SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS IN HIGH PLACES
Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:
• Write the Key Verses from memory.
• Explain what is meant by "spiritual wickedness in high places."
• Summarize the strategies of Satan in this area.
• Identify spiritual counter strategies to overcome spiritual wickedness in high places.
KEY VERSES FROM THE ARTICLES OF WAR:
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness: whose end shall be according to their works. (II Corinthians 11:14-15)
You have learned that spiritual warfare is not with flesh and blood. You studied about the forces of evil and how they are organized. This chapter focuses on a specific division of Satan’s evil forces, "spiritual wickedness in high places." The Apostle Paul warns of these forces:
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)
It seems to be inherent in human nature to think of God as dwelling somewhere in the heights. From earliest times men have chosen high places for worship, both of the true God or false
gods and idols invented by man. In Old Testament times these high places became the scenes of evil orgies and human sacrifice connected with the worship of false gods.
God told Israel when they entered the Promised Land to drive out all the inhabitants of the land and destroy their high places:
Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places. (Numbers 33:52)
In the book of Judges we read of Israel’s failure to drive the people out of the land. As a result, they fell into idolatrous worship in the high places. After the period of the judges, some of the good kings of Israel destroyed the high places. Others rebuilt them and worshiped false gods. King Manasseh was one who rebuilt the high places. After he had been punished and repented
for this sin, he was restored to his throne and resumed worship of the true God. The people still sacrificed in the high places, but "only unto Jehovah their God" (II Chronicles 33).
When Gideon was called of God to be a mighty warrior, the Lord told him to destroy the altar
and cut down the wooden image. Then Gideon was to build an altar to God. A burnt offering
could be made only after the high places were torn down. It was then that deliverance came!
God still calls today for the "spiritual wickedness in high places" to be torn down by the mighty warriors of God.
STRATEGIES OF SATAN: SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS IN HIGH PLACES
When Paul speaks of "spiritual wickedness in high places", he is referring to wicked spirits who have infiltrated the religious systems of the world. They have even crept into the congregations of the righteous. Satan has organized his evil forces to imitate the organization of the true church of God. In some cases he actually has congregations known as "The Church of Satan" or
"Spiritualists." He has set up a form of worship in the spiritual high places.
Satan has also prompted the organization of many cults. The word "occult" means to "hide or conceal a thing." Cults are those who are part of the occult, those who hide and conceal evil behind the cloak of religion. But even more dangerous, Satan has set up his system right in the true church through evil people who have "crept in unawares" (Jude 4).
Through "spiritual wickedness in high places" Satan aims for the total allegiance of man. He uses false cults, his own church of Satan, and infiltration into the Body of Christ to accomplish this purpose. This is what the Bible teaches about Satan’s religious organization:
SATAN HAS HIS OWN TRINITY:
You previously studied about the Trinity of God, the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Satan also has a trinity. It includes Satan himself, the beast and a false prophet. You will study about the latter two in the final chapter of this course. In the book of Revelation, John describes the final destiny of this unholy trio:
And the Devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and
brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)
SATAN HAS HIS OWN CHURCH:
God established the true church which is known as the "Body of Christ" of which Jesus is the
Now ye are the Body of Christ, and members in particular… (I Corinthians 12:27)
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is
the head, even Christ:
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that
which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the
measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)
Satan has his own church which is called "a synagogue of Satan":
…I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2:9)
The name "synagogue of Satan" is not always openly used but his synagogue is established anywhere the true Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is not preached.
SATAN HAS A DOCTRINE:
The Bible is filled with the true doctrines of God revealed by the Holy Spirit:
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine… (II Timothy 3:16)
The doctrine of Satan is called the "doctrine of demons":
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.
(I Timothy 4:1)
One category of demons is called "seducing spirits." Their specific job is to seduce men into doctrinal error. The "doctrine of demons" is any teaching presented as "truth" which does not agree with the written Word of God.
SATAN HAS A SYSTEM OF SACRIFICE:
In Romans 12:1, we are told to present ourselves to God as a living sacrifice. This means we are to surrender in total allegiance to God. Satan demands sacrifices also:
But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. (I Corinthians 10:20)
Satan demands total allegiance of body, soul, and spirit. There are actually services of sacrifice carried out where men and women dedicate themselves to the service of Satan. The blood
sacrifice of humans and animals is also practiced.
SATAN HAS HIS OWN COMMUNION SERVICE:
The sharing of the communion bread and wine was started by Jesus as a way of remembering
sacrifice for the sins of all mankind on the cross (I Corinthians 11:23-34). Satan counterfeits this by his own communion:
Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils; ye cannot be
partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. (I Corinthians 10:20)
SATAN HAS MINISTERS:
God has called some believers to serve as pastors and minister to His church and proclaim the Gospel (I Corinthians 12:28). Satan also has ministers:
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (II Corinthians 11:14-15)
SATAN’S MINISTERS PROCLAIM HIS GOSPEL:
The "gospel" of Satan is contrary to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ:
Which is not another, but there be some that trouble you and would pervert the Gospel of Christ.
