II. THE KINGDOM OF GOD VERSUS THE KINGDOM OF SATAN
We have said that in the universe there is the kingdom of God, and there is also the kingdom of Satan. The spiritual warfare we are speaking of is the warfare between these two kingdoms. Therefore, in order to engage in spiritual warfare, we must first know the opposition between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan.
God’s kingdom is eternal, both in time and in space. Since God Himself is from eternity to eternity, so also is His kingdom from eternity to eternity. Furthermore, since God Himself is in light, so also is God’s kingdom in light.
Satan’s kingdom is not eternal. As to time, it is limited in time; as to space, it is limited to the air and the earth. Furthermore, Satan’s kingdom is in darkness, the exact opposite of the kingdom of God.
In addition, there is still another great difference: God’s kingdom is legal, whereas the kingdom of Satan is illegal. The whole universe was created by God and belongs to Him; hence, God has the legal right to reign. On the contrary, Satan’s kingdom was established by rebellion against God; hence, it is entirely illegal.
In Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:11-17, through the king of Babylon and the king of Tyre (both of whom had been instruments utilized by Satan), God relates the process of Satan’s rebellion. Satan was originally an anointed cherub, the archangel, who occupied a special place before God. Because he was proud in heart and desired to exalt himself to equality with God, he rebelled against God and tried to overthrow God’s authority, thereby establishing his own authority. Since then, there has existed in the universe the illegal kingdom of Satan.
Satan’s kingdom is the sphere of Satan’s reign. The Lord Jesus once called Satan “the prince of the world” (John 14:30). This reveals that Satan not only has his kingdom, but also reigns in his kingdom. Moreover, within his kingdom are his messengers of various ranks, all of which were angels who followed Satan in rebelling against God. Today these are the principalities, powers, rulers, dominions, and spiritual hosts of wickedness of the air, Satan being their head (Eph. 6:12; 2:2; 1:21).
Furthermore, in Satan’s kingdom there are many demons, evil spirits, who serve as his servants. Based on the various records in the Bible, we can ascertain that before the six days’ recovery work of the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1), there existed a world wherein lived a group of living beings with spirits. When Satan rebelled against God, they all followed him and rebelled together. Therefore God judged that world, on one hand by shutting off the sun and moon in the sky so that they gave forth no light, and on the other hand by destroying the earth and the living beings with water. These living beings, judged as they were by water, became separated in spirit and body. These disembodied spirits who dwell in the waters of judgment are the demons, the evil spirits, mentioned in the Bible.
Therefore, originally, there were three groups of characters in the kingdom of Satan: first, Satan, the head, the ruler; second, the angels who followed Satan in rebelling against God and who served as ministers and officials to rule for him in the air; third, the disembodied spirits, or the demons, the evil spirits, who acted as Satan’s servants to run his errands on earth.
Later, after men were created, Satan came to entice men and succeeded in seducing them. Men became his kingdom’s subjects, the ones who were handled and abused by him. Therefore, there are four classes of personalities in Satan’s kingdom today. In the air are Satan and his messengers, and on earth are his servants and subjects, the innumerable demons and the myriads of people. At the time when the Lord Jesus was preaching the gospel on earth, He met people everywhere who were possessed by the demons. Today there are still flocks of demons who are maneuvering among people in this world. Although their dwelling place is in the sea, they like to seek a body where they can live. When we say a person is possessed by a demon, we usually refer to the human body being possessed by a demon.
In summary, the kingdom of Satan consists of these four classes of personalities. They are organized altogether into a system through which Satan usurps the air and the earth to the end that he may overthrow God’s authority and set up his own kingdom. Therefore, this kingdom, organized by Satan’s rebellious force is absolutely illegal.
It was not till four thousand years after the fall of the human race, at the beginning of the dispensation of the New Testament, that the Lord Jesus came forth to His ministry and declared, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” What the Lord meant was that before this it was the kingdom of earth, the kingdom of Satan, wherein Satan ruled, that held sway; but now it is the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, coming upon this earth to reign. Later He taught the disciples to pray, “Let thy kingdom come.” The full accomplishment of this matter will be seen at the sound of the seventh trumpet in the future (Rev. 11:15). Then the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of God and Christ. Thus, God’s kingdom will practically and completely come upon the earth.
Before that day arrives, the period in which we are living is the time for the people of God to fight for Him on earth. From the time the Lord Jesus came forth to minister, till the time of His second coming, all the works the people of God are doing for Him are instances of spiritual warfare. God’s desire is to rescue, through those who belong to Him, the people who were captured by Satan, and to recover the earth which was usurped by Satan. This rescuing and recovering is, according to what the Lord has shown us in Matthew 12, the warfare between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan.
(The Experience of Life, Chapter 18, by Witness Lee)