It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination (lit. python spirit) met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment.
–Acts 16:16-18 (NASB)
In Greek mythology, Python (Greek: Πύθων, gen.: Πύθωνος) was the earth-dragon of Delphi, always represented in Greek sculpture and vase-paintings as a serpent. He presided at the Delphic oracle, which existed in the cult center for his mother, Gaia, “Earth,” Pytho being the place name that was substituted for the earlier Krisa.
My Religion Believes in That?
The Bible, and particularly the New Testament, is replete with tales of demon-possessed people who usually appear in the narrative on the occasion of being driven out of the human host by Jesus or one of his apostles. Up until now, I haven’t given any more thought to demon possession in the world today than I have seeing a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. If Cessationists such as John MacArthur believe that the overt manifestations of the Holy Spirit of God ended with the apostolic era, I can believe that the flip side of the coin is also true: the end of demonic possession and supernaturally evil activity on Earth at the closure of Biblical canon.
Imagine my surprise when this topic came up in Church last Sunday and I discovered that demonic spirits were alive and well in the world around us.
It wasn’t just one person, but many people at church, people I admire and respect, people who I believe to be “tzaddikim” (saintly people), were speaking of demons in a very real, credible, and present way.
Let me explain my hesitancy to go down this road.
The last person I knew who talked about demons blamed them for everything that went wrong in her life. If she lost her keys, it was because of a key-hiding demon. If her coffee maker broke, a demon was responsible for that, too. Anything that happened to anyone around her was also demon-caused. A teenage daughter of one of her friends ran away from home and fell in with a bad crowd, so naturally, she had become demon possessed (as opposed to being a rebellious teenager who ran away from home and fell in with a bad crowd).
You can see why that experience colored my perception of the existence of demons in the modern world.
But I was told a few things in church yesterday. For instance, demonic activity falls on a scale with mere influence on a person being at the low end and full possession and control being at the high end. That means at least some of the bad things that people do or that happen to them (apparently) does have a supernatural source.
I recall when I first became a believer, I was attending a different church. In Sunday school one morning, when the teacher asked for prayer requests, a woman behind me tearfully said that her family was under attack. I thought someone was harassing her household, like an angry neighbor or ex-spouse, but her next words were something about the Adversary (Satan) compelling her husband to gamble away the family’s funds. My immediate (but internal…I didn’t say a word) response was that maybe the “demon” was just her husband’s bad judgment. It’s more convenient to blame an external tormentor than to take responsibility for your own actions.
But maybe I’m being judgmental. You’re going to have to tell me.
What Do Christians Believe About Demons?
I discovered last Sunday, that there are even “symptoms” that can tell you if a person is demon-possessed. Here’s a list:
- Overwhelming fear: the possessed person is always afraid to an excessive degree.
- Aversion to anything Biblical/Spiritual: the possessed person can’t stand to listen to scripture being read or any reference to Jesus or God.
- Pseudo-miracles: the possessed person is capable of supernatural acts.
- Sexual compulsion: demons are sensual beings and are obsessed with all manner of sexuality.
- Compulsion: the possessed person may exhibit other types of unhealthy compulsive behavior.
- Involvement in the occult: the possessed person will likely be involved in the occult including witchcraft and necromancy (I’m combining two symptoms here since they are so alike).
- Suicidal/Homicidal: the possessed person may try to severally injure or kill themselves or other people.
- Inner voice: the possessed person will hear an “inner voice” which presumably is the demon.
- Angel of Light: in seeming contradiction to all of the above, the possessed person can also appear as a very holy and good Christian, getting listeners to believe the one critical lie they’re telling among many other truths.
Fortunately on that Sunday, I was seeing a friend for coffee in the afternoon, a man who has been a Christian for over forty years and whose opinion I highly regard. I “mined his mind” for information on this topic and even he confirmed that demons exist. He said he had been at one exorcism (here in Boise) that he regarded as valid. We did talk about the differences between real and fraudulent experiences, and he acknowledged that some “exorcists” make quite a racket out of this sort of activity, just like fake faith healings, and other sorts of chicanery that occur on the fringes of the Christian world.
I also went online to see what I could find on this topic. Was this belief limited to certain denominations? Not according to About.com. Just about all mainstream Christian denominations believe that Satan or evil spirits can affect human beings in the world today. This includes the Assembly of God, Baptist, and Lutheran branches of the Church.
I had heard that even Bible-believing cessationist and rationalist John MacArthur believed demons were real in the present world, and not only did I find an article he wrote substantiating this, but I heard that John MacArthur had been physically attacked by a demon-possessed person in his own church.
