Angels and Demons
By: David Martin
As we’re looking at the discerning of spirits, and looking into the spiritual realm, we have three different types of spirits we’re basically dealing with — the human spirit, angelic spirits and demonic spirits.
There’s a hierarchy in this realm. We see in Ephesians that you have principalities among the negative, demonic spirits. Along with principalities and powers you’ve got spiritual wickedness in the heavenly places. There’s a hierarchy going all the way up to Lucifer and all the way down to demons that try to possess people’s lives and oppress people at different levels. You also have a hierarchy on the angelic side, where you have the high-ranking archangels, or cherubim angels. You have the seraphim angels, you’ve got ministering angels, and you have messengers. There’s a whole hierarchy of spiritual forces and the discerning of these spirits is of great value to us.
We have briefly talked about developing our ability to discern. For the sake of perspective, recall that of the nine gifts, we’re now talking about the revelatory gifts. We looked at a word of wisdom and a word of knowledge. As we address the discerning of spirits, it is important to keep in mind all of these represent God’s ability. It is His power and He wants all of this to be working through you. Your responsibility is to have an expectation every day to operate in the supernatural. Expect it to help you to be a better whatever you are. How can I be a better son or daughter? How can I be a better mother, father or better spouse? How can I be a better employer or employee?
In every one of these arenas God wants to get more involved, and it is His supernatural ability. “You have not because you ask not,” the Bible says. So we need to develop a behavior of expectation in which every day we know somehow or another God is going to use us.
Expect at least one divine appointment every day. All you have to do is say, “God give me somebody to help.” Journal these experiences. Let your journal be like a dialogue. Whatever questions you have, just write them down. As you do, you develop your communication with God. You will be amazed.
Let’s look at a biblical example of discerning spirits. One of my favorites is about Elisha and his servant. It is found in 2 Kings 6:17. Elisha’s servant discovers a very big problem. Oh my, they are surrounded by a large Syrian army! He comes in alarm to Elisha, and the text says, “Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes.” He is praying for his servant for discerning of spirits and the ability to see into the supernatural realm. ‘“Open his eyes that he may see.’ And the Lord opened [his] eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” Then Elisha says, “Don’t worry about it, there’s more of us than [there is] of them.” You have to know that God is on your side and the army of God is also on your side. Their purpose is to serve us and serve along with us. These glimpses of discernment are of great value.
What you and I need to do is to keep our eyes, as it says in Hebrews, “…fixed on Yeshua, the author and the finisher of our faith.” But a word of caution—when people begin to focus on the phenomena, they can easily find the ditch of deception. Genuine phenomena happen, but we should keep our eyes fixed on Yeshua. Everything we need is going to be supplied. Otherwise what can happen is that people start to pray for the supernatural phenomena, and the devil will accommodate them. The Bible says “he’s able to transform himself into an angel of light.” So do not seek the phenomena. The supernatural is going to happen, and more than you can imagine.
My experience has been that when somebody starts to get serious, they make declarations and proclamations of faith like, “This is what I’m going to do. I’m going to be everything God wants me to be.” You can expect that there’s going to be a fight. The devil’s going to try to rob you of any spiritual progress. You are not alone. The Bible shows that the devil tried to stop Yeshua when Yeshua was at His weakest moment after 40 days of fasting.
There are three basic levels of attack that you may experience. The first is one-to-one. You are going to fight a principality and power yourself, or a spiritual wickedness. Not many people are going to actually fight the high level powers, but it could happen. The second way is Satan will seek to work through somebody else. He will usually work through people that are closest to you.
The third way, if the devil can’t get you one-on-one, or can’t get to you through someone close, he’s going to try indirectly, and he does that by infiltrating your thinking. That includes trying to get you through what you expose yourself to, namely TV, Hollywood, the culture around you. Whatever is contrary to the principles and precepts of the Word of God. Just be aware that spiritual progress will draw a challenge. Yeshua was challenged after His long fast, and also by Peter’s protest after Yeshua revealed that He must go to Jerusalem and die. Yeshua discerned Satan’s influence on Peter.
Discerning or distinguishing of spirits is seeing what is behind what somebody is saying or doing, recognizing the spiritual force that is at work.
A personal example of seeing into the spirit realm that I want to share goes back at least 25 years. I was in Bismarck, South Dakota, and I’m praying for a group of people. I came to a woman and I said, “Okay what do you want prayer for?” She answers, “Arthritis.” She had a lot of pain in her body. As soon as she said this, the Spirit impressed upon me, “No, the problem isn’t arthritis, the problem is bitterness.” And this is common. Often arthritis is linked to unforgiveness, bitterness and anger. I said to her, “I just felt impressed of the Lord that there’s bitterness here that we need to deal with.” That was the root issue.
But she did not like it. And God simply opened my eyes to the spirit realm. I literally saw a demon sitting on her shoulder. It looked like a monkey kind of a character, although it wasn’t a monkey. It was speaking into her ear. I saw it and I heard it speak. It said, “That’s not true. You are a good person. There’s no bitterness in you.” As soon as it spoke it just disappeared, and my eyes were no longer open to that realm. The very next words coming out of the woman’s mouth were exactly what the demon said. “That’s not true. There’s no bitterness in me. I’m a good person.” Wow.
Not only were my eyes open by discerning of spirits to what was going on, but from that day up to now I’ve understood how Satan operates. The devil infiltrates your thinking, trying to get you to believe the lie.
What was the lie here? That there was no bitterness. The woman was highly offended. It even caused a problem because I later got a call from the pastor. The lesson is that you need to recognize when thoughts come into your head that if they don’t agree with the word of God, you’ve got about six seconds to bring the thought into captivity. After that it is going to produce an emotion and literally release chemicals and toxins into your body. This is what causes you to experience suffering and pain, like this woman with her arthritis. God shows us what to do. His wisdom is to bring the thought into captivity, lest Satan take advantage of us.
When you help someone with the gifts of the Spirit, in some ways you are like a surgeon. Take your time and just begin to inquire of the Lord, “God what’s the problem here? What’s going on that I can help this person with?” You will be amazed. You’ll get a word of knowledge and God will show you things, what’s happening, and often it is by discerning of spirits. Then you can help someone at a much deeper level. And, from the life of Yeshua, we see He took time with people. He is our example.