Friday, November 1, 2013

The Demonic World and what to do about it

Contrary to the frivolity of the Halloween celebration, the demonic world exists! Its reality has been attested to by every major religion, and also by many occult practices that invite demonic activity.

At our family reunion, the adults prevailed upon my two young girl cousins to whip out their Ouiji board. They were reluctant, knowing that they had conjured up real spirits. Nevertheless, they agreed.

What we observed over the next hour was absolutely mind-staggering, especially for my agnostic/atheistic family. Blind-folded, my two young cousins spelled out adult words with breath-taking ease, putting together adult sentences choked full of adult facts.

Even to this days – 45 years later – my skeptical family has absolutely no naturalistic explanation for what they had observed. However, now I do! I became convinced that we had observed the work of demons, and that these demons do not have our best interests in mind. Instead, Jesus claimed that the Devil had been “a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44).

Even so, the Devil casts a deceptive net of destruction, posing as a friend, lover, and spiritual guide, just like His workmen:

  • For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. (2 Cor. 11:13-15)
Consequently, we have been deceived about his workings and have many misconceptions about Satan. We assume that his allurements always appear very carnal and sinful. However, deception is the main tool of his craft. Consequently, his deceptive teachings have the appearance of goodness:

  • The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods. (1 Tim. 4:1-3)
Interestingly, demonic doctrines have the appearance of holiness. They often take the form of self-denial of the pleasures of life – marriage and food. Paul had warned that although this kind of self-denial has the appearance of righteousness, it is highly deceiving:

  • See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ…Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? (Col. 2:8, 18-21)
Although self-denial has the appearance of righteousness, even humility, by placing our trust in commands like, "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!" can take us “captive,” “disqualifying [us] for the prize.”

The Devil and his demonic following can also use brute power. They can bring disease (Luke 13:16; 2 Cor. 12:7; Acts 5:16). They even control the world (1 John 5:19; 2 Cor. 4:4; 2 Tim. 2:26). And yes, they even deceive the world into offering him worship (Deut. 32:17; Psalm 106:37; 1 Cor. 10:20; Rev. 9:20).

Demonic power is so great that whenever we have conflict with people, the cause is ultimately demonic powers and principalities (Eph. 6:12). However, they can do no more than God allows them to do (Job 1:12; 1 John 5:18; 2 Cor. 12:7; Luke 22:31).

How have the demonic forces been able to take control over the world? Through deception! The battle for souls is waged in the mind. As we are transformed through the renewal of our minds (Rom. 12:2), we are also enslaved by the perversion of our minds, undermining any meaningful thinking:

  • Those who oppose him [God’s servant], he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:25-26)
According to Paul, demonic deception has taken the world into captivity. The remedy is truth. However, God must enable the heart to savingly embrace the truth to free us from Satan’s clutches. Meanwhile, Satan has been able to blind people to the truth:

  • The god of this age [Satan] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Cor. 4:4)
What then is the answer? God applying the truth of His Gospel to our captive hearts:

  • For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Cor. 4:5-6)
Are we then fare game for Satan until God decides to counteract his moves? Are we not responsible? Are we just pawns in a cosmic game? No! Instead, we play a pivotal role. We make ourselves vulnerable to Satan’s power through sin (1 Cor. 11:30-31; Eph. 4:27). Even when we fail to honor our wives, we sin and our prayer are not heard (1 Peter 3:7). This creates a window of opportunity for Satan. Therefore, Peter counsels that we can resist the Devil:

  • Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8-10; James 4:7)
However, prior to this, Peter makes it clear that we can’t resist him if we haven’t humbled ourselves to confess our sins.

Because we can resist the Devil, James warns us to take full responsibility for our sins:

  • When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me" [in order to coerce me into sin]. For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. (James 1:13-14)
We sin when we give into our “own evil desire.” Therefore, we should not blame God, the Fall, our parents or even the Devil!

Some have been led to believe that their problems stem from the fact that they haven’t been exorcized of demons. Admittedly, demonic exorcism had been a great part of Jesus’ ministry. However, its importance has sometimes been over-stated. Jesus had warned that, at best, exorcism was only a partial and temporary answer:

  • "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation." (Matthew 12:43-45)
While it is important to clean our house, it is doubly important to fill the house with the right materials. What materials? The materials that protect us against deception - truths that enable Christ to dwell in our heart!

Nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to seek demonic deliverance ministry. Paul summarizes the equipment that we need to stand against the enemy without any mention of demonic deliverance:

  • Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Ephes. 6:13-18)
Every part of our person requires protection. If we live righteously but don’t have faith, we will not be able to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” How do we extinguish these arrows? By faith in the truth! For instance, I used to continually feel insecure and condemned. Even after becoming a Christian, I felt that God was condemning me. However, I grew to believe in God’s truth:

  • Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
Consequently, I became able to extinguish the Devil’s accusations. Prior to this, I had attempted to do this on my own, trying to be as good as I could in order to ward off God’s condemnation of me. Believing this way, it was not possible for me to love God who I had perceived as condemning me. 

Furthermore, if I live in faith but without prayer, I will still remain vulnerable to Satan. Also, if my faith is not grounded in the “word of God,” I will not be able to stand my ground. Consequently, adorning “the full armor of God” is imperative.

Responding to the Devil’s attempt to break Him down with doubts, Jesus responded:

  • "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:4)
Even Jesus availed Himself of the “full armor” – “every word” of it. So must we!

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