A person in my Sunday school class said she was an eyewitness to the event and that the scary part was that the possessed person had been a member of the church for years and, previous to the attack, was considered in high regard as a Christian (I guess this demon was able to tolerate listening to teachings about Jesus, in contradiction to an item in the bullet point list above).
Unfortunately, a quick Google search didn’t find any documentation describing the attack, but apparently it’s well-known in some circles.
John MacArthur doesn’t believe the Holy Spirit can be manifest in our world today but believes he was attacked by a person who was physically inhabited by an evil, demonic spirit. I guess this goes a long way in explaining why he has accused a half-million Pentecostals and Charismatics of being influenced and maybe even possessed by demons instead of the Holy Spirit of God.
I’m not trying to beat up MacArthur or to ridicule the beliefs of who knows how many Christians, but I’m still dazed that I am part of a faith that accepts demonic influences and possession as facts in our day-to-day world.
What Do Jews Believe About Demons?
Demonic possession and many other matters related to the occult appear throughout the Bible. The Torah (see Lev. 19:26 and Deut. 18:14) forbids the Jewish people from becoming involved with any occult practice (not that these prohibitions stopped King Saul). What does Judaism today think about demons and demon possession (and yes, I know that the different streams of modern Judaism probably have different takes on this).
Belief in demons is thus generally present but very peripheral in the Jewish scheme. No representative thinker, for instance, ever thought of dubbing Ibn Ezra a heretic because he refused to believe in demons. Needless to say, sophisticated Jewish thinkers who did believe in the existence of demons did not think of these as little devils with forked tails breathing fire but as spiritual forces which God has unleashed in the world for purposes of His own, or as harmful psychological processes which take place in the human mind.
-Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs
“Do Jews Believe in Demons?”
First and foremost it is important to know that absolutely everything in our universe was created by G-d, both what appears to us to be good and what appears to be evil.
Our concept of Satan is an angel created by G-d whose job it is to tempt us. As explained in the Book of Job, Satan cannot operate without G-d’s permission and directive.
There is room in our philosophy for a belief in demons and other malevolent forces but, again, they are creations of G-d and exist as tools to steer us in the right direction and to avoid pitfalls.
-Rabbi Azriel Schreiber
“Demons, Ghosts, and Evil Spirits”
So, generically, there is some belief in the existence of demons in Judaism, but it doesn’t seem to be raised to the level of concern I’ve discovered in some areas of Christianity, and like the concept of the “evil inclination” or yetzer hara, it is not something that is evil in an absolute sense, but was created (like everything else in the universe) by God for the purpose of guiding human beings “in the right direction and to avoid pitfalls.”
I did manage to find one rather “dynamic” conversation at Patheos.com about whether or not demons currently exist, but it seems that the overwhelming majority of Christians polled on this question absolutely believe in the existence of evil, demonic spirits.
I’ve got enough challenges in my life of faith without having to be concerned about unseen spiritual forces lurking in the etheric shadows just waiting to slice and dice me in some paranormal manner. Granted, as a person of faith, I have taken on board a belief in the supernatural by definition, but should I walk down the street each day wondering who in the crowd may be possessed by a demon? Feedback would be helpful. Just how worried should I be, or is all this some sort of ancient, theological holdover from a past that should have long since faded away?
If John MacArthur believes in the cessation of all revelation or demonstration of power from God’s Holy Spirit post-closure of Biblical canon, then why does he give credence to the (apparently) vast power of the Adversary to do harm to people in the here and now?
24 thoughts on “Does the Girl Next Door Have a Python Spirit?”
The thing about the demon possessed being unable to listen to scripture is a lie – the bible is not something to be idolised. When it happened to me I was teaching the word of God, incorrectly though. I was totally afraid of everyone else becoming possessed, of my wife taking the Mark of the beast from an antichrist and so much more. I appeared to be a crazy man.i thought my psychic ability had come from the Rauch and was to used for good. I realised I was possessed when things in the room began to move and I was being poked by an unseen force one night, and in my vision was an ever present purple eye, not too different from the Horus of Egypt eye or the illuminati symbol of the conspiracies.
I cannot describe to you the horror of my life for the two weeks leading up to that moment, and my wife was actually not far from leaving me, thankfully at that moment I knew what had happened, and I prayed like I’d never prayed before, praying how I aphasia read to pray in the bible and not how the cultish Christians had taught me with the sinners prayer.
… I now know the power of demons when you give them that power over you.
