Grace Family Bible Church

Spoiling the Heavenly Places

By: Scott Morton


Colossians 2:15

And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.


As the Apostle Paul is continuing this epistle to the assembly in Colossae, he is shifting the focus slightly. He is continuing to describe what it is the Lord Jesus Christ has accomplished. The focus has shifted to what was directly done for us (which we receive access to the moment we believe the gospel- 1 Corinthians 15:1-4), he is now speaking here of what was accomplished in the heavenly places.


Paul speaks about they were spoiled. This is an interesting word to use to describe what has been accomplished here. While we have a common thought about what this word means, there are several definitions of the word. The following comes from Webster's 1828 Dictionary (defining spoil):

SPOIL, v.t. [L., to pull asunder, to tear, to strip, to peel.]


1. To plunder; to strip by violence; to rob; with of; as, to spoil one of his goods or possessions.


My sons their old unhappy sire despise, Spoild of his kingdom, and deprivd of eyes.


2. To seize by violence; to take by force; as, to spoil ones goods.


This mount with all his verdure spoild--


3. To corrupt; to cause to decay and perish. Heat and moisture will soon spoil vegetable and animal substances.


4. To corrupt; to vitiate; to mar.


Spiritual pride spoils many graces.


5. To ruin; to destroy. Our crops are sometimes spoiled by insects.


6. To render useless by injury; as, to spoil paper by wetting it.


7. To injure fatally; as, to spoil the eyes by reading.


We tend to use the third definition primarily, as we think about it from the food that goes bad in our refrigerator. The Apostle Paul is using this word here to show how this is the plunder which comes from winning a battle. This is where the phrase the spoils of war comes from.


The Lord Jesus Christ has spoiled these things which are identified as being principalities and powers. This is a reference to things which are seen in the heavenly places and not speaking of things on the earth. It would not make sense for this to be discussing earthly things, as this is not where our hope is. Paul makes reference to these things in several other passages:


Ephesians 6:12

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 1:18-23

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, [19] And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, [20] Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, [21] Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: [22] And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, [23] Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.


Colossians 1:16

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:


These passages show there are some clear positions which are being promised to individuals. There are many who are confused by these things, as this is not something which is often taught. These positions are real and they are something which the Apostle Paul is saying will be given unto us. These positions have a ranking and this will be associated with what happens at the Judgment Seat of Christ, where we will receive the rewards based on how we followed the doctrine which has been given to us in this dispensation.


The following is the ranking of these positions, which will be discussed in a future article:


1. Principality

2. Power

3. Might

4. Thrones

5. Dominions

6. Darkness/Light

7. Spiritual Wickedness/Maturity

8. Every name that is named


This list of positions shows there are going to be positions of rank and authority in the heavenly places. It will not simply be that we are going to be sitting around and doing nothing in heaven. The promise is we will rule and reign with Him. These positions are given to us based on how well we have followed the doctrine which has been given to us by the Apostle Paul for this dispensation. This is what will be shown by what happens at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Based on what items are remaining (gold, silver, and precious stones) we will be given a position of authority.


The problem is what happened in the heavenly places at the fall of Satan. A third of the angelic realm followed him in his rebellion. These positions are what need to be filled and the fact that they need to be taken as spoils of war. There is going to be a war in the heavenly places, recorded in Revelation 12, where the fallen angelic realm is fully kicked out of the heavens for all of eternity:


Revelation 12:7-9

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, [8] And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. [9] And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.


In these events, we see a battle which is going on between the two angelic groups. The members of the Body of Christ are not present at this battle. We have not been called to war in this manner.


Revelation 12:12

Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.


There will be a rejoicing in the heavenly places when this occurs. This is a future event which will happen during the 70th week of Daniel. While this is future the Apostle Paul states the Lord Jesus Christ as having spoiled. This has already been accomplished. It is hard to fathom this, as the perspective is that it is already guaranteed to happen, even though it has not physically happened yet. There is nothing which can be done which would prevent this from occurring. Satan is going to keep trying to figure out a way to prevent this from happening. He is going to be unsuccessful in these efforts.


Ephesians 2:2

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:


This is why he thinks he can win. He has control over the things on the earth, as he is the prince of the power of the air. This is not something most people realize, as they think God is the one ruling over and controlling everything here on the earth, as they try to apply the promises which are given to Israel. If this is not the case, then the following offer could not have been valid:


Matthew 4:1-11

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. [2] And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. [3] And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. [4] But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. [5] Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, [6] And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. [7] Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. [8] Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; [9] And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. [10] Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. [11] Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.


This event occurs at the beginning of His ministry on the earth. Satan is attempting to get a change in the plans which were established before the foundation of the world in order to show he is wiser than God. In all three of the temptations there is never an acknowledgment that the offer is not valid. This means all three of them are legitimate, including the offer of giving unto the Godhead the control over the earth. This is something Satan had at that time and continues to have today. This control is going to end with the conclusion of the prophetic program. We know this to be true and God is going to fulfill all of the promises which have been made because the Word of God tells us this is true. The Word also tells us what is going to happen to Satan:


John 16:11

Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.


Satan has already been judged and there is no way he can win. All of the above is speaking of the promises which have been made related to the earth. There was something which had been kept secret which Satan did not know about:


1 Corinthians 2:6-8

Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: [7] But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: [8] Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.


