What are territorial spirits?
Question: "What are territorial spirits?"
“Territorial spirits” is a term some Christians use to identify demonic occupation of a specific geographic location. Interestingly enough, and perhaps ironically, it is also a term pagans use to describe an otherworldly presence believed to be residing in a specific geographical location.
The Christian concept of territorial spirits comes from passages such as Daniel 10; John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11; Mark 5:10; and Ephesians 6:12. All of these passages imply that fallen angels have been given some type of responsibility over a certain area. Thus, they seem to be territorial. However, we need to remember that this is by inference; the Bible never explicitly defines a hierarchy of demonic authority and control in the world. What the Bible is clear about is that demons are definitely at work in the spiritual realm and that believers are very much involved in a battle against them.
In Daniel 10, for example, the angel struggled against a demonic adversary the entire time Daniel was praying and fasting. It wasn't until the resolution of Daniel's spiritually focused time that the angel could finally break away and come to Daniel. Ephesians 6 exhorts believers to stand firm against our spiritual adversaries and to remain alert and ready for battle. So there is no doubt that our struggle on earth is mirrored in some way in the spiritual realm.
The problem that comes with the use of the term “territorial spirits” is that some Christians believe it is their duty to engage territorial demons in spiritual warfare. This, however, cannot be justified by Scripture. There is not a single instance in the Bible where someone actively sought out a demon in order to engage it. Demon-possessed individuals were encountered, and even brought to Jesus and His disciples for healing, but the disciples didn't go out looking for demons to cast out of people. Nobody in the Bible ever prayed that the demon princes of their town be bound from working their will against the residents of that town.
Territorial spirits, although not a scriptural idea, may very well exist, as seen in the previous passages. Such a term as "territorial spirits" is really not that important, though. What is important is our response. A believer in Christ has no biblical support to engage in prayer-led spiritual warfare against demons. Rather, a believer needs to be aware that there is a spiritual battle and to take it seriously (1 Peter 5:8). Our lives need to be focused on prayer and on growing in faith. Should we ever encounter a demon, we definitely have the Christ-given authority to deal with it, but we should not go looking for them, territorial or otherwise.
Angels: Elect & Evil by C. Fred Dickason.
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Questions about Angels and Demons
What are territorial spirits?