Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Tongues Not A Prayer Language



In order to make sense of how the gifts were used in public worship – we need to have some background.  During the time of the exile in Babylon the synagogue worship grew and expanded.  They could not offer sacrifices so the place in worship where sacrifice had dominated in Israel was replaced by a reading and then an explanation of the law.  We see this pattern in Neh 8:1-8 and then we see it in the New Testament when Jesus taught in the synagogue in Lk 4:16-30.

The time of the New Testament was a time of the fulfillment of many prophesies concerning Jesus.  God had not spoken through prophets for 400 years.  Earlier prophets had told of the coming of the Messiah.  There were a number of things He was to do.  One of them was to seal up vision and prophesy (Dan 9:24).  That’s interesting given that God had been silent in that regard for the previous 400 years.  Other prophets spoke of this function as well. (Zech 13:1-7)

However – the time prior to the closing of the canon of scripture (the finishing of the books of the Bible) was a period of revelation.  It had been prophesied that a Prophet, Jesus, would come and tell us “all things.”(Dt 18:15-19)  Jesus spoke these things to the apostles in John 15:15 even using the words “all things.”  In John 14:6 he promised that the Holy Spirit would bring to the remembrance of the apostles “all things” that He had spoken and in addition would teach them “all things.”   

Jn 16:13-16  However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you (the disciples) into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.  All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” Following the resurrection Jesus equipped them - Jn 20:22  “And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.” The apostles were then to teach “all things” to those who would communicate that message to others “Mt 28:18-20.”  

They were to authenticate that they were speaking for him by the use of “the signs of an apostle ….. in signs and wonders and mighty deeds…” (2 Cor 12:12).  This was just like the Moses in the OT.  He was given signs to convince both the Jews and Pharaoh that he was God’s spokesman.  Moses complained that he was not eloquent – He could not communicate the message although he did understand it. In a method very similar to the interpretation of tongues – Aaron spoke for Moses.  

If the prophet made an untrue prediction or spoke false doctrine – that person was to be executed (Dt 18:20-22).  In New Testament times the prophets, apostles, and tongue speakers were declaring the “Mysteries” of God.  We need to come to an understanding of just what this term means.

A mystery was something that was hidden or secret that was only made know by revelation.  This mystery is said to be the gospel in all of its fullness.  The gospel is so explained in scripture that it requires teachers to help us to see its greatness.  The book of Hebrews shows how Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophesies and the use of the term “mystery” is really explained in that book even though the term is not used.    Salvation has always been by grace through faith in Christ.  In the Old Testament they looked forward to the coming of Jesus.  We now look back at his work on the cross.  Both groups look forward to our eternity with him.  Like the old musical we may well ask – “Who can ask for anything more!”

That “more” is the mystery!  There are at least 2 really big aspects of that mystery that were made known only by Christ and the apostles and prophets in the first century.  While believers in the time before Christ’s life on earth in bodily form looked forward to the Messiah, they did not fully understand how he was revealed in the scriptures that they had.  Even the OT prophets knew this according to 1 Peter:
“Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.” 1 Peter 1:10-12

Just like those who did not have the ability to interpret for the good of the congregation the tongues (languages) in which they spoke, so the prophets in the Old Testament could not make their understanding fruitful in the sense of having a deeper understanding that came after the fuller revelation of Christ when he appeared.  These prophets knew what they were saying.  They often wrote it down, but their understanding of what they wrote was incomplete.
Tongue speakers in the New Testament knew what they were saying – it was a language.  However, just like Moses they did not have the gift to communicate that message.  That is why an interpreter was needed – just like Moses needed Aaron.

