“Already, But Not Yet” Spiritual Warfare

A Christian has no authority whatsoever to speak against (audibly or inaudibly), rebuke or command angels, fallen or holy. Yes, it is true that we have been seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly (eternal) realm, far above all principalities, powers, etc (Eph. 2:6). However, we Christians will not rule over angels (fallen or holy) until the time of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom (2 Tim. 2:12; 1 Cor. 6:2-3). Just as Christ’s kingdom is “already but not yet,” even so our ability to “command and rule” angels—much less Lucifer himself—is “already but not yet.” Now is the time we suffer with Christ in order to rule later. Just as he was subjected at the cross and arose victorious, we must be subjected now… and only when we are raised shall we be able to obtain the fullness of that for which we now have only a downpayment (Eph. 1:14; 2 Cor. 1:22; Romans 8:15-39). As the Romans 8 passage indicates, we are now subjected along with the rest of Creation until Christ’s enemies are made his footstool; until that time, our Lord Jesus waits at the Father’s right hand, and we wait here below (Luke 20:43, Ps. 110:1; Acts 2:35; Heb. 1:13; 10:13). Though Christ triumphed over Satan and all evil spirits at the Cross (Col. 2:14-16), there is a time coming soon when Satan will be put under our feet, even as he will be put under Christ’s feet (Romans 16:20).

Christians do have the authority to cast out “earth level” unclean spirits, but we have no authority over spirits in the eternal realm. [By “earth level” unclean spirits, as opposed to “eternal realm” fallen spirits, I do not mean to delineate levels (spacial) of the heavenly realm but only signification of rank among spiritual beings. Demons are like boots-on-the-ground infantry, whereas other fallen spiritual beings are higher in rank and broader in influence.]

As a matter of theological significance, I find it wonderfully consistent that just as Christians are called to non-violence (aggressive attack) in the physical realm, even so we are not permitted aggressive attack of spirits in the eternal realm. We are created “a little lower” than they. The following describes our spiritual defense as Christians and the means or limits of our spiritual offense as Christians.

Means of Offense

• Matthew 12:29; Mark 3:27; Luke 11:21-23; John 12:31 — “Binding The Strong Man” – Please note that our Lord Jesus was defending the power by which he was casting out demons (earth-realm unclean spirits, not eternal-realm spirits).

◦ If one compares the Luke passage with the others, then he soon realizes Jesus Christ was saying that if he is able to plunder Beelzebub’s (a.k.a. the Philistine god Baal-Zebub) house, then he is stronger than Beelzebub. By being born into the world, by living, dying on the cross for sin, and by rising and ascending Christ did bind Satan, and the strong man, Beelzebub. Beelzebub is not the same as Satan, that Old Serpent, the Dragon. The impact of Christ’s statement is still the same, though. He is stronger than Baal-zebub, just as Jesus Christ is stronger than Satan, as much as infinite is stronger than finite. However, …

◦ Jesus only gave his disciples authority to cast out demons: our offense is based on Christ’s Cross work, which triumphed over the forces of evil but did not immediately depose their authoritative power. That will be done when Christ comes in glory to set up his 1000 kingdom. Until then, we must “play by the rules” of engagement, which is “engage earth-realm unclean spirits only.”

• Matthew 16:18-19 — When Christ said of the Church, “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it,” he was referring to Christians’ conquering the grave (the Gates of Hell) through the resurrection he will provide against the underworld, of which the water caves of Caesarea Philippi were symbolic.

• Romans 1:16 — “The Gospel is the power of God unto Salvation” — the Christian’s main weapon (one of the keys of the kingdom) is the Gospel. The other key is prayer. (Matthew 18:19-20)

• Eph. 6:17b-19 – Sword of the Spirit = Word of God — the only weapon of offense [but also of defense] for the Christian is the Word of God. This is equivalent to the Gospel.

• 2 Tim. 2:12; 1 Cor. 6:3 — Only when Christ returns to set up His kingdom will we ‘judge’ angels. This present time is about getting God’s will done while not bringing railing accusation against any eternal-realm spirit.

• 2 Cor. 10:4 — “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal (fleshly) but have divine power for destroying strongholds.” If the passage were to stop there, I would be tempted to say God wishes Christians to go on the offensive against the fortified domains of spiritual beings; however, the passage continues to define what the strongholds are: “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ….” Therefore, the offensive weapon of a Christian is, once again, spiritual truth (a.k.a. The Word, The Bible, The Gospel) that dispels the lies of the enemy concerning God. These strongholds occur within the minds of both our selves and other people (2 Cor. 4:4).

Practice of Defense

Ephesians 6:1-17a is contextually defensive (besides 17b-19, see above)

• “can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (v. 11)

• “…may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then,…” (v. 13-14)

James 1 is contextually defensive

• “Submit yourself to God, resist the devil; and he will flee from you.” (James 1)

Notice there’s no going on offensive by Christians against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, or spiritual wickedness in high places mentioned in Ephesians or anywhere else in the NT. Eternal realm spirits may attack us, and when they do, we must put on the armor of God in order to withstand firmly. Their aim is to knock us off course and fellowship with God. But, we may not attack them. We must withstand (defend against) their unjust attacks. Moreover, our only mission is gospeling fellow humans and seeing that the gospel is empowered via prayer for boldness and ‘free course.’ Deliver from demons where necessary.

If a Christian maintains fellowship with the Lord (1 John 1), then the forces of the enemy have no “claim” to victimize that one. When one has ‘given ground,’ then a legal ‘claim’ may be levied against the Christian or may be deferred for accumulative consequence (like a police agent allowing a crook to build up his wrap sheet before getting busted on more severe consequences). However, humble repentance and denunciation clears all claims; and the individual (who may have been being demonized) can then successfully be freed by use of the restored authority of his own will (2 Tim. 2:26). The individual was taken captive (due to surrendered ground) by use of his own will in agreement with a satanic deception; he can be freed by use of his own will (only after repentance and denunciation of the deception). Spiritual insight and repentance are gifts from God (2 Tim. 2:25).

Likewise, when interceding, we may not pray against eternal-realm spirits. This is to go beyond our authority. We may only identify with those who have sinned, requesting that God would remember mercy and revealed promises in such cases, as if it were our own sin (ex. Moses to Israel, Job to friends, Jesus to ‘sifted’ Peter).

In the case of Daniel, he was waiting to receive revelation pertinent to his time in the dispensational scheme. But, note he never prayed against evil, eternal-realm spirits. He only fasted and prayed to God with much repentance regarding the sins of his people. We New Testament Christians cannot receive revelation, since the Bible canon is closed. However, we can receive answers to prayer which might seem delayed in our time frame (but not on God’s). In these cases of spiritual warfare that delay answers, it is wise to simply keep praying, keep asking and keep knocking; because the Lord will give you your biblically sound petition in His time (and despite spirit-realm battles) if we (maintaining fellowship with the Lord) pray and do not faint from it (Luke 18:1). Let the unseen battles to the unseen creatures.



Needless Casualties of War by John Paul Jackson

War on the Saints by Evan Roberts and Jessie Penn-Lewis — unabridged, free online version




How To Pray

“A Guide to Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer” via Rusty Rustenbach

Spiritual Warfare Resource Roundup

Philemon: Reconciliation & Experiencing All of Christ

Deeper Walk International | Course 1: “Foundations” (free video series)

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