In the church age, God’s kingdom confronts the demonic powers which rule the world. Although Jesus’ death and resurrection stripped them of their right to control it, until the church comes into an area and removes them, they rule by default. The natural order of the world has a spiritual order behind it. Moreover the spiritual order has great influence over how the natural order will align. The two are deeply intertwined.
The church has recently started to recognize that these so called “principalities” rule the world and for a while there was a lot of rebuking of principalities going on. This however is a misunderstanding of how God’s Kingdom advances. Jesus told us to “bind it on earth” and he would “bind it in heaven.” This clearly identifies a partnership between our effort as His foot soldiers and His as ruler of the universe. We are to bind the demons we encounter on earth, confront the sin, sickness and disease and drive it out, and most importantly bring individuals out from the rule of the devil and into the rule of Christ. These are the things we “bind on earth.” When we do these things, this removes the authority of the principalities to rule in heaven, and Jesus removes them. Conversely Jesus may confront a principality in the heavens which allows us to advance the Gospel in the same sphere on the earth.
I don’t think these are generally things like a “Spirit of Abortion” or a “Spirit of Fear.” I think they are more geopolitical, although they may have specific ways they manifest and control a certain culture. I therefore would see something like a “Spirit of Islam” as being a very high ranking principality, with something like the “Prince of Persia (Iran)” as one of the principalities under him. Movements clearly have their own spirit, such as radical Islam, or in militant Communism. So the first thing to say about principalities is that they have authority because of the people that they control. If they control less people, they have less authority.
The second thing to understand is that there is “infighting” in Satan’s kingdom. This does not mean that it is “divided against itself,” because the more evil that is done the more Satan’s kingdom advances. Therefore war between two evil powers is not Satan against Satan, but two elements of Satan’s kingdom working their ultimate end of destruction. In general, the more wicked and ruthless power will prevail without the intervention of God and the church. The more authority that a wicked power can gain, the more destruction can be wrought.
This kind of demonic power warfare describes what is often termed “politics.” John Gotti was a ruthless man, behind whom was clearly a demonic power. When he killed Paul Castellano this meant that wicked power behind him had grown strong enough to overcome the one behind Paul Castellano, which although more powerful initially was clearly not as wicked. These kinds of power plays are common in companies, just without actual murder taking place. In some corporate cultures, the primary way of advancement is to be more wicked than all of the others, and in general heartless, self-serving people can do quite well. Behind the scenes these are actually spiritual power plays. When a wicked person gains great authority they do great evil, whether it is in a corporation or in a government. Likewise, when a godly person, like a Daniel or Mordecai comes into power, they thwart the powers of darkness in very significant ways, and great good is done. They will execute justice on the Haman’s of the government or company. Unbelieving “nice guy” leaders may not proactively do evil like Haman was doing, but they will ultimately fall victim to him without the aid of man with spiritual discernment.