Galatians 1:4-6 Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.
Verse 4 opens the door of thought to all that follows in this epistle. Paul is implying that there is something persistently evil about the age we live in, and whatever it is, it is influencing defections from the church. That is the tie between those two verses. Even though a new paragraph begins in verse 6, it is actually the introduction in verse 4 that connects and gives Paul reason to talk about the defections that are taking place in the church.
Paul states here as fact that the world is evil and that defections are being caused by this evil world because people are responding to the world. This is confirmed for us in Revelation 18. It is confirmed for us in a warning and an admonition from God our Father through Jesus Christ.
Revelation 18:1-5 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power: and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of demons, and the hold of every foul spirit: and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. [Certainly an indication of evil.] For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed [grown] rich through the abundance of her delicacies. [We see there worldwide aspects, thus reinforcing what Paul said: "this present evil world." It is not concentrated in one place. It is all over the place.] And I heard another voice from heaven saying, Come out of her My people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues. [There is the admonition and command.] For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.
I do not believe that there has ever been a time during the history of the outworking of God's purpose when this advice is more urgently required to be heeded. Among mankind, the course of the world did not begin in the original Babylon. It began in the Garden of Eden through the disbelieving conduct of Adam and Eve. It is they who introduced the alien spirit and conduct among mankind, because they were mankind at that time. It is they, who under the influence of Satan, disbelieved God and followed Satan's line of reasoning and conduct.
They spread it to their children, and their children continued to spread it to Adam and Eve's grandchildren, and on and on. In one small step Satan wedged his way into the picture of human conduct. In that manner, Satan's influence became the way of life of virtually all mankind. But it was in Babylon, first under Nimrod and then under Nebuchadnezzar, that its concepts were perfected and forced on concentrated masses of people in a central location, and then those people were used to impose it forcibly on others through whatever methods were necessary.
These two Babylons were dealt with by God and destroyed. With the first one that appears in Genesis 10 and 11, God directly took action by destroying the Babylonians' ability to communicate, and thus scattering them over the face of the earth. The second time, less directly, God raised up the Medo-Persian Empire to destroy Babylon's powerful and evil influence militarily.
With both of those Babylons, as we would look at it today, their influence was pretty much localized. The first was concentrated in a very small area with relatively few people who lived between the Tigris and Euphrates valleys. The second Babylon's geographical influence was greatly expanded, but it was still pretty much contained within what is called The Fertile Crescent in the Middle East.
The second Babylon's armies, and its economic and educational policies, and its religions imposed anti-God ways upon many, many more people than the original one, and these people were then brought under its influence. Most important for us is that those upon whom this evil influence from the second Babylon was imposed were our ancestors who were the primary inhabitants of the western world. That part of the world today is known as the bastion of Christianity. Now we have reached that period of time called in the Bible "the Last Days," or "the end-time." Time-wise we stand on the cusp of the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.
The Bible's prophecies foretell that Babylon is once again going to be on the scene of events, only this time its powerful influence is being felt worldwide. This time Babylon will not only have dominant armies and economic and educational systems, as well as strongly-entrenched religions, but it will also have extremely effective mass communication networks. These mass communication networks will be the means of disseminating its way into the minds of men, always influencing them against their Creator and His people; thus Revelation 18 gives the urgent warning to take action while one can.
The influence of Babylon is affected by means of communication, and strong communication takes place by means of seeing overwhelming numbers of examples of misguided conduct by those already enslaved. Unknown to them, it is an evil influence. To them it is just a way of life. To them, they do not see it as something that is not really good. I am talking in generalities here. But there are other forms of communication that are important for us to understand.
There is a far more subtle influence that comes by hearing Babylon's words and failing to truly monitor the attitudes in which they are given. Above all, this subtle influence is the inaudible but nonetheless attractive and powerful spiritual communication of Babylon's invisible leader—the prince of the power of the air—and the hordes of equally evil demons that he commands.
Deflecting the influence of these communications can be a daunting task that calls for one to be aware of its reality, and to be on guard, because identifying and resisting the communication is the key to blunting Babylon's siren call. God admonishes us to come out of her, but there is physically no place to go because the influence of Satan through Babylon's powers of communication is everywhere.
