Our Domains Under Spiritual Attack
[Reading time: 15 minutes] In previous articles, we saw that God gave the earth – likely all of physical creation – to humanity to rule as our domain. Satan became the god of this world by deceiving Adam and Eve, enticing them to disobey God and so abdicate their authority over their domain.
Now, the citizens or subjects of Satan’s kingdom include the fallen angels expelled with him from heaven, in addition to demons and unredeemed humans or sinners. All of them actively engage in the spiritual war against God and his people, though most of the humans don’t know it. Because Jesus defeated him on the cross, Satan’s kingdom now is limited in its scope and duration.
Jesus’ Spiritual Victory
Jesus paid the penalty for all of humanity’s sin and broke Satan’s power through his death on the cross (1 John 2:2; 1 Pet. 2:24; Heb. 2:14). As a result, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Rom. 10:13) and rescued from the dominion (ruling authority) of darkness, which is Satan’s kingdom (Col. 1:13). They become children of God and enter the kingdom of heaven (John 1:12; Matt. 7:21).
After his resurrection, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18, NIV), which means Satan no longer is the absolute ruler of the world, though the world system is still under his control (1 John 5:19). Satan now is only the “ruler of the kingdom of the air” and “god of this age” (Eph. 2:2; 2 Cor. 4:4), which means his authority is reduced and limited in time.
When Jesus received all authority in heaven and on earth, he was fully human. His humanity was significant, because only a human could legally recover the authority the first humans lost. This is an important point. Adam legally lost authority for all mankind through his disobedience and Satan legally received it, but Jesus the man legally regained it by paying the penalty incurred by Adam’s sin. Plus, those who accept Jesus’ sacrifice for their sin are backed by God’s authority!
“God placed all things under [Jesus’] feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church” (Eph. 1:22). This double analogy – meaning everything is under him, and he’s in charge of everything – emphasizes that he is supreme! Over everything and every being in every realm. Satan, fallen angels, demons, animals, humans and all of creation clearly are under Jesus’ authority. This verse also reveals God did this “for the church.” Now, as Jesus’ followers, we each have authority over our individual domains, but in the future we’ll reign with Jesus and share his authority over everything.
This means evil spiritual beings no longer control or have authority over those who accept Jesus as Savior. Their only power is that of influence or persuasion, which we can resist. As God’s children and followers of Jesus, we bring our domains into God’s kingdom, since we’re no longer enslaved to Satan’s kingdom.
Yes, Satan is the ruler of this age and he runs the world system, but not us. We live in the world, but we don’t belong to it (2 Cor. 10:3; John 15:19), so the only power Satan has over us is what we allow him to have.
First, some definitions. Dominion refers to sovereignty or the power to rule, and includes either stewardship or supremacy. Authority is the power to enforce rules or give orders, and doesn’t always involve sovereignty or supremacy. A domain is a territory, sphere of activity, or realm of influence over which one exercises authority.
I am a husband, father and grandfather, and my domain includes me and my entire family. I own a house, property, furniture, tools and vehicles, which are part of my domain. My domain includes my small business and my business activities include writing my online articles and publishing my books, which extend my realm of influence. When I teach a class, the materials I prepare and the classroom environment are part of my domain, my realm of influence. People come to the class because they want what I have to offer. The same is true if someone asks me to pray for them. In both cases, they’re inviting me to impart something of value, temporarily extending my domain, which means I can act with temporary authority for their benefit. My spiritual authority enables me to fulfill my God-given duties, and protect and empower everything and everyone in my domain, but I cannot use it to control the people in it, as that would violate their free will.
We can use our spiritual authority against any spiritual being or force affecting or threatening our domain. We also can use that authority to protect our domain from physical threats, such as storms, illness or other danger. We can ask God to intervene, then authoritatively speak and act as needed.
Jesus taught us how to pray by giving us an example that begins with the following: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9-10). Notice the phrases, “your kingdom come, your will be done.” The words translated “come” and “be done” are imperatives, which means they express a command, an intention, an exhortation, or simply a polite request, depending on the context. We obviously cannot command God’s kingdom or his will, but we definitely can express our intention and extend an invitation.
