Sunday, September 14, 2014

Courier-Times article for September 13, 2014

Do you believe in demons?

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:22-32 ESV)

The greatest tragedy of Western culture is considering the world without God. To match that tragedy, the greatest danger is not understanding the wickedness, malevolence, and evil in the world as the work of a spiritual enemy. Frankly speaking, many do not believe in God, nor do they believe in the work of Satan and demons.

Recently, a high school student and I were talking; he said, “Nah, I don’t believe in ‘demons’ and ‘the devil’ and all that stuff.”

Knowing this young man to be an engaging, intelligent believer, I was astounded and quickly retorted, “What? Really? Jesus certainly believed in demons!”

The reality of that answer sunk fast and deep into the young man’s spirit. Eye brows arched in surprise, revealing he’d never considered that line of reasoning. Not thoroughly convinced, he said, “We’ve got to talk about this some more!”

We did discuss it; we talked about it that week, and again the next week, and all afternoon another day during summer break. We opened the Scriptures and we considered how demons suppress truth, oppress believers and possess the spiritually empty. We talked about how we see the same work going on in the world today.

There is a definite danger in failing to regard the existence of demons in the world today. For me, the fact that Jesus believed in them, encountered them and engaged with them is enough to convince me! How can one say one believes in Jesus and not believe in the very things Jesus believed in?

I’m quite sure demons love to be disregarded. Anything dangerous ignored is doubly strong; it exists and has the power of surprise.

Take the man in today’s passage. An oppressing demon made the man blind and mute. Jesus both casts out the demon and heals the sickness.

Notice, no one marvels that a demon was at work.
Notice, no one is surprised that a demon was disabling someone.

What people were surprised about was that Jesus both recognized the problem and was able to do something about it. Not only could Jesus do something about it, He said – and proved – that though demons are stronger than people, and strong enough to harass, oppress and possess people, He is stronger than those strong demons!

As for me, I not only believe demons are at work in the world, I believe Jesus is at work in me! I stand with the Apostle John, who said, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 ESV) Yes and praise the Lord! He is in me and He is greater and stronger than the enemy at work in the world!
Without God in us, we are subject to the powers of many stronger than us!

Lastly, there’s an even greater danger revealed in this passage than demons. The greatest danger is ignoring the Lord Jesus. The greater danger is ignoring the work of the Holy Spirit. A demon can do a lot of things, but a demon cannot judge us and send us into outer darkness. As much as we’d be wise to recognize the work of demons, we’d be wiser still to recognize the person of Christ. 

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