Revelation 12:7-9 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 deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
I want to address right in this portion of the sermon the statement "his angels were cast out." I want to do this a bit more thoroughly so that we can understand it properly within its time setting.
First of all, remember that the book of Revelation was given as a vision, sort of like a motion picture, maybe a motion picture in 3-D. John wrote what he saw and what he heard. The question is, at this point in time, how would God depict a major turning point in His relationship with these angels that were cast out, and those cast-out angels' relationship with mankind? The vision that John was given seeing these angels cast out was God's means of showing this major turn.
For a little bit further background, I want you to go to the book of Jude.
Jude 6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness under the judgment of the great day.
Planet Earth has always been home base for those angels. In other words, angels inhabited Earth long before men, and used it as the base of their operations. But we need to understand that they were not confined there. In one sense, even mankind is not confined as long as he takes some part of his environment with him. I am talking about space travel. We have to take a bit of Earth with us in the form of a capsule, or whatever, so that we can continue our life.
The angels were not hindered in that way. Apparently they do not need air to breathe, and so they could have access to other portions of the universe that we do not have access to, at least with the same facility that they do. That is the story behind them being "cast down." By comparing Isaiah 14 with Ezekiel 28, we know that a major conflict broke out between God and those angels who were inhabiting the earth, and that these angels were led by Satan.
Again, putting together Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28:2-6, and now II Peter 2:4, we can see very clearly that Satan and his angels—the ones who left the earth—were decisively defeated, and this resulted with their first estate—Planet Earth—becoming their prison.
The word that is translated "hell" in II Peter 2:4 is transliterated into tartaros. In the Greek it means "a place of restraint." The earth was formerly home base for these angels, and they were free to go to God's throne in heaven, or to wherever else in the universe to carry out the things they were doing. The result of that war was that they were put back on earth, and their former first estate became their prison. They are now effectively imprisoned here.
We know Genesis 1:1 begins with Planet Earth being in a state of chaotic destruction, greatly in need of repair. We can also learn from Job 38 that when the earth was created it was not that way. It was beautiful, so that all the angels sang for joy at what was going to be their place of habitation. This first intergalactic war that took place between these spirit beings left the earth in a state of chaos and in need of repair. Those angels lost that war. That repair God accomplished as preparation for the creation of Adam and Eve in the first six days, which we see in the first chapter of Genesis. When we leave Genesis 1, the earth is prepared to receive mankind.
But Satan and his demons are still here! It may not look like a prison to us, because now it is beautiful once again, but it is a prison for those demons who made war against God. Adam and Eve are introduced into the picture. Guess who is there?—Johnny-on-the spot. It is the king of the demons, and he takes on Adam and Eve right from the get-go. Of course he wins decisively that first battle with mankind, and deceives Eve into taking the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and Adam did it right with her.
However, we have got to understand that though those demons and Satan are on earth with us, they are greatly restrained. Their powers are awesome compared to ours. Of course they would want to kill us in a moment given half a chance by God, but they are greatly restrained by God, and apparently are afraid to go so far as to make their use of us to their ends. But God nonetheless has given them a certain amount of liberty.
Let us go to Job 1, and we will see these restraints, and something else beside. Satan, in an argument with God, is presenting his case.
Job 1:10-12 Have not you made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he has is in your power; only upon himself put not forth your hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.
Do you see the restraint that is there? God told the king of the demons, "You can go so far, and no further. That is it. If you do that, you are history." Satan respected that because he is afraid of God to some degree. We see the same basic thing in chapter 2. But I want you to see that when the hedge was taken away and the restraints were lifted (even though there were limits to it), Satan's power, given the permission, was pretty great, and he just wiped out Job's family. So under certain circumstances, brethren, be aware God may give Satan the power to do something of that nature.
Remember, this is all invisible to us. We cannot see it going on. This is why faith and trust is so necessary, that God has our best interests in His heart at all times. Sometimes these times can be awfully trying, but then there is God's promise. Part of the hedge is still there, and He says He will never tempt us above what we are able, but will always with the temptation give a way of escape. Job escaped with himself and his wife. They were still intact, but there was much to be learned. We can see that Job acknowledged this in chapter 3.
Job 3:23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God has hedged in?