When Satan fell in the beginning and wanted to become like the Most High (Isaiah 14:12-14) he knew it could not be a battle related to power. This was clearly something he was not going to be able to win because the Godhead had created the universe and Satan did not have this type of power. The battle had to be in a battlefield that he thought there was a possibility of winning. This is why the battle comes down to wisdom. Satan thought he had all of the wisdom needed to beat God because he had access to all of the things which were written and had an understanding of this plan.


What Satan did not realize is that what had been written was only part of the plan. There was information which had been hidden/kept secret and had not been revealed until it was given to the Apostle Paul. This is why Paul can write this about the cross. Satan had thought he won because God was trying to reconcile the earth back to Himself. Satan had convinced the people to reject the Lord Jesus Christ, causing Him to be killed. The next thing is the Lord Jesus Christ leaves the earth and goes back to the heavenly places, which is why Satan thinks he won. He had no idea about a plan to reconcile the heavenly places, as this had not been discussed prior. What Satan thought was his victory was actually his defeat.


There are some promises which are associated with this that are heard for many to understand. It is okay for individuals to not have a full grasp of some of these things, as they are hard to understand. It will not affect the salvation an individual has if they do not understand everything about what is going to happen related to the heavenly places and the promises which have been made for us. The next verse here is one of these passages which causes much confusion:


1 Corinthians 6:1-3

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? [2] Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? [3] Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?


As the Apostle Paul is speaking to the saints at Corinth about their actions of dealing with other saints and taking them to the courts, he causally brings up the issue of the saints judging the angelic realm. This is not something we would normally think of and Paul does not elaborate on this. It is a struggle for many to think about this because the Bible indicates man was made lower than the angels. We are being told we are going to judge the angels. The word judge causes much of the confusion because people do not understand what this really means. The following is the definition of the word judge, used as a verb, from Webster's 1828 Dictionary:


JUDGE, v.i. [L. judico.]


1. To compare facts or ideas, and perceive their agreement or disagreement, and thus to distinguish truth from falsehood.


Judge not according to the appearance John 7.


2. To form an opinion; to bring to issue the reasoning or deliberations of the mind.


If I did not know the originals, I should not be able to judge, by the copies, which was Virgil and which Ovid.


3. To hear and determine, as in causes on trial; to pass sentence. He was present on the bench, but could not judge in the case.


The Lord judge between thee and me. Gen 16.


4. To discern; to distinguish; to consider accurately for the purpose of forming an opinion or conclusion.


Judge in yourselves; is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? 1 Cor 11.


JUDGE, v.t. To hear and determine a case; to examine and decide.


Chaos shall judge the strife.


1. To try; to examine and pass sentence on.


Take ye him and judge him according to your law.


John 18.


God shall judge the righteous and the wicked. Eccl 3.


2. Rightly to understand and discern.


He that is spiritual, judgeth all things. 1 Cor 2.


3. To censure rashly; to pass severe sentence.


Judge not, that ye be not judged. Mat 7.


4. To esteem; to think; to reckon.


If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord--


Acts 16.


5. To rule or govern.


The Lord shall judge his people. Heb 10.


6. To doom to punishment; to punish.


I will judge thee according to thy ways. Ezek 7.


This means we are going to be given positions of authority over the angelic realm. Man, which was made a little lower than the angels, will be given positions of authority in the heavenly places. Under the law the failures of man were evident, as man kept breaking the commandments of God over and over again, proving that man had failed to follow the things of God. This is something which is hard to grasp. Paul states we are to sit with the Lord Jesus Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) which shows the position of authority which will be given to us.


2 Timothy 2:11-13

It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: [12] If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: [13] If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.


Here is another passage which shows the promise of ruling and reigning in the heavenly places. This is a promise which will not be broken. It is glorious thing for us to realize, even if we don't have the details of what this means and how it is all going to work given to us at this point. We know the truth of what is going to happen and can see the glory which will come about through this. We also know there is nothing which is going to separate us from what God is going to accomplish (Romans 8:38-39).


Even though we might not have an understanding of it, the angelic realm is also learning about it as well:


Ephesians 3:8-11

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; [9] And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: [10] To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, [11] According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:


The angelic realm was not given this information either. It was a secret the Godhead had kept from the foundation of the world and only revealed it to the Apostle Paul. The angelic realm is learning all about this by looking at us and seeing the wisdom of God in this dispensation being worked out of us. They can see this occurring and see the wisdom of God in display in this.


It will be after this dispensation that the full display of this will be in effect:


Ephesians 1:9-10

Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:


There is something which is known as the dispensation of the fulness of times. This is something which is not talked about a lot, but is an important aspect of the plan of God. This is where the reconciliation of both the heaven and the earth will be complete and the culmination of the program will be. This is the eternal purpose which God has (Ephesians 3:11) and will be the realization of it. This is where the issues of the inheritance will fully take place:


Ephesians 1:16-23

Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; [17] That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: [18] The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, [19] And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, [20] Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, [21] Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: [22] And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, [23] Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.


The Lord Jesus Christ has an inheritance in us. This is the reality of us taking over the positions in the heavenly places, which had not been revealed in time past (Romans 16:25-26) as this was not the hope of Israel. This is the hope for the Body of Christ and we are going to be receiving these things as part of the reconciliation which is going to happen. It has already been promised (Colossians 1:20) and this is where this will be the reality, with the Lord Jesus Christ receiving us as an inheritance. This is why this statement can be made:


1 Corinthians 15:55-57

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? [56] The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. [57] But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.


There already is a victory which has been guaranteed. This passage we have been studying shows the reality of it and gives the details so we can have an understanding of what this means for us.