The Influence of the Spirit Realm

 

The daily influence of the spirit realm in our lives is something most people seldom consider. We tend to feel that we always think our own thoughts, make our own decisions, carve out our own philosophies and form our own attitudes with little or no outside influence. But not so! For both God and the devil are constantly attempting to interact with us. Both kingdoms are forever looking for opportunities to mold us and shape us in their image. And the thing that determines which one wins is the extent of our love for God and His word.

In Ephesians 2:2 we read, “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience…” When we follow the desires of the flesh it results in disobedience to God’s word which, in turn, opens a door to the prince of the power of the air to take the reins of our lives. God’s attempts to influence us for good are not without competition. Not all of the data we have to process in making decisions and forming attitudes comes from within ourselves, or, for that matter, from above.

“But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.” (James 3:14-15) Most of the time we are oblivious to this influence. Meanwhile the spirit realm thinks of little else other than how to trip us up.

“And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job…Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him…” Job 1:7-10 Satan was saying, “Of course I’ve consider Job. But you won’t let me wield any influence in his life. Just let me at him and then we’ll see how long he remains loyal to you.” Like us, Job had no idea that this conversation was taking place. He did not realize that he was being targeted by the enemy of his soul who was always looking for a chance to destroy him.

 And so it is with all of us. “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat… And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.” Here Peter scoffed at the idea of Satan being able to influence him – and yet shortly he found himself in the trial of his life. According to these verses he had an invisible, yet powerful influence purposely endeavoring to guide him towards denying the Lord. Peter did not do this on his own. While the decision was his – there was a spirit influencing the decision. There was an invisible force working on him, a force that needed a willing accomplice to do his bidding. Peter learned his lesson well and later wrote – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith…” (I Peter 5:8-9)

 It is noteworthy that God allows the enemy to test the durability of our faith. “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh…he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken…that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear…” (Hebrews 12:25-29) In the very next verses we are told how to serve God acceptably. “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

 Angels come in two flavors – good and evil. This Scripture explains what both the kingdoms of light and darkness are busy doing as they patrol the earth walking “to and fro.” They are constantly beholding us, closely watching us – looking for any opportunity to wield influence. The word “entertained” in this verse comes from a Greek word that means “to be a host, to lodge, to settle in alongside.” Loving obedience to the teaching of God’s word allows us to host the Lord and His angels. Disobedience, on the other hand, puts out the welcome mat to the enemy and his fallen angels and allows them to come alongside us. It, in a sense, allies us with them in their efforts to destroy mankind and dishonor God.

“And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” (Luke 9:54-55) Here James and John were entertaining, hosting, or settling in alongside fallen angels unawares or unknowingly. It is easy to do this and yet to feel strongly that you are doing the right thing…

“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed…Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan…for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matthew 16:21-23) This is what happens when we desire our will more than the Lord’s. Satan’s thoughts can then materialize in our minds from where we can give them voice. And, sadly, it can feel so right! This being the case, we dare not continue to be “unaware” of what happens as a result of our choices that are in opposition to God’s word. Paul addressed this when he said, “for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (II Corinthians 2:10-11)

In essence, Paul was saying, “Some may unknowingly entertain, host or come alongside fallen angels, but not me. For I am not ignorant of the enemy’s tactics. I know he or one of his fallen angels is lurking nearby at all times just waiting to ride an ill feeling I may have towards this man into my spirit and attitude. I refuse to let that happen. I fully intend to survive this trial of my faith.” Like Paul, we too, can survive the testing of our faith if we’ll not be ignorant of Satan’s methods. “Be ye angry and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath. Neither give place to the devil…grieve not the holy Spirit of God…Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:25-26, 30-32) That’s great advice. Now let’s do it!

Rev. Robert Stroup is the District Superintendent of the Indiana District, United Pentecostal Church International. He is Pastor of Pentecostals of South Lake in Merrillville, Indiana.

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