We cannot see a great deal of the way God has purposed for us. Job is acknowledging that his own life is hedged in. Even though he lost his family, and lost all of his money and his health, yet he still acknowledged that God had him hedged in and that his life was still in God's hands. So there is a principle of protection.
We are going to look in one more place. This is a pronouncement by God against Israel and Judah.
Isaiah 5:3-5 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, between Me and My vineyard. [His vineyard was Israel.] What could have been done more to My vineyard that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes [the right kind of fruit], brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to: I will tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down.
That is one that should make us say, "Uh oh!" Our faith is really going to be tested because He is warning us that there comes a time when it is necessary to take down the hedge, individually or a group. This is one of the reasons why the book of Job is so important. The hedge will be taken down for God's purpose and our good. It will not be taken down carelessly. It will be taken down with thought and consideration of what it is going to open up to those who have much of the hedge removed, because God is moving to work out something.
Again, remember we cannot see this. It is going on invisibly just as it was invisible to Job's eyes. He did not know. I will tell you, there was a man of faith. Job did not know everything that was going on. He did not do everything perfectly, but his reasoning power was still there, and he had not lost his faith in God. He questioned it a bit, but he kept coming around to the right answers, and then whenever God Himself intervened and spoke, Job put things together beautifully.
If Job had lost his faith during that time of severe trial he could have easily cashed in his chips, but he did not. Instead, he repented of anything that was wrong that he knew of. In Job 42 he says, "I repent in dust and ashes." That is kind of interesting, because in the first chapter God Himself calls him an upright man. What would an upright man have to repent of? But he did. The way God saw him, he was not as pure as the word "upright" gives the impression. There were things in Job's heart that needed to be changed, and his understanding and wisdom increased.
Now back to Revelation 12. We find here that another intergalactic war is going to occur. God is going to allow the restraint of the demons who have been imprisoned on earth to be taken out of the way. The doors of the prison will be open, and they can mount up another attack on God's throne in heaven. We find that they lose again. They are hard to convince. But they lose again, and this time they are cast back down to the earth. And then what happens? Well, we find trouble all over, but God specifically mentions trouble for the church. In verse 10 it says, "The accuser of the brethren is cast down."
Revelation 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
What I want to bring to our attention is that Revelation 12 is signaling that there is going to be a time when a great deal more of the restraint God has Satan and his demons under is to be removed. I personally do not believe that this has occurred yet, but at this present time, looking at what is happening in the church of God, and much more specifically into the Church of the Great God, I have never seen a year like this past year where people have had such serious problems. Most of them were relationship problems, such as getting offended and offending others. Brethren, many of these things have been right in the family—in the physical family and in the spiritual family.
I will tell you what this is signaling to me. Even though Revelation 12:9—the casting down of the demons—has not yet occurred, I think that God has already opened up the door so that they can mount an attack against Him, and some of the restraints have already come down. I think that He has done this gradually in order to give us time to meet and overcome our relationship problems where we have allowed ourselves to become so easily offended, and of having offended others, without thinking about the repercussions of what we are about to say or do.
We are fighting a battle that has, I think, intensified, and not only intensified, but has become a great deal more personal than it has ever been. Persecution from the world may cost us our life, but persecution from Satan right within the church is far more deadly, and therefore serious.
I see evidence of this release of restraint in what is going on in the world, primarily. Those are the most visible. There is war everywhere you look on earth. Conflicts are going on that involve people being killed and lands destroyed. There is more to it than that, but I do not want to go into it at this time. I think the sum of what I have said so far is I feel that some of the demons' ability to communicate with mankind has been opened up to them. What are they going to communicate?
Galatians 5:18-21 But if you be led of the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife [fightings], seditions [jealousies], heresies [selfish ambition], envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Do you not think these works of the flesh are what Satan and his demons are going to be trying to encourage us to do? He knows very well these are the things that will keep us out of the Kingdom of God.
Let us consider this in the light of the fact that the book of Revelation shows Babylon as a worldwide system that may be focused in one nation or in a group of nations. It is a worldwide system. The major difference between what we now face in the end-time rising of Babylon as compared to previous Babylons, lies in the intensification availability and receptivity of its communication. As far as we know, never before has mankind been confronted with these twisted demonic persuasive powers which are using the visible and audible influence of radio, music, movies, television, and the Internet, in addition to the already-in-transition of thought and standards of conduct in religion, education, politics, and the military—all of these at one time available to them to communicate to mankind worldwide.
