The Bible speaks of spiritual dimensions beyond our natural world that are just as real as the physical world we live in. These unseen realms are inhabited by spiritual beings like God, angels, and demons. As Christians, it’s important we understand the nature of these spiritual realms as they impact our lives here on earth. In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll explore what the Bible teaches about the various spiritual dimensions.
The Bible indicates that in addition to the physical world we live in, there are two main spiritual dimensions – the kingdom of God (heaven) and the domain of Satan (hell). Additionally, there are other places mentioned like Sheol, Hades, the abyss, tartarus, and the lake of fire.
While the physical world is temporary, the spiritual realms are eternal. The decisions we make here on earth determine which spiritual realm we enter after death. Those who put their faith in Christ inherit eternal life in God’s kingdom, while those who reject Him face eternal separation from God.
- The Bible speaks of spiritual realms beyond the physical world we see.
- There are two main spiritual dimensions – God’s kingdom and Satan’s domain.
- Other spiritual places mentioned include Sheol, Hades, the abyss, tartarus, and the lake of fire.
- While the physical world is temporary, the spiritual realms are eternal.
- Our decisions on earth determine which spiritual realm we enter after death.
Now, let’s take a deeper look at what the Bible reveals about these spiritual dimensions.
The Kingdom of God
The kingdom of God is the spiritual realm where God dwells and reigns supreme. It includes both heaven and paradise.
Heaven is where God’s throne resides and where His angels worship Him (Psalm 11:4, Revelation 4). The Bible describes heaven as a place of dazzling light, rainbows, jewels, and scenes of indescribable beauty (Revelation 21:10-21). It’s a holy place inhabited only by righteousness.
After death, believers in Christ will inhabit the heavenly realm in resurrected, glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 2 Corinthians 5:1-5). We will no longer experience sin, suffering, sickness, or death (Revelation 21:4). Instead, we will worship God, serve Him, and reign with Him (Revelation 22:3-5).
Paradise is where believers in Christ go immediately after death to await the resurrection. Jesus told the thief on the cross next to Him, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Paradise is a place of comfort and rest for the departed saints. The apostle Paul said to “be absent from the body” is to be “present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
The Domain of Satan
The domain of Satan is the spiritual realm that is in total opposition to God’s kingdom. It includes hell, Hades, the abyss, and eventually the lake of fire.
Hell is the ultimate destination of the wicked after judgement. It is described as a lake of fire and a place of eternal torment (Revelation 20:10,14-15). Jesus often warned about the danger of going to hell (Matthew 10:28, Luke 12:5). Hell was designed to punish the devil and his demons (Matthew 25:41). Tragically, those who reject Christ will also face eternal punishment there.
Hades in the New Testament and Sheol in the Old Testament refer to the “realm of the dead.” This is where the spirits of the unsaved go after death to await judgement (Luke 16:22-23). It is a place of anguish and regret.
The abyss is a prison for certain demons so vile that they had to be restrained (Luke 8:31, Revelation 20:1,3). It is a bottomless pit of darkness and confinement. At least some of the demons fear going there.
Tartarus is mentioned once in Scripture as another place where rebellious angels (demons) are “being kept for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). It appears to function as a temporary holding place for particularly wicked spirits.
The Lake of Fire
The lake of fire, also referred to as the “second death,” is the final place of judgment for the lost. After the Great White Throne Judgement, all the enemies of God will be thrown into the lake of fire to suffer eternal punishment (Revelation 20:14-15). Of all the places mentioned, this one is most often described as eternal.
Passages Describing the Spiritual Nature of the Battle
Several passages emphasize the spiritual battle taking place in the heavenly realms that we cannot perceive with our physical senses.
Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” This verse stresses that our battle as believers is not merely against people on earth but against demonic forces operating in spiritual realms.
2 Kings 6 tells the story of the prophet Elisha and his servant when they were surrounded by an invading Aramean army. The servant saw only the physical threat but Elisha prayed that God would open his eyes. Verse 17 says, “Then Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” When God opened the servant’s spiritual eyes, he saw the angel armies ready to protect them.
1 Peter 5:8 warns believers to, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” It reminds us that the devil seeks to destroy us, requiring spiritual vigilance.
These passages pull back the curtain to reveal aspects of the spiritual realms normally hidden from our view. They remind us that a cosmic battle rages in the heavenly places, with very real implications for our lives. As believers, we play a role in this spiritual battle whether we see it or not.
Putting on the Full Armor of God
To prevail in spiritual warfare, Ephesians 6 instructs believers to “put on the whole armor of God” (v.11). Then it describes each piece of equipment, correlating them with spiritual realities that empower us:
- Belt of truth to stand against deception (v.14)
- Breastplate of righteousness to protect our heart (v.14)
- Shoes of gospel of peace to walk in God’s ways (v.15)
- Shield of faith to thwart the enemy’s attacks (v.16)
- Helmet of salvation to renew our mind in Christ (v.17)
- Sword of the Spirit, God’s word to refute falsehood (v.17)
This armor equips believers to engage and overcome the powers of darkness. The passage concludes by urging prayer and alertness (v.18). By availing ourselves of these spiritual provisions, we can resist the devil and experience victory.
God’s Kingdom Advancing
Despite sporadic victories, Satan is fighting a losing battle against God’s advancing kingdom. Like D-Day in WWII, the outcome of the war has been determined with the resurrection of Christ. Satan only continues to fight because he knows his time is short (Revelation 12:12).
Jesus declared that He saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning (Luke 10:18). Colossians 2:15 says that Christ disarmed and triumphed over the demonic powers by the cross. Hebrews 2:14 states that through His death, Jesus destroyed the one who had the power of death, the devil.
1 John 3:8 says, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” While evil still exists for a time, the ultimate destiny of Satan and his minions is defeat and eternal punishment. They cannot overcome the already accomplished victory of the cross secured by Christ.
So believers need not fear the powers of darkness. We overcome Satan “by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony” (Revelation 12:11). United to Christ, we share in His authority and will reign with Him. By sticking close to our victorious Savior, we are safe from Satan’s grasped.
The Bible’s depiction of the spiritual realms is an invitation to live in light of eternal realities. When our eyes are opened to see the spiritual battle raging around us, it should lead us to walk closer with God and equip ourselves in His armor.
Rather than living for this temporary world, we can store up treasures in heaven and invest in things of eternal significance. Being aware of the eternal destiny of lost souls should also motivate us to share the gospel while we can.
As C.S. Lewis said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit.”
Understanding the spiritual realms helps us relate to people in light of eternity. It lifts our eyes above the natural to what is unseen and eternal. Just as Elisha prayed for his servant, we need eyes opened to the spiritual dimensions operating behind the scenes if we want to understand life from heaven’s perspective.