The phrase, “on earth,” eventually will include the entire earth after Jesus returns to set up his kingdom. Until then, we’re able to submit our individual domains to him and invite him to come into them, to do in our domains on earth what he does in his domain in heaven. The earth is now our domain and God will work here only at our request. He won’t intrude on our authority or our domain. Maybe you’ve heard it said that God will intervene in human affairs only if someone prays first. This is why; God won’t invade our turf and only comes at our request. This statement, “your kingdom come, your will be done,” is a legal request or authorization from one authority to another. This is our domain where we rule, and we invite God into it.
Every biblical principle will be supported by two or more witnesses, so let’s consider a few similar passages. Jesus told his disciples he had given them (past tense) authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy, and that nothing would harm them (Luke 10:19). He appears to be using snakes and scorpions as analogies for evil spiritual beings that might harm them, a parallel to God protecting the Israelites from literal ones in the wilderness (Deut. 8:15). Notice he gave them – and us by extension – authority (Greek, exousia) over the enemy’s power (Greek, dynamis). This means we do not overcome the enemy with power. We’re not engaged in a brute-force struggle with the enemy, with us trying to use our power to overcome his; that would be a hopeless and foolish effort. Instead, our God-given authority always supersedes Satan’s power!
It doesn’t matter whether we feel like we have authority; how badly the enemy has beaten us up in the past; how big, ugly and intimidating the enemy seems; or whether we’ve tried exercising spiritual authority and seemed to fail. According to God’s word – and he cannot lie – we do have spiritual authority on earth today and that authority supersedes Satan’s power!
Peter wrote that we are a royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9). The word translated “royal” is an adjective from a Greek word group that specifically means a king, or as a verb means to be a king or reign as one. So we are priests reigning as kings.
Also, just as it’s certain that death reigned through Adam’s sin, it’s much more certain that we reign in life through Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:17). To reign in life means we do so right here, right now.
Yes, Satan is the ruler of this age and runs the world system, but the only power he has over us is what we allow him to have. God has given us all we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3), so any failure to reign effectively in this life is not God’s or Satan’s fault.
Who we are and what we do affects everything and everyone in our domain. Our words produce either positive or negative results because of our authority, which is why the New Testament places so much importance on what we say. Speaking is an expression or act of authority.
Consider a parallel. A police officer in uniform can step into a street and stop traffic simply by raising his hand. His authority over traffic is backed by the entire legal system of the government he represents. Similarly, we are legal agents of our Father’s kingdom. Our authority is backed by his authority and power; and he’s omnipotent (all-powerful) and the Almighty (unlimited authority). He backs us when we properly exercise our spiritual authority.
Remember, our authority applies in our individual domain; not someone else’s domain, unless they ask us for help, which authorizes us to act in their behalf.
Our authority doesn’t justify our bossing people around. God gave all of us free will and we must honor other people’s free will. Our authority in this life is spiritual, not civil.
Humility is a key trait of Christlike character. In church we talk a lot more about agape love than humility, which is unfortunate. A lack of humility prevents us from serving others in love, so humility seems more foundational. It’s essential to everything we do, including exercising authority, and it allows us to recognize this is all about our Father and Jesus; not about us.
Responding to Spiritual Attack
If Jesus won all authority in heaven and on earth, regained dominion and disarmed the enemy, then why is our domain under attack? Because Satan will not give up. He still wants to take God’s place, and because he can’t attack God directly, he hates and attacks everything related to him, including us and our domain. In that sense, Satan’s attacks aren’t about us. He attacks us because we’re God’s children and his earthly representatives.
There’s extensive teaching in the New Testament about resisting the devil and engaging in the warfare between the spiritual kingdoms. That is evidence Satan attacks us and our domain is under attack.
Therefore, it’s essential that we use our spiritual authority against our spiritual enemy. When we act in our authority by saying or doing something with specific results in mind, God releases his power and produces the intended results. We prepare the situation and God does the work.