They only have power over you when you somehow invite them in.
My family genuinely thought I was crazy, I genuinely thought they were demon possessed (and not that I was) and I kept trying to get them to pray to Jesus. It was horrible.
Greetings, Torah and Mashiach. Thanks for your comments.
I really don’t know what to say. All this is so far outside my experience, I’m not sure how to respond. Whatever happened to you, I’m glad that things got sorted out and that your wife and family didn’t leave you. I pray that God guards all our steps and that we turn neither left nor right, but remain on the path He has set before us.
As for worrying about an encounter with someone possessed by a demon (or even a legion of ’em), I suspect you needn’t be any more concerned than about encountering someone crazed by drugs or extreme psychological disorder. In fact, the scriptural record suggests that you might be better off encountering the former, because “he that is in you is greater than he that is in the world” (1Jn.4:4), and you could just cast out the demon(s). However, if psychological damage has already occurred due to toxic demonic exposure, the victim will undoubtedly require additional help. As with any other malady, careful diagnosis is indispensable; and numerous psychological symptoms may mask underlying spiritual assaults and exposures. I doubt that you can find any neurological studies evaluating whether brain chemistry imbalances may have been impelled or exacerbated by demonic exposure or infection. It’s probably extremely rare in modern western societies to see psycho-somatic physical symptoms of demonic activity such as were reported in the medieval era and in some more-or-less modern African and southeast Asian missionary fields. I imagine there are few psychological therapy practitioners who include in their repertoire any diagnostics for spiritual root causes, and fewer still who include demon-eliminating therapies, though it might not be entirely outrageous to do so if only they knew how and when to apply them. I imagine that the suggestion is still entirely hypothetical that human thought might be as capable of affecting brain chemistry as the chemistry has been demonstrated to affect thought or mood. Is chemistry only causative and mood only an effect, or can they be reversed? If thought can modify brain chemistry, then demonic activity certainly can do so.
Jewish thought doesn’t frequently deal with the demonic model of affects on the human psyche or neshamah, probably because an environment of Torah immersion would tend to immunize against demonic intrusion as it excludes all other gods. Of course, the entire basis of the demonic model depends on the notion of created supernatural beings, angels who became demons by exercising at least one irrevocable choice to rebel against their creator HaShem and becoming stuck in that mode of thought and behavior due to the lack of a mechanism for change and redemption such as was provided for humans. Nonetheless, symptoms of such a model appear in the apostolic accounts to be addressed by Rav Yeshua, so we moderns have no suitable basis to dismiss it. However, since Jewish thought emphasizes that HaShem is fully in control of both goodness and destructiveness (i.e., “evil”), the existence of demonic activity cannot be construed as anything more than a nuisance that can be combatted, just as are bacteriological and viral infections. Torah addresses psycho-spiritual health as well as physical health.
But I suppose this has been more than enough miscellaneous musing on the subject.
There’s a verse in James, I think, that says, do not let the advesary get a foothold in your life, which is where most people believe that a demon can come into a Spirit filled Christian. There are some that don’t believe a demon can live in the temple of the Holy Spirit at the same time. You will get all kinds if opinions on this subject. King Saul opened himself up to demons and got them. He was in rebellion, which is witchcraft. David would play his harp, assumably psalms to the L-rd, and the demons would leave.
Torah and Mashiach, I have had similar experiences before I was ‘saved’ and Yeshua radically saved me and cleansed me from sin. I broke all agreements with the demons and instead agreed with G-d’s word. There were things in my life that I had allowed to open up to demons who had a legal right to come in and control me. But those agreements can be broken by repentance and turning to G-d.
My husband & I worked with a program called Cleansing Stream for 10 years. We went through the course first and then trained to help other people go through it. We saw a lot of things happen in the spiritual world. I could tell stories for a long time. The thing is, G-d is greater and stronger than the enemy and doesn’t want any to perish.
It’s not a subject that is talked about freely, unless you are in a group that emphasizes this kind of ministry. There’s also a lot of goofy stuff out there so you have to be well informed before getting into it. I don’t think we need to look for demons at every corner but don’t be naive either. Deliverance comes through healing and the 2 are closely related.
I had this long response written & lost the whole thing. Must have a demon in this phone. Ha
I’ve had similar experience to Torah and Mashiach back when I was younger. Through prayer and repentance I was saved into Yeshua.
Agreements have to be broken with demons or evil spirits. It’s done through repentance. We give footholds to evil spirits by our actions, like exploring porn or hating someone and refusing to forgive. Or it could be as simple as reading tarot cards or horoscopes. The Bible says to stay away from that stuff for a reason. Our curiosity gets us in trouble and gives a legal right for evil spirits to come in. But we can break those legal agreements through repentance.
