I had a weird thing happen the other morning. I was driving down a four-lane street with heavy traffic that leads to a cloverleaf on-ramp to Interstate 5. We’re all going about 50 miles per hour when I look ahead of me and people are slowing down fast!
My first thought is a deer or something in the road. Then I see her. This crazed woman is walking right into the middle of the turn off lane swinging a cloth or something hit cars. Several cars swerved to miss hitting her including me!
I thought to myself, “Schizophrenic or demon-possessed?”
Clearly this woman was in crisis, and I noticed others behind me had time to stop and were presumably trying to get her off the road. Obviously, our go-to is just thinking she’s crazy but in today’s ever darkening world demon-possession is not out of the question!
Does that surprise you that I’m saying that? It shouldn’t.
Look how the Bible describes the demon-possessed:
Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man
5 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.[a] 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 4 For 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. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”
9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.
11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the impure 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.
14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 When 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. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis[b] how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
This story is perhaps the best known but there are many instances where Jesus exorcised demons.
As someone who does pastoral counseling, there is actually a process to determine if someone is being oppressed or possessed (less likely) by a demon. First, you have to rule out any organic (physical, mental, emotional) causation for the person’s aberrant behavior. Honestly, 9.8 times out of ten it’s a healthcare issue not a spiritual issue, and in those cases it’s mostly a mental health issue.
Yeah, I know that there are pastors out there who don’t believe in psycho babel and believe that every person we call schizophrenic has a demon. I just can’t get there with them on that one. We are fallen creatures and that includes our brains which have fallen chemical releases, fall pathways, and chemicals and pathways that malfunction due to trauma and abuse. So, no, not every mental health issue is a demon!
But I won’t go so far as to say that every person who seems to have a mental health issue isn’t demon affected! Let me tell you a story!
I was preaching at the Salem, OR United Gospel Mission Men’s Mission several years ago. I was preaching that night on Hell and was using the book 23 Minutes in Hell as an illustration. Now, that group usually had a number of schizophrenics in attendance which I was used to. That night, however, there was a guy I hadn’t seen before, and he was clearly not in his right mind.
As I’m preaching, he’s talking back almost arguing with me. As I’m explaining what Hell is really like, he gets up and leaves in a huff. No biggie – happens. After I get done one of the UGM staff comes to me and tells me this guy complained that I was preaching out of something other than the Bible. I explained what I was doing and was told I couldn’t actually use the book – I could tell stories from it but not actually have it in my possession while I preached. Well, I’m not good with that sort of thing so told this staffer that nobody tells a preacher what he can preach and cannot preach other than God. There is pulpit freedom and I claim it. I had been preaching there for more than two years so they knew me pretty well. Then I asked him why he believed a schizophrenic guy who didn’t want Hell discussed over me?
That’s when it hit me. That was no schizophrenic. That was a demon-possessed man trying to get a man of God to stop telling others about Hell!!
I’ll be honest and say that I was really taken by surprised by the enemy on that one. I just didn’t recognize the demon for what he was in the moment. He just seemed like another crazy guy to me. Today I look more closely at these things so I’m not taken by surprise!
As I look at today’s world, I’m actually stunned at how boldly evil presents itself. But I think we need to define evil before I get too deep into this.
Evil is anything that goes against what God says – Period.
I know a lot of people don’t like that because they feel it takes away their free will to do what they want. I’d argue that it doesn’t take away your free will at all – you can do what you want – but you may choose to do things that God says is rebellion against His commands which is evil. Your choice.
And never forget this: God is God and you are not. God is not “like” us, He is OTHER than us. We are made in HIS image not the other way around. We are the creation not the creator. That all means that He gets to make the rules not us.
But because of free will, many are choosing to rebel against God and His commands. What they are really choosing is to be their own gods – “…your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5(b). Emphasis added.
Satan has been trying to get us to be our own God’s since the beginning. He lies, tempts, guides, whispers, oppresses and yes, possesses to do so! And being our own gods means we make the rules and no level of depravity is off limits when we are the ones defining what is good and evil.
We know that Satan is the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) having dominion over it after Adam and Eve relinquished their role in the Garden (they had ONE JOB!!). And as the god of this world, Satan has established the playing rules. As time marches on, American has become what people call “post-Christian” in its culture and Satan is moving powerfully to replace Christian culture with his own.