So what was the Mystery?  It was at least 2 fold.  God’s people before Christ knew that the kingdom of the Messiah would have some sort of effect on the gentiles. Here are a few examples:
·       Simeon knew that the Messiah would be, “A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel." Lk 2:32
·       The Psalmist even knew that the nations would be the inheritance of the Messiah, “Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.” Ps 2:8
·       Isaiah said that the Gentiles would see the light of the Messiah, “"THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE LAND OF NAPHTALI, BY THE WAY OF THE SEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, GALILEE OF THE GENTILES:  THE PEOPLE WHO SAT IN DARKNESS HAVE SEEN A GREAT LIGHT, AND UPON THOSE WHO SAT IN THE REGION AND SHADOW OF DEATH LIGHT HAS DAWNED." Mt 4:15-16

Yet there was a “Mystery” – something that was not known apart from divine revelation during the time of Christ and the Apostles and Prophets, look at this:
 “Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Eph 2:11-22

This was amazing and the entire New Testament is a commentary of how Jesus was the fulfillment of the promises made to Israel and that now instead of being an ethnically set apart people – the gospel made Jews and Gentiles one people – in Christ!  He explains it again in Eph 3:1-7.  This is an inescapable aspect of the gospel and certainly a Mystery that was understood only by revelation.  The New Testament can’t be understood without it.  

A second aspect of the gospel is the clarity with which Christ is revealed and his work explained.  Hebrews describes Jesus as the fulfillment of what the Old Testament said was going to happen.  Hebrews explains that the fulfillment was so much more than anything the people in the Old Testament could have imagined.  This is truly a mystery – only God himself could reveal it – and he did it through the message of the Apostles and the Prophets:
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

Thus far we have seen that the time and work of the Messiah was discussed as early as the time of Moses.  There was to be revelation during this time.  Jesus used the Apostles and Prophets as his mouthpieces to accomplish what had been spoke of – the revelation of “all things.”  This “all things “’ was the gospel and it included the person and work of Christ and the inclusion of the Gentiles in the people of God.  This was the “Mystery.”

There is yet more to this Mystery – and it is prophesied in Is. 28.   Here is the passage:
1Co 14:21  “In the law it is written: "WITH MEN OF OTHER TONGUES AND OTHER LIPS I WILL SPEAK TO THIS PEOPLE; AND YET, FOR ALL THAT, THEY WILL NOT HEAR ME," says the Lord.”

God was going to bring judgment upon his people for their systematic violation of his covenant.  He did it in a small perhaps typological way in the judgment on his people in the Old Testament.  They were taken captive by Assyia/Babylon and they heard their captives speaking in a language that they did not understand.  This is how God spoke to them – they heard the strange language and knew that the curse was upon them for rejecting God and his covenant.

This is repeated in1 Cor 14:26.  God was once more fulfilling his covenant promise in that he was judging his people and they would hear language they did not know.  This was the anti –typical full fulfillment of that curse because Is 28 is talking about Christ and the gospel - as being the ultimate full fulfillment of prophesy.  Unbelieving Jews heard the preaching of the gospel by those untrained in the language that hearers across the empire knew.  Doom was upon them.  The temple fell in 70 AD and Israel as a country was over.  The covenant of God was continued in the faithful of Israel and the believing gentiles.  They were the New Temple.  The gentiles were grafted into the fig tree of Israel and there was now a spiritual kingdom whose outward manifestation was not the kingdom of Israel but rather the church in it’s local, spiritual, and international composition. 

So what about a “prayer language”?  There are a few verses that, given a modern as opposed to the time between the resurrection and the fall of Jerusalem, understanding - might seem to point to the viability of a “prayer language.”  Here they are:

1.  1Co 14:2  For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.
2.  1Co 14:4  He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
3.  1Co 14:14  For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.
4.  1Co 14:27-28  If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God.
5.  1Co 13:1  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

1.   These are the verses.  The first one 1 Cor 14:2 is determinative.  “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.”   Whenever tongues are spoken the speaker is speaking of the mystery – hidden in the past – revealed as the person speaks of the gospel of Jesus Christ in all of its fullness.  There are no prayer requests or intercession being made.  The speaker is proclaiming the Mystery.  There is no Biblical way around this point.  The only way around is to ignore this verse and rely on one’s own experience instead of scripture.  I don’t recommend that.

2. In 1 Cor 14:4 “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.”  How does he edify himself if he does not understand?  The apostle makes this argument for the church but it surely applies to the individual, “Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?  So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.” 1Co 14:7-9  

Did tongue speakers in the Bible know what they were saying?  I think verses 7-9 demand that they did.  It would be like the case of Moses and Aaron that I spoke of earlier, “Moses complained that he was not eloquent – He could not communicate the message although he did understand it. In a method very similar to the interpretation of tongues – Aaron spoke for Moses.”  In a like manner – the understanding of the tongue speaker did not benefit the church apart from an interpreter – but he was speaking the mystery of the gospel!

