The War Against Satan and Demons Part 1
While we don't totally agree with the views experssed by Author of this 10 part article series, The Author makes a great point. while the facts are correct, we do agree with the stuff about Spirtiual Warfare, We don't always agree with where they state they don't necessarily agree with where they disagree. So, while they give great advice, we ask that you pray for discernment on this and the stance you will take.
1. The Unseen Realm
To introduce our topic, I would like to start with one of my fishing stories from my younger days as a commercial fisherman outside the east coast port of Harwich, Essex, England. The first sign that I knew something was wrong was when I glanced down at the water rushing past our fishing trawler in the wrong direction! The net that my father and I were towing along the bottom of the seabed had caught on something substantial, something on the bottom of the seafloor. We put our winches in gear and slowly pulled the boat back against the tide toward the object stuck in our net. Inch by inch, we heaved the net with our two-ton winch straining at the weight. Our fishing boat, the Why Worry, leaned heavily over as she creaked and groaned, the derrick and mast taking the strain. When the net came to the surface, there nestling squarely in the Cod End, was the biggest of the Second World War German Magnetic mines, a sizeable 12-foot-long mine still in gleaming pristine condition with 1500 pounds of high explosive. Designed to blow ships entirely in half by the upward blast, it was now swinging to and fro just inches above our deck as the waves were making us roll. With a heavy clunk, we rested the mine on the deck. It was made of stainless steel and looked brand new. The chains in front of our net had dragged it out from being buried in the mud in a very familiar fishing ground, a place we had fished again and again. Once we cut the mine out of our net, we then had to get it over the side again without incident, a delicate task, considering that it was still in such good condition and that it was possible that it could explode. Fishermen have often heard of boats just disappearing at sea, never knowing what happened to them. With the whole boat leaning over, we gently lowered it back into the sea and carefully cut through the rope loop, releasing it from our vessel. Then to our amazement, the mine stood up in the water, the top part of it still showing! We had not realized how shallow the water was and how little water was under our boat where we let it go. We called the Coastguard to come and detonate the mine so that it would not be a danger to any other ships. On the next high tide, they put it on a long rope and towed it out to deeper water and blew it up. We heard later that when the tide had gone out, at the low water point, people were walking on the secluded beach and wondering what this 12-foot monstrosity was that was standing up on the beach at low tide! Seeing Beyond the Physical Realm Like trawling a net in waters where two world wars have been fought, some things in life can be unseen but deadly. Just because you may be unaware of something dangerous, it doesn't mean it cannot affect you. Electricity in a light plug is unseen, but stick your fingers in a live socket, and you will soon realize that there are powerful things that are unseen but dangerous. Natural gas is odorless and invisible, and if there is a lot of it in your house, it can utterly destroy your home. The gas companies add a horrible smell to it so that, when there's a leak, we’ll smell it. The unexploded mine brought home the truth to me that just as we had gone over that familiar fishing ground again and again with no mishap, there are some things in life that one cannot see, but which can affect our lives in ways that we don't realize. Throughout the Bible, we see that there is more to this world than what is seen with the naked eye. There is a spiritual realm that is just as real as the world in which we live. I believe it to be more real than what is seen. This world is only temporary and passing, a shadow of things to come. Some things that happen are spiritual and unseen, but yet have consequences in the physical realm. In the Old Testament book of 2 Kings, there is a story of a king reigning in Aram who was angry because his actions and intentions were somehow being made known to the armies of Israel. He could not understand how Israel knew everything he was doing and anything he plotted (2 Kings 6:8-10). He thought that he had a spy among his leaders. His problem was that Israel had a man of God, Elisha, who lived his life in such a way that he was able, by the Spirit of God, to know the very words that the King of Aram spoke in secret to his generals (2 Kings 6:11-12). God revealed these things to Elisha, who was acutely aware of the unseen realms, and who had an intimate and powerful prayer life, which gave him this unique insight. When the King of Aram found out about Elisha's gift, he was so enraged that he sent his army to the town where Elisha lived, hoping to kill or capture him. 14Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. 15When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?" the servant asked. 16"Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them" 17And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, "Strike these people with blindness." So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked (2 Kings 6:14-18). When Elisha’s servant looked at the size of the army of Aram surrounding the city, he began to lose heart. Things looked hopeless when seen only from an earthly perspective. However, all was not as it seemed. There were spiritual forces of God around Elisha and Gehazi, his servant, which the young novice to the things of God was unaware. Elisha prayed for his servant's eyes to be opened to the unseen spiritual realm around them. All of a sudden, at the prayer of Elisha, he saw beyond this physical world to the reality of the spiritual forces of God previously hidden from him, and he saw angelic beings of God that were much more powerful than the army of Aram. He saw the troops of heaven protecting and surrounding the prophet of God, available to serve him in whatever way the prophet prayed. The enemies of Israel were defeated with one display of God's power at the prayer of Elisha. We too, as servants of the Living God, have angelic hosts that protect us. Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14). How much do we use or value heavenly help when we are in need? The Word of God is very clear that angels are sent by God to serve us even before we come to faith in Christ and, of course, afterward, too. The Scripture is written in the future tense. Angels are sent to help and protect those who will inherit salvation. That means that God is working ahead of time on behalf of those who choose to follow Him. Even when we are babies, Scripture indicates that we have an unseen protector, an angel that watches over us: See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven (Matthew 18:10). We do not reach out to the angels in prayer for their help. No, our prayer is directed to the Father in whom we place our trust. Angelic beings take their direction and orders from the Father. It is faith in God that connects us to this unseen realm, just as it is faith that opened the servant’s eyes and faith that caused Elisha to reach out to God in prayer. I believe that every one of us who are Christians has an angel watching over us (Acts 12:15), sent to serve the heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14). Question 1. Have you ever had that feeling that something invisible was protecting you through something that you experienced? Talk to one another and share any stories that you may have. Many Christians are just like Elisha’s servant, unaware of God’s power and supernatural resources. The majority of Christians in the West have no room for the supernatural. For the most part, we are oblivious to angelic beings and demonic spirits in the unseen realm. How many times do we miss seeing God's power displayed, and Satan's kingdom displaced because we do not reach out to God in prayer and believe Him for His divine resources and intervention? Although God is sovereign and all-powerful, He chooses to act in partnership with His people through prayer and faith in God. Before he came to Christ, Brian Gough, an old friend of mine from Harwich in Essex, England, used to be involved in spiritual things of an occult nature. He was ignorant of the dangers that he invited into his home. His family began to hear voices and see spirits in their home after playing a few times with an Ouija board. His children became accustomed to seeing disembodied spirits who deceived them into thinking they were spirit guides. The family knew the spirits by name and duped into believing that “white magic” was harmless until one night all hell broke loose, and demons started to manifest to them. They were frightened and realized that they were involved with something very dark and not at all harmless. The things they saw and heard in their home horrified all of them. These manifestations went on all day until Brian looked up the address of the local evangelical church pastor, Harry Hughes, and started walking to his house for help. On the way, he heard audible voices telling him, "If you go to his house, we will kill you all." Concerned for the safety of his family, Brian ignored the threatening voices and went and saw Harry Hughes. Harry came and cleansed his house, praying and taking authority over every evil spirit in the house and removing every occult token there. He then led the family in prayers of repentance and renouncing every evil hold that dark evil spirits had on his family. They finished their time of worship by dedicating their home to the worship of God and His Word. When Brian and his family committed their lives to Christ and repented, renounced and abandoned all involvement in the occult, their lives were wholly renewed, and no demonic activity occurred in their house from that moment. Question 2. Have you ever had a supernatural experience where you sensed great evil? How did you respond? How Does the Unseen Realm Affect Us? God has given us protection. In a later session, we will talk about the armor of God, given to Christians for their protection against the warfare of the enemy, but for now let’s talk about the natural “fence or hedge’ (Job 1:10), the barrier that keeps the enemy from making inroads into people’s lives. 6One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. 7The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it." 8Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." 9"Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. 10"Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face." 12The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger" (Job 1:6-12 Emphasis mine). In Job's case, Satan wanted to destroy his testimony of God's faithfulness, and for His own reasons, God allowed the hedge of protection to be removed and gave permission for Satan to attack Job. The enemy strategizes as to how he can break down that natural barrier that protects our soul from fear, bondage, and servitude to demonic forces. When we play around with the occult, for instance, this “hedge” is gradually eroded or cut back, and one can see and experience things that are generally not seen. The enemy, Satan, gives occult power to those who are obedient to his whim. Occult power can be attractive to those seeking such things, but it never comes without a price. Every form of evil supernatural power comes with a hook in it, trapping one to satanic bondage. When the ground is given to the enemy to do his will, oppression and darkness are always the results. Drugs are another means of eroding that barrier so that one can experience alternate states of reality. Satan never gives away such experiences without bringing those who are searching in the darkness closer to him. God, by His Spirit, also enables His people to move in supernatural power if we are open to being used of Him, but when God moves His people to act under His authority, there is never a hook. It brings joy to the heart to be useful for God. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is always liberty and freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17), unlike the enemy. Chip Ingram, the author of a book called “The Invisible War,” states, "There is a visible and an invisible world that intersects, and we live in that intersection. " Sometimes, when people are sick, they may see things in the unseen realm. Often when a person is dying, there are accounts of people and things that they see on the other side. Question 3. Share an occasion when you were by the bedside of a loved one that saw something in the unseen realm, or have you heard a story of someone who saw something supernatural? Svetlana Stalin, the daughter of Josef Stalin, the evil leader of Russia from 1922-1953, accompanied her father at death’s door and said that she would never again sit alongside an unbeliever who was dying. She said that he went into hell kicking and screaming. Voltaire was said to have died crying out in torment. Speaking for those who do know God, C.M. Ward said, "No Christian has ever been known to recant on his deathbed." Paul the Apostle saw and experienced many supernatural occurrences as he walked as a Spirit-led believer in Christ. One such experience he tells us about: 1 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). Paul is talking about something that he witnessed. He declares that he doesn't even know if he was in his body at the time when he was caught up to the third heaven or Paradise. Genesis 1:1 says that, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The word heavensare in the plural, and raises a big question: If the abode of God is in the third heaven, where are the first and second heavens? What goes on there? I do not believe that the third heaven is in some distant galaxy. It is not a physical place such as earth. Some say that the first heaven is the physical heavens of the galaxies, stars, and planets and that the second heaven is the unseen spiritual world that intersects with our planet. There is no way of proving this point purely from Scripture. However, what is clear is that there is an unseen realm that is beyond the five physical senses. Call it what you like, the first or second heaven. I think it is sufficient to understand it as a different dimension of space-time, where, if God were to open our spiritual eyes, like the servant of Elisha, we would see powerful angelic beings, but also, perhaps, evil demonic powers that are seeking to influence us humans to do their bidding. In another place, Paul the apostle wrote to the Church at Ephesus, warning of a spirit which he calls the prince of the power of the air. And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:1-2). Who is the prince of the power of the air? Why do you think he is called this? We can logically assume that Paul is talking about the unseen world from where Satan is doing his work of deceiving man. Satan is the one referred to as a spirit with the rank of a prince inhabiting a spiritual dimension of power in “the air,” an atmosphere or realm in which he is active. In another place, Jesus Himself calls him, “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31), and the apostle John tells us that the physical world in which we live is under satanic control: “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1John 5:19). Some believe that Satan inhabits a place called hell, but this is not correct according to the Bible. Revelation 12:7-13 tells us of a time that I believe is yet future where there will be a war in the heavenly realms, which Satan will lose and be cast onto Earth: 7Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him 10Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down (Revelation 12:7-10). The context of the passage indicates that he has been accusing us before God up until this point, which tallies with the passage in Job, which we read earlier. This spiritual realm is the venue of a spiritual battle between God's angelic beings and Satan's demons and princes. The struggle is for supremacy over the Earth and over each person that is born on the planet. There is a war going on for your very soul. Satan wants to keep us in the dark as to his work in trying to destroy your life. He would rather have us ignorant that there is such a battle occurring. His work goes unhindered if a man is unaware of his schemes. He, therefore, seeks to keep you oblivious to the fact that there is a spiritual realm, heaven, and a hell. The English author, C.S. Lewis, wrote a book entitled, “The Screwtape Letters.” It is fictional in format, focusing on Christian theological issues, primarily those to do with temptation and resistance to it. In this imaginative book, Lewis writes in the first person as a senior demon named Screwtape, who has been given the task of training a junior demon named Wormwood to keep men and women from finding Christ. If they do come to Christ, then the trainee demon's job is to hinder the Christian's ability to make any difference with their lives in terms of affecting Satan's kingdom. In the preface of his book, Lewis explains his thesis, saying: There are two equal and opposite errors into which people can fall about the demons. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist and a magician with the same delight. On page thirty-one, as the demon Uncle Screwtape, writing to the junior demon Wormwood, he writes, I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient (the person that the demon is seeking to destroy) in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered by the high command. Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves. Of course, this has not always been so. We are faced with a cruel dilemma. When people disbelieve in our existence, we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism, and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and skeptics…I do not think that you will have much difficulty in keeping the patient in the dark. The fact that “devils” are predominantly comic figures in the modern imagination will help you. If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that (it is an old textbook method of confusing them), he, therefore, cannot believe in you.  For those who are not believers, Satan would seek by all means possible to keep them from receiving and ultimately responding to God’s Word by believing the gospel. For those of us who are Christians, Satan seeks to keep us blind to the fact of having received God’s power and authority to overcome all the power of the enemy (Mark 16:17-18). Scripture calls Satan the god of this age. The god of this age 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 Corinthians 4:4). Satan has many strategies of trying to keep you blinded to the gospel and the working of God's power in you and through you to impact this world. We choose by our actions to whom we listen and obey, Satan or the Lord. If we continue to listen to Satan’s voice, with his doubts and unbelief, we will not live fruitful lives for God on this Earth. Question 4. What methods does Satan use today to blind the minds of unbelievers? Has he used any of these strategies in your life at any time? God’s Protection for His People The Unseen Realm is also a place where God's angels are at work. Balaam was a man who could move into the spiritual realm and place a curse on people. When the Israelite people were traveling from Egypt to the land that God had given them, they had to pass through the country of Moab, whose king was Balak. He was afraid he would lose any battle against Israel due to the Israelites easy victory over the Amorites. Balak felt that he needed some help to overcome Israel, so he sent for Balaam, the seer, to curse Israel so that he could defeat them. God told Balaam not to go at first, but Balaam would not hear the word no, and he pleaded until God said go, with the restriction that he was only to speak what God would give him.On the way, though, his heart began again to think of the promise of high reward and how he could get it (2 Peter 2:15). In God’s protection of His people, He sent an angel to cut off Balaam’s head. I know it is a weird passage of Scripture, but is it hard to believe that God, the creator of the universe, can allow an animal to speak back to his master as he is hitting him? When the donkey sees the danger of the angel ahead on the path he tries to steer Balaam away crushing his foot in the process. Balaam cannot see the angel and has already beaten his donkey twice by the time we enter the story: 26Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or the left. 27When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. 28Then the LORD opened the donkey's mouth, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?" 29Balaam answered the donkey, "You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now." 30The donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?" "No," he said. 31Then the LORD opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown (Numbers 22:26-31). Balaam was oblivious to what his donkey was doing in saving his life. God opened up the donkey's mouth to show Balaam how his heart was becoming full of greed, and the Lord would not allow His people to be cursed. If he was going to continue in his heart to give in to a spirit of greed, the Lord was ready to give His angel permission to cut off his head. Often, like Balaam, we go headlong into situations in ministry or work where there are unseen spiritual forces at work, and if we are not sensitive spiritually to God, demonic forces can influence us (Matthew 16:23). How merciful the Lord was to speak to Balaam through his donkey. Wouldn't you like to have been a fly on that wall watching the spectacle of Balaam having an angry conversation with his donkey! This story is another example of something happening in the unseen realm of which humans (Balaam) were completely unaware. It is interesting to note that the donkey was more aware of the invisible realm than Balaam was. I'm sure all of us who have a dog or a cat have noticed the animal looking around the room looking at something unseen by us. Animals have been known to sense a spiritual presence. It is possible that they are looking at angels that continually watch over us that are walking with the Lord. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them (Psalm 34:7). Those of us who are born again of God's Spirit are told that God's incomparably great power is available for us to use under God's direction and guidance (Ephesians 1:17-19). Why do we not see more of God's power working in the people of God? The Book of James tells us, “You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2). God waits and longs for His church to move in more of His power. This need for is what Satan fears more than anything—the church walking in dependence on the Father through prayer. We need to have a heart that is sensitive to be moved and directed by God as we go about our daily lives. It is so easy to react to situations and beat our donkey rather than asking God as to what He is doing. We turn to blaming and shaming people instead of trying to understand if we are going through something of a spiritual nature. In these days where there are so much occult and demonic activity, we are to listen to the Father. Jesus said, “Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from Him comes to me” (John 6:45). It is possible, even in our noisy world, to listen to what the Father says and learn from Him. When God speaks to our hearts, it always aligns with His word. Jesus was our model in all things. He said, I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Fatherdoing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does (John 5:19). Jesus modeled to us a life laid down to the Father, living in obedience to His will, and seeking to be a blessing to those around Him. That’s why He could say; “Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). Our difficulty is in knowing and seeing what God is doing in us and around us. The more we can grow in our dependency on God and His Word and Spirit, the more we can overcome what the enemy is seeking to do in our lives, our families, and neighborhoods. The enemy's main tactics against us are deception and temptation to sin. We must choose the voice to which we will listen and obey, Satan’s or Christ’s. Our God has made it clear that we will have trouble and difficulty as we walk out our lives in spiritual warfare with an enemy that seeks to destroy us, but He has also reminded us that Satan is a defeated foe. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33). Where was Satan defeated? At the cross of Christ! What Satan thought was his most significant victory in taking Christ to the cross was his greatest defeat. He who knew no sin became sin in our place (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross was for us that we sinful human beings might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). By our faith in Christ, we have entered into His victory over Satan. John the Apostle wrote, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work” (1 John 3:8). We who belong to Christ are no longer in bondage to Satan and sin. We are delivered and set free from servitude to dark spiritual forces that are unseen. Paul the Apostle writes, “For he [God] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13). There is an unseen world that intersects with this world, but we that belong to Christ are no longer under Satan’s dominion—Christ has overcome him at the Cross. What a triumph, what a Savior! “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Revelation 1:18). Let that soak into your spirit! Prayer: Father, I pray that I may have a greater awareness of what you are doing on planet Earth. Let the way I view the world be according to the lens of Your Word and don’t let me be influenced by unseen evil forces that seek my fall. Let Your kingdom come on Earth as it is in heaven. Amen. 2. The Believers Position in Christ The War Against Satan and Demons It was the year 1900, and Patillo Higgins, a one-armed mechanic and self-taught geologist believed that, in the future, many industries would switch from coal to oil, but from where was all that oil to come? He thought it lay beneath his feet at Spindletop near Houston in Texas. Higgins had a feeling that drilling a well on top of the salt dome that was on his land (and others like it) would produce oil and lots of it. In an attempt to turn his dream into a reality, he turned to Captain Anthony F. Lucas. Captain Lucas had training as an engineer and experience as a salt miner in Louisiana. No one in the area believed that a salt dome structure could produce oil. He picked the spot, and the drilling began on October 27, 1900. After two months of drilling, they got to a depth of 880 feet. Discouraged at finding nothing, they stopped for Christmas. After a Christmas break, they continued drilling and got to 1,020 feet. After withdrawing the bit to change something, they got the bit back down to 700 feet when they noticed mud starting to bubble up to the hole. Seconds later, the drill pipe shot out of the ground with great force, and then, for a short while nothing happened! This result was very confusing. They began wondering what had happened. After several minutes passed, they started cleaning up the mess, when all of a sudden, a loud noise like a cannon shot came from the hole. Mud came shooting up out of the ground like a rocket followed by oil to a height of 150 feet in the air. Lucas was hoping that his well would produce five barrels a day, but it produced 100,000 barrels a day, more than all of the combined oil wells in the whole of the United States. At today’s prices, the oil find is estimated to be worth $11 Billion US dollars. Great riches had been lying under the feet of all those in the area, and they did not know it. In our last study, we talked about dark spiritual forces that inhabit an unseen dimension beyond our senses. They do not like what is being taught you because they hope that it will not enter your consciousness that you stand above great riches, the riches given to you in Christ. They would like you to forget about drilling deep into the Word of God and discovering the authority and power granted you in Christ. Truths about which Satan is trying desperately to keep you in the dark, the riches that Christ has given you through His victory over Satan at the cross of Christ. You can more easily fight a spiritual battle when you are armed with the truth of who you are in Christ and whom He is making you be. The more you value and understand what happened at the cross, the greater will be your ability to resist the enemy and have him flee from you (James 4:7). To explore the topic of knowing our position in Christ Jesus, let's look at a Scripture followed by a question. 11God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.13Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding (Acts 19:11-16). Question 1. The sons of Sceva saw demons being cast out easily (v. 12) and thought they could do the same. Why do you think they were unable while Paul had success? The sons of Sceva thought that speaking the name of Jesus and the authority of the name of Christ was enough, but they didn't realize that the demons in the man could see they had no authority because the men were not in Christ. They were not yet born-again and regenerated by the Spirit of God. Unseen demonic spirits that have managed to gain access into a person’s life can see into the invisible spiritual realm as well as the physical realm. Again and again in the Scriptures, when demons in people saw Jesus coming, they fell on the floor, shrieked, shook the person, foamed at the mouth, cried out, or had some manifestation. These men in the passage above tried to exert authority over the spirits, but they had no power because Christ was not living in them. The evil spirits in the man knew they had no authority to cast them out. Authority in the spiritual realm depends on your relationship with Jesus. It’s not what you know; it’s about whom you know! Positional authority is given to a person when he or she is born-again of the Spirit, and Christ dwells within. To exert authority and increase the anointing of the Spirit, the believer needs to act in faith on what has been won for him or her at the cross of Christ. I will endeavor to drill below the surface of things to true spiritual riches. We will learn our true state in the past, who the believer is in the present, and who the believer will be in the future. What We Were in the Past In writing to the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul was passionate that the people of God (i.e., the Church) should know their position in Christ. He starts by writing about their lives before being brought into a relationship with Christ. 