Physically, there is nowhere to run! The battle to resist is almost entirely internal, and it is fought right where we live and conduct the business of our life. What we have got to believe and trust in with steely determination and discipline is that God never gives one a responsibility impossible to perform; therefore, we can come out of Babylon. What God commands we can do. If He commands us to come out, we come out right where we are.
The coming out will not be a physical leaving of a geographical area, but it will be a leaving of Babylon's spiritual and psychological influence. This is not to say that changing one's physical location will not be of help in fighting a spiritual battle. It may very well be so, but at the same time acknowledge the reality that we can take Babylon's influence anywhere we go on earth. We can take it with us. If that is not corrected in the mind, what good is it to just leave one area and go to another?
I think the Bible gives us enough indication to know that cities are places of concentrated evil. They are far worse than living out in the country. The country is not perfectly safe, but generally, it is a better place to live. You can see right in these two chapters of Revelation 17 and 18 that Babylon—the very epitome of evil—is a city. So sometimes getting out of the city is helpful, but do not do it ignoring the fact that we can take Babylon with us. We are already stained by it, and we can take it with us anywhere we go. At least, out in a more rural area you are better off because you are not confronted by it in such concentrated doses. But then again, we can invite it right into the house through the Internet and television. You figure it out for yourself.
Revelation 18:2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of demons and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
In God's description of Babylon's evil qualities He links demons with birds; not just any birds, but with unclean and hateful birds—birds that depict in their natural characteristics activities that humans find disgusting and revolting.
America's national symbol, the bald eagle, is beautiful to behold and majestic in flight, but it is also a carrion eater feeding on the dead, and a vicious killer relentlessly and ruthlessly seeking to devour. (It sounds like some of our business practices.) Then there is the vulture, which is ugly to behold, and one that strips the flesh from anything, including humans who have fallen in death.
There are other birds mentioned here, like the owl, which has somewhat similar characteristics, but they are nocturnal in their habits, seeking to attack and kill under the cover of the darkness of night. They have an additional negative trait in that they seem to seek out abandoned ruins of buildings as their habitat—places that are perceived as cursed to men.
What God is doing here is painting Babylon as a dangerous place inhabited by predators, and the focal point almost as if it is the very generator and distributor of all evil on earth. Babylon has spread its influence all over the whole earth, but in another sense its heart and core is in one place: that city.
I want you to turn to another well-known familiar scripture in Ephesians 2. This is a wealth of information of what we face here in the end-time.
Ephesians 2:1-3 And you has he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins. Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conduct in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind: and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
In the first ten verses of Ephesians 2 Paul begins by showing that the children of God—us—who were at one time objects of His wrath, are now, by God's grace, legally and spiritually free from the clutches of Satan's dominion. However, the influences of the world Satan has created remain to be faced, dealt with, and overcome by us. They are there, and what they have created is still here, and we are in it.
Satan is described as a spirit meaning, in this case, a spirit being who is the prince of the power of the air. These phrases have a familiar ring to them, but there are alternative translations that I think are better suited to understanding. One translation called him "the commander of the spiritual powers of the air now at work among God's rebel subjects." I like that one, but this next one I like better in terms of its power to impress. That translation calls him "the chief of the jurisdiction of the air, the spirit now operating in the sons of stubbornness."
Webster's gives us one of the usages for jurisdiction. Jurisdiction means the limits or territory within which authority may be exercised. This is very important. That authority, according to this verse, has something to do with air, and agrees perfectly with Ephesians 6:12. In some Bibles it says, "principalities and powers in high places" (as in the King James). Other Bibles say "principalities and powers in heavenly places." When they translate it "heavenly," they are not referring to the place of God's throne, but to the first heaven—the air surrounding the earth where the birds fly; thus we can see another tie-in with Revelation 18:2.
And so we have Ephesians 2 and Revelation 18:2 both focused in on something about the air and unclean birds symbolizing demon powers. Birds operate in this same heaven over which Satan has jurisdiction. God gave Satan and his demons a substantial measure of authority over everything from the air surrounding the earth down to the earth itself, including the earth's inhabitants—us!