This is also illustrated by 1 Pet 1:10-12 “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.”
The prophets of the Old Testament knew what they were saying. They must have in order to write them down. It’s just that they were describing things much like a cowboy in the 1800’s might describe a modern car.  Their understanding was partial and did not become nearly as fruitful until the coming of Jesus.

3.          1Co 14:14  “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.” The previous section demonstrates that the unfruitfulness spoken of indicates that the message was unfruitful if not interpreted – not that it was not understood in some manner by the speaker.

4.          1Co 14:27-28  “If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God.” This passage demonstrates how tongues were handled in the Church.  They were handled just like Prophesy.  They spoke in order and waited for an interpreter.  If there was no interpreter the speaker was speaking the mystery of the gospel but only to God.  

5.          1Co 13:1 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”  It is often said that the prayer language falls in the category of “tongues of angels” a heavenly language.  There are a couple of issues that seriously question this interpretation. 
First, in order to be biblical tongues it must still be the mystery of the gospel that is spoken.  There are no prayer requests going on here.  People often say that they don’t even know what to pray for and that is what the prayer language is for.  Paul, inspired by the Spirit expressly says, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Rom 8:26-27 We never pray the right way!  We always need the Holy Spirit and He always meets that need – apart from tongues!

Secondly, The word used here for speak is the Greek word
“laleō”.  It is used 295 times in the New Testament.  Only here does anyone take it to mean prayer.  I am aware of no Bible translating it to mean prayer. The normal word for prayer is “proseuchomai” and is used 87 times.  I find this interesting.

Conclusion
Biblical tongues were spoken human languages.  They were a sign of God’s judgment on the Jewish state.  The tongue speaker spoke a revelatory message regarding the fullness of the gospel.  In the time after 70 AD there is no more prophetic message for the people of Israel regarding their judgment for rejecting the covenant.  Tongues were not then and are not now a prayer language.













                                      Using a Targum:
                                                   Developed during exile
                                                    “to translate or explain” – like a paraphrase
                                                   Often was a chain of “proof texts”
                                                   Aramaic was the common lanquage
                                                   Neh 8:1-8 How it worked in public worship
                                                               Similar to 2 pulpits by puritans
                                                   Tongues were handled similarly I Cor 14:22-33

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Self Help Strategies for Pain Relief





It’s a sad thing when a person is in pain and there is no one around to help them deal with it.  I know a number of doctors and therapists but they can’t always be there like a phone app.  If you are one of those people – I would like to show you some things that have been helpful for me and those I have treated.

The first thing to do is to have some basic knowledge about what pain is.  Just that knowledge can help to make it less frightening and calm the nervous system down a notch or 2 (sometimes just the knowledge does the trick).  Moment by moment our brain is active.  The nervous system has danger receptors in the body that are constantly active.  Even during sleep our brain is processing that incoming information.  Now comes the point – it’s not pain until the brain says it is!

I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating.  The brain takes in the input from our nervous system – and this includes the brain.  It is part of the nervous system.  It houses our deepest emotions, our thoughts, and it processes the input from the periphery and analyzes it in terms of what it already thinks it knows and what it expects.

If I step on a nail or fall off of a roof there are chances that I might really have an injury.  We know that these injuries heal with scar tissue over a period of a couple months or so.  If pain from an injury goes longer than that we can usually safely assume that we now have sensitized nerves as opposed to an injury.  This is good news – because we can do something about sensitized nerves!

That’s right – here are a few things you can do right now to calm down irritated nerves

·       Breathing
·       Slapping
·       Fidgeting/Squirming
·       Roll Down

That’s 4 – count em 4 things you can do right now!

Breathing



I always enjoy watching a show where someone is having something horrible happening and another character reminds them to breath.  Most of our moms probably do that.  You have probably told others to breath.

It’s time to take that advice.  Slowing our breathing down has been shown to calm us down.  It activates the Rest and Digest part of our nervous system.  That calms down the Freeze, Fight, or Flight part of our nervous system.

