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Entries in Demons (7)

Tuesday
Feb262019

The Power of Jesus

Mark 1:21-28.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on February 24, 2019.

Having introduced us to Jesus, Mark goes on to give evidence of the powerful things that Jesus did while he ministered on this earth.  This is important because we need to recognize that, though Jesus was smart and spoke in a way that amazed people, the biblical authors highlighted his power over his talk.  Paul references the effect of this reality in 1 Corinthians 4:20, when he says, “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power.” (NIV) 

If we only have fine sounding words to offer people then we might as well hang up our hat now.  At some point, they will come to realize that they need real power.  Yes, knowledge is power, but not all knowledge can set you free from the bondage of sin and hurts that so easily entangles us.  Even knowing the Scriptures is not enough to break the bondage of sin.  We must have a living relationship with Jesus, who alone has power to break every fetter!

Jesus teaches in Capernaum

Jesus focuses his ministry in the northern part of Israel for several reasons.  The more he ministered in Jerusalem the quicker the authorities would want to kill Him, and God had a particular timing about all of this.  Another reason is that it was symbolic of God’s care and heart for those who need help.    Jerusalem represented the best of Israel in the natural.  All the political and religious leaders were there.  Compared to Jerusalem, Capernaum represented the country bumpkins.  Jerusalem represented riches and knowledge, whereas Capernaum was a fishing village on the Sea of Galilee and would not have the greatest teachers in the land.  Those who know they are poor are quicker to receive than those who think they already have everything.

So Jesus goes into the synagogue of Capernaum on the Sabbath.  The Sabbath was the day of rest, which corresponds to Friday evening to Saturday evening.  The people of Israel had developed the habit of gathering in buildings in order to worship God, to hear the Word of God read and to have it explained.  The concept of a synagogue developed at some point after Israel’s exile into Babylon and subsequent return to the land.  Before this time, their religious life was mainly at the Temple, where they worshipped God and offered sacrifices.  With the temple destroyed in 586 B.C., they had to wrestle with continuing to worship.  Thus the concept of synagogues that focused on teaching was born.  In fact, early Jewish Christians called their gatherings synagogues as well.  However, the term “Church,” that had been used by Jesus, later became the main word to describe Christian gatherings.  So this is much like a Jewish Church service in its function. 

The fact that the leaders of the synagogue let Jesus teach says something.  He was not a rabbi who had learned under the rabbis of the day.  Normally this would preclude him from being able to teach.  Yet, the prophet, John the Baptist, had gone on record that Jesus was God’s anointed one, the Messiah.  Thus the talk had preceded Christ and the people were eager to hear from Him. 

We are told that the people were astonished because he taught “as one with authority.”  It may be easy to read into these words that Jesus was cocky and arrogant.  However, the emphasis is the contrast between how Jesus taught and how the scribes taught (who were men trained in the religion of Israel).  The scribes normally taught by referring to different views of the great rabbis from the past and the present.  They basically were relaying what others had said and those great rabbis often disagreed with each other.  Though we do not have a text of this teaching, it is safe to say that Jesus did not quote any authorities to substantiate his interpretation of the text.  Jesus is “acting as if” He is the authority on the subject.  Of course, that is because He actually is.  Knowing who Jesus is, we can recognize that He is the most qualified man of all history who could give authoritative understanding on what passages of the Bible meant and what God intended us to understand from it.

Today, we need to be careful that we do not make either of two mistakes.  One, we can forget that we have received authoritative understanding on what passages of the Bible meant and why the Law of Moses was given.  These were given by the true author of the Bible, God Himself, and those who He personally trained.  Two, we can use the authority of Jesus in order to teach things that He and His apostles did not teach.  Confidence is not good if it is placed in the wrong thing, but when it is placed upon the right thing, or right person, then it is a good thing.  We can confidently proclaim the teachings of Christ and His Apostles, but we should never become arrogant and take to ourselves a confidence that sees the authority of Jesus as something that has been handed down to us.  Jesus is still the authority.  Paul Himself said in Galatians 1:8 that even if the apostles were to teach a gospel that was other than what was originally given, they should be considered cursed by God and rejected.   We must never forget this truth.

Jesus casts out an unclean spirit

At some point in the teaching of Jesus a man with an unclean spirit cries out and interrupts the meeting.  It doesn’t seem that he had been brought to the meeting in order to be delivered, but it is possible.  Sometimes a person who is demon possessed may retain their faculties most of the time.  Depending on the situation these demons will “manifest” or show their presence from time to time.  The Gadarene demoniac seems to have been under constant “manifestation.”  He was never in his right mind and people could not interact with his human psyche.  Whereas others have demonstrated varying amounts of self control with times in which the spirit takes control, or manifests.