We want to add another little picture to this. In Ephesians 6:12, Paul mentions the word "wrestling." Pay attention to that word. Paul is using a war metaphor, but in this war metaphor he uses the word, "wrestling." Now what does wrestling tell you about a particular aspect of war where people have knives and swords? Paul is telling us that what we are going to go through with these demons is hand-to-hand combat. We are not going to fight a war from long distance by radar. We are not going to be sending airplanes out there to drop bombs on somebody who is ten thousand miles away. Our warfare is going to be under the canopy of air that surrounds the earth, and it is inhabited by foul demons. Our warfare with them is going to be hand-to-hand combat. We might also add to this, if we could think of it in terms of men, face to face! That is pretty close.
Things are coming down to that point in God's purpose where we have to meet the enemy right up front in order to prove our faith and loyalty to God, our love for Him, and our love for His way. For us to be prepared for the Kingdom of God, He is going to allow the enemy to come in close in order to give us that training, discipline, and testing to see whether or not we are going to lose our cool under the heat of battle.
Does Satan use people? Of course he does. We should take instruction and never forget that we must look at these people Satan uses as God does, and always understand that they may be of sincere intention, of strong belief. People are going to think that they are doing God a service when they put the Christians to death.
The scribes and the Pharisees and all the high muckety-mucks in Jerusalem thought they were doing God a service by putting Jesus to death. It was their own Savior they were putting to death, so we can expect that these people will come at us, not necessarily with full intention of killing us, but with that capability being there, and also with minds that are deceived and maybe angry, not understanding at all.
Let us pay attention again to the word "air," because it has not been milked of all that might be there. Air is that substance, that realm through which most communication travels. For example, sound is possible because of the vibration of air. The communication involving electronic media travels through air. Not only that, but things like television media, satellites, radio, and the Internet all travel through air. In fact, when I was younger, it was very common when speaking of radio to refer to it as airwaves.
Here is another amazing discovery involving air that I think is worth thinking about in terms of the transmission of attitudes and thoughts. There are forms of communication that require no sound, but they nonetheless involve the ability of air to be the media for communication.
While Evelyn was recovering from her appendectomy this summer, Marjorie Japngie sent her a small book written by a Japanese man concerning the structure of water. In the course of his subject he wrote of vibration, saying that every cell in our body is vibrating at the rate of 570 trillion vibrations per second. The importance of this fact to this sermon is that perhaps the major reason we are able to see, in addition to hearing, is also because of the vibration of the media in which we live, and move, and breathe right in. In other words, air makes possible the communication of visible influence in addition to audible communication.
John 7:37-39 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let Him come unto Me, and drink. He that believes on Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water: (But this spoke He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
Much of the bulk of that book Evelyn and I read, (and I read most of it—at least the parts that she pointed out to me), is concerned with the structure of water, and how that structure is affected by its environment.
I think we all know that each snowflake, which is nothing more than frozen water, is made up of an endless series of six-sided crystal-shaped ice formations. It is claimed that nobody has ever seen two snowflakes of exactly the same formation.
One of the things the author, Masaru Emoto, wrote of in this book is he discovered that the crystal formations of water become distorted and misshaped under negative circumstances. Some of the reasons for the distortions of water's crystals are easily understood. As long as water remains pure, the crystallization is beautiful, but when it becomes poisoned in some way, like putting bleach into it, the crystals immediately turn ugly. In some case, the crystals will not even form.
Now here comes something that to me is amazing at the very least. The crystallization of even pure water (let us say distilled water) becomes distorted in the presence of a human being in a bad attitude. Did you hear that? The crystallization of even pure water becomes distorted in the presence of a human being in a bad attitude.
Let us reflect on what we just read in John 7:37-39: "Out of their belly shall flow living water." The water is going to be pure because the source of the water He is speaking of is pure.
Let me make this plainer. In the presence of anger, or envy, or frustration, or negative fear, the beautiful crystals of pure water begin to distort. Somehow the person's negative vibrations of his self-centered, angry and envious thoughts are communicated with the water, and it reacts. We know this sort of thing is possible in the human world by our own experience. If someone comes into your presence in an angry attitude, never saying a word, we very quickly know it because it is communicated to us, maybe visibly only. No sound. We just see it. It is almost like a spirit reaches out and hits our mind, and we begin to react just like the water does.