A familiar passage in Scripture tells us to put on “the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Eph. 6:11). The word translated “take your stand” means to stand in place, to make or take a stand. That is, we’re to resist anything that would cause us to compromise our spiritual position. The “devil’s schemes” refers to the methodical ways he works, especially involving his craftiness and trickery. The next verse in Ephesians explains why we should put on the armor and take our stand. “For 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” (Eph. 6:12). The word for “struggle” specifically refers to wrestling or close-quarters one-on-one fighting. This verse makes an important point: our struggle is against evil spiritual beings, not evil people! Even when we have conflict with evil humans or human authorities, our spiritual conflict is with the evil spirits motivating them. Jesus said not to resist an evil person’s attack (Matt. 5:39). We have no authority over them as we do over spiritual beings, so we’re to respond differently. The “armor of God” passage refers to spiritual preparations for spiritual combat with the evil spiritual beings attacking us and our domain.
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Eph. 6:13). To “stand your ground” means to resist or stand against an attacking power. Evil has been in the world since Adam and Eve sinned, but there is a “day of evil” coming. Whether that refers to a period when we individually experience a more severe spiritual attack, or a time when unprecedented evil dominates the world, or both, we’ll be able to stand our ground only if we have “done everything” to prepare for it, including putting on the full armor of God. Notice Scripture doesn’t say to put on the armor to defeat the enemy; rather, we do it so we can stand firm against the enemy’s assault.
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). The word translated “resist” in this verse is the same word translated “stand your ground” in Ephesians 6:13. The word appears again in 1 Peter 5:8-9, which says we’re to resist him by standing firm in the faith when he comes like a roaring lion trying to devour us. If we are submissive to God by doing what he expects of us, we can confidently stand our ground and resist the devil when he attacks, and expect him to flee from us. Our authority supersedes his power.
There’s no neutral ground in spiritual kingdom warfare. Everything we say or do aligns with one of the kingdoms and allows either God or Satan to influence us and affect our domains. We’re not immune to the warfare; it affects every aspect of our lives. We live in a hostile environment; the world system controlled by Satan, our enemy. If we’re not experiencing spiritual opposition or attack from the dark kingdom, we need to consider whether that’s evidence we’re not adequately committed to God.
We’re not combat troops, but children of God and legal representatives of his kingdom. Jesus won the victory and we simply enforce it. The Book of Revelation portrays Jesus with blood on his robe, but says we’ll wear white, clean garments; no blood on us because it’s not our fight (Rev. 19:13-14; Isa. 63:2-3).
As strange as it may seem at first, our relationship with God is our most important and valuable resource. Yes, God is the source of everything we need, but it’s specifically our covenant relationship with him that makes it all available, and accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior brought us into that relationship. Our Father will give us whatever we ask in Jesus’ name (John 15:16; 16:23); that is, whatever we ask on Jesus’ behalf as his agents or because he brought us into relationship with Father. As a human, Jesus said he could do nothing on his own (John 5:30; 8:28). Likewise, we can do nothing of kingdom value outside our relationship with God. As stated earlier, we act in our authority with kingdom results in mind, then God releases his power to produce the intended results. Without our relationship with him, that doesn’t happen.
In discussions of spiritual warfare, most Christians immediately think of the armor of God (Eph. 6:10), also known as the armor of light (Rom. 13:12). As stated earlier, the armor enables us to stand firmly in place against any attack that would cause us to compromise our spiritual position. Armor protects the user and therefore is defensive in nature. The only weapon included in the list is the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). The armor of God is an important resource and we examine these items in detail in another article, which emphasizes preparing ourselves for the conflict.
Another resource we should continually be aware of is the name of Jesus. We enforce Jesus’ victory by using our spiritual authority in our domains on his behalf; that is, in his name or in his place. This is similar to power of attorney, in which one person acts in another’s position or role. As members of God’s family, we legally represent him and conduct his business in our domains. Likewise, Jesus said we’ll do the works he did on earth (John 14:12), so we continue his works in his place, in his name. Simply saying “in the name of Jesus,” as if the phrase itself produces results, seems to miss the point. It’s a legal statement identifying ourselves as the lawful agent, messenger or delivery person. In Jesus’ name, we can preach repentance and forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:47), do miracles (Mark 9:38), meet people’s basic needs (Mark 9:41), drive out demons (Mark 16:17) and ask Father for anything (John 16:24). “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17).