My husband and I were involved with a deliverance and healing ministry for 10 years. I could tell you lots of stories. It’s not something I talk about in polite conversation.
Pray for people. Life is sometime pretty harsh and they need deliverance and healing.
While not an authority on any of this … my reading of various books … do include thoughts along these lines. ** The ancient Hebrews believed in evil spirits who were capable of in-dwelling humans. They were mentioned in Judges, 1 Kings and 1 Samuel. However, these beliefs did not form a major part of the religious belief system when compared to the beliefs of the Pagan tribes surrounding them.
Some Rabbi’s, during the 1st century CE, began to believe in Satan as a profoundly evil entity controlling hordes of demons. Among other things, the forces of evil [were considered to] promote injustice, the oppression of the people of God, idolatry, deception and violence.”
I have read that ” theologians” believe these concepts were picked up from the Zoroastrian faith in Persia many centuries earlier during the Hebrew’s captivity in Babylonian. Zoroastrians believe in an all-good deity and an all-evil deity of equal powers. This may have morphed into an evil Satan accompanying Yahweh as two main supernatural forces in the universe.
I have read that Judaism does not believe in demonic possession. Rambam (Maimonides) wrote on this point in Moreh Nevuchim (The guide for the perplexed) in the 12th century that demonic possession does not exist. In Moreh Nevuchim the Rambam stated that “demonic possession” is either the result of a physical ailment (such as epilepsy) or mental ailment (such as shizophrenia). This is the line followed by Orthodox Jews: demonic possession does not exist.
AND there are individuals in various Kabbalist groups ( perhaps most Jews see them as cults) that teach about demonic possession and do exorcisms (for a fee!) Gershon Winkler is one of these- once an Orthodox Rabbi, he has left Judaism and teaches Kabbalah, new age religion and Judaism … which some Jews feel breaks virtually every Jewish law but … appeals to masses of people.
In the book, Messengers of God, on pg. 15 the author describes an earlier woman created by G-d BEFORE Eve. Lilith was her name and she was the mother of demons. Kabbalist reasonings…
Actually, I think both responses made it, Esther.
Thanks for the long dissertation, PL. So far, there continues to be a body of people supporting the activity of demonic spirits in the present age. Knock me over with a feather. I never thought to take such things seriously.
Hi, Pat. I agree that in Jewish thought there is some substantiation of demons, but (apparently except for kabbalah) it is given much less emphasis than in the Christian world, as PL mentioned above.
I think if you believe in angels, then you should probably believe that some of them are fallen. If you believe that Lucifer rose up against God, then you must also believe that he exists, and according to Genesis, is on this earth and can influence people..not for good.
“We do not flight against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, and spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places” Eph 6;
Yes, there is a LOT of craziness out there. But C.S. Lewis had it exactly right when he talked about the two equally bad errors we can enter when considering the influences of evil spirits. One is to believe that they are everywhere and all powerful, and the other is to disbelieve in them at all.
The truth is this, when we are full of the Holy Spirit and walking in relationship with God (the Trinity), then we have nothing to fear. In fact, if we belong to God and are blowing it, we need only repent, and we still have nothing to fear. When we are surrounded by evil, as Corrie Ten Boom was in Ravensbruck. We have nothing to fear. When we are surrounded by deception as Daniel was in the midst of Babylon. We have nothing to fear.
The truth is, yes demons exist and have influence on this earth. More than we would like to admit sometimes. But the fact is, we have been given the power, and when we exercise that power, when we live in that power, that is when we see victory come. But it is “not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.”
In this journey of life, we serve One who is all powerful, infinitely loving, and greater than we can imagine, we will always be given what we need to deal with the task at hand. If what we need is a word fitly spoken, we will get that, or knowledge, it will be given to us.
When it comes to spiritual warfare, I have experience. And over the years I have come to realize that putting my focus on Jesus, and not demons, is the best way to fight. As soon as the focus changes to the demons, it always seems to end up with demons around every corner.
At least that’s been my experience, and I believe in this, I am backed up by scripture. There are some good points also raised by others in this conversation.
Thanks for commenting, Dree. The more people who comment, the better handle I can try to get on this.
