Is There a Real Spirit World?
A majority of people believe there is a God. But many of these same people believe evil spirits and the devil are fictional.
More and more, popular movies, television shows, books and entertainment fixate on demonism, mysticism and the occult, including psychics, vampires and witches. But are these things actually real?
According to the Telegraph, a third of all phone calls received by Catholic officials in the diocese of Rome—the pope’s own backyard—now relate to requests for exorcisms (April 13).
A lot of people think that this spiritual dimension is unreal. And even those who believe in demons and a devil have conflicting understanding of what this dimension is all about.
But look at this world: warfare, terrorism, riots, torture, starvation, hatred, corruption, materialism, perversion.
Is there a spiritbehind these actions?
If you can believe your Bible, the answer to that question is a resounding yes.
‘The God of This World’
Satan and his demons—the entire spirit world, in fact—have been a great mystery to this world. The Apostle Paul revealed the astounding reason why this is the case: “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
Who is “the god of this world”? Most people would say God, the Creator. But “the god of this world” has blinded the minds of people to the gospel of Christ. The god who rules the world is actually Satan the devil. In John 12:31 and John 14:30, this evil being is called “the prince of this world.” We are living in the devil’s world!
When Jesus Christ came to Earth, He and Satan engaged in a titanic battle for its future. Had Satan enticed Jesus to sin, He would have failed, and Satan could have ruled the world forever. Christ didn’t argue when Satan boasted, “All this power will I give thee [referring to all the kingdoms of the world], and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it” (Luke 4:6). That’s because Christ knew that Satan did indeed have charge over the world and its riches.
Note that 2 Corinthians 4:4 says the devil blinds people to truth and reality. In fact, he has deceived mankind into believing he doesn’t even exist!
“Most churchmen today, viewing everything from the perspective of this world today, blindly assume this is God’s world,” educator Herbert W. Armstrong wrote. “They see certain forces of evil in it, and these they feel they must oppose. They see the Christian duty to be that of working to make this a better world. That concept is a wrong viewpoint altogether. This is not a world of God’s making. This isSatan’sworld! Satan is the invisible god of this world. He is the author of its organization, its basic philosophies, its systems of government, business, society—yes, and religions!” (Plain Truth, November 1960).
This is vitally important truth. Do you recognize the devil’s influence in the world over which he is prince and god today? Or are you one who is blinded to it?
“The fact that holy angels and evil spirits are invisible does not negate their existence,” Mr. Armstrong wrote in Mystery of the Ages. “In truth the invisible spirit world is more real than the material and the visible.”
There is a spirit realm, an invisible dimension of life, that is more real than this physical world we experience with our five senses every day!
This spirit realm has more influence on our world, and even on your life, than you realize. In Ephesians 2:2, Paul told converted Christians, “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.” Believe it or not, Satan works in people, constantly influencing the thoughts and actions of human beings!
Seem unbelievable? Just take a look at today’s headlines and see if that doesn’t make complete, logical sense.
“Satan moves on the human spirit within people to move them in attitudes of envy, jealousy, resentment, impatience, anger, bitterness and strife,” Mr. Armstrong wrote. “People have no realization of the tremendous power of Satan. The human spirit within each human is automatically tuned to Satan’s wavelength. It seems as if Satan has surcharged the air over the entire Earth with his attitude of self-centeredness and vanity” (ibid).
This is an extremely important fact to recognize: Satan broadcasts on our wavelength, and we are automatically tuned in.
The Origins of Evil
How did Satan and the demons come into existence? The biblical revelation on this point is plain, but it must be pieced together from several different passages.
John 1:1-2 reveal that God and the Word existed eternally. These two lived in total unity as the only Beings in the universe since before time began. They are professional Creators who devised the universe and all living things in it (verse 3).
Did they create a devil, and demons?
God did create angels to help Him create, govern and manage His creation. Angels are ministers, agents and helpers in God’s creation. They are servants of God, playing a critical role in fulfilling His eternal purpose. The Bible reveals angelic elders (Revelation 4:10), armies (Revelation 19:14), and cherubim covering God’s throne (Psalm 99:1).
The archangel Lucifer was one of just two covering cherubs (see the description in Exodus 25:17-20 of the construction of the “mercy seat,” which was a type of God’s throne).
