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Territorial Spirits: Defining the spiritual characteristic of the area

The Philippines Credit: Patrick Del Rosario/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Philippines Credit: Patrick Del Rosario/Flickr/Creative Commons

I have been doing a study on territorial spirits, revealing that satan has structured his kingdom putting evil spirits over countries, provinces or states and even cities within that country.

And in order to spiritually plunder territory for God, Jesus taught that we must first bind the strong man, the satanic spirit over the area (Mark 3:22-27).

As I discussed in my earlier articles, Pontius Pilate ruled Palestine, the equivalent of modern-day Israel. In turn Palestine was broken up into three states or provinces ruled by a Tetrarch.

The Tetrarch Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great who ruled Palestine at Jesus’ birth, headed the District of Galilee. When Jesus delivered the man of an evil spirit in the synagogue in Capernaum, the Lord dealt with the demonic strong man of that region and God moved mightily with salvations, healings and deliverances (Mark 1:28 – 2:15)..

However, in the neighboring province of Samaria the strongman had not been dealt with. And when Jesus visited Nazareth, we are told that Jesus could only do a few miracles because of their unbelief (Matthew 13:57-58).

One thing that comes out of this study is that people living in a territory controlled by an evil spirit often represent the characteristic of the main spirit.  It would seem that Samaria was controlled by a spirit of unbelief.

Jerusalem was also in Samaria and the Jewish leaders were similarly infected with unbelief about Jesus and soundly rejected Him as the Jewish Messiah.

But unbelief is not the only characteristic of a prevailing evil spirit.

In Mark 5: 1-20, after crossing the Sea of Galilee, we read how Jesus entered a region called the Gerasenes, an area made up of ten free Greek cities. This was not part of Palestine and as such had a different ruling spirit.

They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him. (Mark 5:1-2 NASV)

As soon as their boat landed,  Jesus and the disciples were confronted by a man possessed by an evil spirit. It was a power encounter resulting in Jesus asking for the evil spirit’s name.

The evil spirit answered Legion  and copying the reputation of its namesake, the Roman Legion, worked through intimidation and fear.

And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he *said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country. (Mark 5:9-10 NASV)

Mark said that “No one was strong enough to subdue him.”

Then ripping a page out of a Hollywood Grade B horror flick, the man ran off to hide in a nearby graveyard where he hollered and screamed throughout the night like a wild banshee.

The people were terrified.

This region was controlled by a spirit of fear that differed from Samaria that was controlled by a spirit of unbelief.

Though Jesus bound the ruling spirit, you could still see the residual effects that the years of being in subjection to this spirit had on the people.

Luke says that the people of this region were “gripped with great fear” (8:27) because Jesus had cast the spirit out of this man.

Gripped describes a strong man with his powerful hands wrapped around the hearts and minds of the people.

The people were so panicked by what Jesus had done, they actually asked the Lord to leave.

17 And they began to implore Him to leave their region. (Mark 5:17 NASV)

Jesus didn’t judge them, instead He sent the recently delivered man to preach the gospel to these people.

Jesus would later return to the Decapolis region after the people’s fear had subsided. While there, He healed a deaf-mute (Mark 7:31), and in fact, the people “entreated” Jesus to heal the boy.

It testified of the remarkable change in the people’s perspective of Jesus once the spirit of fear had been washed away.

Satan used fear in Decapolis to keep the people from the gospel. It is a practice still favored today.

The Talbuid – scared of the gospel

In his book, In Dark Dungeons of Collective Captivity: Wrestling with Dark Angels missionary Douglas Pennoyer tells of his encounter with a tribal group called the Talbuid.

As Pennoyer and his guide slowly hacked their way through the dense Philippine jungles in 1973 to reach the Talbuid tribe located in the highlands of Mindoro, they did not know that they were being secretly watched.

The Talbuid scouts watched in awe as Douglas crossed a raging river three times carrying his goods on back and then return and tie a rope around his terrified native guide to lead him across.

They saw the missionary cross a dangerous part of the path that was covered by a landslide. Halfway across Pennoyer, was crying out to God for help, as the loose dirt and rock on the steep slope persistently gave way beneath his feet threatening to send him hurtling down the dangerously sharp incline.

Since it was just as far to go back as forward, the missionary pressed on.

Once across, Pennoyer knew he had challenged God’s grace and yelled at his guide to take the two-hour journey around.

But these two incidents profoundly impacted the Talbuid tribe who were so controlled by a spirit of fear that they camouflaged the entrances to their homes so no one would know where they lived.

Each tribe member traditionally had a second hiding place, complete with food, where they could run and conceal themselves on the slightest provocation.

“Fear of spirits drives the people to these intense ritual actions, some daily, some dependent on special circumstances,” Pennoyer said.

He added:

“They are also fearful of each other and of the spirit power residing in individuals who may curse them, causing loss of possessions, bodily harm or death. Supernatural displays of power by spiritual leaders are common and reinforce the power of dictator type ‘big men’ who keep control over people in their territory.”

After watching Pennoyer make his perilous journey to their tribe, the Talbuid were convinced he was a “big” man to be feared.

When Pennoyer arrived at the village, the Talbuid allowed him to stay the night, but by morning, the whole tribe had fled except for three men who remained behind with the sole responsibility of asking Pennoyer to leave.

At the next village the Talbuid tribesmen spent the whole night cursing the missionary while he slept.

It didn’t take long for Pennoyer to realize that satan had cleverly sideswiped him, paralyzing his ability to reach this people. But God had his own strategy to reach the Talbuid.

Pennoyer eventually went to work with the Overseas Missionary Fellowship who were working with a small group of Talbuid who had become Christians on the other side of the island.

Why had they accepted the gospel when their kinsmen had been so hopelessly closed to it? They were no longer in the Talbuid’s traditional territory and controlled by the spirit of fear.

Curiously, Pennoyer says the Talbuid had a 350 year old prophecy that white people would come to teach them and they were to do as they said. Satan knew this and used fear to stop it from happening.

What are some of the prevailing characteristics of the area you are living in, it may provide a hint of the type of evil spirit controlling your city or state/province.


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