I won’t repeat many of the good points that have already been mentioned. Someone once explained to me that a demon is to the spiritual realm what a germ is to the physical. Germs need the proper environment to multiply and cause damage: weak immune system, a wound that is not cleaned, treated and closed, exposure to contagious persons or contaminated substances, etc. You can see where this is going. I am curious as to what JM did in response to the supposedly demon-possessed person who showed up at his church besides call for security? The discerning of spirits is one of the gifts (that some don’t believe in) and it certainly is reasonable that we would not be left without this necessary knowledge. The problem with the “demon behind every bush,” crowd, is that it is certainly attractive to believe all your character weaknesses are due to demons that can be cast out in an instant, rather than require serious work and sacrifice to overcome. Yet, let’s not be so cynical we become foolish and therefore complacent and disarmed in relation to spiritual forces of darkness.
Hello James. I appreciate your posts.
For what it’s worth, I was a member of John MacArthur’s congregation for about 20 years. In general, I believe he takes the right general approach to teaching the Bible in that he presents scripture book by book and verse by verse, explaining things in context. I respect him for that and I wish more pastors taught that way.
I certainly don’t agree with everything he teaches (e.g. young earth creationism), and I think he does tend to be overconfident and dogmatic on certain issues.
Regarding demons, I largely agree with Dree’s comments, above. I do believe the Bible teaches that there are angels and fallen angels (demons), and that they are active in the world today.
However, I know of no scripture that instructs us about how to identify people who are demon possessed, let alone any scriptural support for the idea that we are supposed to even try. I suppose that if I saw a little girl with a spinning head throwing heavy furniture around, I would be convinced.
But there is a great danger in Christians going around making confident pronouncements about what demons are doing and who is being possessed by them. To generalize a bit, I believe that many Christians feel way too much liberty when it comes to declaring things about the spiritual realm, whether it be about what God is doing, or about what Satan is doing. These Christians fail to adequately take into consideration the possibility that they are wrong.
If they are wrong, these Christians are guilty of all some serious offenses. They may be misrepresenting God, which would make them false prophets. They may be bearing false witness against God and others.
First take care of what scripture clearly teaches. Be loving, kind, merciful, and faithful, while humbly seeking knowledge and wisdom. One cannot go wrong this way.
This has been very illuminating for me. I tend to be pretty rational and though I believe in God and in a supernatural realm, I’ve often thought of demon possession as relegated to films like “The Exorcist.”
I posted links on both Facebook and Google+, just to collect a wider variety of responses. The Facebook people generally were not supportive of demons being active in the modern age while the Google+ people were mixed (though it’s a closed group and not the open Google+ environment). I’m not sure what to make of all this yet except to apply Jerry’s last paragraph:
With that, I can find no argument.
I believe it is in Scripture (don’t recall verses) that we are to test the spirits to see if they are from G-d…in any case I am up-lifted by Jerry’s comments and my day will be better for them..good post..have a happy Hannukah/Thanksgiving.
Yes, Pat. It’s from 1 John 4:1:
Happy Chanukah and Thanksgiving to you and yours.
Thank you auntie Lisa for inviting me here to share my thoughts. Since you posted this in the beginning of the week, I have been wanting to share my thoughts but I just could not find time to sit down and write my response until now. This very topic was a concern of mine last year which drove me to study it, and the following is my brief response to such a important and large issue:
I agree. This incorrect understanding of the devil and demons has become a serious serious issue. People wrongfully assign to the devil, the attributes of God. These days the devil is accredited with more power by some than He really has. The devil is a CREATURE. He is not omniscient (he does not know everything), he is not omnipresent ( he can not be everywhere at the same time) and he is not omnipotent ( he is not all powerful). HE IS NOT GOD. He can only do and have dominion over what God has granted him permission. In other words there are parameters under which he can operate. Now I will share further down, what I believe the Word of God teaches us regarding who the devil is, why he exists, how he came to be, etc. But for now I like to answer even a more important question:
Q1- What should the people of God really be concerned with regarding the adversary, this devil and demonic deception?
What the Word of God teaches us and what Christians really need to be concerned with and take seriously, is not that whether they are going to be attacked and possessed by demons, rather that they can be influenced by the Doctrines of Demons, in other words their teachings. Apostle Paul by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit warns Christians :
“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron…”(1Ti 4:1-2)
And then he goes on to give two examples of such teachings: Forbidding of marriage and the advocate of abstaining from certain kinds of foods because :
“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.” (v.4)
The issue is not that demons will possess the people of God, (which is an impossibility because the Holy Spirit ,who has been sent from the Father to seal every believer in Christ Jesus, can not take residence with demons in the same body), but rather the issue is the teachings that corrupt the mind away from the truth of God and result in the a “falling away” from the true faith.