1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:1-5). The Scriptures reveal that there are three parts to our nature, “May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Thessalonians 5:23). Our soul is invisible and is made up of our mind, will and emotions, conscience, etc., but our spirit is that part of our nature that connects with God. Remember the warning that God gave Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die" (Genesis 2:16b-17). Did Adam fall dead when he and Eve ate the forbidden fruit? No, so what happened to them both? It was their spiritual connection to God that was broken in the Garden and disconnected from the author of life; they became spiritually dead. As a result, Adam and Eve were cut off from God because of their obedience in the garden to the serpent, Satan, the prince of darkness (Revelation 12:9). Adam’s entire race has inherited the default to sin and, with it, separation from God: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). Paul wrote that because of our spirit’s being dead toward God through our sin, we became servants to Satan and lived in slavery to sin. If you are living outside of a relationship with Christ, guess what, Satan is your master, and he is continually at work trying to pollute you and dominate you through habitual sin. Paul wrote: "...when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient" (Ephesians 2:2). God needed a champion, one who could conquer him who had the power of death over the human race. But how could that be possible because just one sin would disqualify a man? The One chosen had to be free of sin passed down from Adam to the whole human race. The answer to man’s problem was what God had planned in eternity past—to step into humanity Himself and become a man. He had to be born of a virgin and not of man’s seed. The Holy Spirit came on Mary and the eternal God Himself, in the person of Jesus, stepped into the human race to take upon Himself the accumulated guilt of sin and judgment that man deserved. Wonder of wonders! He took on the forces of darkness manifesting through people—His war was not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12), but against spiritual forces in the unseen realm that held us fast by unseen spiritual bonds: 14Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives (Hebrews 2:14-15). Question 2. In what ways does a man's life change when freed from the fear of death? How does being a slave to fear bring bondage? What We Are in the Present When Jesus went to the cross, He was the representative Man, our Substitute, the Righteous One for those of us who are unrighteous (2 Corinthians 5:21). In some mysterious way, that only in eternity will we fully understand, you and I who are believers in Christ hung there on the cross with Jesus. When Christ died, we died with Him. Your release from servitude to Satan took place on the cross when Jesus died for you and as you. Paul, the apostle, explained it by saying, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). In another place, he writes, “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:5). These two Scriptures were written concerning a truth that happened at the cross. If you are a believer, you were placed in Christ Jesus, and His death was your death. You are delivered from Satan's power by the death of Christ. This positional authority is not an experience we have to work hard at trying to be dead; it is a past-completed fact that is to be believed. There is an organic spiritual union between the Christian and Christ, with Jesus saying, “I am the Vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5). In the 13 letters of Paul in the New Testament, the apostle uses the phrase, “In Christ” 165 times. I think he's trying to tell us something! John Piper, the theologian, explains this truth in Romans 6:5-6: Now let's confirm this with a few other verses. Verse 6: "Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him." This is another way of saying that we died (verse 2) or that "we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death" (verse 5). Notice that while verse 6 says the "old self" (=old man) was crucified, verses 2 and 5 say "we died" and "we were united to him in the likeness of his death." I take this to mean that my "old self" is me – but different than I have become. The "old self" is the me that was rebellious against God, and insubordinate to God's law, and blind to God's glory, and unbelieving toward his promises. Verse 6 says the "old me" was crucified with Christ. (See Galatians 2:20.) When Christ died, God counted the old sinful me as dying with him. Other riches are opened up to us when we drill further into the Scriptures: 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:6-10). You may notice that we are told that when Christ was raised, because of our union with Him, the Church, the called–out of–the–world believers, are raised, too, and we are seated with Him in the heavenly realms. It is in these unseen realms; what Scripture calls the heavenly realms that the riches below the surface have spurted up to us. In the first chapter of his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul writes that God “has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). These truths the enemy does not want you to understand, but they are not idle fabrications. They are spiritual truths that need to seep into your soul and be worked out in your life. You no longer have to live according to the ruler of the kingdom of the air, but you are to be led by obedience to the Spirit of Christ. If you are a believer, the gates of hell should shudder when the enemy sees you coming. Indeed, the sons of Sceva should be looking on you with envy at the authority that lies on you and in you. It has always been God’s plan to amaze the angels, both dark and light, as well as every evil ruler and authority in the spiritual realm throughout all time and eternity: 9and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10His 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, 11according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:9-11). Question 3. Discuss what God uses to display His wisdom, how was that wisdom displayed and accomplished, and to whom? What We Shall Be in the Future God has a purpose, and even when the enemy would seek to sabotage and disrupt, God still has the last word. The end of the story has already been determined and written ahead of time to encourage us. God is the author of all things, the Alpha and the Omega, Beginning and End. There is nothing that can happen that God does not anticipate. Nothing takes Him by surprise, and He already knows just how to work all things together in your life for good. God sees you already in your completed state. The limitation of time does not bind him as it does us. It is God who has initiated the work in you, and He is also the One who will finish it. Because of the finished work Christ accomplished on the cross, you are ALREADY seated with Christ. Our reconciliation is complete. Why is it essential that you understand who you are as a believer? It is not only for your benefit, helping you to overcome in your own day-to-day life, but also for your prayer life. Understanding the spiritual riches, you are given in Christ will radically change the effectiveness of prayers that you pray. If you know you are praying following God's will, and you know that the Father will not deny the Son, why would you think that God would withhold anything from you? (Romans 8:32). Our faith, or lack of it, is directly linked to our understanding of who we are in Christ. Some people feel that to pray with authority; there has to be a noise volume or a particular tone of voice. While the Holy Spirit may lead a believer to pray a certain way, the authority, I believe, comes from the legal reality of what happened at the cross and our understanding of it. It is when we understand what Christ has done, and we proclaim it, that we can learn how to be overcomers in prayer. Our faith and prayer life are directly connected to how we see ourselves in the Father’s eyes. Question 4. What keeps you from coming boldly to God’s throne of grace? Do you ever find a battle in your mind when you are praying? What types of thoughts hinder your faith? The Legal Battle and the Legal Truth. Jesus has been given all authority in the unseen heavenly realm and on earth, and by our organic union to Him, He has commissioned us to go and make disciples, not just converts, of all nations (Matthew 28:18-19). He is our High Priest representing us before the Father: But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:12). He sat down because He completed the work. It is a finished work, so He took His place at the right hand of the Father, and we are seated in heavenly places with Him (Colossians 2:12) because of the finished work of the cross. If only we could have seen beyond the veil of the flesh in the Garden of Gethsemane, what would we have seen, I wonder? What delight the enemy forces were in, I feel sure, when the rulers and elites screamed for Barabbas instead of Christ. Can you imagine their satisfaction and squeals of delight at every stripe that fell upon our Champion’s back? He endured the shame and spitting by looking forward and seeing us sitting with Him in heavenly places. To most people of this world, what happened at the cross of Christ looked like a defeat for the Kingdom of God. The enemy, I’m sure, was self-deceived into thinking he was winning, but he was signing his death certificate. Now, if you are like me, you may have wondered at some point, “Why didn’t God just take Satan captive and kill him?” Satan had a legal claim to this world before the cross. This legality was due to the fall of man when man chose the knowledge of good and evil over his relationship with God. It was at this point that man abdicated his authority; the authority initially was given him in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1:26, 28). The fall of man affected man’s rulership and authority that was rightfully his in the beginning. God would not go over man's head and take authority of this earth back by force. He has bound Himself to His divine order. We look at this world, and we do not see order. We see chaos. That is because Satan is not yet bound. His ultimate end has not yet been realized, but in God's divine order, there is peace. What the Father did in sending His Son was to pay the penalty for sin legally. You see when Jesus bowed His head and declared, “It is finished,” Satan was defeated. He had become a murderer from the beginning in the Garden of Eden, but now he had taken an innocent life, a life that he did not legally own since there was no fault found in Jesus. Before Judas departed from the table at the Last Supper, Satan entered him. The Lord knew what was going to happen. He said to Judas, “What you do, do quickly” (John 13:27). Satan planned to destroy Jesus, but the death of Jesus canceled all of Satan's claims upon humankind. Although the war continues, the outcome is already determined. One day, we will see the final judgment of Satan; his end is already decided, but not fully completed. When Jesus took His rightful place on the throne next to the right hand of the Father, He proved without a doubt that He had overcome Satan, and we are seated with Him in the heavenly realms. Not only has Jesus defeated Satan, but in Him and through His power and life, we also are called to overcome and triumph over all the works of the evil one. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death (Revelation 12:11). Now, there are two parts that we see mentioned in the Revelation passage above where it speaks of overcoming or triumphing over this world and demonic forces. One is the Blood of the Lamb, the substitutionary death of Christ. Jesus is that spotless Lamb of God, the sacrifice for our sin. The second part was that they (believers) overcame him by the word of their testimony. We believe in our heart that Jesus is Lord and that He died for our sins, but we must also confess with our mouths the truth of God's Word. We are crucified with Christ, buried with Him (as symbolized in baptism), raised with Him, and enthroned with Him: “It is a faithful saying: For if we are dead with him, we shall also live with him." (2 Timothy 2:11). Paul E. Billheimer, in his book Destined for the Throne, examines the truth of being crucified with Christ. He states: We are not surprised that He is exalted and enthroned in the heavens. What is difficult for us to comprehend is that we also are exalted with Him. If "he that is joined to the Lord is one with Him in spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17), it cannot be otherwise. We are not surprised that all things have been put under His feet. What we have failed to comprehend is that as part of Him, His Body, all things are also legally beneath our feet. What we do not realize is that He is the “head over all things to the church” (Ephesians 1:22). This means that His headship over all things is assumed and held for the benefit of the Church and is directed toward His purpose for her. We have underestimated the supreme importance of the Church in God's economy. She is the motive of all His activity from all eternity. He does nothing solely for His own sake. She (the Church) is included as a full partner in all His plans. The Church is His Body, the fullness of Him that fills all things everywhere. This is only true because of God’s voluntary self-limitation. In the absolute, God is wholly sufficient. He needs nothing and can be served by no one. Yet He has chosen voluntarily to limit Himself so that the Church share in His reign. It is true that the Body cannot function without the Head. It is just as true that the Head, by His own choice, will not function without the Body. Both are important to the accomplishment of His plan. Until Christ comes again, the Bride of Christ, the Church, is in training. The enemy is still fighting a strategy of “guerrilla warfare," but the result will not change. Satan is defeated, and the knowledge of Christ’s victory over Satan is advancing all over the world. We must continually remind ourselves of who we are in Christ if we are to be effective in prayer. How do we fight? It starts in our thought life; this is where the battle begins. Remind yourself of your identity. You are accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6). You hold the same place in the Father’s bosom as Christ does (John 17:22-26). You have His righteousness. It is as good as the righteousness of Christ in the eyes of the Father because it is HIS righteousness. All that God allows the enemy to do is all used to show forth the marvelous grace of God for all eternity. Doctor Donald Grey Barnhouse once told the story of a particular man who had a beautiful estate upon which were some magnificent trees in which this man took great pride. It was his custom to walk amongst the trees and gaze upon their beauty. This man had an enemy who hated him sorely; this enemy was always seeking ways of annoying the master of the estate. At last, the enemy conceived a plan, which he thought would significantly wound the heart of the proprietor. He decided to go to the estate in the dark of the night and cut down one of the most beautiful of the trees. He laid his plans well. He took with him an ax and saw, and he began his work. All night he toiled until his muscles were sore and his hands were blistered. As morning dawned, he saw the proprietor riding with a companion toward the trees where he had been toiling. He redoubled his efforts, and with all that he could, he worked as diligently as he was able to do so, and the great tree began to creak and to totter. As it gained momentum in the fall, the enemy began to shout in triumph. One of the branches, however, came toward him and pinned him to the ground in agony. His hatred, however, was intense, and he jeered at the proprietor who approached him. The owner of the estate called his companion to him and said to the enemy, "You thought to do me great harm, but I want to show you what you have done. This man with me is the architect of a beautiful home that I intend to build here in the midst of these trees. To make room for the house, it was necessary to cut down one of these trees. Look at this plan. The tree upon which you have toiled all night and which is now the cause of your death is the tree, which must be cut down to make room for my house. You have worked for me without knowing it, and your toil is for nothing, and bitterness is your food in death.” Satan thinks he is so smart in his opposition to you, but when we finally get home, we will see that all that the enemy did was used by God to beautify the garden of Christ. If God is for us, who can be against us!