The phrase that is used in this passage is “unclean spirit.”  What is an unclean spirit?  Unclean is another way of saying evil or bad.  It is a reference to the spiritual defilement that sin and rebellion against God brings to a being.  Therefore this spirit is sinful and in rebellion against God.  In that sense we could say that the Devil and his angels are also unclean spirits.  This would be true technically, but the phrase never seems to be used of the Devil and his angels (fallen angels).  Much speculation and dogmatic ideas have been put forth from then to now.  However, the Bible seems to equate unclean spirits with evil spirits and demons.  There are different beings within the spirit realm and there are hierarchies within the spirit real as well.  Thus we cannot be completely sure what exact “species” (for lack of a better word) demons or evil spirits are.  They may just be lower level beings that rebelled with the devil and his angels, or they may be something else.  However, we can be confident that the Bible has told us what we need to know.  We do know that demons, or unclean spirits, appear to be restless until they are able to control a human being to some varying degree.  How do they get this control over humans?  They are not “spiritual ticks” that happen to fall on people.  Rather, they are able to get control and influence through the activity of the person who has connected to the spirit through some form of spiritual arts (divination, séance, occult rituals, and basically anything promoted by these spirits to get control).  Christians should not be enticed by t he so called knowledge that spiritists of any sort promise to give to them because these spirits cannot be trusted.  They resist God and hate mankind.

At this point, I should point out that it is easy to make the mistake of seeing all mental problems as demonic, and the opposite mistake of seeing all such problems as only a physical problem of the mind.  Unclean spirits are real, but they are not the only reason why people have ailments.

It is clear from this passage that the unclean spirit is afraid of Jesus.  This is notable because it was not common for demons to show any fear in the presence of people, quite the opposite.  Thus, this is astounding to the people watching.  The spirit is afraid and Jesus is not.  By following the text, we can see some of the fears of the spirit.  First, it wants to be left alone.  If fears that Jesus is going to interfere with its control on this human (and for good reason).  It also asks if Jesus has come “to destroy us.”  Since there is no sense that multiple spirits are involved, this seems to be the same fear that the legion of demons in the Gadarene demoniac.  The unclean, demonic spirits know that there is coming a time when they will be evicted from this earth and put in the Lake of Fire.  Thus, they are afraid of that coming destruction.  Third, it is afraid because it knows exactly who Jesus is.  It refers to Jesus as “The Holy One of God.”  It is a phrase that refers to God’s Anointed One who is beside Him in the heavens, but would come to earth one day. 

At this point, Jesus commands the spirit to be silent and to come out of the man.  We do not want to make a big deal out of the fact that the demon calls Jesus the Holy One of God because the spirit is a tainted witness.  He can’t be trusted either way.  The testimony about Jesus is an important theme in the Gospels.  They emphasize that the Father and the Spirit witnessed or testified that Jesus was the Messiah.  They also emphasize that John the Baptist, the greatest prophet of that time, had testified that Jesus was the Messiah.  Then lastly, we have the testimony of the words that Jesus spoke, the life He lived, and the powerful miracles He did.  Jesus had very strong testimony from far better sources than to let demons give testimony.  Demons are liars and as such, you cannot know when to trust what they say and when it is a lie.  If we believe Jesus is God because a demon says so, then we are on shaky ground.

In the exorcism that occurs we do not see Jesus doing any rituals or reciting a mantra, as were common in those days.  He simply commands the unclean spirit to come out of the man.  The power of Jesus is not in ritual knowledge and magical arts.  Rather, His power is in the authority of who He is and the position that He holds.  Jesus has a position that is above all beings on earth or in Heaven, save the Father.  Though this spirit had “legally” gained entry to this human, Jesus had come to set the man free.  Thus, one command from Him was enough to send the demon packing.  Even in cases where one has consciously and willingly chosen things that ail them, there is hope that Jesus will set them free.  Many people today are stuck in things that they know they chose, but Jesus has come to offer us freedom.

We are told that the unclean spirit leaves with a convulsion and a cry.  This seems to be one last fit of resistance and protest from the demon at having to leave.  Of course, the real challenge is to remain free of the spirit.  The man’s life needs to change, if he is not to fall prey to another or the same unclean spirit.

The people watching this are amazed at how easily Jesus does this.  They are flabbergasted that he could make an unclean spirit leave with a simple command.  No rabbi had demonstrated such power in all their experience. 

As believers today, Christ has given us power over the enemy as well.  Yet, we must remember the lesson of the seven sons of Sceva in Acts 19.  They attempted to cast out a demon by saying, “We cast you out by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.”  The spirit then responded, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?”  The authority that Jesus gives to us is not some special power that we hold in and of ourselves.  It is always His authority.  By their own testimony, the sons of Sceva did not really know Jesus.  When we really know Jesus and have a relationship with Him, then and only then should we confidently stand in opposition to such unclean spirits when they manifest.

