The Devil and Demons — Do We Have To Worry About Them?

Title: The Devil and Demons – Do We Have To Worry About Them?

Text: Matthew 16:21-23, 1 Peter 5:8, Luke 22:1-6

Time: October 22nd, 2012

 

We’re into October, which is traditionally the month of Halloween, a time when the occult world supposedly is energized and occultists come out of the shadows and celebrate October 31st openly. It used to be that kids would dress up in funny costumes and go trick or treating door-to-door in harmless fun. But I’ve seen the whole Halloween season grow proportionally over the last twenty or thirty years. Now, adults get into the season and dress up in costumes. Now all kinds of movies and television shows present scary and occultic scenes. It seems that Halloween is growing in popularity, not diminishing, and with it there is a growing fascination with the world of the occult – ghosts, spirit mediums, ouija boards, fortune telling, black magic, witchcraft, ESP, séances, Satanism and so forth. These are all different aspects of the occult. The word “occult” simply means “hidden or secret.” But in the phrase, “the world of the occult,” we mean all forms of secret or hidden power or knowledge that is obtained outside the approved Christian channels of prayer, Bible or church. In other words, Jews and Christians have been warned in the Old and New Testaments that it is forbidden to seek after or receive secret or hidden knowledge or power outside of the realm of God. There is a spirit or spiritual world. God dwells in the world of the spirit, but that doesn’t mean everything in the spiritual world is under the direct control of God. Satan or Lucifer, or as he’s most often called, the Devil, also inhabits the spirit world, in opposition to God. Satan and his demons, or fallen angels, war against God and God’s righteous angels, in the spiritual world. Unfortunately, earth is also battleground for good versus evil, and so men and women are caught up in the battle also. The devil and demons are trying to recruit men and women on their side against God, while God and angels are attempting to win over humans for the Kingdom of God. The Bible in both Old and New Testaments describes this warfare. Now the world of the occult is all power and knowledge in the spirit world outside of will of God. In other words, it’s source is the kingdom of the devil, not the kingdom of God. Many people are confused on this point because it’s a common false assumption that anything paranormal or supernatural is automatically from God. Well, it’s not. There is plenty of paranormal or supernatural activity that comes from the devil or demons. All occult activity is probably from either the devil himself or from demonic spirits. That’s why we must beware of the occult. I’ve given a message on the dangers of the occult world previously, but today I’d like to warn us once again to beware of the devil and demons. They are real, and they really can oppose us in life. Here are a few ways the devil and demons can oppose us, and how we can beware and be ready.

 

First, the devil and demons can influence our lives. Matthew 16:21-23, “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, ‘Never Lord!’ he said, ‘This shall never happen to you!’ Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’” Here is a perfect example of how Satan and demons can influence us in life. It’s not an example of demonic possession or oppression, but it’s an example of demonic influence. Satan, or the devil, was trying to influence or get to Jesus through the disciple Peter. Jesus was describing his death, burial and resurrection in the coming days ahead; he was warning his disciples that it was all going to happen. But Peter didn’t want to hear any of it, so he tried to discourage Jesus from going through with it by objecting to the plan Jesus had just outlined. Now we can understand Peter’s opposition to the plan because I’m sure all the other disciples were thinking the same thing, and I’m sure most of us would oppose such a plan also. But the devil took a normal and natural human reaction and turned it into an appeal through the voice of the chief disciple in order to discourage Jesus from going through with his plan of redemption and salvation. What made Peter’s reaction dangerously tempting is because Jesus – his human nature, the man Jesus – probably felt an internal struggle in going through with the pain and agony of the way of the cross as well. He needed encouragement to go through with it, not discouragement and getting out of it. Satan was there, in the form of a beloved disciple, to discourage Jesus from carrying out his primary atoning work on the cross. The devil was trying to talk Jesus out of it through the very human reaction and voice of the disciple Peter. That’s why Jesus responded by saying, “Get thee behind me Satan!” The devil was trying to influence the decisions and actions of Jesus in order to get him to disobey the perfect will of God the Father in heaven. Well, the devil and demons do the same with us today – and they often use the voice of people also. So we have to be careful to stay strong in the Lord and his will, and not let the many voices influence us against God. The devil tries to influence us sometimes through the voice of television, radio, the Internet, the newspapers, through movies and music, and other media avenues. He also uses other people directly, friends and family, co-workers, neighbors, and so forth. We need to be aware of this and resist the devil’s influence in any form it takes. Once we know God’s Word and God’s will we need to resist any temptation, from any source, to do contrary. We don’t necessarily need to rebuke someone every time whenever we think they are tempting us to depart from God’s will, but we should not let them draw us off God path for our lives.

 

