Shock and Awe
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.
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.
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.
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
14:1 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in
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
may have heard people speak of “The world, the Flesh, and the Devil.” That
terminology comes from Ephesians 2:1-3:
He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,
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.
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
“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
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
in this case Fear is the “Theology of the First Glance.” Scripture says so much
more about Satan. Consider this:
And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
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.
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]
scriptures describe the Devil working in a number of ways:
is our accuser before God. We see this
on at least 3 occasions.[x]
is involved in many of our temptations as he was when he tempted Jesus. [xi]
puts unbelievers into the church. [xii]
can have a good deal to do with the situations in which we find ourselves. [xiii]
world is the place we live. It is a
fallen place. I think Romans describes
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.
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
Ephesians passage was referring to how we lived as unbelievers. James is telling us that this often describes
us a Christians!
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
Gen 2:7-9 “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of
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.”
“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
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
little command – do not eat from a particular tree. We all know the rest of the story.
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.
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
own desires and enticed.
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
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?)
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.
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.
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:
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. The priests who practiced
exorcisms in these nations were called ashipu (sorcerer) as opposed to an asu
(physician) who applied bandages and salves. 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]
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]
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:
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]
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.
gave this same power and authority to His apostles and a few others. Paul alludes to this in 2 Cor. 12:12 when He
“Truly the signs of an apostle were
accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty
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
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.
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;
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven
against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in
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
And the Lord said,
"Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and
he will flee from you.
This is clearly seen in Job chapter 1.
We also see it in Zech. 3 where the High Priest is directly accused
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.
Matthew and Luke in chapter four of their respective gospels both record the
temptation of Jesus by the Devil.
is shown tempting us:
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
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.
The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the
harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.
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.
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.
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?"
Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve.
the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may
sift you as wheat.
after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, "What
you do, do quickly."
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?
Mark 9:38-38, Luke 9:49-50
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.