The blood of Jesus is another resource we have available. His blood was the “sacrifice of atonement” that appeased God’s wrath against our sin (Rom. 3:25). Through his blood, we are redeemed and our sins are forgiven (Eph. 1:7), we’re justified (Rom. 5:9), we’re reconciled with God (Col. 1:19-20), we enter covenant with God (Luke 22:20), we’re made holy (Heb. 13:12), and we overcome Satan (Rev. 12:11). The enemy attacks us with accusations, such as our not being qualified to do God’s work due to our sin or past failures. Of course, we’re not personally qualified, but Jesus’ blood removes every obstacle to our continuing his work and functioning as God’s kingdom representatives on earth. Jesus’ blood gives us an unbeatable defense against the enemy’s accusations. Our confidence needs to be in Jesus’ blood, which defeated Satan completely and eternally.
Each of us receives one or more gifts that are invaluable resources in everyday life and kingdom warfare. “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7). This is a revelation or clear evidence of something originating with the Holy Spirit, referred to as “gifts” (verse 4, charisma). Specifically, they’re gracious gifts, expressions of God’s favor and kindness toward us, often called “spiritual gifts” based on 1 Corinthians 12:1 (pneumatikos). These are irrevocable and the Holy Spirit gives or distributes them to us as he chooses (Rom. 11:29; 1 Cor. 12:7, 11). Notice these are gifts, not loans. We find overlapping representative lists of these gifts in the New Testament (Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:8-10; Eph. 4:11; 1 Pet. 4:10-11). God gives each of us such gifts “for the common good,” meaning they’re beneficial or appropriate for achieving specific purposes (1 Cor. 12:7). We should use them to serve others (not just Christians), build up the church, equip other believers for works of service, and promote spiritual maturity (1 Cor. 14:12; Eph. 4:12-13; 1 Pet. 4:10). These are important tasks for everyday life, but especially as kingdom warfare escalates. (For more information about spiritual gifts, see Making the Transition: Becoming the Unique Person God Created You to Be.)
We’ve already referred to a resource that makes our authority and actions effective: God’s power. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). As we’ve noted, our life includes continuous spiritual warfare. And though our spiritual enemy may seem terrifying by human standards, he is and has nothing compared to our Father, the Almighty. God’s power is a key element of his kingdom (1 Cor. 4:20). It’s eternal, surpassing and incomparably great (Rom. 1:20; 2 Cor. 4:7; Eph. 1:19). It sustains all things, resurrected Jesus from the dead, is at work in us, and shields us until Jesus returns (Heb. 1:3; Rom. 1:4; Eph. 3:20; 1 Pet. 1:5). When the enemy attacks or world events seem overwhelming, remember God’s power is made perfect or fulfilled in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9), then be strong in his mighty power and anticipate his intervention.
In everyday life, especially as we exercise our spiritual authority, we must be careful to maintain a kingdom perspective and be proper representatives of Father’s kingdom. There are some precautions we should keep in mind.
Don’t become preoccupied with Satan or evil spiritual beings. Preoccupation with someone or something is an aspect of worship – adoration, devotion or deep respect. Satan’s original sin included a desire for worship and it’s something he still wants. He offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world if he would bow down and worship him (Matt. 4:8-9). With us, he uses a different strategy. He wants us to become so caught up in the conflict with him and his hosts that our focus shifts from God to him. If he can capture our attention or distract us from worshiping God, he achieves his goal.
We must speak with authority to evil beings but not act like them. If we hurl insulting abuse or vent our anger at the enemy, we exhibit our enemy’s nature and we invite a counterattack. Is it appropriate to be angry at Satan? Definitely, but we must be angry without sinning (Eph. 4:26). Rudeness, brazenness and derogatory language are characteristic of Satan’s kingdom, not God’s, so we must avoid them.
Intentionally develop a kingdom perspective. Our lives and the spiritual warfare we experience ultimately are about Father and his kingdom, not about us. Yes, Satan and his hordes assault us and interfere with what God wants to do in and through us, but only because we belong to Father. Even when we use the spiritual authority Jesus restored to us, we’re to use it to protect and serve the domains Father gave us and glorify him in the process.
Our domains are under spiritual attack because Satan hates us as God’s children and kingdom representatives. Jesus restored the authority we have over our earthly domains, which supersedes Satan’s power. That authority allows us to fulfill our God-given duties, and protect and serve our domains from attack or interference from evil spiritual beings.