I don’t recall where I got this format from but for years I have used a simple formula that others have tried with success.  Here it is:

Breath in for a count of 4
Hold the Breath for a count of 1
Exhale for a count of 6-10
Perform for 3 minutes

This has been effective for many.  I hope it is for you as well.

Slapping

I bet you are really wondering about this one!  The Breath work we just looked at was to calm down the nervous system.  The brain tends to either become hyper irritable or to become accustomed to ramped up neurological input.  This ramping up is called accommodation.  The brain just stops paying attention.  In the body this often means that the soft tissues tighten up and get less blood flow.  Blood flow is how oxygen is applied to the skin, nerves, and muscles in the periphery.  In the absence of oxygen we often have pain.

Slapping all over our body brings attention to these areas.  It also increases blood flow for a period of time.  This gives us the ability to move.  In the video you can see how this is done.  I recommend that you twist from side to side before and after to see how we can even increase our flexibility by slapping.

I love this because, just like breath work, it requires no extra equipment.  It can be done almost anywhere.  You can even watch some martial artists and Olympic athletes doing this.  If you insist on spending money you can practice skin brushing.  It will do the same thing! 

Fidgeting/Squirming

This one is just plain fun.  If you are like me, this got you into trouble in school.  I always tell teachers about this technique.  It’s actually not a real technique.  It’s just a part of being human.

When a part of our body is not getting enough oxygen because of a lack of blood flow we instinctively move to allow blood to flow back into the area.  This stops the discomfort.  Until we need to move again.

The problem arises when we inhibit this instinctive movement.  Often we stop this type of movement when we are concerned that others might be watching.  We might be criticized.  Worse yet, people might think badly of us.  We sit still and allow the discomfort to progress toward pain.  We really need to get over this.  Maybe I need to create the next best-selling video called “Fidgeting for Fun and Pain Relief!”

Pelvic Tilt


One of the most effective ways of calming down the nervous system is to utilize gentle movement of the spine.  I often teach the movement in this video to people as I work on them.  People regularly let me know how much this particular movement helps them. 

I began doing this type of movement in 1990.  I’ve probably taught it to hundreds.  The video makes it seem easy but some times it needs to be done in steps.  Many people need to just start with the breath work in this position.  Then they add the chin tuck.  The movements often need to stay small in order to be useful.  If you the entire movement too fast can be irritating - so go slow. Slow is fast.  Do it right.  Pay back is sweet.


I hope that these 4 self help techniques will be of use.  They may help you get by until you can get in for an appointment and they will certainly help you to stay better longer.





Sunday, July 16, 2017

Spiritual Warfare Part 1



Shock and Awe

We’ve probably all watched a movie or at least a commercial for a movie dealing with the occult.  The scenes are terrifying.  People are contorted, screaming, and utterly defenseless.  Then there are the books – supposedly Christian books – that can be just as horrifying if not even more so.  You probably even have friends with scary stories.

I have seen demonic activity attributed to things purchased at a thrift store.  People I know have had their health issues blamed on demonic activity.  I have been told amazing stories that people I know have said to have experienced at the hands of the Devil and his minions.  I could tell a few of them myself.

All of these things contribute to what I call the Shock and Awe of the occult.  In the face of all of this stands our triune God who created the heavens and the earth.  Our understanding of this activity needs to come from Him.  Our experience and doctrine need to be understood and determined by His revelation in the scriptures alone.  We have no other guide in these or any other matters.  Our brains do not get to invent the interpretive grid.  It is our duty as believers to, in the words of Cornelius Van Til, “Think God’s thoughts after him.”  We need to say what he says and think in the ways he has told us to think.

There is an amazing scene that is presented to us in scripture where Jesus is with his disciples.  He has just reminded them of his coming death and of the fact that it is really close.  They are very worried.  The greatest act of spiritual warfare is about to commence.  He then speaks these words:

Joh 14:1 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.

We need this attitude when we approach spiritual warfare.  War is not pretty.  There is always damage.  Yet we have read the end of the story.  We know that Jesus wins.

Back to where we live – the World, the Flesh, and the Devil
You may have heard people speak of “The world, the Flesh, and the Devil.” That terminology comes from Ephesians 2:1-3:

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, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

These are the basic categories of spiritual warfare.  The phrase “course of this world” refers to the wide path that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7:13-14 during the Sermon on the Mount.  The majority of people live their lives in a manner of fulfilling whatever desires they have without any reference to or thought of God[i].  They prefer to suppress or hold down the knowledge that the do have[ii].  They plod down the wide path toward their own doom.

