Living a Third Heaven Life
Did you know your first and foremost identity is in a place called "third heaven"? Did you know you can live a "third heaven life"? This is the upward call of God mentioned in Philippians, the call to live from the top down, the call to come up higher in all things, the call to live on eagles' wings.
Scripture reveals the existence of a tri-heaven universe. 2Corinthians 12:2 mentions "the third heaven", or paradise, the visible dwellingplace of God. If there is a third heaven, there is a first and second heaven.
The Composition of Each Heaven: Reality, Rules, & Rulers
Each heaven is composed of three aspects: reality, rules, and rulers. Each heaven has its own reality, meaning, a distinct condition or state. Each heaven has its own rules, certain principles by which it functions. Each heaven has its own rulers, certain beings that dictate the reality in that heaven. Remember these three R's.
First heaven is the sky, and through a close symbiotic relationship, the earth also. It is the total visible world in which we live. Genesis 1:1, 2:1 (NIV): In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
First Heaven's Reality
What is the reality of first heaven, i.e., the visible world? Fallen and sin-cursed (Ro 5:12, 8:19,20), but with potential for good and redemptive activities (Eph 2:10). As disordered as this world is, there is nonetheless much redemption that can be effected in humanity and nature.
First Heaven's Rules
There are three overarching rules that govern first heaven. Scientific principles govern nature. Social principles govern relationships and societies. Success principles govern personal survival or well-being in any area.
First Heaven's Rulers
Who are the rulers of first heaven? This answer is a little tricky.
Originally, God made humanity the rulers (Gen 1:28, Ps 8:6, 115:16). After humanity fell from moral perfection and innocence, though, he abdicated his rulership to Satan and became co-rulers with him (Lk 4:6, 2Co 4:4, Eph 2:2, 1Jn 5:19).
Co-rulers? Yes. Satan is a spirit, but this world is material. For him to do anything in this world he would need the compliance of human intermediaries. Hence, his need to demonize people through footholds, strongholds, or total possession. This is what Ephesians 2:2 tells us; notice the joint effort (NIV): ...the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. Thus, from the fall of Adam to the first coming, Satan and fallen humanity co-ruled this world (Ac 14:16, 17:30).
Because of Jesus' resurrection, the right of rulership was recaptured by Christ (Ac 17:31, Mt 28:18). Jesus, in turn, conferred it onto His church (Ro 5:17, Rev 1:6 NKJV). The problem is, Satan is still operative because he rules over individuals and systems that are wicked and still unredeemed (1Jn 5:19, 2Co 4:4). Consequently, at this very moment, multiple beings are battling to rule first heaven: Satan via lost man and Christ via Christians.
The Lord Jesus has given "all authority in heaven and earth" to His church (Mt 28:18,19, Lk 10:19,20, Eph 1:21-23). But remember, authority is merely the right to, not the literal manifestation of. Deuteronomy 1:21 illustrates this difference (NIV): See, the LORD your God has given you the land [authority, right to]. Go up and take possession of it [literal manifestation]...
Summary & Interpretation
First heaven, i.e., this visible world, has a reality that is fallen, but with redemptive possibilities. It is governed by scientific, social, and success principles. It is ruled by Satan via lost man and Christ via Christians simultaneously, all battling for more converts, high places, and territory.
If we live a "first heaven life" we will be overwhelmed and drowned in its fallenness. Scientific, social, and success principles are not enough to produce the overcoming Christian life. We must go up higher.
Second heaven is the unseen spiritual realm around us, the superhighway and battleground of demons and angels. Ephesians 3:10, 6:12 describe this heavenly realm (NIV, underline added): His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms...For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Second Heaven's Reality
What is the reality of second heaven? Warfare between angels and demons. Remember Ephesians 6:12. Paul said the second heavenlies are a troubled reality filled with spiritual conflict. Remember Daniel 10. The angel sent to help Daniel said he was battling the demon of Persia, and soon he would fight the demon of Greece. Second heaven reality is warfare, an atmospheric battleground of spirits.
Second Heaven's Rules
What are the rules of second heaven? Spiritual principles, what we sometimes also call spiritual laws. First heaven is governed by scientific, social, and success principles, whereas second heaven is governed by spiritual principles. Thus, the application of spiritual principles, or the lack of, from first heaven or third heaven influences second heaven.
All angelic and demonic activity is subject to spiritual law (Scripture). Even though it is quite chaotic up there in second heaven, a method to the madness does exist. Angels and demons simply respond to spiritual cues coming from first heaven or third heaven.
Second Heaven's Rulers
Who are the rulers of second heaven? Demons or angels, depending on the location. Once again, remember Daniel 10. There was a demon ruling second heaven over Persia, and a demon ruling second heaven over Greece. But in Daniel 12:1, we see Michael the archangel ruling second heaven over Israel.
See also Luke 10:1-20. When Jesus sent out the seventy-two missionaries to prepare the way for Him, He saw the enemy fall like lightning from heaven. He did fall not from third heaven (his original fall), but from his territorial rule in second heaven in the places the missionaries preached. Jesus then goes on to say, "Once they have fallen, trample them while they're down, like snakes and scorpions. Then and only then they won't harm you and you will overcome all their power."