Scriptures also clearly teach that the people of God are engaged in a spiritual warfare:
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” (Eph 6:11-13)
The warning is once again “against the schemes of the devil” and we are called to “ resist the evil day”. So there is and we are engaged in a spiritual war and it is against the devil and forces of this dark world (v.12)
Further the Word of God says : “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. “ (1 Peter 5:8-9)
The devil is not literally a roaring lion and he does not literally devour anyone, but again the warning of Apostle Peter is against the opposition to the truth the devil brings which leads to the persecution of God’s people. It is the same battle since the beginning… “did God really say?” (Gen 3:1) Because the Truth of God sets us apart from this world and that means that we no longer live according to the values of this world. This will make us stand out and the world will notice. And eventually it does lead to persecution of some kind(s). Because the world system is spiritually dead against the things of God and hostile to its truth.
“you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience….”(Eph 2:1-2)
So the world’s evil course and it’s values are according to the devil’s system of lies which sets itself against the Truth of God.
And “with gentleness correct those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2Tim 2:25-26)
So to conclude, opposition to the Truth of God and His Word is what the Scriptures call “the doctrine of demons” and “schemes of the devil” which is according to the course of this world. And Christians must take this very very seriously. If we naively and/or pridefully, ignore or play down these warnings from God, we will find ourselves in a state of disobedience and also in a most vulnerable place. As the Lord himself warned Peter:
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail, and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Lk 22:31)
In other words Peter with all his zeal and confidence could not stand against the satan. The Lord said he can sift you like wheat. You are nothing but a piece of cake for him Peter! Thankfully the Lord prayed for Him and did not give satan permission to deceive Peter.
This is precisely what Christianity teaches. The word “Demonic” in its classical meaning always means something or someone who is influenced by the lies of the evil one. It is NOT demon possession.
On the other hand the conflict within, the sin that so easily entangles us, and the evil thoughts and feelings within us are not to be blamed on demonic powers. It is our sinful nature. As it is written:
“You were [spiritually] dead in your trespasses and sins… lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the FLESH and of the MIND, and were by nature children of wrath” (Eph 2:1-3) And
“ walk by the Spirit [of God], and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.” (Gal 5:16-18)
When God’s people are not in His Word,and are not being sanctified and thought in the truth of His Word, then it is easy to be mislead with the “doctrine of demons”. And they are introduced by false teachers who twist the truth of God for sordid gain:
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. MANY will follow their sensuality, and because of them THE WAY OF THE TRUTH WILL BE MALIGNED; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words” (2Pe 2:1-3)
Malign = Having or showing an evil disposition, evil in nature or influence
Q2- So who is this adversary the devil and what is his purpose in this world?
Well as correctly mentioned in the article, all is created by God. There is nothing in existence that has not been created by God. But I strongly reject the idea that God created the adversary already in this evil fallen state. Can God do anything? Absolutely NOT. God can not lie. He can not steal. He can not do evil. And He most certainly can not create evil or sin. Because these are contrary to His very nature. If He could do such things then He would not be HOLY and Good. In fact He would be the biggest hypocrite, because these are exactly the things He commands His people to abstain from. Forgive me for such radical system of logic but I must drive this point home. We can not make this blasphemes error that God created the devil to do evil things. God permits the devil to operate his evil for a time but He did not create him evil. God even knew that he would fall after his creation, just like mankind, but at the time of creation he was not evil. The devil was good just as mankind. For all things that Lord our God created were very good.
So then how did the devil come to be what he is?
Well let us turn our attention to what God’s word says. As it is written:
“Again the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God,
“You had the seal of perfection*,
Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty*.
“You were in Eden*, the garden of God;Every precious stone was your covering:
The ruby, the topaz and the diamond;
The beryl, the onyx and the jasper;
The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald;
And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets,
Was in you.
On the day that you were created*
They were prepared.
“You were the anointed Cherub* who covers,
And I placed you there.
You were on the holy mountain of God*;
You walked in the midst of the stones of fire.
“You were blameless in your ways*
From the day you were created
Until unrighteousness was found in you.
“By the abundance of your trade
You were internally filled with violence,
And you sinned;
Therefore I have cast you as profane
From the mountain of God.
And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub*,
From the midst of the stones of fire.
“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty;
You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground;
I put you before kings,
That they may see you.
“By the multitude of your iniquities,
In the unrighteousness of your trade
You profaned your sanctuaries.
Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you;
It has consumed you,
And I have turned you to ashes on the earth
In the eyes of all who see you.
