in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,
We are going to stay in verse 2 of chapter 2 for a moment longer because there is an interesting term used here that deserves our attention. It is the term the sons of disobedience, of whom Paul states that Satan is specifically working in and by inference, works through, to accomplish his stratagem of continued rebellion against God on the earth. The question we need to ask as sincere students of God’s Word is who are these sons of disobedience? Perhaps the most straight forward answer to this question is that they are all those in the world who are by choice outside of the Kingdom of God and who by their lives display constant disobedience towards God’s holiness. At first reading I would say that this interpretation is correct or at least is certainly incorporated into this term. However to fully comprehend the possible full extent to which Paul was referring we need to employ two rules of interpretation or exegesis when digging deep into Scripture.
The first is this – that we must look at other places in God’s Word where this phrase is used; the second – that we must give recognition to what a first century Messianic Jew such as Paul would have in mind when using such a descriptive phrase.
Now Paul is not just pulling a phrase out of nowhere for dramatic license, he must have thought through this phrase because he is the only New Testament writer to use this specific term, but he uses it in two other places. The first occurrence is later on in Ephesians 5v5-6, “For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience,” AND then again in Colossians 3v5-7, “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.” In both of these additional passages it is very plain that God’s wrath is going to be executed upon the sons of disobedience, and in both of these passages the sons of disobedience are directly responsible for actions that completely violate God’s law of Love and Holiness. Therefore, again these passages would appear to support the interpretation that these sons are unrepentant mankind, and that they are called sons because they bear all the hallmarks of rebellion and are born out of disobedience, in other words for the express purpose to be disobedient! This interpretation is correct, but let’s dig a little deeper to see what else this phrase may reveal.
Jesus did not mince His Words with the religious hypocrites of His day when he told them, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8 v 44) Jesus made it clear that those who were working actively against Him were in fact sons of Satan, and were directly involved whether they realised it or not in promoting Satan’s rebellion. So the sons of disobedience are also, by their words and their activity, proved to be the sons of Satan. It is this thought that I strongly suspect was in Paul’s mind when he used this term.
In Genesis 6v2 we read, “that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.” Now a close inspection of Genesis 6 will reveal to us that these sons of God were not righteous humans created in the image of God, but clearly a group of angels who acted on their own accord to have sexual relations with human women. The proof of this in the text is the fact that as a result of this ungodly union Nephilim or giants were born of women having angelic seed, making them both incredibly strong and of much greater statue. Because this was an ungodly union the fruit of these beings called Nephilim was continual wickedness and violence on the face of the earth, the like of which was so serious that God decided to judge them in His wrath. His judgement was The Flood of Genesis 7 erasing all the Nephilim and humanity except for eight persons who God kept safe in an ark! So in a direct way these Nephilim, were also the sons of Satan, since they were literally fathered by a group of fallen angels no doubt in league with Satan’s rebellion.
Now what makes this Genesis 6 account so interesting to us in relation to our study verse is that these Nephilim were neither fully human nor fully angelic, therefore they were not created in the image of God but were very much a hybrid. This idea of spirit/human hybrids is very much a popular theme in popular novels, films and serials just now and it reminds us that Jesus said as in the days of Noah so shall the coming of the Son of Man be! Because they were hybrids when they perished in the Flood their bodies would have perished; their spirits however would have endured but would have had nowhere to rest since neither hell nor heaven was prepared for them. The result is that they would have become disembodied spirits literally roaming the earth, a group of beings that the New Testament calls demons. Because these beings once inhabited physical bodies in their pre-Flood form they now longed to be housed in physical bodies again, which is precisely why these demons seek human hosts to dwell in. This is why Jesus had so many encounters to deliver individuals from demon possession. Jesus Himself clearly taught this when He spoke of an individual delivered from demons but not yielded to His LORDship in Luke 11v23-26, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters. When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”
So coming back to our phrase the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, we can perhaps see this in a dual light. That yes these are human beings displaying all the behaviour of godlessness, but that also Paul may well have had in his mind the myriad of demons through which Satan no doubt works to corrupt the image of God in mankind. The final destiny of all who resist God’s rule is the Lake of Fire described in Revelation 20v13-15, thus all the sons of disobedience will find their judgement there, not only the Hitlers and Stalins of this world but also every fallen angel and demon, and indeed all who through their own choice have wilfully rejected God the Father’s offer of mercy, forgiveness and grace.
Let us be sure that we have no part in their rebellion, that we have no part in the works of darkness, but endeavour with all our hearts to live to bring glory and honour to our Creator and LORD Jesus Christ. Let us also recognise that Jesus Christ has given us, the Church, all authority over all the works of Satan, that we are positioned in Christ in the heavenly realms far above principalities and powers. As such we have Christ’s authority to cast out demons and to pull down spiritual strongholds that are in opposition to Christ. Ours is a privileged and authoritative position in this world, let us not sit on the side and watch the destruction of precious lives made in the image of God, but let us use our God given authority in prayer and action that will release the power of God to save, to heal and to deliver.
OUR PRAYER TODAY
Heavenly Father, thank you that You have called us out of this world, that we are children of God and not sons of disobedience. Enable us therefore to daily put to death fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. You have said in Your WORD that in Your name we will cast out demons and that we will lay hands on the sick, and that they will recover. By the power of Your Holy Spirit anoint us to walk in the authority of Your WORD that through our witness, our words and our actions that we may push back the works of darkness on the earth and release the Kingdom of GOD.
1 Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. 3 And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” 4 There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. 5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
18 If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? Because you say I cast out demons by Beelzebub. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 20 But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. 22 But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils. 23 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters. 24 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”
17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.