While we live in the physical world, we simultaneously live in a spiritual world. For starters, we have spiritual natures. In addition, whether we recognize it or not, God is not the only supernatural person. Other spiritual beings exist all around us. This is why Elisha could say to his servant in 2 Kings 6:16, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” The “those who are with us” consisted of chariots of fire filling the mountain which the servant couldn’t see until God opened his spiritual eyes.
In talking about creation, Paul refers to rulers and authorities, thrones and dominions, the latter being part of the invisible world he mentions in Col. 1:16.
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.
Who all these spiritual beings are is of interest to a good many people, but the truth is, the Bible tells us very little about them. We know there are two basic camps, however—those who do God’s bidding and are good, and those who stand in opposition to Him and are evil.
These spiritual forces have real power. Two angels, for example, were involved in the destruction of Sodom. Satan himself apparently decimated Job—destroying his property, killing his children, and striking him with disease.
Of course these beings are not operating independently. The angels are carrying out God’s commands, and Satan is doing only what God has given him permission to do. He was, for example, expressly forbidden to take Job’s life.
But still, Satan is active and so are any number of evil spirits. The New Testament records one man with evil spirits who had supernatural strength so that he could break free of chains meant to restrict him. Then there was the girl who had an evil spirit which made it possible for her to tell fortunes. Others caused a person to be mute or to lose control of their body so that they would be thrown into the fire.
The fact that we don’t see overt manifestations of evil spirits as a part of normal life here in North America doesn’t mean they don’t exist or aren’t active.
The Bible tells us we need spiritual armor, so my supposition is that much of the spiritual activity we face has little to do with the physical, though possibly there is far more than we recognize as coming from spiritual causes. But that’s going astray from the point I want to make in all this.
Men and women throughout history have worshiped, but many have chosen a god instead of the LORD. For much of their history, the Jews dabbled with polytheism, though the LORD had specifically told them to have no other gods before Him. Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome—they all worshiped various gods. They were religious, and they recognized the existence of power that was beyond the physical.
The problem was, they credited created beings with supreme power and authority—whether Zeus or Baal or Molech or some other idol.
Interestingly, Isaiah wrote a stirring passage about idols being nothing but a man-made construction with no power. In chapter 44 he describes the process of cutting timber, burning half for fuel or for a fire to cook over, then fashioning from the other half an idol he bows to and worships:
No one recalls, nor is there knowledge or understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire and also have baked bread over its coals. I roast meat and eat it. Then I make the rest of it into an abomination, I fall down before a block of wood!” (v. 19)
So which is it—are idols blocks of wood or are they evil spirits with actual power? I suppose spirits can inhabit the blocks of wood, but why would they? The wood itself, as Isaiah pointed out, is blind and dumb. Regardless, I conclude the physical idol, whether possessed or not possessed, is nothing but a chunk of matter. The people who worship idols however, are indeed worshiping a spiritual being—a false god.
So I came across this verse, and I thought, here’s the line of demarcation, the point that clearly separates false gods from the One True God:
For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the LORD made the heavens. (Ps. 96:4-5—emphasis mine)
Creation, as Romans 1 states so clearly, points to the One True God. It is in what He has made that His invisible attributes can be seen:
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (v 20)
As I realized anew the significance of God’s creative work, I understood more clearly why Creation is such a battlefield. To discredit God, Satan aims to distort the work that inexorably points to Him.
There are a few key issues like that—the Bible as God’s authoritative word, the person of Jesus, and creation. Isn’t it interesting that these are the critical means of God’s revelation of Himself to Mankind, creation being the first and Jesus being the final and ultimate revelation, with the Bible being the authoritative source that explains both.
Praise God for loving us so much He has made Himself known.
This article with some revision is a reprint of one by the same name that appeared here in February 2012.