We have heard of plants that respond positively to the loving concern of those taking care of them, and we know that plants are living entities, but this is water! Is there some form of life in water? Is there more to what Jesus said about "living water" that we do not yet know of, or have not discovered? Is water really alive? I do not know. It gives an impression of that.
But do you know that there is a form of communication that is even more incredible? I found this almost hard to believe, but I will take the man's word for it because he has been researching into the structure of water for years and years. Mr. Emoto discovered that all he had to do was to place a cardboard with the attitude written on it, leave the room, and the water crystals began to distort. How did that take place? All I know is that the only common means of communication was air—the air between the card and the water.
I shake my head at something like this, but he did it over and over again. It was not like he just lucked on it one time. Is it possible maybe that because he put the card there and maybe that word was in his mind, that even though he went out of the room, somehow his mind, knowing what the card said, communicated with the water? I do not know. I think he probably covered himself in regard to that.
Let us begin to bring this around to Satan and his demons. The key to resisting him and his demons is that somehow we have got to control the communication. They do not need to speak to us! They can send forth their thoughts right through the air, and our mind is able to pick them up. You know that this is very strongly true because we depend on it as that is the way God is going to communicate with us by His spirit. He will send forth His spirit and somehow our mind picks up the idea, the concept, the thought of what to do or what not to do. Again, the media, as far as we know, is air. Or is it spirit?
I think that overall one of the factors God wants us to more completely and fully realize is that we are not alone in this ocean of air in which we move about and have our being. But that media, just like the ocean, has vicious sharks and barracuda in the waters. There are also demonic counterparts, symbolized as foul and unclean raptor birds in the ocean of air right along with us.
Now back in thought to Ephesians 6:12 and Paul's warning there about our battles with these creatures that we are fighting tooth-and-toenail. We have got to remember what they believe about us and the earth, and they are fighting just as hard—tooth-and-toenail—to hold on to what they believe is theirs by occupancy right, since God gave it to them first, and we are looked upon by them as intruders in their first estate, in their habitation. They hate us because we are becoming like the Father and like the Son. They hate us because they know that the earth is now our inheritance, which it is going to be taken from them, and given to the sons of God who are in His image.
On the surface they have advantages over us because they are invisible to our eyes. I would say apparently the reason they are invisible is that they vibrate at different oscillations than we do, and our eyes and minds have not been created to pick up that vibration speed. Whether it is faster or slower I have no idea, but regardless, they are able to communicate their thoughts and attitudes to our minds through the very air that supports our life. They are doing that, and in many occasions we are not even aware.
I know that there have been times when I was driving along, or walking along, and I was in a good attitude, and suddenly a thought flicked through my mind and I began to get angry and uptight about something, and started to reach out to blame somebody for something. I have learned now at least say to myself, "Uh oh! What do I do with this?" I think generally that I know what to do. I do not always catch it though.
So if human thoughts can be communicated through the air to plants and water, why cannot demonic thoughts be communicated to another human being—us—without them overtly revealing themselves? The huge populations of this world do not even know that they are deceived, or how they became deceived. Satan and his demons have not set us all down in a class telling us, "We are here to deceive you." We know only because God's Word revealed this truth to us and we believe it. But even though this truth has been communicated to us, we still can be communicated with by demons. Unless we are astute enough to begin to recognize what the problem is, we can actually be recaptured.
Now back again in thought to Ephesians 2. There are two more things I want to get across to us here.
Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.
The Greek word translated "world" is cosmos. It essentially means an orderly system. To human eyes beholding all that is going on throughout the earth, all this activity looks anything but orderly. It looks confusing, to say the least. However, that conclusion depends on one's perspective.
What is going on to discerning eyes—the eyes of the ones to whom God has revealed Himself—is an orderly system of deception that is cloaked by restless activity among humans involved in wars, thousands of varieties of religion, evil conduct-inducing entertainments, conflicting political systems, and other distracting time-wasting business and social vanities.
Are you getting the idea? All of this restless activity is in reality nothing but a smoke screen hiding a sinister influence from easy discovery.
Now notice something else that we do not generally pay much attention to. The word "world" [cosmos] in the verse appears as the noun in a prepositional phrase begun by "all." This prepositional phrase modifies the word translated "course," thus showing us that what Paul was speaking of is a specific course available to us to choose from among other courses that might also be available.