3. Know Your Enemy The War Against Satan and Demons When World War One broke out, the War Ministry in London, England, sent a coded message to one of the British outposts in the inaccessible areas of British controlled Africa, saying, "War declared, arrest all enemy aliens in your district." The prompt reply came back, "Have arrested ten Germans, six Belgians, four Frenchmen, two Italians, three Austrians, and an American. Please advise immediately who we are at war with." In this study, we will take a closer look at Satan and the demonic forces against which the Church is waging war. We need to know who the enemy is and his schemes if we are to be successful in the fight against him. In the book, The Art of War, written by Sun Tzu, he said, “If you know your enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” If that is true of earthly wars, even more so is it true of the spiritual fight that every Christian is involved. Spiritual Warfare In the last two studies, we saw that there are very real unseen enemies and a battle in which we are engaged, whether we realize it or not. We also began to see who we are and the authority and power that God has given us through the cross of Christ. The Lord has not left us unequipped for this battle. He has given us all that we need to take our place in the fight and be victorious against our foe. As Christians, we are called to wage war against the enemy whether we see ourselves as spiritual warriors or not. If we are to fulfill the Great Commission to preach the gospel to the world and to make disciples of all nations, we will have opposition. Although there are different gifts and callings in the Body of Christ, we are all drawn into this cosmic conflict and called to be overcomers, victorious with Christ. No one is left out of the battle. Question 1. How do we practically align ourselves with Christ in the battle? Can you think of ways that you are doing battle day by day? 3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). We, the church, have been given spiritual weapons. These weapons are not guns and bombs, swords, and pistols; they are not weapons of the world. We cannot fight a spiritual war against unseen spiritual beings with weapons of the world. Our weapons have divine power to demolish strongholds or fortifications of the enemy. Paul, the apostle, sees the Christian as advancing on enemy fortifications where he is firmly entrenched. The church of God is on the attack! Empowered by our God, the Church is not deterred at the seemingly impregnable walls and the size and power of the enemy. The bastions of sin and error are battered down. Every knee shall bow to our God! We should not think that these strongholds of the mind, different philosophies of thought set up by our enemy in distant lands, are our only opposition. We don't have to look far to see that in our own country, in our own family, and our minds, there have been fortifications set up by teachings that we have received and, at the time we received them, we were oblivious to the destructive capability against our soul. Where are these strongholds? In 1970, cartoonist Walt Kelly famously made a poster with the slogan, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” If we are unaware of the battle in the area of our mind, we will find it difficult to stand against our enemy. Be careful of your thought life. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). Your heart, a picture of the central core of your inner life, your spirit, is guarded by your mind. Be careful of the images that Satan would like to sow into the good soil of your heart. Take captive every thought that arises in opposition to the truth of God’s Word. Does that mean we should never fight with guns and bullets against evil men that rise to destroy us? Should we only pray? No, if we had never resisted Adolf Hitler of Nazi Germany, demonic evil forces would have gained control over nations, taken away our religious freedoms, and sought to end the worship of God in every place where that evil regime took hold in this world. The church is called to intercessory prayer to overcome the spiritual forces that oppose the forward movement of the church to preach the Gospel to every creature. In any battle with an enemy, one should always seek to know his enemy. Knowing the enemy’s plans and schemes will help us to overcome him. Satan’s Hierarchy of Evil Inhabiting this unseen spiritual realm that intersects with Earth are at least four different categories of spiritual beings that are at war against God’s creation and kingdom: 10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.12For 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 (Ephesians 6:10-12). Paul the Apostle was careful that the Church is aware against whom we are fighting. He tells us of four categories of evil beings. First of all, though, he says that we are to stand against the devil’s schemes or methods (v.11). As in American Football, the coach is standing beside the field with his playbook. Through his hierarchy of evil, Satan is continually trying different plays against you, although we should not call them "plays." There is nothing playful about his strategies and schemes. He observes your weaknesses and attacks you in such areas. There is a fable that Satan's agents were failing in their various attempts to draw into sin a holy man who lived as a hermit in the desert of northern Africa. Every effort had met with failure; so Satan, angered with the incompetence of his subordinates, became personally involved in the case. He said, "the reason you have failed is that your methods are too crude for one such as this. Watch this." He then approached the holy man with great care and whispered in his ear, "your brother has just been made Bishop of Alexandria." Instantly the holy man's face showed that Satan had been successful: a great scowl formed over his mouth and his eyes tightened up. "Envy," said Satan, "is often our best weapon against those who seek holiness." Do not underestimate the knowledge that he and his evil angels and demons have gained over thousands of years as they have watched people go about their daily lives. He knows how the human mind thinks. Remember, Satan is not limited to an earthly life of seventy or so years; he has been at this from the very beginning. The word translated into English as struggle (v.12) is the Greek word palē, which means to wrestle swaying back and forth. It carries the thought of two individuals in hand-to-hand combat, each trying different maneuvers to pin the other into submission. Paul says that our struggle or wrestling is not against flesh and blood. People are never our enemy. The enemy will use people against us when given an opportunity, but the Christian is not to retaliate against that person. It is not flesh and blood that we fight against; the fight is against unseen spiritual forces in the heavenly realms. Being aware of these things is essential for us to understand. In the church, your brother (or sister) is never your enemy. See opposition for what it is. The REAL battle is with the enemy of our souls. The Lord will give you the strategy to overcome evil with good. Ask God for His plan. John the Apostle wrote: We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one (1 John 5:19). I take it that John is saying that Satan has so structured his evil forces that countries, regions, towns, villages, and yes, even people, have some level of enemy personality at work to control what goes on under each enemy sphere of influence. In referencing the whole world under the control of Satan, John the Apostle is talking about the world system that is set up by Satan against God. Those of us who are walking with Christ is out from his authority and control (Colossians 1:13). The only way he can influence us is in the area of our minds if we will allow him. Let’s now take a closer look at the Greek words used by Paul to describe the four categories of evil spoken of in Ephesians 6:12: 1) The Rulers. The Greek word used by Paul is Archē. This word means principalities or chief rulers. It speaks of beings of the highest-ranking in Satan’s kingdom. The word also implies beginning—perhaps those angels colluding with Satan in his rebellion against God. This word speaks of dark angels of a position so high that these spiritual rulers confer with Satan himself and rule over nations and geographical territories to bring about the goals of these enemies of God. We can compare them to Hitler’s top men that formed the Nazi Party before the Second World War, men that sat down with Hitler, and took action to dominate most of Europe. In the book of Daniel, there is an example of an evil spiritual prince that ruled over the whole territory of Persia. I believe that every nation has an evil prince such as the one mentioned. The context of the passage is that of an angel of God sent to the prophet Daniel to help him understand a revelation given to the nation of Israel (Daniel 10:1). He spent time in partial fasting and prayer for twenty-one days while he sought the Lord for the understanding of the vision, referenced in chapter eleven. An evil spiritual ruler called the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted and delayed the angel in getting the answer to Daniels prayer through the unseen realm to Daniel. Finally, the good angel gets through to Daniel and speaks to him: 12Then he continued, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia” (Daniel 10:12-13). Question 2. This passage of Scripture says that, in this case, an answer to prayer was delayed by an evil spiritual being with the rank of a prince. Do you think that a delay in response to prayer has happened to you? Share your thoughts and examples. The Scripture says that the evil prince's dominion was over the geographical area of Persia, now present-day Iran. It was only after the archangel Michael intervened that the angel got through to Daniel with the message for which he was waiting. Since the cross and the giving of the Spirit to the church, the Church is given authority to resist and oppose evil spiritual forces through cooperating with God in prayer. That spirit is still there in Iran, whispering into the ears of those in power to do what it can to destroy American and Jewish people and those that serve the God of Israel. The leaders of Iran were held under the domination of an evil angel, the Persian prince who exerts control in that part of the world through thoughts, philosophies, and religion. 2) The Authorities. The Greek word is Exousia. This word means authority. It is delegated authority from higher up the chain of command (Matthew 8:9). It speaks of a spirit that is given permission, capability, right, and authority to act. Using the analogy of Hitler's men, this would be like his generals directing the field of battle, men who were given commands from above, and exercised that authority on the battlefield. These evil spirits take their orders from those that are high in Satan's chain of command. They apply their power by fear of death and domination through sin and ignorance of Satan's ways. Perhaps, an “authority” would be a spirit that holds sway over a city in which collectively a body of people have given themselves to a particular deception or sin by an evil spirit “authority” that exerts its hold, an evil spirit such as Moroni, the spirit that spoke to Joseph Smith and started Mormonism. A spirit such as this uses religious deception and holds sway over the city of Salt Lake City in Utah. Such a strong spirit could also be a “principality.” It is difficult to know. It is wise for the church in a city or town to research for what the city is known to understand how to engage the spirit over an area. One should then seek God’s wisdom and guidance in pulling down the stronghold or spiritual fortification for which the city is known. It is not enough to pray against a spirit, but effective spiritual warfare is waged by doing acts that are the opposite of how the evil spirit's control is manifested in the city. Our actions themselves are useful in combat. In simple obedience, we are fighting the good fight when we live our lives going against the flow of the evil one. 3) The Powers of this Dark World. This phrase has the Greek word Kosmokratōr. The first part of the word is kosmos, translated into English as “world.” The second half of the word is krateō, which means "to hold." It reads, "world holders of this dark world." The picture is of evil spirits that hold the physical world under the grip of darkness by an assault on the mind. I believe that Satan has given these spirits charge over belief systems that tie men’s minds to religious works, false gods, and systems of thought that are opposed to the worship of the Lord. These spirits don't so much control territory; their influence is mostly through systems of thought that dominate people's minds to demonic influence. Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Question 3. How do you think these spirits manifest themselves on planet Earth? Of what examples can you imagine? These spirits promote belief systems such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Communism, Secular Humanism, to name just a few. The evil spiritual powers also use men and women in educational fields, men such as Charles Darwin with the Theory of Evolution. They also work in the cultures of nations, such as the gaming industry that are driving young people ever deeper into darkness. Then, there is the movie industry in Hollywood, promoting ever-increasing incremental stages of fear and sex. There is also the music industry. You don't have to search extensively on Google or YouTube to find examples of musicians who have sold their souls to the devil for success and notoriety. Then, there are religious spirits that bind people to try to earn salvation in the Christian religion or Islam, or Buddhism, instead of receiving the gift of life from Christ. Religious spirits are very powerful and deceptive. These spirits hold a lot of people all over the world in bondage, trying to please God by religious works. Paul wrote further about the influence of these particular spirits, the dark world powers when he wrote his second letter to the church at Corinth: The god of this age 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 Corinthians 4:4). Satan himself (the god of this age) is the one accused of blinding people’s minds, but I tend to believe that he is the one directing the powers of this dark world that influence people’s minds. 