How insightful and helpful. It is when demons are ruling in second heaven that they cause all their harm.
Paul said something similar in Romans 16:20. He told the Roman church, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." Same idea as Luke 10. The ruling spirit of Rome (apparently Satan himself) was soon to be cast down somehow before the Roman Christians, and like the seventy-two missionaries, they could then trample him under their feet like a snake or scorpion. It is possible this verse refers to the ending of Rome's official state-sanctioned persecution of Christians in 313AD (The Edict of Milan).
The bottom-line concept here is that segments of second heaven can be ruled by demons or angels, depending on the victory of God's people in those locations.
Summary & Interpretation
Second heaven has a reality of warfare. It is governed by spiritual principles or laws or rules wielded from first heaven or third heaven. It is ruled by demons or angels, depending on the location.
If we live a "second heaven life" , focused on the reality there, we are again doomed. Awareness and involvement in spiritual warfare are not enough to produce the overcoming Christian life. Yes, it is necessary to recognize the fight, put on the full armor of God, and wage a good warfare, but fixating on spiritual warfare can make us weird, even mentally unstable, really fast. We must go up higher to third heaven, the highest and safest reality in existence.
Third heaven is the literal dwellingplace of God. Paul coined the term third heaven, also referring to it as paradise (2Co 12:2,4). Scripture often refers to third heaven as "above the heavens" , meaning, above first and second heaven (Ps 57:5,11, 113:4, 148:13, Heb 7:26, Eph 1:20,21). Solomon refers to it as "the highest heaven" (1Ki 8:27 NIV) or "the heavens of the heavens" (Young's Literal Translation). The psalmist does also (Ps 115:16 NIV).
Third Heaven's Reality
What is third heaven's reality? Literal perfection--morally, visually, emotionally, and in every other way beyond our understanding. Paul called it "paradise" (2Co 12:4), probably the closest earthly term. Isaiah said it was a "high and holy place" (Isa 57:15). Third heaven's reality is simply perfect, pure paradise.
Third Heaven's Rules
Each heaven has its own rules, so what are the rules of third heaven? Pretty simple: the perfect will of God. No other law exists there or can exist there. This is why Jesus said, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
Third Heaven's Rulers
And the rulers of third heaven? The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the triune God Most High. His visible throne is in third heaven. He is ruling exclusively and sovereignly from His office there. There are not and will never be any competitors or idols there.
Summary & Interpretation
Third heaven has a reality of pure perfection, or paradise. It is governed by the perfect will of God. It is ruled by the Lord God alone.
If we live a "third heaven life", focused on the reality, rules, and Ruler there, applying them here in first heaven, our overcoming and victory will begin to materialize. This was the prayer of Jesus, that the three R's of Heaven would subdue and colonize this world.
Living a Third Heaven Life
So how do we do this practically? How do we go about a third heaven life? We can focus on and practice three concepts.
Learn, cling to, and act on who you are in Christ according to New Testament truth (Eph 2:6, Rom 8:16,17). Living a third heaven life means
mentally conceptualizing yourself as a third heaven creature, regardless of your behavior in first heaven. Ephesians 2:6 (NIV): And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:17 (NIV): ...we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ...
Third heaven says I am fundamentally a new being in Christ, saved from the penalty of sin, accepted in the Beloved, clothed with Christ, hidden in Christ, not just a conqueror but a ruler-king, lavished with the love of God, a partaker of the divine nature, nourished by a Hebrew inheritance, and on and on. The New Testament constantly emphasizes prolific blessings of identity for those in Christ. Upon salvation, we were given this new third heaven identity. Brainwash your mind with this identity until it reshapes your first heaven life.
Practice behaving according to your third heaven identity. Yes, practice (1Ti 4:7). It will take many repetitions and do-overs, spanning multiple seasons, but eventually you will get good at third heaven character.
Read Colossians 3:1-17. In verses 1-3, Paul establishes our new third heaven identity. In verses 4-17, he lists numerous practical behaviors that apply that identity. The better we get at feeling, thinking, and behaving in a third heaven manner, the more Heaven's reality, rules, and Ruler reshape our first heaven life. This is spiritual maturation. It is a process that continues season after season, with many repetitions and do-overs, until each area of our life has been fully subdued by third heaven's three R's.
Discover and experiment what you can do in Christ (Rom 5:17, 2Pet 1:3,4). Living a third heaven life means exerting third heaven authority in first and second heaven. Therefore, experiment with your spiritual scepter. Experiment with fasting and prayer. Experiment with prayer walking and locational prayer. Experiment with faith-filled declarations of Scripture. Experiment with spiritual gifts. Experiment with sowing and reaping. Look for jobs, positions, and situations in line with your calling that give you the decision-making power, not someone else co-ruling with the enemy. Learn about the Hebrew root system that nourishes New Covenant Christians (Ro 11:17,18), meaning, the inheritances, privileges, and blessings we inherit from Israel. Use your spiritual scepter!