Praise God that we need not fear any evil spirits no matter what station they hold on the other side.  It is our relationship with the All-Powerful One that protects us and gives us strength.  I pray today that you will not so easily scoff at the power of Jesus as mere tricks in an age when people were ignorant.  If Jesus were too walk into our mental institutions today and with a mere command give someone their sound mind, who would we rely upon to give an accurate description of what happened, Jesus or the psychiatrists who are often unable to do anything with schizophrenia?    Again, I am not saying all mental illness is demonic.  However, I am saying that regardless the problem, whether they need healing or freedom from an unclean spirit, Jesus has the power to set us free!

Power of Jesus Audio

Thursday
Oct272016

Society under Siege: The Paranormal Paradigm Shift

Acts 16:16-19; Ephesians 6:10-12; Revelation 9:20-21.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on October 23, 2016.

It is interesting that as drug abuse has sky-rocketed, so has alternative spirituality and paranormal activities.  Historically drugs have been used to make it easier to connect with the spirit world.  However, America’s fascination with the paranormal began long before the 1950’s.  In the 1800’s a large influx of eastern mysticism came to the United States and spawned groups that sought to explore the spirit world.  Séances and contacting spirit guides began to catch fire among certain groups.  Contrary to popular conception, we are not becoming more and more anti-supernatural in our society.  Actually more and more people are adopting a spiritual world view that is alternative to the biblical view.  These alternative views typically teach that all things are connected and that the living can tap into this cosmic connection or force in order to obtain information.  They do not believe in a personal God that will judge our life.  Rather, they believe that we are all part of God, along with everything else in the universe.  This paranormal paradigm shift that is happening in America is really a going back to the ancient world views.  I do not mean that there are huge numbers of people worshipping Zeus.  However, they are reaching out to entities and conversing with “ascended masters,” whether they go by the name Zeus or not.  In many cases American Christians are not prepared for the reality of where this is headed.

It is past time for Christians to get acquainted with what the Bible has to say on this issue and be ready to give an answer for the reason for the hope that we hold.

The Early Church Had A Supernatural World View

In Acts 16:16-19, we join the Apostle Paul in the Greek city of Philippi.  Now a large percentage of the modern Church has rejected the supernatural element of the Bible.  Yes, they will acknowledge that there is a God, but the idea of angels and demons interacting with the world is just too much for them.  Miracles are too much for them.  Thus they explain away the miracles and supernatural events of the Bible.  We will see in our passage today that this is completely foreign to the first Christians.  Such a “belief” is not true Christianity.  It is something else entirely.

To set up this encounter in Acts 16, we need to understand that the Bible presents the reality of spiritual beings.  Just as there is a hierarchy among the peoples of the earth, so there is a heavenly hierarchy within the spirit world.  The Bible presents a cosmic problem.  A rebellion against the Creator has begun in the spirit world and mankind has been caught up in it.  There are good and evil spirit beings that are of lesser or greater power.   There are holy and fallen angels.  Now when Paul entered Philippi, he had come to preach the Gospel of Jesus to those who would listen.  At some point a young girl began to follow him around loudly proclaiming that Paul was a servant of the Most High God and people should listen to him.  This went on for several days.  No doubt Paul was praying about what motivated this girl and what he should do.  We are told that the girl was possessed with a spirit of divination and was used by her master to make him money by telling fortunes.  The word translated “divination” is literally python.  She had a python spirit.  This snake spirit was connected to the god Apollo and was supposed to be responsible for the amazingly accurate prophecies given by the oracles of Apollo.  Now this is not a story of Greek mythology.  Paul meets a real slave girl who is apparently good enough at fortune telling to make her masters money.  Notice that this spirit that possesses the girl operates in a “benign” way in order to give her information.  This is quite the opposite of the spirits that possessed the Gadarene demoniac that Jesus met on the sea of Galilee (Luke 8).  Those spirits manifested in a raging and insane manner that scared the daylights out of anyone who met him.  Thus some spirits are predatory in a malignant and dysfunctional way.  But, other spirits are predatory in a seemingly benign and somewhat functional way.  The ancient world was afraid of the spirits.  This fear and yet desire to know how to be safe in this world is how Satan kept the ancient world under his sway.  The early Christians knew that demons and deceiving spirits existed.  Any fortunes that this girl was ever able to give were part of a deceptive game plan to keep the Philippians under the control of the evil spirits.