4) The Spiritual Forces of Evil in the Heavenly Realms. These can be compared to your basic foot soldiers. These spiritual forces are demons of varying lower ranks that oppose and obstruct men and women from searching and finding the truth in this world. These demons target not only non-Christians but also hinder the spiritual growth of God’s people after they commit their lives to Christ. Every man or woman of God, I believe, is plagued by a demonic spirit continually looking for ways to weaken and destroy the testimony of the believer. The principal weapon of these forces of evil is to sow destructive thoughts in the seedbed of people's minds. Negative evil thoughts, if we allow them to, can germinate and grow and become attitudes and habits designed to enslave people and bring them into bondage to Satan. The higher the level of influence you have in the Kingdom of God, the higher the rank and cleverness of the evil spirit assigned to you. The enemy also assesses your potential to damage his kingdom. If he thinks that you are a threat to the realm of darkness, he will oppose you to stop you from ever becoming a challenge. If you have ever had it in your heart to be a warrior for God, don’t be surprised if Satan comes at you with strategies to try to weaken your potential and hamstring your walk before you get to run for God. Be strong in the power of God’s might, not your own—pray through every opposition to your growth in Christ. Be diligent in the things of God. Some attacks may be more than thoughts, and they can go deeper into oppression. You cannot stop the birds of the air flying about your head, but you can prevent them from making a nest in your hair. If we buy into the thoughts and mull over them, they can become feelings, such as depression, discouragement, frustration, bitterness, and resentment among many other things. You may find that the enemy's strategies of attack against you may change, as you grow older and more mature in Christ. I saw that in my early days as a Christian, the enemy would plant a thought, such as “You don’t really believe in God, do you?” As I got older, that thought would no longer come to me, for the enemy knew he was wasting his time sowing that seed thought. I had come to a stable, logical, Bible-centered belief that there must be a God ruling and reigning over the Earth. I had thoroughly searched and weighed the evidence and come to reliable conclusions on which to base my faith. Question 4. Have you ever been aware of spiritual warfare in your Christian life? How have you been effective in overcoming negative thoughts? A Disarmed Enemy You may not be aware of being in a battle, but let me assure you, if you are a disciple of Christ endeavoring to do God's will on planet Earth, you are in a fight whether you like it or not (2 Timothy 3:12). Some expositors believe that Revelation 12:4 indicates that Satan has won over to his side a third of the stars of heaven. The belief is that the stars are angelic beings that are now called demons. I don’t know if that is the proper interpretation of that passage, but I do believe that there are a multitude of demons that inhabit the unseen realm. They are structured in such a way to do the maximum damage that they can to the Kingdom of God. We need not fear these demons and evil spirits sent against us because Christ has triumphed over them by the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (Colossians 2:15). The Word of God is very plain about the power that lies within those who are born-again of the Spirit. The Scripture says, “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Who is in us? Christ Jesus has taken up residence in our hearts when we receive the gift of eternal life. In a later session, we will look at the authority and power Christ has given us to frustrate the plans of the evil one. “I have given you the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you” (Luke 10:19). Peter assures us in his first letter that Christ has conquered all the power of the enemy and sat down alongside the Father in the throne room, and enemy powers are under His feet. Who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him (1 Peter 3:22 emphasis mine). Good angels were already subject to Him before His victory at Calvary’s tree. The angels mentioned in the above passage are evil angels. We have learned that this world system is influenced by demonic forces under the control of Satan and that they influence what happens in the world by using flesh and blood individuals. What is the church to do against such forces? In some way that I cannot fully explain, you and I who are Christians are seated in the heavenly realms with Christ, even though at the same time we are walking on this Earth. Christ is sitting on the throne far above every authority, power, and dominion, and because of our relationship to Christ, we also are seated with Him, exercising His authority in the world through prayer. Paul explains this place of authority in these words: 18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,5and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way (Ephesians 1:18-23). 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6-7). How do we become useful in our fight against the evil one? How do we become a formidable force in the kingdom of God? We have established that every one of us is amid a spiritual battle whether we are aware of this or not. Also, we know that we have been given the authority in Christ and the powerful weapon of prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. There are some basic 101 principles we need to be aware of to be effective.
Know who you are in Christ. Are you convinced of the authority of Christ? Don't try and wage warfare in your strength. Rely on His power and take direction from the Holy Spirit.
We are to agree with the Word of God. In this world, you will find that it is becoming more and more unpopular to live your life in obedience to the Word of God. The Word of God is consistent, and it does not change. The truth that is in God's Word should shape our thinking and our decisions. Learn the truth in God's Word, and in applying that truth, you will find yourself on the right side of the spiritual conflict, regardless of what others think of you. God’s Word, Scripture tells us, is powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). We will talk more about this later.
Agree with the Holy Spirit quickly. Every time you exercise self-control instead of losing your temper, every time you choose to forgive instead of harboring bitterness, and every time you decide to consider other’s needs before your own and make unselfish decisions, you are training yourself for battle and becoming a formidable warrior. You cannot fight the enemy while at the same time giving him ground in your own life. If, however, you are aware of the battle in your mind and your own life and are submitting to the Lordship of Christ, you will grow in your ability to exercise Christ's authority and be effective in seeing the Kingdom of God made manifest in our world and overcoming the enemy.
See the possibilities. What areas of your life do you see the enemy infiltrating? Do you need to be more active in this spiritual battle for members of your family or friends? The enemy would seek to blind us to possibilities or make us think that we have to accept the way things are, but if we look at things from God’s perspective and in agreement with His Word, we can start to do battle in these situations! Do not accept defeat, but allow God to enlarge your vision of what He wants to do in your life! Ask God to help you see the possibilities and exercise your faith in Him and His Word to see a change in your own life, your family, and beyond. The forward advance of God’s will and purpose is warfare, and God is for you! Every time you draw close to the battle lines in prayer, you are waging war. The beautiful thing is that we can proclaim the victory Christ has already won on our behalf. If God is for us, who can be against us?
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for the work of Christ on the cross in delivering me from Satan's dominion. Grant me a growing sense of the power and authority that I have been given to overcome and resist the enemy's attacks on the lives of my family, my friends, and myself. Amen
4. The Fallen Angels The War Against Satan and Demons Our study today is on the topic of The Fallen Angels. So far, we have looked into the unseen world that is beyond the five senses. Then, we talked about the victory that was won on behalf of the believer in Christ by the Lord Jesus, and last time, we began to expose who our enemy is. We looked at the four categories of evil beings against us, but it is possible that Paul's list in Ephesians 6:12 was not comprehensive. We are told in 1 Peter 5:8 that we are to be sober and vigilant because our adversary, the devil, walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Today, nothing has changed. His agenda is still the same. Jesus spoke of the enemy's strategy when He said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Our focus in this study is to understand how the enemy has tried to corrupt humanity and how Christ has provided restoration. Regardless of the enemy's schemes, we know how the story ends! We know that Christ is victorious. Since we are still here in this present evil world, we need to be vigilant and aware. Until Christ comes again, we are in a battle. We will have difficulty fighting an enemy that we don't understand. Even more importantly, we are to be aware of the weapons God has given us to overcome evil with good. Just as Satan seeks to corrupt, our God continues to restore and create. This war between Light and Darkness has been fought from the very beginning. The Corruption from the Beginning When John the Apostle wrote that Satan has been sinning from the beginning (1 John 3:8), what did he mean by the “beginning?” In his book, The Depravity of Man, A.W. Pink writes about how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden before the Fall of Man. He has an interesting view concerning the King James translation of Psalm 49:12, “Nevertheless man being in honor abideth not:" In Psalm 49:12, the Hebrew word for "man" is Adam – the same as in Genesis 2 and 3 and Job 31:33, while that for "abode" signifies "to stay or lodge for a night." Manton rendered it "Adam being in honor abideth not for a night." And Thomas Watson, in his book, Body of Divinity, said, "Adam, then, it seems, did not take up one night’s lodging in Paradise." Fourth, the devil "was a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44)—not from the beginning of time, for there was no man to slay during the first five days, but from the beginning of human history. In the morning, man was holy; by night he was a sinner! Satan was quick to corrupt our forefather and mother, even before they had any progeny conceived in absolute purity with whom he would also have to deal. The war was on! There in the Garden of Eden, God pronounced the gospel in advance to Adam and Eve with these words: 14So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly, and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:14-15). Appearing in the form of a serpent, Satan, a fallen angel, tempted Adam to obey him rather than hold to God's instructions. Immediately, the sentence against the enemy was pronounced. God will not allow this dominion of Satan over Man to go on for eternity. He spoke of One whom He would send to break the servitude on man to Satan. God spoke of enmity between the seed of the woman (The Messiah) and those who are given over to serve Satan: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Immanuel means God With Us. This incarnation of God into the earth is one of the reasons why the eternal Son of God had to become a man—because it was the offspring of the woman who would crush Satan. The Seed of the woman is the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who are born-again of the Spirit and brought into oneness with Christ (John 17:21-23), these are they spoken of as getting the victory over Satan in the Book of Revelation. “They triumphed over him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:11). Although Satan would strike the heel of Christ, speaking of what would happen at the cross, but through Christ's work, the head of Satan would be crushed. God said that there would be enmity between the seed of the woman on God’s side and a seed of the serpent on the evil side—this war that is being fought right up to the present day. Question 1). Why did the enemy corrupt rather than destroy right from the beginning? Is corruption different from destruction? What does Satan want to accomplish? After being given this sentence, the enemy began to plot how he would hinder the coming of the Seed of the Woman. There is a limit to the authority that Satan has. In the Garden, the enemy had to gain access by getting an agreement with the first Adam. He sought to corrupt the inner character of humanity. He planned to pollute the human race and to taint and blemish the human species from ever being a fit temple for the Holy Son of God to be born of flesh. After the first initial attack by Satan in the Garden of Eden, not knowing when the Son of God was to be born of a virgin, he sent evil angels to corrupt the seed of the woman trying to preempt the birth of Christ. 