In Ezekiel 28, God conveys a message to this great angelic being through the Prophet Ezekiel. He refers to Lucifer as “the king of Tyrus.” We know this isn’t speaking of a human being: The physical ruler is referred to as “the prince of Tyrus” in verse 2; and God describes this “king” in terms that could not possibly apply to a mortal man.
Here is God’s message to this spirit being: “Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; … the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire” (verses 12-14).
God created and educated Lucifer for his assignment on Earth’s throne, which was placed in the Garden of Eden—before human beings were even created! Lucifer received this special training from the “holy mountain of God,” God’s throne!
“Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created,” verse 15 begins. God could not instantaneously create a being of greater talent and beauty than Lucifer. As created, Lucifer was perfect. God did not create the devil! He created a perfect angelic being. But He gave that being free moral agency—the power of choice.
The end of verse 15 reveals what then happened: “till iniquity was found in thee.” Lucifer became lawless by sinning against God’s law of love.
God intended for Lucifer to administer a universe government based on His supreme law of giving, cooperating and serving. But Lucifer thought he could accomplish more by competition, giving rise to sin, violence, destruction, competition, misery and unhappiness.
Lucifer became so prideful and arrogant that he attempted to evict God from His throne! In a parallel passage, the Prophet Isaiah revealed the attitude that created the problem: “For thou [Lucifer] hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north” (Isaiah 14:13).
Notice: Lucifer’s rebellion started in his heart—with vanity! This being became so vain that he actually thought a mutiny on God’s throne would succeed!
“When Lucifer allowed thoughts of vanity, jealousy, envy, lust and greed, then resentment and rebellion, to enter and occupy his mind, something happened to his mind!” Mr. Armstrong explained. “His mind became perverted, distorted, twisted! His thinking became warped. God gave him and the angels control over their own minds. They can never straighten them out—never again think rationally, honestly, rightly” (ibid).
Lucifer—the “light bringer”—became Satan, the adversary of God and of everything that is good.
At that point, God forcefully cast this rebel down (verses 14-15; Ezekiel 28:16). This catastrophic fall took place probably millions of years before the creation of man.
This great immortal archangel had been placed on Earth to use God’s government and laws to prepare to take over the entire universe, but now he and his demons can’t roam the heavens at all.
In the end time, quite recently, another major spiritual battle took place in which Satan and his demons were again cast down and confined to this Earth. This is described in the important prophetic book of Revelation: “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:7-9).
Here again, this evil spirit being, this “great dragon,” is described as he “which deceives the whole world”! What a lightning-bolt statement of his awesome power!
“Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (verse 12). Yes, the angels of heaven rejoice over the fact that Satan and his demons are trapped on Earth and can’t bother them. But what about us, who inhabit the Earth? To us God says woe! Satan’s powerful influence over our world and its affairs has never been as strong as it is right now! Demonic activity has never been so intense!
Again, look at the news. Look at our society. Is it possible you are looking at human beings who were created in the image of God—but who are being directly influenced by Satan the devil?
A Battle You Must Face
Most people do not recognize the influence of evil spirits. That does not change the fact that they are subject to and continually affected by them. True Christians, however, should not be so ignorant. We must be engaged in daily, regular spiritual warfare, resisting these satanic broadcasts.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might,” the Apostle Paul wrote. “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:10-12).
Though Satan and his demons are spiritual and invisible, they routinely seek to aggravate and exploit our human nature, which exists to whatever degree we have come under their sway.
Our struggle against these enemies becomes easier with God on our side. Our spiritual lifeline to God is crucial. It is completely unnatural for us to think like God. It takes diligent, focused effort to tune out of Satan’s broadcast and tune in to God’s wavelength. We must take a stand with God through prayer, Bible study, meditation and fasting.
“[T]ake courage,” Mr. Armstrong wrote. “The awesome human potential, if we care enough about it to resist Satan’s wiles and evils and discouragements and to persevere in God’s way, is infinitely superior and higher than Lucifer’s—even as created, before he turned to rebellion and iniquity!” (ibid).
God protects those whom He will, and empowers His Spirit-begotten people to resist the devil. But what must we do in order to receive this protection and power? “Submit yourselves therefore to God.Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:7-8).
What a wonderful promise! What marvelous hope God offers. Understand the reality of the spirit world, utilize your spiritual lifeline, submit to God—and fight and conquer Satan!