A quick Primer On Spiritual Warfare Copyright John Edmiston 2003 but may be copied & distributed for non-profit use



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THE CHURCH

In these two diagrams, the Church is the “big change” in the heavenly realms. Mankind is now divided into two: a) the a redeemed humanity which is seated in heavenly realms with Christ and b) an unredeemed humanity which is under the power of angels and demons. In Acts 19 the ineffectiveness of Jewish exorcism compared with Christian exorcism is made very obvious in the dramatic accounts of the sons of Sceva.


(Acts 19:11-17 NKJV) Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, {12} so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. {13} Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches." {14} Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. {15} And the evil spirit answered and said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?" {16} Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. {17} This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.

Thus the Jews though superior to the Gentiles, did not possess the power that Christians possess. That is because they are still under the old order, they are not a new creation and have not been seated in heavenly realms with Christ. Thus non-Christians cannot cast out demons effectively, nor do they possess the (often unused) authority that Christians possess.

The Church is thus not just a building, nor is it just a group of people or even an organization or a community. The Church is a powerful spiritual mystery, a new reality, a spiritually empowered and mightily blessed group of eternal beings seated in heaven with Christ. Here is a rather complicated passage that spells this out:


(Ephesians 3:6-10 NIV) This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. {7} I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power. {8} Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, {9} and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. {10} His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,

In verse 10 we see that the church is God’s way of bearing witness to Himself in the heavenly realms. Earlier in Ephesians Paul makes clear that we are a heavenly people: (Ephesians 2:6-7 NIV) And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, {7} in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

In verse 6 we see that t he church is God’s “big surprise”, His mystery. No-one expected such a huge alteration in the nature of spiritual reality. It was a surprise for Christ to dwell in human hearts (Colossians 1:25-27) or Gentiles to enter the Kingdom (Ephesians 3:6). The Church not only declares God’s wisdom but is Christ’s body and the “fullness” or completion of Christ! (Ephesians 1:22-23 NIV) And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, {23} which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Colossians 1:18-19 NIV) And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. {19} For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,

The point for spiritual warfare is this. The Church is POWERFUL, it is Christ’s heavenly body, and wields His authority, wears God’s armor (Ephesians 6:10-18) and is capable of “pulling down strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). In the end Satan shall be crushed under our feet (Romans 16:20) and it is the saints, through the word of their testimony and the blood of Jesus that shall cats Satan down to earth (Revelations 12:1-11). The saints will judge angels and the world (1 Corinthians 6:2,3). To grasp this a bit more and to get a handle on our spiritual authority we shall look at the change-over period between the Old and New Tesaments.

THE TIME OF TRANSITION BETWEEN OT & NT – JOHN THE BAPTIST

(Matthew 11:7-15 NKJV) As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? {8} "But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. {9} "But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. {10} "For this is he of whom it is written: 'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.' {11} "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. {12} "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. {13} "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. {14} "And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. {15} "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

John the Baptist was the prophetic forerunner of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the last prophet based in "Moses" and the Torah, the last and the greatest of the Old Testament saints. (Matthew 11:11-13)

Yet Jesus makes the extraordinary statement that the least of the New Testament believers would be greater than John the Baptist. Not better than, but greater than, for the salvation that is by grace through faith has seated us in heavenly realms with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-10) far above the principalities and powers (Ephesians 1:20) and able to cast out demons - which no OT saint is recorded as doing.

In the OT in Psalm 8 man is “a little lower than the angels” but in the NT Christians are seated above and with the angels (Ephesians 1:20, 2:6) and we will one day judge them and the entire world. (1 Corinthians 6:2,3). Jesus makes this quite plain that in Luke: (Luke 20:35-36 NKJV) "But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; {36} "nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” Thus Christians are equal to the elect angels, superior to the fallen angels and no longer under angelic control, rather even some angels are our servants (Hebrews 1:14) Thus Christians are no longer “a little lower than the angels” and a huge transformation has taken place in the heavenly realms. Thus we are not to worship angels (Colossians 2, Revelation 22). Note” In the diagram above “the angelic realm” refers to the realm the angels administer not to where angels dwell. Christians are no longer in the realm that is administered by angels but are administered by Christ alone and are co-equal to the elect angels.