Notice how Paul responds.  He is annoyed by what the girl is doing.  However, his problem is not with her.  He knows that the real problem is that python spirit that possessed her.  Early Christians knew that their warfare was not against people, kings, or nations.  They knew that their warfare was against spiritual entities that Satan used to manipulate the people.  This girl was not just a slave of men.  She was a slave to a predatory, evil spirit. 

Look at Ephesians 10-13 for a moment.  This is the famous armor of God passage.  Notice that this is about spiritual warfare against spiritual entities.  The armor of God is also spiritual.  They are to arm themselves with: Truth, Righteousness, The Gospel of Peace, Faith, Salvation, The Word of God, Prayer, and a Watchful Disposition.  He says in verse 10 that these things are needed to stand up to the schemes of the Devil.  Do not let yourself be deceived.  Our real enemies are the spiritual powers that hold the world under their sway.  Our job as Christians is to labor to set people free by the Truth and Power of Jesus Christ.  Of course, most people in Philippi were not possessed by an evil spirit.  Most of them were only “possessed” by the teachings of these evil spirits.  The devil doesn’t have to have everyone possessed.  He only has to manipulate and influence the larger masses to do all his bidding.  This young girl was set free by the Apostle Paul because he first recognized it and then called upon the authority of Jesus to set the girl free.  She needed an exorcism first and then the truth.  But most people Paul ran into needed simply needed the truth of God to cut through the blindness that they had embraced.  We don’t have to look for evil spirits.  Paul wasn’t doing that.  Rather, he was doing what Jesus had sent him to do.  He was looking for people who would listen to the Truth.  Those evil spirits that had dominion over the city didn’t like it and that is why this manifestation occurred.  So focus on people and their need for the truth.  As you are successful at counteracting the lies that these spirits promote in our society, you will start to run into opposition and perhaps even a person who is possessed.  Remember, they don’t all look like the foaming at the mouth girl in “The Exorcist.”

The Failure of Scientific Materialism

The West has come under a world view that is sometimes called Scientific Materialism.  It teaches that there is no spirit world and that all things can be explained through natural processes.  If there is something that can’t be explained we are given a kind of promissory note that promises that science will eventually figure it out.  This materialism points to the supernatural beliefs of the past and labels them all ignorance.  This itself is ignorant, but let’s press on.  It is partially true that the ancient supernatural beliefs were because of man’s ignorance.  However, because it rejects a spirit world, materialists do not recognize that much of the ignorance was because of meddling, evil spirits.

Materialism has problems though.  If humans are just biological machines and our thoughts are merely the random firing of synapses (i.e. just natural processes), then there is no right and wrong and there is no purpose or free will.  A crushing hopelessness lies at the end of such a belief.  It also runs into a logical contradiction.  If there is only material then the material had to either bring itself into existence or it is eternal.  Yet, if it has always been (if we can eternally go back to an earlier time) then time would never have gotten to us.  You cannot have an infinite regression of a material thing (space, time, matter).  This adds to the weight that few humans can actually follow such a world view.  It is too cruel and too inhuman.  Something in us cries for something beyond.  The weakness of scientific materialism has given rise to a new wave of the old spiritual ideas and paranormal activity like Paul encountered in Philippi.

As I said earlier, this began in the 1800’s as gurus and Tibetan masters interacted with the West.  The mystical world view of the East promoted a mushy spiritual paradigm.  Everything is God and we can learn to tap into it and the collective wisdom of all the spirits.  Thus séances, channeling, the occult, and many other vehicles became popular ways to connect to the spirit world.  Now surely there were charlatans who were out to make a buck off of the superstitions of suckers.  But, some activity could not be explained with this.  Early debunkers were not entirely successful.  Of course they didn’t have the scientific know how that we do today, right?  But then explain why even modern debunkers have trouble explaining away every experience and story that comes along.  Explain why our colleges and military still conduct experiments in the paranormal.

This alternate spiritual world view was different than the biblical world view.  However, during the 1800’s many Christian denominations began to give up the idea of the supernatural and miraculous.  Thus the Church was seduced to embrace scientific materialism and create a hybrid that allowed for a God, Jesus and not much else.  Jesus became a mere example and most of what is said about him never happened.  These moralists on one side and a harsh scientific materialism on the other side became a perfect dichotomy for funneling people toward something more and something spiritual. 

The alternative spiritual world view offered something that was new and exciting to many in America and the Western countries.  Thus many unwittingly opened themselves up to evil spirit with malignant designs.  The Bible warned us about them, but we have been set up to disregard what the biblical prophets had to say.  These spirits are deceivers and they cannot be trusted.  This is why God forbids and warns against attempts to contact spirits.  Christians are to pray only to God Himself.  We interact with only His Holy Spirit.  Don’t get me wrong.  The “wisdom” of these spirit beings can be powerful and seductive.  But like Satan with Eve, they only seek to steal from us what we have.