“All who know you among the peoples
Are appalled at you;
You have become terrified
And you will cease to be forever.”’” (Ez 28:11-19)
At first glance the Lord is pronouncing a woe to the king of Tyre and it appears that He is addressing a human King. But a closer look reveals that there is much more going on here for the way that the Lord God describes this “king” is not in any shape or form fitting to a mere human king. Please note all the words that I emphasized with a (*). “You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty, you were in Eden the garden of God, blameless in your ways, anointed Cherub, on the holy mountain of God, blameless in your ways, etc. UNTILL unrighteousness was FOUND in you. “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor (in a simple word: Pride!)” (v.17). The Lord God led prophet Ezekiel to address the king as the one to be judged, but clearly the power behind him was satan the devil.
This should not be unfamiliar to us. We know from Daniel’s account that the Angel of the Lord was held back by the “price of Persia” and Michael the arch Angel had to come and to help set him free. Let’s read the account:
“He said to me, “O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia.” (Da 10:11-13)
Now how is it possible for a human king to restrain an Angel of God? It is not. Again I see here that the Angel of the Lord was held back the power behind the persian empire which was the devil. Again in Isaiah we find the same thing where this time God is pronouncing judgment on the king of Babylon but there is more to the woe of God:
“How you have fallen from heaven,
O star of the morning, son of the dawn!
You have been cut down to the earth,
You who have weakened the nations!
“But you said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the recesses of the north.
‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
“Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol,
To the recesses of the pit.” (Is 14:12-15)
So from study of these passages and more I conclude that the devil was created by God as a holy angel, a Cherub like one of the four Isaiah saw in the temple (Is 5), Ezekiel saw carrying the Lord’s throne/chariot (Ez 1) and Apostle John saw in the throne room of God (Rev 4) . He was in the Garden of Eden, righteous and holy until he became prideful and sinned and tempted Adam and Eve. He was thrown out of the garden, out of heaven and out of presence of God. Lord Jesus himself said “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning…” (Lk 17:18)
It is also important to recognize that when the Lord God commands someone or something to come before His holy presence, that thing or one can not resist His divine imperative. That’s why the adversary satan is back before the throne of God to answer Him as found in the book Of Job (Job 1).
Q3:So how did some Christians came to be where they are in respect to such a false and very confused knowledge of the devil? To the point that everything and anything is credited to the devil or a physical manifestation of demonic activity? To a point that now, in some groups, there is such a fear of the devil rather than the fear and reverence of the Holy Holy Holy God?
The answer is given to us above. A deviation from God’s Word happens when it is replaced with emotionalism, which in turn opens the door for “doctrines of demons” to permeate the church through false teachers who secretly introduce destructive heresies and the way of the truth becomes maligned.(2Pe 2:1-3) Because God’s people are no longer equipped with truth of God’s Word which is His instructions to us. And that is because we have taken lightly all the warning I have mentioned above.
“For the time will come when they will not endure SOUND DOCTRINE; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2Tim 4:3-4) The bride of Christ should grieve about this 😦
Q4:Through what avenue was this confusion about demons and the devil brought in the Christendom?
My honest and true answer might offend some. My apologies in advance. This false teaching began with the charismatic movement of the 20th century.
But praise be to God and Lord of our salvation for He as said “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” – Jesus the Christ (John 6:37) Amen oh Lord our King!
Certainly emotionalism and other sources of blatantly false teaching did not begin with the 20th century charismatic movement. I look at it this way: God gave us both our emotions and reason, but both are limited, errant and corrupt. There is no convincing evidence that the serpent was satan; that is a traditional Christian teaching. But the creation narrative does not delve into the creation of the heavenly beings, and we only have hints about their nature and function. The only, rather weak, referent to satan as possibly being linked to the Eden serpent are two verses in Revelation, but one of these verses also calls satan the dragon, and no one claims that Leviathan was satan.
“Christendom,” for the most part, is the recipient of the Gen. 12:3 curse, and I believe much false belief is a direct result.
“There is no convincing evidence that the serpent was satan; that is a traditional Christian teaching. But the creation narrative does not delve into the creation of the heavenly beings, and we only have hints about their nature and function. The only, rather weak, referent to satan as possibly being linked to the Eden serpent are two verses in Revelation, but one of these verses also calls satan the dragon, and no one claims that Leviathan was satan.”
It’s true that there is no passage stating directly that the serpent was Satan, but in my view, one doesn’t need to connect too many dots to reasonably arrive at that conclusion.
