“The Spirit of Wickedness” (July 2005)
“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 6:12) I would like to focus on a certain part of this verse: “Against spiritual wickedness in high places.” For my entire Christian life I thought the “high places” mainly applied to those who were in places of authority- government officials, ruling monarchy, world leaders, etc. Recently, in a situation that I dealt with, the Lord enlightened the eyes of my understanding and showed me this verse in a different light. You may wonder what this has to do with you; you may think that it applies more to those who are in leadership positions. As you read this message you will realize that it applies to each one of us, and is also a warning that we should heed.
One day while I was praying about a particular situation, the Lord revealed to me that there was a “spirit of wickedness in a high place” present. I wondered about this because as I told you earlier, I thought these high places were the positions of those who ruled the land. The Holy Spirit began to let me know that this was not altogether the way it was. I want to share with you what He revealed to me. He said, “Anytime you have a high place- a place of authority- there is the potential for a spirit of wickedness to come in.” Before you get out your Greek concordance, I would like to say that, yes, according to the Greek definition, the “high place” does deal with the heavens. That is exactly where our wrestling is, with those enemies that are not flesh and blood, but rather in the spirit realm. But also, as you read the Word of God, the Spirit can reveal something different to you each time you read it because the Word of God is not just black ink on white paper. It’s alive; it’s Jesus Christ Himself written on paper for our benefit. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1,14) “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63b) So let’s continue. In the natural, what are some high places? They are places of authority. This includes not only government officials, kings, leaders, but also any position that has authority over someone else. Judges, a boss over an employee, a supervisor over a coworker, a teacher over a student, a parent over a child, a husband over a wife. Each of these sits in a “high place”. So you see, this is how this message applies to each of us. You may not be a state Senator, or the president of a nation, but you are in some position of authority- even if it is that of a parent.
Actually, the message this month is going to be more of a warning- a warning to not allow the “spirit of wickedness” to come in and take control. Being in a position of authority opens you up for such a thing to happen. What is a “spirit of wickedness”? The definition of wickedness is: Depravity, iniquity, wickedness, malice, evil purposes and desires. A spirit of wickedness is not something natural that happens to us. We don’t come into a position of authority and our natural desires just take over and make us abuse the authority that we have been given. For example, I have heard it said by many people- “In politics, if someone gets elected to an office, they may be a good person going in, but they will come out a crook.” Recently, someone said that to me about a certain politician. My response was, “Some of that is our fault because we aren’t praying for them like we should be.” “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (1 Timothy 2:1,2) I’m sure that you will agree that there have been many good people go into politics and wound up becoming “wicked”.
One of the best Biblical examples that I can give you of this is King Saul. Israel wanted to king, so God gave them their desire. God spoke to the prophet Samuel that Saul was to be anointed King of Israel. “And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?” (1 Samuel 9:21) When the day came for Saul’s coronation, they found him hiding. “Therefore they enquired of the LORD further, if the man should yet come thither. And the LORD answered, Behold he hath hid himself among the stuff. And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward. And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.” (1 Samuel 10:22-24) Saul did not seem to aspire to the position of authority that he was about to enter into. But later, after he was anointed king, we see a change take place in him. “Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.” (1 Samuel 15:10,11) What happened to Saul? A spirit of wickedness came in and he yielded to it. After he yielded to the “spirit of wickedness”, it took over his life. “But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. And Saul's servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.” (1 Samuel 16:14,15)
From Saul’s life I’d like to show you some marks that a “spirit of wickedness” is being yielded to. The first is “pride”- “And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel?” (1 Samuel 15:17). Then lies- “And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord. And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.” (verses 13,14,20) Rebellion and stubbornness is another- “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” (verse 23a) Another mark is not excepting responsibility for your own actions, but trying to put the blame on someone else- “And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal.” (verses 15,21) Making excuses for your wrong actions- “And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.” (verse 24) Lack of obedience to the Word of God, and doing things your own way- “It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.” (verse 10) False repentance is another mark of a spirit of wickedness- “Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord thy God.” (verse 30)
The first thing we must remember is that all authority comes from God- He is the One who places people in positions of authority, and He does it for His glory; not for selfish gain. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” (Romans 13:1) “The most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” (Daniel 4:25b)
Throughout the Bible the Lord deals with the subject of authority and how we are to conduct ourselves in those positions. To pastors and church leaders- “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:2,3) To fathers; parents- “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) To masters over servants; today we could also apply this to employers and employees- “And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.” (Ephesians 6:9)
The responsibility doesn’t fall only on those who are in authority over someone else, the Lord also requires a certain responsibility from those who are under those in a position of authority. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17) While there are temptations for those under authority to rebel and become bitter, the greater danger lies in being in authority. This is why the Lord said in His word - “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:2,6) What is the condemnation of the devil? It’s “pride”. It is easy for pride to come in when you have a position of authority, and pride is a sure sign of “spiritual wickedness”. Here’s the warning. “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6) “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.” (Daniel 4:37) “And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.” (2 Samuel 22:28) “Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place.” (Job 40:12) “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.” (Proverbs 16:5)
As I said in the beginning, “Anytime you have a high place- a place of authority- there is also the potential for a spirit of wickedness to come in.” The spirit of wickedness will come to try to tempt you to follow it. So, what are you to do in order to not fall prey to it? There are three things I want to share with you, if you will apply them- to every area of your life- they will give you victory over the spirit of wickedness.
First: Submit yourself to God. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) “Submit to God's royal son.” (Psalms 2:12a) Second: Humble yourself before the Lord. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:10) “A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.” (Proverbs 29:23) Thirdly: Be obedient to the Word of the Lord and keep His commandments. “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22)
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” (Proverbs 29:2) Whatever position of authority the Lord has placed you in, be on guard for the spirit of wickedness and do not yield to it. Instead, keep yourself yielded to God and you will be a blessing to those around you and God will be glorified.