So What Should Christians Do?

First we need to quit running away from the Bible and start believing it.  You do not have to reject the reality of science in order to embrace the Bible.  You might have to reject the world view that some scientists have.  But, many scientists are Christians too.  Some of them do not have a biblical world view, but some of them do.  So what is the biblical world view?  God created both the spiritual and material world.  A rebellion in the spirit world came into the material world, when Satan tricked mankind into disobeying God.  God then gave mankind over to the desires of their heart and they became enslaved to these spiritual beings, or false gods.  Yet, in His mercy, God provided a way for humans to be saved from this slavery and His eternal judgment.  Christians have been sent into the entire world to set people free from the rule of these false gods and their demonic spirits.

In fact, Revelation 9 reveals that in the last days before Christ returns, a spiritual prison called the bottomless pit will be opened up and the earth will be inundated with malevolent spirits who will angrily attack mankind because they know their time is short.  The earth is not becoming less spiritual.  We are headed towards a time of great spiritual deception and attack.  Revelation 9:20-21 says, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.”  This is where we are headed.

We should also be busy warning people about these deceiving spirits and the deceptions they have promoted in our society.  Many are enslaved by the teachings and ideas that come from these evil spirits.  Science is not our enemy.  Our enemy is using science and a deceptive interpretation of its findings to deceive mankind.  He wants us to be caught off-guard by his true intentions.

Lastly, Christians must walk in the authority of Jesus Christ.  Paul said to the demon, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.”  A little girl was set free that day because Paul knew that these evil spirits cannot stand up to Jesus.  We have been sent on a mission from God to tell people about Jesus.  If you read the entire chapter of Acts 16, you see that Paul got his first convert by preaching by the river where people gathered to pray.  Lydia believed in Jesus and asked Paul to stay and teach her more.  The world would call Paul a cultural murderer.  But, He knew he was operating under the authority of Jesus who is Lord of all Lords and King of all kings, both on earth and in the heavens above.  Let’s trust Him and be about our Father’s business.

The Paranormal Paradigm Shift audio

Tuesday
Nov112014

A Clean House

Today we will be looking at Luke 11:24-26.  Here Jesus teaches on evil spirits or demons.  It is impossible to know how many evil spirits are operating throughout the world and in our society.  The Bible is silent on this aspect and so, Christians should approach this issue with balance.  On one hand we should not think that everyone is full of spirits and everything they do influenced directly by them.  Yet, on the other hand, we should not pretend that we know better than Jesus himself and that they do not exist.

The experience throughout history is that if an evil spirit is involved they will make it clear in one way or another.  Jesus was so successful in casting out evil spirits that his opponents accused him of being in league with the Prince of Demons.  It was in such a case that Jesus began to explain what is really going on when an evil spirit is cast out of a person.

Now, it is helpful to have this information regarding evil spirits because it will be a protection for ourselves and an aid against those spirits if we encounter them.  Yet, we must not let ourselves be made fearful in these things.  Evil spirits are real.  But, greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.  Jesus proved his power over evil spirits and if the Spirit of Christ is in you and the knowledge of Christ is too, then you can stand without fear.

Demons Can Be Made To Leave

The spirit that Jesus had just cast out had made the person it possessed unable to speak.  It is one thing to see a person go from acting crazy to being in their right mind.  However, it is quite another to see a person who has been unable to speak suddenly able and doing so.  As the crowds marveled over the power of Christ and others cynically accused him of working with Satan, we must not lose sight that people who are demon possessed can be set free.

So how did they become demon possessed to begin with?  Initially there needs to be some form of permission.  This can be in the form of curiosity with spirits, or seeking power through them, divination, fortune telling, occult arts, or even “white” and “black” magic.  Pursuing these things is essentially opening the door to the spirits that have promoted these things.  Although the Bible does not explain the detail of how all this works, it is clear that evil spirits can attach themselves to individuals in varying degrees of control.  The good news is that Jesus demonstrated that spirits can be made to leave and not just in rare cases such as the Jewish exorcists did.  Ultimately when one who is stronger spiritually confronts it, the spirit can be made to leave.  Jesus is that one who is not just spiritually stronger, but is the King of all kings and Lord of all lords (materially or spiritually).  He is the one that we lean upon.  Yet, Jesus gives us more information than that here.

