The Mystery Of Principalities
The spirit realm is full of many regions, realms and places where the spirits and angels live and roam. The Holy Host of Heaven are highly organised according to function, rank and order, recognising and understanding rule, authority, power, rank and order.
The old testament gives us a glimpse into the reality of what Paul wrote about concerning principalities and powers in the heavenly realms. Although he was specifically exploring the realm of wickedness and its structure, the spiritual structure is also taken from God's order that was established from the beginning in the Holy ranks.
To understand the mystery of principalities and powers, we need to look at the descriptions of the heavenly order according to the Bible. The Bible often uses natural phenomena and creation to point to a deeper spiritual truth, which is ultimately the nature and characteristics of God, but also describes heavenly realities.
Isaiah 40:26 tells us that God established each star, calling it by name and giving it a place in the heavens. This truth of the physical universe represents a deeper spiritual meaning that is double edged. It speaks of both the righteous who are established in Jesus Christ and it speaks of the Holy Angels, who are also likened to stars (Job 38:7, Revelation 12:4) and are placed in their orders and positions in the heavenly realms.
When Paul described the principalities, he would have been using his understanding from an Earlthy point of view, that is a governing authority over many underneath, which takes its power and authority from a dominion of rule above it. Principality is linked to the word "Prince".
According to Marriam-Webster: A Principality is the state, office or authority of a prince.
So to understand principalities, we need to understand whom the princes are in Scripture. When the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Daniel (Daniel 10:13), he uses the word Prince in various contexts.
The first is the prince of the Persian Kingdom who resisted him, and lastly the King of Persia. So there are Princes and Kings in the spirit realm, in this case Gabriel is talking about the demonic domain. He also mentions Michael, one of the Chief Princes, which puts him above Princes. So we can see within the realm of principalities there are various states or office:
It is not clear if there are Kings in the angelic realm because they have one King, whereas in the demonic realm, a "King spirit" would associate with a monarch or reign on Earth that is not aligned with the Kingdom of God with God as King. This is beyond the scope of this post but I may come back to this point at a later date in another post.
Within the angelic realm, there are Chief Princes and Princes, with Jesus Christ as their King. There are also elders who wear crowns and have thrones (Revelation 4:4). Although these would appear to be Kingly in their appearance, they are called elders in the Kingdom. So it could be reasoned that the ones who are called "Kings" in the demonic realm were once elders in the Holy realm before they fell.
So a principality is a ruling individual with a royal status, or one who is recognised as having authority to rule within a kingdom, dominion or empire. The principalities rule underneath what is described in Ephesians 1:21as rulers, authorities and powers (the word for powers is dunamis which means supernatural power).
Ephesians 6:12 reveals the mystery of how the spirit realm is organised: principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places.
Principalities are established by a higher governing dominion or kingdom. They are given an assignment and charge to which they must adhere from the top. Their authority and influence remains within their assignment and designated region or sphere of influence, and any actions they take outside of these assignments do not carry authority. This is where the idea of "territorial spirits" came from in the early days of Charismatic Christianity, although these the dynamic behind such can be more complicated than just a territorial spirit, as principalities often have charge over many underneath it, as described in the next section.
The bible describes some spiritual beings as being princes (Daniel 10:20 - 21) and among them, the Archangel Michael is named. Michael has authority under the Kingdom of God, to govern and influence those beneath him, according to his assignment in the Kingdom of God.
Michael has an order of angels beneath him (Revelation 12:7) as he is a Cheif Prince, and so a principality. The angels beneath him may look like him, so when we interact with them we may think they are actually Michael because they carry the same anointing, presence and power as Michael does, having his authority delegated to them. His influence is over those that are beneath him, who act according to Michael's charge and commission that flows from our Father in Heaven.
The commission of an angelic principality can be determined by their name. Michael means "who is like God." His commission is to represent God and to protect those who carry his name and Holy Spirit. His charge is to keep up a Holy Standard. So when Lucifer rebelled and became Satan, Michael was at the front of the assault on heaven's side. At the end, Michael is also the one who will chain Satan and cast him into the abyss, locking him in for 1000 years.
The Bible does not tell us of any other Archangel's names but that does not mean there are not any more. In the above mentioned passage from Daniel, it is Gabriel who tells Daniel that none had come to fight beside him except Michael and Michael is referred to as one of the Cheif Princes. Gabriel is also going toe to toe with demonic kings and princes, so it can stand to reason that Gabriel is also of high rank as a Prince but this is pure conjecture.
Gabriel's name means "God is my strength" and he is recognised as a Revelatory angel, bringing messages from God to people. Gabriel takes his strength directly from God. Gabriel takes his strength and authority in the revelation of God that is granted to him, as echoed in proverbs 29:18 (paraphrased):
There is joy (the joy of the Lord is our strength) in keeping the word of God, but without spiritual insight (vision) people will perish.
Gabriel knows by his name, that his strength is in the joy of the Lord God, which is in keeping and abiding to his revealed words.
A third of the spiritual beings in heaven fell with their leader Lucifer when he became Satan. The name Lucifer means "bearer of light" but when he was cast out of heaven, God no longer referred to him by name. Instead he was given a title, which we use and it is "The Satan". He was reduced to a state alone and without recognition of identity and person.
So now, "The Satan", or the deceiver, the accuser, the murder, the thief or the liar: rules according to his title and everything under his influence takes after one or more of his characteristics. The overarching dominion under which he rules is darkness (Colossians 1:13) and he has principalities and demonic kings and princes under him. Whether or not they were once Archangels is not clear, but they now have the status of King of Prince and have influence over lower demons beneath them.