But though we or an angel from Heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
SATAN HAS HIS THRONE:
God has a throne in Heaven. Satan also has a throne, although we are not told its exact location:
And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon (Satan) gave him his power, and HIS SEAT, and great authority. (Revelation 13:2)
SATAN HAS WORSHIPERS:
There are many who worship the true God. Satan also has worshipers:
…and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast?…
Some worshipers of Satan pretend to be followers of Jesus:
The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. (Matthew 13:38-39)
Satan mixes the bad "seed" in with the good "seed" (believers).
SATAN HAS PROPHETS:
God has set in the Church prophets, men who are especially anointed to bring a direct message from Him to the Church (I Corinthians 12:28). Satan has false prophets who deliver false
And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:11)
SATAN HAS TEACHERS:
God has anointed some people as teachers to share and explain His Word to others (I Corinthians 12:28). But all teachers are not from God. Satan has false teachers to spread his evil doctrine:
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be
false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you… (II Peter 2:1-3)
Satan’s teachers bring in "damnable heresies," teachings which are false and cause division.
They speak lies and are experts at mixing truth and error in a way that makes error acceptable.
Many such false teachings have resulted in the growth of cults. A cult is any system of religion
or worship that is not in complete harmony with the written Word of God. It is a "damnable
The names, doctrines, and organization of cults vary from nation to nation. There are so many cults that it is not possible to mention them all. But remember, any religious system not in
harmony with God’s Word is a cult. (The "Tactical Maneuvers" section of this lesson provides additional guidelines for recognizing cults.)
SATAN HAS APOSTLES:
An apostle is a person who spreads the Gospel and establishes churches (I Corinthians 12:28). Satan also has apostles doing his work throughout the world. They deceive people by imitating the true apostles:
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. (II Corinthians 11:13)
Satan’s apostles become leaders of false cults and infiltrate churches in leadership capacities.
SATAN IMITATES JESUS BY FALSE CHRISTS:
Satan has even imitated the Lord Jesus Christ by raising up false Christs. Jesus warned:
…Take heed, that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:4-5)
SATAN HAS A SYSTEM OF COMMUNICATION:
The Bible is a record of how God spoke to man. God continues to speak to men today. (An
entire Harvestime International Institute course is devoted to "Knowing God’s Voice"). Satan
also speaks to man. His first words to humans resulted in their fall into sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis chapter 3).
Believers pray to God regarding their needs and God responds to the prayer of the righteous
(James 5:16). Satan’s followers pray to him and communicate with evil spirits. Sometimes Satan responds with supernatural events such as voices, the moving of objects, noises, etc.
God has communicated to man through His written Word, the Bible. Satan’s message is also
being communicated through the written word by evil magazines, books, motion pictures, and
music. God’s communication through His written and spoken Word provides guidance for man in the affairs of life. Satan has a system of false guidance accomplished through methods such
as the following:
Astrology and horoscope: Which use stars to predict events and give guidance.
Reading of tea leaves, cards, pictures, bumps on the head, palms of the hand and crystal balls: The formation of the tea leaves, cards, lines in the human hand, crystal balls, and pictures are claimed to give guidance.
Witchcraft: Using spells, potions, charms, magic, rituals, seances, divinations, methods of
chance, divining rods, visions, drawings, and similar unscriptural methods to receive guidance.
SATAN HAS SUPERNATURAL POWER:
Jesus promised supernatural power to His followers after they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Satan also gives supernatural power and authority (Revelation 13:2). His
demons can provide supernatural strength and energy. Satan can perform many supernatural
signs and miracles:
For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles… (Revelation 16:14)
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:22-23)
SPIRITUAL COUNTER STRATEGIES:
TO WAR AGAINST SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS IN HIGH PLACES
Here are specific counter strategies for overcoming spiritual wickedness in high places.
RECOGNIZE SATAN IS AN IMITATOR:
From your study of this lesson to this point it should be clear that Satan is an imitator.
"Imitation" means to copy or counterfeit something. The first step in overcoming wickedness in high places is to recognize that Satan imitates every part of God’s religious structure. Be on the look out for imitations!
There is a special gift of the Holy Spirit called "discerning of spirits." It is an unusual ability
given by God to immediately discern another person’s spirit and know if they are good or evil. If
you have this spiritual gift, use it in dealing with spiritual wickedness in high places.