They Are Restless When Cast Out

Two pictures are given of what it is like when an unclean spirit is cast out of someone:  dry places, and lack of rest.  For an evil spirit to be kicked out of possessing someone is like you and I finding ourselves in a desert.  The dry place has no fruit or shade or promise of such.  It is a barren place that will not grow what we would like to grow.  Of course spirits aren’t looking for “food.”  They are looking for a promising person that they can plant themselves in and do the evil works that they want to do.  Thus they are restless or without a place (person) in which to dwell.  Perhaps they desire possession because that is the only way they can impact the material world for evil.  Satan’s desire is to destroy the works of God and so through possession spirits are able to fight against and destroy parts of God’s work in mankind and this world.  Without this connection they are like a man who is stuck in the desert.

This raises a question.  Why were there so many cases of demonic possession in those days?  And, are there any less today?  Though Israel had the truth of God, they generally did not follow the ways of God because of unbelief.  Thus they were often mixing God’s commands with occult religion.  The accepting of the religious practices of the nations around them led them into the trap of these spirits.  If you look at America today we have a similar problem.  We started out with the Truth of Christ as a nation.  However, over the years our unbelief has caused us to seek out religious “truth” elsewhere.  This has opened the door for greater prevalence of demonic activity and possession.  You can scoff this teaching off today.  However, these issues will become more and more prevalent in our society.

They Will Seek To Repossess

Evil spirits are not content with “dry places” and “restlessness.”  They are looking for other easy targets.  Are we quickly becoming a “target rich” environment?  They last place you want to be, if you are messing with the occult or false religions, is at an exorcism.  That would be playing with fire. 

If the spirit does not find another easy target it will eventually return to the last place it had success.  Jesus says that the spirit finds the person to be “swept and in order.”  This by contrast helps us see what these evil spirits do inside of a person.  They clutter the internal mind and soul of a person with spiritual dirt and garbage and cause chaos.  We see this with the Gadarene demoniac.  He went from running around naked and acting crazy to being clothed and in his right mind.  Those who suffered sickness and disease in their bodies from evil spirits were healed when the spirit was made to leave.  Those who were dysfunctional and mentally broken became functional and in control of their own mind and actions.  Spirits use chaos and acts of sin and evil to breakdown the internal order and cease control.

They Enlist Worse Spirits To Help

This aspect is critical in understanding why Jesus is telling us this information.  He had been accused of working with the Prince of Demons to cast out these evil spirits.  Yet, Jesus reveals that the way it really works is that lesser spirits will use their foothold in a person to bring in worse spirits.  The worse spirits are not kicking out lesser spirits.  Yes, the evil spirit could try to take over the person again.  However, it could end up getting kicked out again.  Thus it gets 7 other spirits more evil than it.  Look at it this way, people are more easily seduced by that which flirts on the edge rather than the outrageous in your face attack.  An evil spirit that operates through mere anger and bitterness is easier to embrace than one that operates through murder.  Yet, they are both evil and the embracing of one can lead to the other over time.  Thus Jesus warns that the person can end up in a worse state than previously.  Compare the Gadarene demoniac to the Slave girl in Philippi.  One could not function at all and was complete chaos.  The other operated in a way in which her masters could make money off of her and she didn’t need to be restrained.  These spirits have modes of operating that can be more or less evil and yet all are dangerous.

Don’t Leave The House Empty

Although Jesus leaves it at that, this information begs a solution.  How can a person keep from being repossessed and end up in a worse state?  Well it does start with the phrase swept and in order.  Though the evil spirit may be gone, we can still have a lot of paraphernalia in our lives that led to possession in the first place (occult books, pictures, symbols, books of magic, etc…).  We can also have a lot of habits and activities that the spirit used to keep us in slavery.  A person who is serious in being free needs to go through their house and life and do some heavy cleaning and “pruning.”  Certain places will cease to be our hangouts.  Certain people will cease to be our friends. 

Yet, more than cleaning needs to be done.  We need to invite the clean and pure Holy Spirit of God to take up residence in our soul.  Thus the people that Jesus interacted with received a lot of material benefit from Jesus.  But all of that would be little if they didn’t spiritually benefit.  Casting a spirit out is one thing.  But asking the Holy Spirit to fill us and live within us is a far greater thing.  Don’t leave the house empty.  Accept the invitation that Jesus has extended to you today.

Let me close this by laying it out in order.  When you are dealing with evil spirits the first thing that is needed is a strong believer in Jesus who will pray for the freedom of the person possessed.  Next they need to sweep their life clean of all the spiritual junk connected to those spirits.  Lastly, the person needs to put their faith in Jesus and ask for the Holy Spirit to fill them.  This is the path to freedom for those who have found themselves in bondage to evil entities.  May the peace and freedom of Christ reign in our hearts and minds.