So, what are the satanic influences in America? This is going to piss some of you off but let me list them off the top of my head:
- Lack of Love
- Hating the sinner not just the sin
- Not correcting in gentleness and love
- Not praying for those different than you
- Not loving all of God’s creation
- Not being concerned about people going to Hell
- Being self-focused
- Not telling the truth
- Hate of anyone
- Denominations in the Church
- Separations by race
- Separations by sex
- Political polarization
- Arrogance toward others
- Fornication (sex outside of marriage between a man and woman)
- Lasciviousness (an overt and offensive sexual desire)
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse
- Idolatry (anything that comes before God in your life)
- Witchcraft (including the occult and even astrology)
- Lust (people or things to include envy)
- Love is Love
- God hates people
- God is the cause of pain and suffering
- You can be a good person without Jesus
- Non-Christians act more “Christian” than Christians
- The church is full of hypocrites
- So long as you harm no one else you can do as you please
- Truth is relative
- There is no Hell
- There is no God
- Jesus was just a good man
- The Bible is just a bunch of great stories
- Biblical miracles didn’t actually happen
There’s a lot more but you get the idea.
Now, here’s the question: how much of this has been normalized in our society?
If your answer is most of it, you’re right!
In fact, most of these demonic-influenced actions are so normalized that if you say they are demonic-influenced you’re the nut!
To be honest, there is nothing new going on here. Satan has been using the same tactics since the beginning. Deceive, confuse, divide, and turn each of us against one another. It happened in the Garden of Eden between Adam and Eve, it happened between Cain and Abel, it happened with Joseph and his brothers, it happened between Saul and David, it happened between David and Uriah, it happened between Job and his friends, it happened between the 70 disciples and Jesus, it happened between Judas and Jesus, it happened between the religious leaders and Jesus, it happened between Paul and some of his initial fellow workers, and it continues to happen today.
The truth is as Christ followers we will always be in conflict with Satan. And that means that we will always be in conflict with the culture in which we live because Satan constantly works to corrupt God’s creation through those who choose evil over God’s truths.
According to a September 15, 2022 NPR report, “The U.S.’s Christian majority has been shrinking for decades. A Pew Research Center study shows that as of 2020, about 64% of Americans identify as Christian. Fifty years ago, that number was 90%.”
However, according to a Gallup poll dated July 6, 2022, “A record-low 20% of Americans now say the Bible is the literal word of God, down from 24% the last time the question was asked in 2017, and half of what it was at its high points in 1980 and 1984. Meanwhile, a new high of 29% say the Bible is a collection of “fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.”
Thus, only 68 million Americans truly believe the God’s word out of a total population of 344 million plus. And the number of true believers is going to shrink according to all the projections.
Conversely, Satan’s numbers are going to increase with those rebelling against God growing.
There are four scripture verses that are coming to mind that really fit our current situation in American Christianity.
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3)
“…in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.” (John 16:2(b))
“The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.” (Revelation 16:8-9)
The most important question you can ask in any given situation is, “So what?”
Does any of this even matter? We know Jesus wins in the end and those of us in Christ live happily eternally after. Should we care? Shouldn’t we just do our best to keep our heads down and wait upon the Lord?
While very appealing, that’s not what scripture tells us to do. As evil increases, we are called to confront that evil in truth and love.
You see, people are blinded! They have no idea what they are doing. And how could they? They are not indwelt by the Holy Spirit from whom they would have revelation, conviction, discernment, understanding, and guidance. Without the Holy Spirit we would be just like them – and in fact many of us (me included!) were just like them before we sold out for Jesus. No, we don’t hate these evil doers. We pity them! We don’t want any of them to experience an eternity in Hell. We want to reach as many of them as possible to see if we can help them unshackle themselves from Satan’s deceptions and take off those blinders to find the glorious light of Christ!
I’m getting fired up!! LET’S GO!!!!!
Yes, the world is going to get darker and darker which is brutal to watch. But we are the light of the world and even a small match can light an entire room!
Too many American churches have left the fight. They’ve caved to Satan’s culture and have become apostate. I tell my friends in these churches that I’d rather go before Jesus and explain to Him why I believed what the Bible says instead of trying to explain to Him why I didn’t. Sadly, I expect more and more churches to fold to the pressure.
But for those of us who stand firm we are called to fight this spiritual battle by doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord. We tell people about Jesus, their need for a savior, the consequences of embracing sin and rebelling against God, and the free gift of Grace through faith.
We shouldn’t expect anything but mocking and slurs when we do this – it’s what they did to our Master so it’s what they will do to us. But we MUST tell the truth about the Good News of Jesus.
Friends, there is a spiritual war going on whether you understand it or not. All the evil that is out there is being called good and God’s truths are being called evil. Demonic influences are everywhere! But we in the faith have authority over such things in the name of Jesus and by His saving blood which covers us. May we never forget the power of the Holy Spirit that lives in us so that we continue to share the Jesus we know and that the world so desperately needs to know.
Well said. People don’t want to see or hear the truth, but it must be said. Thank you .