We see an example of this in Jesus' encounter with the man at the tomb of the Gerasene (Mark 5:1-17). Inside was a man, out of his mind and naked, for the demonic oppression upon him kept him from living in an orderly dignified fashion within community. Jesus addressed the man but the demonic forces that influenced him responded, "we are legion". Legion can mean a vast number of things, or in this case about 3000 - 5000 individuals.
Whatever Jesus faced, it was a large collection of demonic beings with influence over an area. This is an example of how a principality rules. It has influence over spiritual beings beneath them and inspire a vast number. Although many, they still have limited influence over a group of people, in this case it was localised to the region of the Gerasenes and could be the reason the group of demons did not want to leave this area, for their Prince still resided there.
It is worth while noting that Jesus later appointed the man as an evangelist and the region of the Gerasenes was probably freed from the demonic oppression through the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is how Principalities lose their power - through people turning to Jesus Christ.
How Principalities Gain Influence
Principalities can not gain such an easy influence over people. As seen in the passage in Mark 5, even a principality with 3000 - 5000 demons under its charge, could influence only a single person while holding the entire region in fear. The demonic forces could not operate through the other people directly, as they did through the man in the tomb. So it is worth noting here that the notion of "sliming" does not have a biblical foundation. Sliming is the notion that a demon can slime you and affect you. This has no biblical foundation but rather they can gain access through weaknesses in our inner being through intrusive thoughts - for more information on this see the mentoring sessions of spiritual authority under The Pillars of Lightning section: https://www.spiritschool.uk/part-three-lightning-pillars.
Perhaps we should look at how the angels operate, to understand how principalities interact with humans. Firstly, Gabriel was sent on assignment to Daniel, because Daniel wanted to understand the meaning of the vision. Gabriel's name means "God is my strength", and the strength of the Lord is related to righteousness and keeping the revealed word of God, keeping inline with such is correlated to the joy of the Lord, which is our strength.
Seeking to understand revelation and being ministered to by the order of Gabriel is correlated. Michael is a defender of those who "are like God". He is depicted as fighting and defending. In Daniel, Gabriel describes Michael as a fighting, warrior angel. In Jude, he is shown defending the body of Moses against the Satan's desire for it, while in the book of Revelation, Michael is depicted in one scene, chaining up the Satan and casting him into a prison for 1000 years.
Seeking to be transformed into the likeness of Christ in our character and nature, will attract the assignment of the order of Michael, as he defends and protects those who are seeking to be like God.
So attracting the attention of a principality, which means attracting the attention of spiritual beings who operate under the principality's influence, is correlated with behaving in a way that aligns with the principality's name or assignment.
This is done over time, through repeated behaviour. For a sudden impulse decision does not build up a character within us according to the decision. Through repeated, conscious action, we store up in our spirit a deposit according to our intent and behaviour, which follows. Over time, our spirit begins to reflect that which we invest ourselves into (Matthew 6:21) and our spirit has an aroma in the spiritual realm (2 Corinthians 2:15).
Spiritual beings around us can only act according to their assignment and divulged authority within their dominion. So if our spirit has developed a certain "potency", and we walk into an area with a certain principality present, that principality and those under its area of influence (regional and spiritual area), we may start getting attention.
Fortify And Influence in Christ
Fortification of spirit, which is something I will discuss on another blog post, is what we can do to stand against the influence of principalities on our minds and hearts. We are not instructed to attack them head on, but rather to "get strong" or "stand" (Ephesians 6:13 - 14).
We fortify our spirit by spending time with Jesus Christ, whether by reading and meditating on the Bible, soaking in his presence or consciously making a decision to reform out way of thinking to align with the mind of Christ. This heals our spirit, or another way of seeing it is our spirit realigns to our Father, and pulls our soul into submission through a spiritual crucifixion of the soul's desires. Romans 8 talks about this process.
Through godly fortification of our spirit, we deposit treasure into our spirit, strengthening ourselves in the Lord. This treasure in us grows and aligns our hearts to the Kingdom of God and shines out as a spiritual beacon, affecting all around us. For we ultimately are also a Kingdom of Priests to our God, which means we are also established as Princes on their Earth, while every day we consider ourselves humble in the sight of Christ, winning through sacrificial love.
Established as a Kingdom of Priests to our God, we are seated in the heavenly realm and so we can see by the spiritual pattern, our light can affect those around us. Jesus even said we are the light of the world and we should let our light shine. He also said the Holy Spirit will become in us a spring of water, overflowing. If this spring overflows it can't help but water the spirits of those around us.
So even the pattern and structure of Principalities and Powers reflect the beauty of Jesus Christ and us, his beloved. With his Holy Spirit in us, we pour life and love into the hearts and spirits of people around us, affecting the spiritual realm wherever we are by the light of Jesus Christ.Just as Principalities have effect over an area and region according to their state, so we have been raised up into the heavenly realms and seated into our state of "seated with Christ".
Being seated with Christ then, we do not contend with flesh and blood but against spiritual wickedness in high places, which is why it is important to understand the mystery of principalities and how to overcome them, through love. Through a life lived for Jesus Christ, we overcome a multitude of sins by love, we push back the darkness with the light of Jesus Christ in us and the gates of death will not prevail against this revelation of Jesus Christ in our hearts (1 Peter 4:8, Matthew 16:17-19). Through spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ, people hear of God's love, receive his light and the dark powers that hold this world in its grasp have to let go and watch as souls are won into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.