If you do not have this gift, God has provided other methods of detection. In II Peter 2 and the
book of Jude He has listed the characteristics of these men with seducing spirits. (Use the
"Tactical Maneuvers" section of this lesson for additional study of this subject.) All believers are
encouraged to "try the spirits" (I John 4:1) To "try" means to "test" the spirits. If you test the
spirits it does not mean you are operating in unbelief. If the spirits are of God, they will pass the
STUDY THE WORD OF GOD:
In order to recognize the false doctrines of Satan’s teachers, apostles, prophets, and ministers,
must know what is taught in the Word of God. Paul told Timothy:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (II Timothy 2:15)
Even though Paul was a great spiritual leader in the early Church, the believers at the city of Berea checked everything he said by God’s written Word:
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11)
To avoid being deceived by spiritual wickedness in high places, examine everything that is taught
in light of God’s Word.
REJECT ANYTHING NOT IN THE WORD:
Satan establishes much spiritual wickedness in high places through so-called "special revelation of new truth." People will claim special dreams, appearances by angels, visions, voices, or other supernatural events. But Paul warned:
…but there be some that trouble you and would pervert the Gospel of Christ. But though we or an angel from Heaven preach any other gospel unto you
than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Reject any teaching, doctrine, manifestation, or revelation that is not in harmony with God’s Word. Do not accept any so-called prophecy that is not in right relation to the faith (Romans 12:6) and which does not come to pass (Deuteronomy 18:22). Do not accept any revelation that leads you away from God and the truth of His Word (Deuteronomy 13:1-5):
The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead. (Proverbs 21:16)
EVALUATE BY SPIRITUAL FRUIT:
Because Satan imitates the power of God through supernatural manifestations of miracles, signs, and wonders, God has provided a special method of evaluating ministries. You are to evaluate the supernatural on the basis of spiritual fruit.
Jesus compared men to fruit trees. He said you would know both the real and the imitators by
their spiritual fruit:
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. (Matthew 7:18, 20)
Satan can imitate spiritual gifts and God’s power, but he has no imitation for a holy life exhibiting the fruit of the Holy Spirit which includes true…
…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance; against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Evaluate ministries by spiritual fruit, not by supernatural manifestations of power.
AVOID EVERY SATANIC INFLUENCE:
God warned Israel to avoid every type of Satanic influence:
…destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places. (Numbers 33:52)
Read the additional instructions God gave in Deuteronomy 18:9-14. Israel was to have no
contact with the work of Satan in any form. You should destroy anything you own that has to do with witchcraft or the work of the devil. This would include idols, "lucky charms", potions, amulets, crystal balls, games, divining devices, and other similar items. This is what people did in the New Testament when they became believers:
Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men, and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver (about $9,300). (Acts 19:19)
Destroy any evil literature and music that does not glorify God. Do not spend time in places where there is evil influence. The Bible records that God manifested Himself in special places such as the Old Testament temple and the upper room of a house on the Day of Pentecost.
It is equally true that Satanic power can be manifested in special places dedicated to evil. This would include places where evil pictures are shown, drinking and riotous behavior is occurring, seances are being held, worship of Satan is occurring… . anywhere sinful practices are going on. Avoid such environments, because Satan’s power is especially strong there. You cannot pray the Lord’s prayer, "Lead us not into temptation" and then put yourself in such a place:
…and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. (I Corinthians 10:20)
Do not associate with false leaders, teachers, prophets, ministers or apostles:
Abstain from all appearance of evil. (I Thessalonians 5:22)
EXPOSE THE WICKEDNESS IN HIGH PLACES:
Believers must not ignore this spiritual wickedness in high places. Pastors must preach the
whole counsel of God in face of deception (II Timothy 4:1-4). False teachings of the occult and doctrines of demons must be identified. Believers are not to participate in the "unfruitful works of darkness" but rather should expose them (Ephesians 5:11).
EXERCISE THE MINISTRY OF DELIVERANCE:
God’s organization, the true Church, is more powerful than that of Satan. You learned that Jesus
is the head of the church, and that believers are the body. With that in mind, read the following
(God) hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church. Which is His body… (Ephesians 1:22-23)
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places
might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.
Jesus is the head of the Church. Believers are the body. If all things (including Satan and his religious structure) are under the feet of Jesus, then they are also under our feet because we are the body. "Under the feet" means they are under the power and authority which God has
delegated to us. Jesus said He has given us power over "all the power of the enemy" (Luke 10:19). This includes spiritual wickedness in high places.
The church is actually to demonstrate His power to these principalities and powers! We must
exercise this ministry to bring deliverance from those in bondage to "spiritual wickedness in high places." We must turn men from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to the Kingdom of God (Acts 26:18).