The “Flesh” refers to our basic physical appetites and desires – our wants.  Believers have the Bible as a guide to discipline our wants.  We have the work of the Holy Spirit applying scripture in our hearts and minds.  We have the example of Jesus, his commands in Scripture, and the environment of his Church and its means of grace[iii] to help in living a life that points to Jesus.

And Now, Introducing (in my best announcer voice):

·       The Prince of the Power of the Air
·       The Deceiver
·       The Adversary
·       The Angel of Light

– ladies and gentlemen I give you

“The DEVIL!”

It often feels like the beginning of a boxing match when we talk about the Devil.  We hear of his titles and of his deeds.  We fear. 

Certainly, a little fear seems to be in order.  He did tempt our first parents in the garden and thus introduced Sin into the world. [iv] He and his demonic hordes have waged war for thousands of years against our God – even to the point of trying to destroy Jesus in his crib[v] and crucifying him.[vi]  He accused Job directly to God’s face[vii] and sifted Peter[viii].  He is currently in the business of being “your adversary the devil” who “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
1Pet 5:8 

However, in this case Fear is the “Theology of the First Glance.” Scripture says so much more about Satan.   Consider this:

Luk_10:18  And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

Rev_12:9  So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Rev 20:2 He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;

Jas 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

I want to deal with the Devil first. We often walk around afraid of a fallen foe.  We do this in spite of the verses above that indicate his power has been significantly limited.  We will see later how we are to do battle with him.  I like to think of him as a scary dog on a chain and that I have a sword.  I think that is the picture we are given in scripture.  Even more than that – the closer we cling to God the less of a threat he becomes because God draws near to us. [ix]

The scriptures describe the Devil working in a number of ways:

·       He is our accuser before God.  We see this on at least 3 occasions.[x]
·       He is involved in many of our temptations as he was when he tempted Jesus.  [xi]
·       He puts unbelievers into the church. [xii]
·       He can have a good deal to do with the situations in which we find ourselves.  [xiii]

The World

The world is the place we live.  It is a fallen place.  I think Romans describes it best:

Rom 8:19- 23 “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;  because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.  Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

The entire earth is fallen.  We have essentially converted it to a replica of Pinnochio’s Pleasure Island.  It has become a place where we “conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath.”  It is said in James that:

Jas 4:1-4  “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?  You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.  Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

The Ephesians passage was referring to how we lived as unbelievers.  James is telling us that this often describes us a Christians! 

The Flesh

This is where we live.  It’s our body.  It has various needs and wants.  In the early chapters of the Bible we learn of both the creation and of the fall of man into sin.  We were created to need food.  God placed our first parents in an amazing garden with plenty to eat.  There was but one restriction.

          Gen 2:7-9  “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the
ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

Gen 2:15-17  “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;
but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."

One little command – do not eat from a particular tree.  We all know the rest of the story.

Gen 3:6  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

This was an act of idolatry.  A want was placed above the need of a right relationship with the Creator.  The satisfying act had effects on all of history.  It is the same pattern we see in the book of James.

          Jas 1:14  But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his       
          own desires and enticed.

The desire to satisfy our own wants is the origin of our temptations. These temptations come from the World, the Flesh, and the Devil.  These are the objects of our spiritual warfare.

Church History

In searching through a number of the creeds produced by the Church over many centuries, I have yet to locate a statement of faith regarding casting out of demons.  It may be that I have missed a reference but I did in fact search a number of them.  The Devil has certainly been around.  We know that from scripture.  Yet, The Church, as the Church, has never made a definitive statement regarding the casting out of demons.  It has spoken quite eloquently of spiritual warfare. 

What saith the Scriptures? (What is spiritual warfare?)

Today we have at least 2 radically different interpretations of Spiritual Warfare.  Most people in both camps acknowledge the importance of the principles laid out above.  The big difference comes in the area of dealing with what is thought of as casting out the Devil and his demons.  The importance of casting out often tends to overshadow the other aspects of Spiritual Warfare.  Given that the creeds of the church do not even speak of this practice it should come under some suspicion.  We need to search the scriptures to understand the role of casting out demons in God’s word and it alone must be our authority.  The Bible is to interpret our experience.  To interpret what God says in light of our experience turns His revelation on its’ head and makes man rather than God the final interpreter.