1When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” 4The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown (Genesis 6:1-4). The Hebrew term translated “sons of God” is B’nai HaElohim, a term widely used in the Old Testament for angels. This Hebrew phrase is what is used in the Book of Job when the B’nai HaElohim, translated as angels (NIV), or sons of God (KJV) presented themselves before God with Satan being among them accusing Job of wrong motives in his righteousness (Job 1:6-10, 2:1). It is worth remembering that Adam, as a created being, was also called a son of God (Luke 3:38). The Interlinear Hebrew Bible (IHN) gives us an interesting translation. Where the King James Bible says, “The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair,” the IHN translation words it in this way, “The [b’nai ha Elohim] saw the daughters of Adam, that they were fit extensions" (emphasis added). It is possible that Moses (the writer of the Book of Genesis), under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is explaining that the watching fallen angelic beings saw that they could enter our plane of existence. Their attack consisted of mixing their genetic material with pure human stock to corrupt the human race with hybrid genetic material, knowing that the Lord had spoken that: And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15 New International Version). Perhaps, these evil fallen angels thought that, if they could corrupt the Genetic makeup of Homo sapiens, then the Messiah, the Seed of the woman, would not be able to be born into the world. “Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me” (Hebrews 10:5). If Christ could not come, the fallen human race would stay under the dark bondage of Satan. The apocryphal Book of Enoch also clearly speaks of evil angels coming and manifesting into the earth sphere. This book was not considered as part of the canon of Scripture, but both Rabbi's and early Christian Pastors, scholars, and teachers from about 200 B.C. to 200 A.D. venerated it to study the accepted beliefs of the period. The Ethiopian Coptic Church holds the Book of Enoch as part of its official spiritual canon. Second and third -century church fathers, such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origin, and Clement of Alexandria, all seemed to have accepted Enoch as authentic. Tertullian (160-230 A.D.) even called the Book of Enoch, “Holy Scripture.” Enoch gives a name to the angels that descended onto the earth calling them "Watchers." Here's what Enoch wrote: And I Enoch was blessing the Lord of majesty and the King of the ages, and lo! the Watchers called me—Enoch the scribe—and said to me: “Enoch, thou scribe of righteousness, go, declare to the Watchers of the heaven who have left the high heaven, the holy eternal place, and have defiled themselves with women, and done as the children of earth do, and have taken unto themselves wives: Ye have wrought great destruction on the earth: And ye shall have no peace nor forgiveness of sin: and inasmuch as they delight themselves in their children [the Nephilim], the murder of their beloved ones shall they see, and over the destruction of their children shall they lament, and shall make supplication unto eternity, but mercy and peace shall you not attain” (Enoch 12:3-6). The Book of Daniel also has three references to “watcher angels” (Daniel 4:13, 17, 23 KJV and ESV). Strong’s Concordance defines a watcher as a “guardian angel” (Strong’s 5894). In two of the occasions that Daniel mentions the watchers, he was careful to note that it was a “holy one,” suggesting that some watcher angels are not holy ones. The NIV translates it as messenger. Enoch mentions that two hundred of these powerful angels departed "high heaven" and used women to extend into the plane of existence of humanity. Why Would Satan and the Evil Fallen Angels Want to Corrupt the Human Race? At this point, there is a question that one is forced to ask—why would Satan and a band of angels with him depart heaven and rebel against God? It is a possibility that they did not like being tasked by God with the job of taking care of God’s crowning creation—Man? Satan seemed acutely aware of the Scripture that he quoted to Christ in the third temptation in the wilderness: 9The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone’” (Luke 4:9-11). Was this promise from Psalm 91:11 for the human race or just for the Messiah? I believe it to be a promise that angels in the unseen realm will watch over the people of God, those who have entered into a blood covenant with Him. We have already read in the previous study of the five “I Will” statements of Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12-14, that this fallen angel, Satan, perhaps did not like the fact that all angels were to serve the heirs of salvation. Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14). Instead of serving humanity, Satan decided that he would bring about a rebellion and tempt Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden into rebelling against God and obeying him rather than God. Satan knew the principle about which Paul wrote in the book of Romans: Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:16). This is why Satan could say to Jesus when he took Him up to a high mountain and showed Christ all the kingdoms of the world, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to (Luke 4:6). It is worth noting that Jesus did not respond to Satan’s claim of dominion over the kingdoms and with it the people of the earth. If Satan had been incorrect, don’t you think that Jesus would have responded? Instead, Jesus quoted the Word of God, saying, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only’” (Luke 4:8). The first century A.D. Jewish historian, Josephus Flavius, also represents this view of many angels leaving heaven at the same time, probably at the same time that Satan won mastery over humanity when Adam chose to be obedient to Satan. The first-century historian, Josephus writes the fallen angels in the following way: They made God their enemy; for many angels of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength, for the tradition is that these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants. Josephus also mentions the ancient biblical Amorites that lived around Hebron. “In Hebron, there were still then left the race of giants, who had bodies so large, and countenances so entirely different from other men, that they were surprising to the sight and terrible to the hearing. The bones of these men are still shown to this very day" (Josephus Ant. 5.2.3). Back to Genesis 6, verse 4 speaks of the Nephilim were on the Earth in those days. The King James Version translated Nephilim as giants. The Nephilim were the children born from the ungodly relationship between angels and the daughters of humans. The word Nephilim is from the Hebrew word nephal, which means, “to fall,” so it means, "fallen ones." When the Old Testament was translated into Greek (The Septuagint Translation) in the third century before Christ, the Hebrew word Nephilim was translated into Greek with the word Gigantes, which means, “earth-born.” Question 2). What was the reason for the Great Flood of Noah’s day? If it was just because of the wickedness of their sin, what makes us any better in our day? Why would God want to wipe out all of His creation except for eight individuals and an ark full of animals? What was the Effect of the Evil Incursion? Notice what the Bible says about the outcome of the mingling of the seed of the fallen angels with the daughters of Homo sapiens: 5The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” 8But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 9This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. 10Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth (Genesis 6:5-13). In verse 9, we read that Noah was righteous and blameless. This word translated blameless is the Hebrew word tamiym. It means, “Without blemish, sound, healthful, without spot, unimpaired.” It is used to describe a lack of physical blemish. The use of this word is suggesting that Noah did not have the same genetic difference that the majority of the population of the Earth had. Noah had no tarnished genetic changes brought about by the invasion or incursion into the human species by the fallen angels. This passage, I believe, teaches us that the reason for the flood was God’s protection of His creation of pure genetic stock. The only ones not tainted was Noah’s family. Other passages in the Scriptures describe this attack by fallen angels on the creation of God: 19After being made alive, he [Christ] went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water (1 Peter 3:19-20). 6And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire (Jude 6-7). Writers Chuck Missler and Mark Eastman write about the word translated dwelling in the NIV or habitation in the KJV in the above verses from the Book of Jude: “It is interesting that the word translated “habitation” [Proper dwelling in the NIV), oiketerion, refers to the heavenly bodies from which they had disrobed. This term appears only twice in the New Testament, each time referring to the body as a dwelling place for the spirit (2 Corinthians 5:2 is the other place). The “giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh” seems to have involved their leaving their earlier “first estate,” that is, the body which they were initially “clothed with.” Scripture tells us that the Nephilim (the progeny of the illicit relationship, otherwise known as the fallen ones), were on the earth in the days of Noah, but also after the flood. The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward (Genesis 6:4). Question 3). Why do you think that Moses (the writer of the Book of Genesis) adds the word, “and also afterward?” To what could he be referring? It is a thought that, perhaps, the Greek mythological gods, such as Titan, Hercules, Poseidon, Hermes, Europa, Zeus, etc., were these Nephilim that Scripture mentions. From just a biblical point of view, we have many records in the Scriptures of men of extraordinary size. For instance, there was the mention of Og, King of Bashan, the only one left of the Rephaites. His bed was made of iron and thirteen feet long and six feet wide (Deuteronomy 3:11), surely suggesting that he was not of normal human size. Then, there is the mention of the man of Gath who “was a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot—twenty-four in all. He also was descended from Rapha” (2 Samuel 21:20). Of course, there is also the mention of Goliath, the giant Philistine that David slew with a sling. The Scripture mentions that he was also of the city of Gath and that his height was six cubits and a span (1 Samuel 17:4). To correctly calculate his size, we must evaluate what a cubit and a span were at the time. In the time of David’s son, Solomon, the cubit was 25.2 inches, which puts Goliath at 12' 9" feet tall. Most Bible commentators believe that Goliath may have been descended from the Nephilim. When the children of Israel came out of Egypt, God led this new nation to the border of the land of Canaan, sending out spies to look over the land. Ten of the twelve spies came back with a bad report saying, 31But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them” (Numbers 13:31-33 NIV). Perhaps, the above scripture would explain why God instructed Joshua and the Israelites with him to completely wipe out the inhabitants of the land that they were entering. Question 4). What strategies can you see Satan employing today to corrupt the human race, and how can we keep ourselves from being polluted by sin? How are we to avoid corruption in the world? Satan has not given up on his strategy of trying to corrupt man. Through the cross of Christ, we have been delivered from having to serve sin and Satan. Each of us who are born-again of the Spirit can choose whom we will obey, Satan or God. Our Master kept Himself entirely free of sin so that He could be a willing perfect sacrifice for sin. When He was with the disciples on that last night in the Upper Room, He said, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me” (John 14:30). Satan had nothing in Christ, no claim against Him. We also, having received forgiveness and the Spirit’s power are to live our lives so that Satan has nothing in us. If you know who you are in Christ, you can confidently say the same. He (our enemy) has no claim on us. We are to live in this present evil world as entirely justified children of the light, which is what we are. Since we have been set free and restored to live the new life imparted to us in Christ, how do we live as children of the light? Satan has many more means in the 21st century to corrupt through technology. There are so many distractions that it takes a conscious effort to hold fast to spiritual disciplines in our lives. When you are tempted or when you experience difficulty, come before God’s throne of grace. We are to draw grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). The enemy will try to intimidate us into walking away from the front lines of the battle. However, we do not need to rely on our resources in the fight. We are not intelligent enough to withstand our enemy without divine help. I would advise you to be daily in the Word of God. If Jesus the Son of God would only use the Word of God in His wilderness temptation battle with Satan, how much more should we? “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word” (Psalm 119:9). The Word of God is like a mirror (James 1:23). When we look in a mirror, we see an accurate representation of ourselves. In the same way, when we read and meditate on the Scriptures, we know what God says about us, who we were, and who we are now in Christ. Scripture says that the Word of God is living and has creative power. God's Word helps us to experience the kingdom of God in our own lives and to bring the kingdom of God to others. When we focus on abiding in Christ through His Word, we avoid the distractions and schemes of the enemy. This spiritual warfare is something that is consciously before us through our lives. Be careful of what you allow to enter the gateways to your spirit. The eye gate, the hearing, and the tongue gate: "I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked" (Psalm 39:1). The half-brother of the Lord Jesus said a man is mature in Christ when he or she can control his or her tongue: “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless” (James 1:26). We make decisions every day that effect to what we give our minds, eyes, and ears. We also create with our words. How much we allow the Lord to be present in our lives, our thoughts and actions have a direct effect on the fruit in our own lives and others. To sum up, we overcome by the following:
Our enemy, though he is unseen, is a very evil spiritual being, but our God is greater than all and will fight for us. We do not have to rely on our strength, for He offers us His power at all times. He exchanges our life for His divine life.
