Our culture says it believes in the material world, with its seen and unseen elements (like gravity, for example) and that the spiritual world (which is usually unseen) is a fantasy, although there are spiritualists who believe in a spiritual world that is a part of the unseen elements of the material world, referring to what Colossians 2:20 is speaking of when Paul says that we have “died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world” (NIV) or the “elementary principles of this world” (NASB) . Essentially, the belief is that there is no spiritual world with angels and demons that do not originate or is not grounded in the created material world. They are a part of the world even if in an unseen form. If there is some evidence of a real spiritual world that invades or interacts with this world but is not from it or if someone talks about an experience where they seem to affirm this spiritual world, they are seen as unintelligent or, at best, uninformed.
There is strong evidence from experience and in the Bible that there is an unseen spiritual world that interacts with this this world and attempts to affect our thoughts and behavior. But for many, if it is an unseen world, they are so focused in this world that the existence of unseen spiritual powers and beings that seek to affect is forgotten and ignored. Truly if it is out of sight, it is out of our minds. We do have the remnants of this belief in our joking about an angel on one shoulder whispering in our ear and a devil on the other shoulder whispering in the other. We laugh at this because sometimes is seems this is what we experience when making a moral decision. Our laughter dismisses this as mere myth; we know (we think) that we are just on the horns of a dilemma and we have to make a choice between two alternatives. Nothing more, nothing less.
But, it is more and not less. There are spiritual forces, good spirits and evil spirits, that seek dominance in our lives and for most of us, we are not aware of what is happening. With the help of the Holy Spirit we make the right choices, often without knowing what is going on in the spiritual world. There is an element of spiritual warfare that we hear of occasionally but do not fully comprehend. To a certain degree we do not need to know, I’m sure. But, behind the scenes God battles Satan and we only get a glimpse of that now and then. The point is that this world truly exists and it has a continuing effect up us. Martin Luther expressed what I think should be our stance on this subject:
“And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear for Christ hath willed,
his truth to triumph through us.” (“A Mighty Fortress,” third verse)