We do see a good deal of the Activity of the Devil and his minions in the Old Testament.  Satan tempted our first parents in the garden.  This certainly shows the Devil to be an actual being.  The section above goes into this – the Devil is real.

What we do not see anywhere is people casting out demons.  It simply does not occur in the Old Testament.  We know that it did happen historically in other cultures:

“Many cultures and religions contain some concept of demonic possession, but the details vary considerably. The oldest references to demonic possession are from the Sumerians, who believed that all diseases of the body and mind were caused by "sickness demons" called gidim or gid-dim.[2] The priests who practiced exorcisms in these nations were called ashipu (sorcerer) as opposed to an asu (physician) who applied bandages and salves.[3] Many cuneiform clay tablets contain prayers to certain gods asking for protection from demons, while others ask the gods to expel the demons that have invaded their bodies.” [xiv]

Demonic activity had become pretty common by the time Jesus was born. It is found throughout the gospels.  We find the disciples/apostles and sometimes those closely associated with them involved in this ministry.  On at least one occasion we see someone not identified with the apostles casting out demons.[xv]

Old Testament prophesy pointed to the time of the Messiah being a time of miracle working.  John the Baptist was in prison and had some doubts.  Jesus pointed to his ministry to answer John’s question as to Jesus’ ministry:

“Mat 11:2  And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:  The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”[xvi]

These were things that John would be familiar with.  There were prophesies of the Messiah and His work.  That work included these signs and wonders that would authenticate his message.  They were done for people to see that he was the Messiah.  The people of Israel knew that these would be done in their midst and Jesus performed them for that purpose.

Jesus gave this same power and authority to His apostles and a few others.  Paul alludes to this in 2 Cor. 12:12 when He says: 

“Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.”

The signs and wonders were for a particular time in history and given to a particular group of people.  They had as their purpose the job of pointing to Christ.  It is interesting that by the time to book of Hebrews was written that these signs had pretty much died out.  See this from chapter 2:

“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.  For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?”  Heb 2: 1-4

This confirmation of the message by signs and wonders was done prior to the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews!  These things – including the casting out of demons – were done at the time of Christ and those He commissioned during his earthly ministry.  They are not to be done today.  We are never told to speak to the devil and his demons or to cast them out.  That was for a different time and place. 

There are many occult types of practice in Massage Therapy today.  You can read my previous 2 article series entitled Energy Healing and the Christian part 1 and Energy Healing and the Christian part 2 to see how those practices specifically can be understood in a massage therapy practice and the principles can be applied to other types of occult practices as well.  In the post to follow we will focus more on how we should practice spiritual warfare today.



[i] Rom 1:28  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;

[ii] Rom_1:18  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

[iii] Q. 88. What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?
A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are, his ordinances, especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.
[iv] Genesis 3
[v] Matthew 2
[vi] Matthew 27
[vii] Job 1
[viii] Luk_22:31  And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.
[ix] Jas_4:7  Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
[x] This is clearly seen in Job chapter 1.  We also see it in Zech. 3 where the High Priest is directly accused before God.  We see in Rev_12:10  “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.”  This accusing activity activity is constant.  On the other hand we have a mediator/counselor – Jesus.
[xi] Matthew and Luke in chapter four of their respective gospels both record the temptation of Jesus by the Devil.  Satan is shown tempting us:  Act_5:3  But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 1Co_7:5  Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 
[xii] Mat_13:39  The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.
[xiii] Luk_8:12  Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 
1Pe_5:8  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 
Rev_2:10  Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Rev_12:9  So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 
Luk_13:16  So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?"
Luk_22:3  Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve.
Luk_22:31  And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.
Joh_13:27  Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, "What you do, do quickly."
Act_5:3  But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?
[xiv] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demonic_possession
[xv] Mark 9:38-38, Luke 9:49-50  Most interpreters think this was a disciple of John the Baptist who was not in Jesus circle but was still in the group who followed John and knew of Jesus.
[xvi] Matt 11: 2-5