Abide in Christ by reading the Scriptures, taking control of your thought life, and seeking to live according to what He has revealed to us in His Word. His Spirit helps us to do this. Our thought life is the heart of the battle. Jesus’ central prayer before He went to the Father was that we would be one. Stay in fellowship with others, the body of believers in Christ.
When you struggle, think of all He has already done to preserve, deliver, and protect you. Come boldly before His throne of grace because our God is for us! If God the Father was prepared to give up His own Son for our sakes, we know that He can keep us. If you take anything from this course of teaching, then let it be the knowledge that He is FOR us. Romans 8, verse 38 tells us:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38). Prayer: Father, thank you for your overcoming and overwhelming love, which we cannot comprehend. We accept your love and help us to live as children of the light. Amen.
5. Jesus’ Authority over Demons The War Against Satan and Demons After marrying my American wife, Sandy, we left the United States arriving in England in 1981. Although we were young Christians, we wanted to give our lives to the ministry of the Lord Jesus. We encountered our first case of a demonized person within a few months of arrival. It happened about the same time that we and another couple started gathering people into small groups in my hometown of Harwich, Essex, England. We met a person who had grown up under the influence of his mother who was a practicing Jehovah Witness, and his father who had been into Spiritualism. We both felt that there was something odd or different about him. At this time in our lives, Sandy and I were quite naive to such things as demonization, but we knew enough to know that Jesus could help him, so we decided to take him to church with us. We had a little mini Cooper at the time, so we started driving with his sitting in the backseat the twenty-eight miles to the church, which we were attending. As we were driving, he started opening up about himself. First of all, he told us that he was the Antichrist, the evil world ruler who is prophesied to rule on the Earth in the last days. Then, he went on to tell us that there were male and female voices inside him telling him that he needed to persecute Sandy and me in order "to drive us closer together." When we got halfway to church, I remember it became quite foggy, and he said that something could happen to us on the road. Sure enough, right after he said those words, a car hit us from behind and totaled our car. None of us were hurt, and we still managed to get to church with him where the leadership of the church ministered to him, but at that time, we were so inexperienced in dealing with this sort of thing. This man probably needed both psychological and spiritual help. There was spiritual oppression that was very evident. We had a couple of other confrontations, which were similar in that people reacted against the Gospel or the name of Jesus unusually. I realized that I needed to learn how to help people like him who are in need. So, I began to read all kinds of books on the subject. Deliverance from spiritual oppression is a topic about which we all need to learn more, so in this study, we want to take a closer look at Jesus' power over demons. Where Do Demons Originate? In our last two studies, we looked carefully at Ephesians 6:12 and discovered that Paul the Apostle taught that Satan has with him at least four different categories of evil spirits that do his bidding. We also looked at evil angels infiltrating into the earth sphere to corrupt the human race. The lower levels of Satan's hierarchy of evil, the demons that have the task of hindering the growth of the Kingdom of God in the world, continue the work of trying to corrupt the human race by the temptation to sin, seeking to bring about more in-depth levels of control by dark evil forces. Scripture does not tell us where these demons come. There are a few theories, but we cannot be dogmatic that either assumption is correct. Josephus, the Jewish historian that lived just after the time of Christ, believed that demons were the spirits of wicked people who had died. Another traditional theory is that demons are the disembodied spirits of people that lived before Adam. I hasten to add that there is no supporting Scripture to back that tradition. Then, there are those who believe that demons are unconfined fallen angels. Others also say that demons are the offspring of the fallen angelic beings who mated with women before the flood and were killed by the flood (Genesis 6:1-8). I do not care from where they come. My only concern is how to live free of their evil influence and how to seize back the territory that they have claimed in people's lives. Our focus in this study is how to live an overcoming life as Jesus intends, for we will encounter enemy forces as we advance with Christ into enemy territory. We will overcome them by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 12:11), i.e., the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ putting us into right relationship with God, and by the word of our testimony. We need to understand that we Christians are in a struggle with evil invisible entities. During the Second World War, if you had been living in France in 1941 after the Germans had overrun the country, you would have been living in an enemy-occupied country. You were in the war, whether you liked it or not. A state of war existed, and you were on the other side to the Germans who had occupied your country. If you are a Christian, you are living in an enemy-occupied country, and as long as you are no threat to the enemy, he will let you continue to sleep. However, as soon as you awaken to the call to fight on the side of right, you will find a new sense of joy and inner fulfillment that you have, perhaps, been missing—a cause for which to fight. There are no civilians in a time of war, no fence between one kingdom and another to which you can cling. You are either for Him or against Him (Matthew 12:30). Many are still asleep in this war. They are not aware of the battle that they are experiencing. What we need to understand is that this is how Satan wants it! He wants the people of God to be asleep. As soon as John the Baptist baptized Jesus, He entered into the war. Right away, He was confronted with Satanic temptations in the wilderness as He fasted for forty days. He came out of that trial in the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:14). We are also called to walk in the power of God's Spirit, for every battle that we, the people of God, encounter makes us stronger in faith. The book of Mark indicates that Christ’s first sermon in the Capernaum synagogue was interrupted by a man with an evil spirit in him: 21They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24“What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 25“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” 28News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee (Mark 1:21-28). Imagine that, your first sermon which you preach and a demon manifests in the middle of the talk. Satan, for the most part, would like to keep his work invisible, but he fears the authority of Christ, and cannot stay hidden when the Light of the World shines in the darkness. Every advance of the Kingdom of God will get a reaction from the kingdom of darkness. Satan fears men and women of God who bring his work out into the open, for it shows the supremacy of God over Satan’s kingdom. Before the end of the day of Christ's first sermon in Capernaum, the whole area was excitedly sharing that the Messiah had arrived on the scene. They brought their sick and demonized friends to the house where Jesus had just healed Peter's mother-in-law: 32That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33The whole town gathered at the door, 34and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was (Mark 1:32-34). Question 1) What was it that brought the whole town to the door? Why did Jesus forbid the demons to speak? Try to describe the scene you see in your mind’s eye from Mark’s testimony. Wherever Jesus went, there was a conflict, a battle. Sometimes, it was evident through the reaction of the religious rulers of the day, viz. those who did not believe, and at other times, there were demonic reactions. Jesus responded by bringing the rule of God into people’s lives as He met their need. That could be a need for healing or deliverance from evil spirits. Often in Scripture, it appears that these two things were linked. In my opinion, the reason Jesus did not let the demons speak about His identity was that His time had not yet come. The closer Christ got to the cross, the greater the attacks from the enemy. Remember what the Pharisees accused Jesus of doing? They said that He cast out demons through the prince of demons (demonic power). This criticism by the Pharisees and elders does not make sense because, as Jesus explained, “a house divided against itself will not stand” (Mark 3:25). For whatever reason, Jesus would not permit demons that spoke through people to utter truth. He silenced the demons and cast them out. Where He brought light and life, the darkness had to flee! The critical thing to realize is that disembodied spirits are real and that Jesus has authority over all the power of the evil one. John the Apostle tells us, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work” (1 John 3:8). The Lord came to root out, destroy, and deliver humanity from every work of the enemy. There is nothing that the enemy has done in your life that Jesus can't undo! He has the last and the final word over the enemy. What Are Demons Like and How Do They Express Themselves? As we said in the first talk on this subject, evil spirits occupy an unseen realm beyond our physical sight. They are continually seeking opportunities to enter a home, which they can inhabit and through which they can express their will, mind, emotions, and evil nature. They operate from outside a person and try to gain entrance to a person's life by promoting habitual sin. One cannot tell at what point they actually gain access to a person's life to further drive a person into a compulsion toward a particular sin. They have intelligence and have their own will about how they do things. Being evil spirits that have no physical body, their longing is to have some host to express their evil tendencies. Without a host, they have no rest until they find one: 24When 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”' 25When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26Then it goes and takes 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 (Luke 11:24-26). Question 2) Why is the final condition of this man worse if the house was swept clean and put in order? A clean house speaks of self-reformation, i.e., the cleaning up of one's life by stopping certain habits that bring a person to a downward spiral in the first place. The enemy would love for you to clean up your life and to try by your strength to be free from sin. Self-righteousness is just a strategy of the enemy. If the goal is just self-reformation, then a person often feels “empty” and unfulfilled. We have been created with a God-shaped void in our lives that only the Lord sitting on the throne of your life will satisfy. Once the natural barrier (the hedge as in Job 1:10) over our lives is broken down by sin and the infestation of demons, the only spirit that will bring wholeness, cleanness, and holiness is the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. The good news of the Gospel is not that He has come to give us a reformed life but, instead, an exchange of life! It is an exchange of our life for His life! The Holy Spirit dwells within us when we receive the Lord Jesus Christ into our lives. Self-reformation is not enough. Without Christ occupying the throne at the center of our lives, a demon that has had to leave can come back with one or more stronger spirits. Speaking to Christians, Paul the Apostle says: Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received of God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Paul was writing to the believers in Corinth. He told them that their bodies were temples to the Holy Spirit. Each of us is created with a place for God Himself to rule and reign in the temple of your spirit. Until we meet Christ, we are those that sit on the throne of our lives. I don't know about you, but I did a poor job of directing and managing my life before Christ came to sit there on the throne (Galatians 2:20). Demons Can Cause Physical Sickness. Demons do not cause every physical sickness, but some Scriptures indicate that in some cases there is more to the physical condition than what is seen from a surface view of the symptoms. For instance, in Mark's Gospel, Chapter 9, Jesus casts out a spirit from a child whose father testified that his son was deaf because of a spirit’s demonizing him: 17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” 19 “O unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 20So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. 22“It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” 23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. 28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer” (Mark 9:17-29). Today, most physicians would say that the father was blaming the boy’s condition on some physical condition, but the boy was also foaming at the mouth, gnashing his teeth, and becoming rigid while lying on the ground. How did Jesus handle the situation? He rebuked the demon saying, “’You deaf and mute spirit,’ he said, ‘I command you to come out of him and never enter him again’” (Mark 9:25). It is easy to go by the word “rebuked” without taking a look at what it means to rebuke. The Greek word that Mark uses when he writes (The New Testament was written in Greek) is the word Epitimaō. My Key Word Study Bible says that this word means, “to blame, censure, chide, rebuke, warn or berate. It is an abrupt, curt, and biting charge, pointedly expressing disapproval, the taking to task of someone for a fault, and connotes a sharp or harsh tone.” So what is my point? I can’t ever imagine Jesus speaking in such a way to a boy, and in any case, the boy was deaf as well as mute. He couldn’t hear what Jesus was saying. The spirit to which Jesus was speaking listened to Him and came out at His word of command. The Lord Jesus was taking authority over an evil spirit that had robbed the boy of the ability to speak and hear. When the evil spirit came out, the boy was healed. We will come back to this passage at a later session, for time will limit what we can get into today. Let's look at another passage found in Matthew's Gospel, chapter nine: 32While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. 