This word "course" is especially interesting. It is one that we do not often go into. It too is a Greek word transliterated into aion. The proper pronunciation, according to Strong's Concordance, is Ahee-ohn. (We usually say ay-on, but Strong's says Ahee-ohn, translated into the English "course.")
The word at first glance indicates an age, an indefinite period of time, and by extension, perpetuity [forever]. But then Strong's in his explanation drops an interesting little bomb, because he also says "time in relation to what takes place during that period." (The key word in this little explanation is "relation")—"time in relation to what takes place during that period." This means that aion does not have to mean simply time. He goes on to show that it is correctly translated "place" in Hebrews 5:6, as an example. It is the same word aion. In one place it is translated "course." In another place it is translated "place." In many more places it is translated "time"—some form of time, period, or whatever.
Other commentators go into a great deal more detail about this word, and I am going to give the comments made by three highly respected ones that other commentators frequently look to as authority, especially the first two.
The first is from a man named Trench. He is a resource. Virtually every commentator eventually quotes him as a word-definition resource. He defines the word "course" (aion) as "all that floating mass of thought, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, and aspirations at any time current in the world which is impossible to see and accurately define, but which constitutes a most real and effective power, being our moral and immoral atmosphere [air] which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably exhale." [emphasis added]
Is it not interesting he used terms that we use for air? Trench is saying that whatever this course is, we move about within it and have our life within it, and it permeates the area we live in. We are unaware of it. We breathe it in and out subconsciously, not even thinking about it. So what I am saying—Trench is saying—is that "course" is not the culture itself, but what is driving the culture, empowering it, and what overpowers human beings to accept it.
A second man, whose name is Bengel, adds the following: "The course is the subtle informing spirit of the cosmos or world of men living alienated and apart from God."
The Germans have a word for this word "course." It is zeitgeist, which literally means "the spirit of the times." Paul is pointing out that this word "course" is what is driving people. They do not even know it, but it drives them and it gathers them in, and it makes people go in the direction of its power. So who is the real generator of this course? It is Satan the Devil. He does not have to communicate to us directly, nor in one sense do his demons, because the power of this course is so strong. We are born into it. It picks us up and carries us along with it, just like the course of a fast moving river. We get caught in it and we cannot get out of it. We are entrapped and enslaved within it, and love it.
(I wrote myself an additional note.) "Course is the force that moves us along the road of carnality. It drives human nature."
The term "spirit" is that word used to indicate the invisible immaterial influence whose characteristics are absorbed, and then manifested in the attitudes and conduct of the general population of a given people.
Finally, in the commentary of the American Kenneth Wuest is a helpful piece of knowledge to understand. He writes, "To distinguish between aion and cosmos, cosmos gives us the overall picture of mankind alienated from God during all history, and aion represents any distinct age or period of human history as marked out from another by particular characteristics."
This is why in the beginning I gave you a bit of a picture of what is driving this world now at the time of the end. Satan has massed the forces of technology, keeping us busy with radio, television, movies, and those kinds of things which keep us distracted. We get moved along with it because the world really picks up these things and puts them into practical application in their lives. It is just everywhere all around us.
I think it must have been back in 1960 that Raymond Cole gave a sermon in Pittsburgh, and in that sermon he said by the time the end of the age is over, women will be walking down the streets of America with their breasts bared. I thought, "Man! That is pretty hard to understand." But we are, a little step at a time, going in that direction. The course of things is moving them that way.
It is going to take another sermon to talk about how we can reject it, but the key is easy for us to understand. This is why we constantly urge people to study, to pray, to be meditating on God's Word, to fast on occasion, because the only thing that can reject the course of this world is the Spirit of God. If the Spirit of God is alive in us because we are in the presence of God through study, through prayer, through obedience, through fasting, and whatever, we are beginning to think like He does, and we will be able to identify His will, and then consciously choose to go in that direction. When we do, He will empower us to reject the course of this world. We are not without the means to fight it, because God has given it to us, but we must understand and we must use it.
I think that I have left you with some things to think over, to talk over, and it will be good to kind of pursue some of those things. I think the things about water was just fabulous, and maybe we will be a little bit more careful about what we say and about what we do.