“And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” (Rev 12:9)
So Rev 12:9 identifies Satan as a “serpent of old” who deceives. What serpent of old could this be if not the serpent in Eden?
Paul also mentions the deceiving serpent: “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Cor 11:3). He continues the discussion of people being deceived, and then a few verse later, it implicates Satan directly: “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (2 Cor 11:14).
Finally, the passage in Ezekiel 28:13-14 (quoted by Matt above) seems to suggest that the unrighteous one in Eden was a fallen angel, fitting the description of Satan who appears as an “angel of light”, and who engages in battles in the angelic realm (Jude 1:9, Rev 12:7, Rev 20:1-2).
Given all this, I think there’s quite a good case for concluding that the serpent in Eden is Satan.
James…they are there. Powers and Principalities that we fight against, and also those with little power, that none the less abuse human beings when they can.
They use emotion, fear and anger, pride, arrogance, egotism, and push your emotional buttons primarily to pull you off the straight and narrow.
Spirits however cannot do all that much with a Believer in Yehoshua, except cause oppression, which is a type of emotional darkness…not depression, but an actual darkness that one can feel. Fortunately we have prayer and the Word, and that works. If you ever notice such a thing, grab your Bible, and read it aloud…sing, and pray for protection. The words of the Bible doesn’t affect them…it affects you, and makes you stronger spiritually by reminding you of G-d’s power and promises. And it never hurts to ask for help, not to mention that Yehoshua gave us the power to tell them to go away in His name. Of course, that can take fasting and prayer sometimes, but it works when you get really serious.
But even a Believer can open a door…one guy I knew was fascinated by Native American beliefs, had many devil masks and idols in his house that he kept as collector’s items, and though a professed Believer, would not get rid of the things. Unfortunately, it got to the point where he could actually see demons. As he lived on my property for some 8 years, there was a lot of odd stuff that happened. When I had him leave, a lot of the stuff left, but I had to formally cast out spirits to get them gone.
For those people that do not believe…and are angry, rebellious and prideful…well, sometimes you can actually see the dark spirits around them, and in them…and it’s not pleasant to watch or experience contact with such a person, but the demons cannot harm us unless we give them access. The people being influenced or possessed by demons…it is they who hurt people.
Being in Yehoshua, and under the protection of the Ruach haKodesh, you probably will not see them unless you ask to, or have had previous occult involvement. I got drawn into that as a teenager…it took years to get out despite Belief and Baptism, and that kind of experience leaves you a little more aware of what goes on and what can really happen. These spirits do have access to this existence on our world, and their influence will deepen as we get closer to the end of the age.
I look around at the confused, angry people out there doing the most incredible things for no discernable reason, and wonder how much of what is happening to them was pushed on them by those who are able to do harm by placing thoughts and suggestions in their minds, and how many of them are seeing things and hearing things that draw them further and further away from YHVH, for that is their purpose.
Only a very well trained mind can refuse to hear such things…I am not so fortunate, but I know how to fight back, and win. I am however, still easily tricked for a few moments before I catch on to what should not be in my mind, and literally has no reason to be, and needs to be stomped on quickly before I go off track for a time.
As for the Adversary…he comes only to kill, steal and destroy. He may be limited by YHVH, and the Ruach, but he is there, and his compatriots are as well. Stay in the Word, and in the Ruach, and this kind of trouble may not end up as part of your experience. I sincerely pray that it will never so affect you or yours.
I’m not suggesting that the supernatural doesn’t exist, only that some people become particularly fascinated with the demonic and see demons everywhere. I may have mentioned this above, but I once met a woman who attributed any bad thing or inconvenience in her life to demons, from a broken coffee pot to losing her car keys. To my way of thinking, it’s better to focus on good and not evil:
Good thoughts James.
I’m reading The Good and Evil Serpent by James Charlesworth. Not really devotional material, but fascinating to say the least. I recommend it.
dont be wondering who is demob possessed just know when ur tempted thats like them ring ur doorbell but if u dont let them in god notices that u sent them away but if u never get any visitors it doesnt nececessarilly mean ur holy u just didnt get the chance to choose or u are overlooki g things. Look at yourself before u ask is that person demon possessed because chances are that if u are part of a religion u are geting more “knocks on ur door” than the people u are distracting urself bu trying to judge. Follow the 10 commandments and touch peoples hearts by honestly helping them in the way jesus would and ur mind will be gaurded
If you try and “follow the Ten Commandments” without reading the full text and context of the law (and more), you could be in trouble or in for encountering heartache. I don’t recommend it.