Read: Mark 1
Suddenly, a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit began shouting, “Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One sent from God!” Jesus cut him short. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. At that, the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him. (Mark 1:23-26, NLT)
When did demons become extinct? What I mean is, we read about them in Scripture and accept that they were part and parcel of Jesus’ war on Satan to bring Planet Earth back under the Creator’s dominion, but we think and act as if they don’t exist in twenty-first century America. We have medical and psychological explanations for everything that ails us these days, and either a pill or a professional to help us cope with our “disorders”. But I get the sense when I read the Gospels that some of today’s disorders are, to a greater or lesser degree, nothing more than demonic influences in disguise.
Now please, please, please, don’t misunderstand what I am saying. I am not looking to find a devil under every rock. Don’t go flushing your meds down the drain or calling your counselor an idiot. Let’s stay balanced and Biblical as we explore the possibility of demonic activity in your world and mine. As C.S. Lewis warned in the preface to his book, The Screwtape Letters,
“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.
Let’s not be guilty of either of those errors! Having said that, I agree with what a twentieth-century English theologian by the name of Ronald Knox said, “It is so stupid of modern civilization to have given up believing in the devil when he is the only explanation of it.” If you didn’t get that, here’s how Martin Luther said it,
“Idiots, the lame, the blind, the dumb, are men in whom the devils have established themselves: and all the physicians who heal these infirmities, as though they proceed from natural causes, are ignorant blockheads.”
Look, I’m not saying the devil is the cause of every headache you get, or every cussword that slips from your lips, or every nasty thought that ricochets around your brain. Nor am I trying to create fear in you that there are demons under your bed and they’re going to get you tonight while you sleep. What I am saying is that if Jesus faced them—sometimes even in church—then demonic forces are alive and well in people’s lives today, wreaking all kinds of havoc. And if Jesus took authority over them and drove them out with just a word—and if he passed that authority on to us—then perhaps we ought to learn to discern the presence of demons today and boldly use Jesus’ authority to boot them out of town just like he did.
I do recall reading some place that Jesus said driving out demons was a sign that we believe.
“No one is a firmer believer in the power of prayer than the devil, not that he practices it, but he suffers from it.” ~Guy H. King
What If God Took Over?
There is obviously a great deal of competing information today on demons and demonic activity that feed the two extremes Lewis warned about: disbelief in their existence and unhealthy, excessive interest in them. To learn more—which every Christian should, since Jesus said the demons had to submit to us—let me suggest the following plan:
First, study the Scriptures—especially the Gospels—to gain a foundational understanding of the devil, his demons, how they operate, and how Jesus dealt with them and how Jesus didn’t deal with them. Never go beyond what the Bible says in forming your theology.
Second, I would encourage you to download and read the position paper entitled “Can Born-Again Christians Be Demon Possessed? You can find the pdf file at: http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/Position_Papers/index.cfm
Third, let me suggest this book to help fill in some of the details regarding the subject of demons: “Sense & Nonsense About Angels & Demons”. It can be found at: http://www.christianbook.com/sense-nonsense-about-angels-demons/kenneth-boa/9780310254294/pd/254290?item_code=WW&netp_id=479066&event=ESRCN&view=details