Second, the devil and demons can oppress our lives. 1 Peter 5:8, “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.” What this verse seems to be saying is that the devil and demons are out and about looking to cause us trouble any chance they get. Now the first example was devil or demonic influence. There was a subtle form of temptation that came from the voice of Peter to Jesus, but we know that behind it was the devil. He tried to have influence in the life of Jesus. This second form is a more direct and forceful attack. Satan is looking for someone, anyone, in order to destroy them in some way. The word “devour” literally means, “to eat or drink up,” which is pretty graphic and clear. The devil and demons want to “eat us alive” or completely consume us. There is no question that Satan’s end game is to destroy all traces of faith in God and all goodness, whether directly or indirectly. You see, the devil and demons are fallen, rebellious angels. They started out good and godly. They served the will of God with the other angels. But somewhere along the line, one, Satan, then others, the demons, rebelled against the will of God. They broke with God’s authority and formed their own parallel or shadow kingdom, with Satan as leader. They were banished from the presence of God as punishment, but they weren’t destroyed. They still have their freedom to some extent, and they’ve made it their life goal to lead as many men and women away from God into rebellion. If they can’t bring a person to serve the cause of sinful rebellion against God, then they’ll next try to destroy that individual outright. That’s what the verse in 1 Peter is talking about. Satan and demons are looking for persons to destroy, to devour, to ruin. They try to do this in many ways. Sometimes they try to destroy us physically, with sickness, disease, injury, for example. Yes, some illnesses are causes by demonic forces, although not all are, perhaps most aren’t. Then, they’ll try to ruin us mentally or psychologically. We are seeing more and more mental illness today, like stress, paranoia, depression, and so forth. Some of these are the direct or indirect result of satanic oppression on individuals. Yes, demons can affect our minds and emotions if we let them. If we don’t confess our sins, if we let ourselves entertain sinful, carnal, fleshly emotions; if we don’t ask God to help us with our thoughts, to keep them clean and holy and pure, then demons can work ill in our minds. We can also face demonic attack financially, socially, materially in our homes, cars, at work, concerning anything and everything. Yes, demons can and do attack us. Are we ready to withstand their assaults? James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Are you good at doing that? If we want to avoid demonic attack and oppression in our lives we’d better get good at it.

 

Third, the devil and demons can possess us. Luke 22:1-6, “Now the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.” Here is an astonishing passage the shows the devil, the chief fallen angel, sometimes called Satan or Lucifer, this evil spirit enters one of the disciples, a man named Judas. This is a description of demonic possession. How frequent or rare is demon possession? It’s not very common; it wasn’t in ancient times, neither is it today. But the scary part is that it does happen, it occurs, it’s a reality. We know it’s real because the Bible outlines numerous cases of demon possession. It shows people possessed by demon spirits, which means, their will, emotions and intellect are controlled not by their own spirit but by an outside, by the foreign spirit of the demon or demons. Now thankfully, this kind of thing isn’t commonplace. The other two ways of demonic affect are more common – demons influencing our lives, or demons attacking us in some way. But in possession, the demons get inside of us, in our mind, in our emotions, in our personality, and take over our body to the point that they are in control, not us. But this only happens over time, gradually. It can’t happen all at once, overnight. Expert exorcists say that the process of demon possession usually starts at some point where the victim gives the demon or demons some permission to enter, even if just a little bit. It could be that the victim willfully believes a lie from the devil, embraces it and reinforces it. It could be the victim reacts to something, some experience, in a sinful, selfish way and then reinforces that initial sinful reaction by joining with demonic spirits to perpetuate the lie. Demons then mingle with the person’s very own personality and meet some twisted psychological or emotional need in life. If the demon is welcomed and embraced long enough it can gain the power to actually overcome the victim’s own will power, and thus the person is possessed. In order to remove the demon or demons, the exorcist must cast the demons out in Jesus’ name and with the full consent of the possessed. Unless the victim wants the demons out, they won’t come out, or won’t stay out long-term.

 

Now all of this may sound far-fetched, it may seem like a scene from the movie The Exorcist, but it’s a reality that the Bible clearly describes. Can a Christian be demon possessed? No, not fully possessed, because that would mean that the demon spirit would have to occupy the same real estate as the Holy Spirit, which is impossible. But, a Christian can certainly be oppressed, or under attack, or even in bondage in some area of their life in need of being set free. Demons can still highly influence Christians in a number of ways, even temporarily holding them in some kind of bondage, say, for example, to rage or anger. Demons can encourage mild annoyance to turn into anger, and then up the anger to rage, and from rage they can encourage someone mentally or emotionally to do violence even. That’s why we as Christians need to be aware what the devil and demons are capable of in our battle against evil. Don’t try to read and react to life’s challenges on your own. Don’t try to fight your own mental, emotional, physical or spiritual challenges by yourself. You can’t do it by yourself. You need God active in your life in order to resist the devil and keep your head above water. Remember, the devil is wandering about looking for someone to take down. Don’t be that someone because of ignorance or carelessness. Do you have an anger problem? If so, don’t give yourself permission to indulge in anger or rage. Don’t give the devil a foothold in your life. Are you tempted to un-forgiveness often? Don’t harbor grudges or un-forgiveness for very long or you may open yourself to the devil and demons. They would love to help you nurse that grudge or build up deep resentment and un-forgiveness. Think of it this way. We are all tempted to sin by our natural selfishness and carnal nature. Original sin has seen to it that we are all bent towards rebellion against God and selfishness. It doesn’t take much for us to revert back to our original sinfulness, even though we’ve been “born again” or converted to Christ through faith. We can’t let ourselves fall back into familiar sinful patterns again. That’s why it’s so important to constantly read and reflect on God’s Word, the Bible. It’s important to review it again and again, and rededicate ourselves to living it daily. It’s also essential for us to stay in prayer about everything in life. Only in prayer can we catch sinful thought patterns and emotions before they root within us and grow. We don’t want to give the devil and demons anything to attract their attention. Our sinful, stinking emotional and psychological garbage attractions them! We need to confess our sins and keep a pure heart before the Lord, not only to please God, but also to avoid demonic activity in our lives. Church attendance also helps because it puts us in the right frame of mind and keeps our priorities right. We don’t have to be victims of the devil. We don’t have to lose out to demons. We can win the victory if we live smart and keep our eyes on the Lord.

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