead carcasses of sin and rebellion in our own hearts and in our communities, the vultures will then have no reason to stay and God’s kingdom can be firmly established.
- For a study on the book of Acts and how the apostles dealt with regional strongholds, here is a free PDF Download, “A Biblical Framework for Dealing with Principalities and Spiritual Rulers.”