 

Clean House Audio

Tuesday
Sep232014

The Joy of Jesus & His Disciples

When a child is young it is easier for them to rejoice in the gifts that they receive more than in those who give them.  Hopefully over time they will learn to rejoice more in the giver than in the gift.  Today we are going to look at Luke 10:17-24.  Here we see the disciples overjoyed that they had authority over demons.  Yet, Jesus points them to a better joy, the joy of belonging to God and having His salvation. 

It is not that God doesn’t want us rejoicing.  In fact, God wants us to join Him in what causes Him to rejoice.  When we rejoice in the wrong things our hearts are pulled away from Jesus little by little.

What We Rejoice In Is Critical

As the 70 disciples return from their ministry throughout the cities of Israel, we find them rejoicing greatly with Jesus.  They had been successful and accomplished exactly what Jesus had asked them.  Thus their slight error of rejoicing in their power over demons could have been allowed to slide.  Yet, Jesus takes some time to “rain on their parade.”  It is not because they are too happy and Jesus wants them to be serious.  Rather, their rejoicing is centered on the wrong thing and their joy is being drawn from the wrong well.

Now the problem of demonic possession is real.  It can be prevalent or rare in areas; depending upon where you live.  In places where the Truth of God has been rejected the teachings of demons eventually take over.  Why?  When people quit living by God’s Word they find themselves powerless and empty.  It then becomes too easy to turn to other means of power and fulfillment.  When we seek spiritual power from sources other than God, we fall into the trap of Satan.  Thus many false religions and ideologies have come into being over the millennia of mankind’s existence.  Now not all mental problems are caused by demons.  However, our tendency in the modern era is to discount the biblical record and chalk it up to their ignorance.  This mistake will leave us powerless as well.  In the first century AD, Israel had become such a place where God’s word was only given a superficial nod.  Demonic possession had gone from a rare thing to something that was more common.  The 70 had seen cities and families powerless to deal with these possessed people.  Thus their shock at the obedience of the demons to themselves turns into great joy.

In verse 18 Jesus responds by telling them about seeing Satan fall from heaven like lightning.  Now the Bible speaks of several “falls” of Satan.  So it is not evident to which he is referring.  We know that Satan fell from being a Holy Angel to becoming a Fallen Angel.  He loses his place and position in the heavenly leadership.  Yet, Revelation 12:9 also speaks of a time where Satan is “kicked out” of the heavenlies.  His access to the throne of God is cut off and he is restricted to the earth.  Later he will be cast down into the Bottomless Pit, and then released for a short time.  After this he is cast into the Lake of Fire, from which there is no return.  Is Jesus looking back to the fall from grace at the beginning of creation?  If so he is warning them that Satan too once had powerful authority and yet fell from it out of pride.  However, Jesus may be looking to something during those days.  It is clear that the entrance of Jesus into mankind and the earth had begun the fall of Satan’s kingdom.  Satan had plundered all mankind and it was under his sway.  But Jesus comes forth and begins casting him down from his rule over people and nations.  The Church would extend what Jesus had begun because of the work done at the cross.  In this case Jesus is encouraging them that Satan has lost his place and his kingdom is ripe for the picking.  Of course this will not be completed until the 2nd coming of Christ, but that is a topic for another time.

The second scenario seems more plausible because Jesus goes on to confirm that he had given his disciples authority over demons.  He calls them serpents and scorpions, but this is clearly a metaphor for the evil spirits.  We must remember that our authority is not over people and nations.  Similarly the enemy we are called to fight is not political parties, racial groups, other religions, or even Islamic Jihadis.  Our real war is against these evil spirits and the teachings or ideologies that they use to control people.

Now even though Jesus has given authority, we have to exercise that authority and learn how to use it.  We need to learn how to pray and fast, keep ourselves in daily communion with Jesus, and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Instead of being fearful of these things or pretending they don’t exist, we need to take a stand against them and cast down their influence over others.  There is one thing to note.  Not all people are possessed by evil spirits.  Most people are just heavily influenced through philosophy and vain arguments exalted against God.  Possession occurs when people actually seek power from those spirits through the occult arts.  This “permission” allows evil spirits to dominate their personality and doesn’t always manifest the same way.  In cases where there is possession the person is generally wanting to be free of the tormenting spirit, although not always.  Yet, people who are under the seductive influence of demons are not so easily helped.  In those cases we have to use the Truth of God to free their mind from the lies they have embraced.

Now Jesus points them to center their rejoicing on the fact that their names are written in the heaven, i.e. that they belong to God and are saved.  I think a good principle to learn from this correction is that we should never rejoice in authority.  It is a duty and a responsibility for which we will be held accountable.  Much is at risk and requires sober focus upon the task at hand to be successful.  Therefore sobriety is the proper response to authority.  But the grace we have received from God is a proper thing to rejoice in. 