33And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel." 34But the Pharisees said, "It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons" (Matthew 9:32-34). This demonic manifestation was on a different occasion, for, Matthew writes about a fully grown man. The Scripture doesn't say that Jesus healed the man. Instead, Christ cast out the spirit, and the consequence of the spirit’s departure was that the man could talk again. How does a spirit manage to hinder a person from speaking? I don't know. All I can tell you from Scripture is that spirits can affect physical bodies. Let's look at another example in Luke chapter thirteen: 10On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." 13Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. 14Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, "There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath." 15The Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?" 17When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the beautiful things he was doing (Luke 13:10-17). Question 3) What things stand out as you read this passage? This wonderful deliverance did not come about by the evil spirit’s manifesting itself and drawing attention to the woman. The spirit had tried to stay silent and invisible. It is possible that the woman herself did not know that her illness was caused by a spirit that had managed to gain access into her life. The spirit in this woman had no problem with her attending church (synagogue), and as far as we know, there were no other manifestations of the evil spirit’s presence in the life of the woman. It was Jesus who saw beyond the physical condition to a spirit that was causing this deformity. He went to her. He saw her ailment, and even though He knew that it would open Him up to attack by his religious enemies, He still bravely ministered to the women’s need, speaking a word of wisdom to those who opposed healing on the Sabbath at the same time. If this woman had been in one of our churches today, most people would attribute her condition to a disease that had caused the problem. Jesus told us that it was a spirit that had bound her with unseen chains. He didn’t say, “Woman, you are healed from your infirmity,” but, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity” (Verse 12). The Greek word translated bound in verse 16 means to bind, fasten or to tie as with a chain or rope. Don't you love it that Jesus didn't care about the scorn of the religious leaders as He delivered this woman? He cared so much that not another day should pass before this woman should be released from the oppression of the enemy. Question 4) Have you ever had a time in your life where you felt under a cloud of depression, doubt, or darkness? What caused it? Could there have been a spiritual root? If not, have you ever tried speaking to someone about Christ and aware of a veil or a heaviness that seemed to prevent him or her from understanding or praying? Not all depression and heaviness in people’s lives is because of being demonized by a spirit that has managed to gain access to a person’s life. Many times, there are problems caused by a poor diet, lack of exercise, or being deficient in many minerals and nutrients that we no longer get through the way our food is produced. I am saying that, in some cases, people have oppression launched at them from outside of their lives. One of the world's greatest preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, was plagued by severe depression, which I believe was demonic spiritual opposition due to his preaching in London, but also because his sermons were being transcribed and sent to the four corners of the earth by the growth of the British Empire at that time. In the above passage of Scripture, the spirit had gained access and was causing the deformity of the spinal column. One further thing that Jesus mentions is that the woman was a believer; He calls her a daughter of Abraham whom Satan had bound (Verse 16). Paul the Apostle is very clear that those who believe are children of Abraham, Jews, and Gentiles (Galatians 3:6-9; Romans 4:16). This woman, a daughter of Abraham, was demonized. This passage of Scripture raises a big question: Can a Christian Be Demonized? I do not believe that a spirit can gain access into a Christian who is walking in the Spirit, one whose life is laid down at the foot of the cross. Not all Christians live their lives in such a way, though. There are some who have been led away from the purity and holiness of a godly life; perhaps because they have not been taught how to live a Christ-centered life. When temptation is listened to and obeyed, we are “open season” to the enemy who seeks opportunity through our sin and darkness to lead us away from intimacy with Christ. Don't get me wrong, I believe in the eternal security of the believer (John 6:39; John 5:24), but the enemy can limit our effectiveness as we live as believers in this world. I have a friend in England, whom I do not doubt has been a believer since his youth, but there was a time when his mind was filled with oppressive thoughts, driving him to depression and anxiety. When I prayed for him, he fell to the floor and was slithering about on the floor like a snake as a demon manifested itself at the presence of Jesus in the room. The Lord showed up and completely delivered him. I am still in touch with him, and he continues to walk with and serve the Lord. I don’t believe that a Christian or a non-Christian, either, can be possessed in the full sense of the word. The word possession gives us an image of a person under complete and absolute control by demons. However, even the most terrible demonic case in Scripture, i.e., the man under control by Legion (Mark 5:1-20), was able to run to Jesus as soon as he saw Him. If the demons had full control of the man, they would have caused him to run the opposite way! They are terrified of Jesus! John Wimber, the man whom God used to start the network of Vineyard Churches, commented on this question: I do not believe that demons may own people absolutely while they still live on earth; even when demons gain a high degree of control, people are still able to exercise a degree of free will that may lead to deliverance and salvation. The Greek word used for having a demon (daimonizonmenoi) is more literally translated “demonized” (See Matthew 4:24; Mark 1:32; Luke 8:36; John 10:21), which means to be influenced, afflicted, or tormented in some way by demonic power. We see this happening in the life of Saul, Israel’s first king. Scripture tells us that, “God changed Saul’s heart” (1 Samuel 10:9), with the next verse saying that “the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he joined in their prophesying” (1 Samuel 10:10). However, a few chapters later, as he began to disobey and refused to listen to God's voice, and even to reject the Word of the Lord (1 Samuel 15:26), we are told that an evil spirit tormented him (1 Samuel 16:14). I believe that a Christian can be demonized and influenced. Demons Influence People Through their Thoughts Demons can influence the thoughts of both Christians and not-yet-believers. We are told not to believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are of God (1 John 4:1). Paul the Apostle writes to his young disciple, Timothy, who is being trained for the ministry, instructing him to gently teach his opponents, in the hope that they may be released from the devil's grip: 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26and 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 Timothy 2:25-26). There are those in the media and around us who seek to influence our decision-making through manipulation and deception. People do not realize that evil spiritual forces implant thoughts into their minds, hoping to bend their decision making. Paul talks about those who have been “taken captive to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:26). Demons will speak even through those in our family and friendships. Often, they will not even know why they have said such things that issue from their mouths. In the middle of such attacks be spiritually aware! The enemy will use those who are influential in our family to try to dissuade us from walking closely with Christ. Isn't this what happened to Jesus through Peter the Apostle? When Jesus began to tell the disciples that He was going to Jerusalem to die in place of guilty man, Peter began to rebuke Him. “’Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’” Guess whose thoughts were sown into his mind at that point? Jesus knew the source of that thought. He said to Peter (or the spirit that was speaking through him), “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” (Matthew 16:23). All these words were spoken just after the Spirit of God had revealed to Peter who Jesus was, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16). Take care of your thought life. In another place, the Father directed Jesus to get into a boat to deliver a man from a classic case of a territorial spirit that ruled over an area to the east of the Sea of Galilee. The enemy tried to head off the attack by manipulation of the wind and the sea. 35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." 36Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" 39He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" 41They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"(Mark 4:35-41). Let me ask you a question—Have you ever before spoken to an inanimate object? Don’t you think it kind of odd to have a chat with the wind and the waves? Being an ex-fisherman from England, I can confidently tell you that there are many days when it was stormy on the North Sea, and yet I never cursed the wind and the waves for blowing hard. The word rebuked (v.39) is the same Greek word Epitimaō that Jesus spoke to the demonized boy in the passage of Scripture that we mentioned earlier. Why would Jesus use such strong words to speak to the wind and the waves? It was because the Father had sent Him to deliver the man called Legion in the following passage. Satan guessed that he had better try and stop Jesus from the deliverance that happened (Mark 5:1-20). It was so supernatural that even the waves became instantly still. Take a moment to picture this! That is not a natural phenomenon at all. When the wind stops, the wave movement still carries on for several hours depending on the strength of the wind. Four of the disciples, possibly five, were fishermen who had fished that water for some time and yet they were terrified at such a supernatural thing as the waves becoming still. Jesus speaking authoritatively to the wind and waves was resistance to demonic attack. Let’s now take a look at the passage of Scripture just after the supernatural stopping of the winds and the waves: 1They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. 2When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 4For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. 6When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me!" 8For Jesus had said to him, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit!" 9Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many." 10And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. 11A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12The demons begged Jesus, "Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them." 13He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. 14Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region (Mark 5:1-17). Question 5) What do we learn about the destructive life this man was experiencing? Why did the people of the nearby town plead with Jesus to leave? What causes people to respond with fear when they see a power encounter like this? I notice that Jesus commanded the spirit to tell Him his name (verse 9). Those that have a lot of experience in ministering deliverance believe that being forced to reveal its name and nature by a higher spiritual power weakens the demon's hold. Luke in his Gospel also mentions the story about Legion, adding that this man for a long time had not worn clothes or lived in a house (Luke 8:27). He had lived naked in the tombs. Mark tells us that, night and day among the graves, he had been crying out and cutting himself with stones to destroy himself, such being the torment of the man's inner life. I love that the Lord had heard his cry and went across the Sea of Galilee to minister to Him. I love the fact that, as soon as the man saw Jesus, he ran to Him. There was a battle going on for his soul, for as soon as he came before Jesus, he fell on his knees, recognizing his need. It seems it was the demons that spoke through him, though, begging not to be tortured. I notice that they still wanted to reside in a host, even though it was pigs, two thousand in number (Verse 13). I do not know why Jesus allowed them to go into the pigs, except that, perhaps, it was a visual reminder to the man delivered that the spirits had indeed left him: he saw what happened to the pigs. It is likely that the Jews in the area were compromising God’s law for economic reasons. Jews were not allowed to eat pork, and a large herd of pigs is a lot of bacon, which would be worth a lot of money. It is a possibility that they were not eating it themselves but selling it to the Gentiles (non-Jews) in the area. The city of Damascus, the Syrian capital, was just a few miles away. It would have been a good reason why the people in the area did not want Jesus around but asked him to leave, i.e., they were afraid of more loss of revenue. Unfortunately, many reject Christ for economic reasons, putting money as more of a priority in their lives than Jesus. What about you? Who comes first in your life? Is Jesus your Lord? He left the safe shores of Western Galilee to release a man who was naked and crying out in torment. He cares about every one of us. What need do you have in your life that is causing you pain and misery? Call out to Him with all your heart. I am convinced that He will leave the 99 that are safe and look for the one lost: 4Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? (Luke 15:4) You are never beyond our Lord's eyes or the compassion of His heart. He can see what you are going through. He knows it all, and He loves you. Cry out to Him with all your heart, and if you are not in the family yet, come to Him and learn of Him, for He is gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul (Matthew 11:29). We have not been sent to battle without protection. When we sense that we are amid warfare, there are two things we need to remember. One is that the battle is the Lord’s and, secondly, that He is victorious over all the works of the enemy. We are citizens of His Kingdom, and as His citizens, we take His kingdom with us wherever we go. When we are praying for those who do not know Christ, be aware that you are in a battle. As you pray for them, ask for them to be released from any spiritual forces that would blind them. People who are in darkness do not know that they are in darkness. It is possible for people even to read the Scriptures and still be blinded to the truth contained in them. We can take authority as we pray because Jesus is victorious and the battle is the Lord’s! For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38). Prayer: Father, I pray that you will deliver me from every evil deed. Grant me the power to live a life of purity and freedom from all demonic forces. Deliver me from evil, for yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, Amen!