The Church is now the body of Christ, and Christ's body is where He is. Thus we are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20) who have already come to the heavenly Zion (Hebrews 12:22-24) and who have a risen life in heaven with Christ. (Colossians 3:1-4). Galatians chapters 3 and 4 tell us that OT saints were slaves to the law, but Christians are sons, come into maturity and freed from the law that was administered by angels. We will inherit as sons of God, gain eternal life and rule and reign with Christ upon His throne. (Revelation 2:25-28, 5:10). This marvelous change in spiritual status and authority and the reception of the blessing of the Holy Spirit as a deposit of the things to come (Ephesians 1:13,14), is all of grace. We have not earned it, nor do we deserve it. It is by grace through faith. [For a more full explanation of the Christian's new status in the heavenly realms refer to my article on the Ascension of Jesus Christ at http://www.aibi.ph/aibi/ascension.htm ]

Thus John the Baptist is the end of the old Covenant. "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John". After John, as the old order came to an end there seems to have been some turmoil in the Kingdom. "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.". This instability ended at Pentecost when the new order, the Church, was fully brought into being through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit from the ascended Christ enthroned at the right hand of the Father. (Acts 2:30-36) The external structures of the Old Covenant lasted another 40 years until 70 AD when they were destroyed by the armies of Titus having refused their fulfillment and redemption in Christ.

John the Baptist was "the greatest of those born of women" - but he was less than those "born of God". Born-again believers, filled with the Spirit, are greater than those who are without a new nature in Christ. John the Baptist was a great prophet and the Spirit was upon him, but the Spirit did not make John the Baptist a new creation, nor did it dwell permanently in Him. Old Testament saints had a relationship with God via their human spirit, but they did not have the indwelling "Christ in you the hope of glory" of the New Covenant, not could it be said of them "behold all things are become new". They were not new creations, they were old creations in contact with God, loved by Him, but not re-created by Him. They were part of the kingdom of Israel but not part of the kingdom of Heaven. However since then, and together with us, they have been "made perfect". (Hebrews 11:40, 12:22-24). I believe that we will see the OT saints in heaven.

Does this mean that the Jews are saved? That is, if John the Baptist and the OT saints were saved and we will see them in Heaven, then are modern Jews who follow the Law able also to be saved apart from faith in Christ? That is a misunderstanding. Paul makes it clear that because of sin, no-one can be saved through obeying the Law and the Law is meant to lead us to Christ. John the Baptist told those who came to him to believe in Jesus. The Law is not a substitute for Christ but a tutor to lead us to Christ. The Law lead the true believers in Israel to faith in the messiah when he appeared in their midst. After that the Law had done its job and was abolished. Thus the Law, without faith, only brings condemnation. So Jews that believe the Law but do not believe in Christ, have missed the purpose of the Law, and are not saved. (See Romans 1-8, Galatians 2- 4, 1Timothy 1, Romans 10:1-3). Here are a few verses from Galatians that make the point quite clearly.

(Galatians 2:16-21 NKJV) "knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. {17} "But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! {18} "For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. {19} "For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. {20} "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. {21} "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."

So who is John the Baptist? John is the forerunner spoken of in Isaiah making straight the highway for our God (Isaiah 40:3-5). He is the greatest born of women and the ultimate product of the law and the prophets which prophesied "until John" and were fulfilled in Christ. He is not a born-again believer and the least born-again believer is greater than John the Baptist and all who are "born of women". The new nature and high heavenly position that we receive through being "in Christ" and filled with the Spirit makes us higher than the angels (1 Cor 6;2,3) and greater than (but not better than) John the Baptist. He was the last of those OT saints who were "slaves under the Law" while we are the sons of God who will inherit through Christ. Our new nature and status is a grace-gift through faith in Jesus who John points to and tells us to believe in so that we can receive the Spirit (Matthew 3:11, Acts 19:1-7).

The essential truth for spiritual warfare is this: You need to be born-again to do spiritual warfare. Keeping the Law and being even as good as John the Baptist or the OT saints is not enough and will not give you spiritual power, you need to be born-again, born of God, a new creation and part of the kingdom of heaven. You cannot earn spiritual authority through keeping the Law, you get authority from Christ, for free, by grace through faith and the least, most emotionally disturbed, insignificant Christian has a higher heavenly status than all the OT saints.


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