Let’s use an exorcism as an example.  The person who is freed from an evil spirit has been given the grace of God.  It is only right for them to rejoice that they are free from the evil spirit, have been given Truth, and are now able to follow Jesus.  However, the person who is used to cast the spirit out should rejoice that they belong to Jesus and now they have a new brother or sister who can experience that joy as well. 

Another example could be that of being a parent.  Raising children is a tough but rewarding task.  It is common for a young couple to rejoice that they have been given a child from God.  He has graced them with the child.  But few would rejoice that they have authority over the child.  No, that is the sobering part of being a parent.  Not only am I responsible to teach this child, but the child quickly shows that it has a sinful nature and often fights us in that responsibility.  Yet, parents can rejoice that the same God who has given them the task will also supply the help of the Holy Spirit to raise them for Him.  Thus the principle is this: rejoice in the grace you have received rather than the authority you have been given.  Rejoicing over authority actually leads to pride, arrogance, and eventually to a great fall.

Jesus Rejoices

As we see Jesus correcting their joy, in verses 21-24 we see that Jesus is not joyless himself.  Just as Jesus wept, he also rejoiced!  God does want us to have joy in life.  But He knows our hearts are tempted to rejoice in the wrong things.  Thus Luke relates those things that Jesus rejoiced in.

He rejoiced that the plan of salvation had been hidden from the “wise” of this world.  This may sound odd at first.  Why would God hide salvation from the wise of this world?  It is perhaps better to ask ourselves in what way it is hidden to them.  The Gospel is not a secret.  The death and resurrection of Jesus were done in the open and later preached openly over the course of two millennia.  It is not hidden in that they have never seen it or heard it.  Rather it is hidden because the choices they have made have blinded them to see that it is a greater wisdom.  They are so filled with their own wisdom that when the wisdom of God comes along, it seems foolish to them.  Yes, they see it with their natural eyes, but supernaturally they cannot see it for what it is.  Though we can learn many things through our knowledge and wisdom of this world, it can never lead us to discover the path of man’s salvation.  Will future artificial intelligences save mankind?  Will genetic manipulation lead to us becoming the gods that we have thrown behind us?  None of these answers or any future ones will really save mankind.  They will only lead to deeper hells and stronger chains.  The only way we can “see” the real path of salvation is to have it revealed to us by God Himself by His Spirit.  Those who are fascinated with their own methods of obtaining wisdom are not quick to turn to such a thing.  God’s wisdom recognizes that if he saves people through mankind’s own wisdom then He only will be stroking the pride of man and making his condition worse.  It was our “wisdom” that got us in this problem in the first place.  “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate it.”  Pride and lust have led to our fall and thus our salvation must cast these things to the ground.  When we recognize the wisdom of God, we too will rejoice that salvation is not something that an elite few of mankind can obtain.  The elite already think they are saved.  But God comes to those who know they are lost and cry out for help.  These He can save.

Jesus also rejoices that the plan of salvation has been revealed to “babes.”  “Babes” here is in contrast to the wise.  This mysterious salvation that is hidden and yet not hidden can be found by babies.  It is hidden to those who are full of themselves and believe that the only gems of knowledge are the ones they have found without the help of any god.  But God has given the truth, not to the Herods, Ceasars, and High Priests of this world.  Rather, he has given it to those whom these look down upon.  Those who are not full of themselves and are not offended at the need to humble themselves are able to receive God’s offer of salvation.  This is what makes Jesus rejoice.  If the way is hidden to you, it is by your own doing.

In verses 23-24, Jesus ends by reminding them of what God has given them.  A new and blessed age had begun through the wisdom of Christ.  In fact Jesus is the wisdom of God sent down to free mankind from the tyrannical pride of its own wisdom.  It is not that we shouldn’t be wise, but that our wisdom is in actuality foolishness.  When our wisdom causes us to cast the Creator aside, and when our wisdom doesn’t think retaining the knowledge of God is important, then we have doomed ourselves.  The Church of Christ was instituted as a part of a new kingdom in which the weak, poor, and babies of this world would be enabled to rise up and walk in the salvation of God.  They would live out this peculiar wisdom of God in the world, and by doing so, cast down the power of Satan and his den of snakes.

Let me encourage you, Christian, first cast down the teaching of demons in your own life.  You may not think of it as so.  But each time you cling to anger over forgiveness you have embraced the same thoughts of Satan and his evil spirits.  Each time you let wounds rule your life, you walk the same path that Satan and his spirits blazed eons ago.  When you have cleared your own life, then you will be able to help others, even to the point of exercising authority over demons.  Let us not walk in fear, or in arrogant pride.  Instead, let us walk in the simple faith of a child and prayerfully use the authority that Christ has given us for the sake of others.

Joy of Jesus Audio