With shootings, murders, violence and all sorts of crime on the increase, many wonder why things are so bad in our times. While each individual is primarily responsible for their own actions, Satan’s realm, the kingdom of darkness, is an often neglected source of influence. However, we can take action.
“Oh, come on now. Demons are not real. Such ideas belong to Middle Ages. This is the 21st century, and we know better,” one might say.
Let us not fool ourselves. Jesus Christ Himself recognized the existence of demons and other Satanic influence. Before you think that demons were only a problem in the Lord’s time, think again. By the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul warned all in 1 Timothy 4:1, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” Note that he said “in the latter times.” A careful analysis of pertinent passages will indicate we are in the latter times.
As we examine the Holy Bible more closely, we will see that there are four levels of Satanic influence.
Most common is temptation, with Christ Himself being tempted — many times, and not just in the wilderness. The Word of God groups temptation into three categories: The lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. These three appear to correspond to our composite being: body, soul and spirit.
The basal needs of the flesh, apart from our natural sin nature, are not sinful in themselves. For example, eating is not a sin. However, eating too much, too little, or improperly is sin.
Chinese Christian church leader and author Watchmen Nee has described the soul as the place of our affections. We desire certain things whether material or immaterial. Some are good for us and some are detrimental. Even the good can be bad when we care for those things more than we care for God Himself.
The pride of life corresponds to our personal spirit, for it is with our spirit we make decisions. Notice that the Word of God uses the term “pride.” Satan, as far as we know, was the first one to commit sin, and his sin was that of pride (see Ezekiel 28:14-17).
Repeatedly yielding to sin causes us to be more in tune with the kingdom of darkness than the Kingdom of God. After awhile, the forces of darkness have a grip on us that becomes stronger unless we get relief. His sinister hold increases, and may develop into other levels of demonic activity.
Whether it is sickness or sin, Satan’s forces will try to make matters worse.
While not every sickness is influenced by demonic activity, there are cases where Satan makes matters worse.
We read this account in Luke 13:11-13: “And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.”
If we continue to read, we see that ruler of the synagogue complained about Jesus healing on the Sabbath. Jesus responded by noting the passage in the Mosaic law that permitted one to rescue their stranded animal on the Sabbath. Christ then said (verse 16), “And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” We see He attributed her malady to the hand of Satan.
Satan will also oppress by either instilling or amplifying any negative emotion we might have or are open to receive, such as, but certainly not limited to, depression, hatred, lust, worry and fear. Hebrews 12:15 gives us an example: “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;”
Often more powerful and more binding than oppression is obsession, where one feels compelled to do something. From experience, I remember as a child and years before I became a true Christian, thoughts would “pop into” my mind, along with a sense of something urging me to do that thing. All of the actions were sinful and often destructive. I soon found myself getting into trouble quite often.
Saul, the first King of Israel, is a classic example of this. He started his reign in humility, but began to sin little by little. If you read the account in 1 Samuel, you will see an element of pride gain control of his life. This festered to the point where he became jealous of David and attempted a number of times to kill him. Prior to his death, he secretly went to a witch so she could “contact” Samuel. Saul’s end was a bitter one — slow and suicidal during a battle with the Philistines.
Logically, possession is the depth of demonic control. The Holy Scriptures show that most of those who were so afflicted either had to be brought to, or were brought to the attention of, Christ by relatives or friends of the victim.
And before we think that every case must demonstrate bizarre behavior, consider Mark 9:32-33 — “As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil. And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel.” When we examine the context of this passage we will see it does not note any unusual behavior of the man. So, it cannot be said that strange behavior needs to be exhibited by a victim before they can be said to be possessed.
As stated at the beginning, demons or not, each person remains accountable for their actions. I am of the opinion that in even the most severe cases, the person’s spirit, with the help of God, can still cry out for help. I came to that conclusion because of one of the most well-known passages dealing with possession — the man with the legion of demons (see Matthew 5:1-20). The man came to Christ, and worshiped Him.
The best thing one can do so they themselves do not add to the problem is to fully commit to Jesus Christ, making Him their Savior, Lord, and Master, and dwelling in Him every day.
Temptation can be described as the starting point of most demonic activity that would spiritually infect us. We must learn to turn away from temptation through the power and life of Jesus Christ. In essence, this could be described as crucifying the flesh. With God’s help, we decide to command our soul and body to avoid sin and cling to God.
Take a Good Bath
Nonetheless, one might be walking very close to God, but as they go about their earthly business, they sense that they have been “dirtied” in some way. Perhaps it was a tabloid that their eyes briefly saw at a supermarket. It could have been the environment at home, work, or even church. Sometimes all it takes is to read the subject headings in one’s email! Though the person committed no sin, they still feel as if their mind, spirit, and soul need a cleaning.
Often, for me, the first stop is the Holy Bible. Reading the Word of God in a focused way helps to clear our mind. Cleansing also comes in worship and prayer. Purposely spend time in the presence of God. By the way, if you have read the passage where our Lord was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, you will see that Jesus used the Word of God in answering the Devil.
Keep in mind though that demonic forces will try to keep you from taking your spiritual bath, so decide to persevere.
Fighting with Prayer and Fasting
In the days before our Lord was crucified, He indicated that prayer was a powerhouse against the forces of darkness. Back then, those who would seek the presence of God would often fast. Fasting frees up more time that can be use in seeking the face of God.
When praying, let God touch your heart with the proper emotions to have as you pray against the forces of darkness. Back in the early 1980’s I had sensed that my oldest son had come under attack by Satan. I felt led of God to anoint the trailer we were living in, but as I started, I sensed that God wanted me to have the anger He has at Satan. With that emotion within, I anointed our home. Our son was relieved of the torment he had been subjected to.
I would caution the reader though that it is best to know Christ in a personal way, being born-again, before attempting such an anointing. With that, I need to point out that there is much more that can said about the entire subject spiritual warfare, however the scope of this article was only to present the basics on the subject.
Given the nature of our times, I strongly encourage every one who will, to fully commit to Christ. In so doing, He, Himself, will instruct you as you faithfully listen to His Holy Spirit and follow the Holy Bible.