In the first part of this series, we took a hard look at what scripture says about the activity of demons in modern times. The goal of this was to dismiss the commonly held Christian belief that demons are no longer active on Earth as they once were. By reading into what scripture tells us about the end times and the vast role that the demonic plays in it, we can clearly see that they are not just active, but intimately involved in all of the affairs of men. They work quickly and their influence is astounding.
Next, let’s take a look at the second biggest lie that Satan has fed to the Christian church. This is the belief that Christians cannot be influenced, harmed, or controlled by demonic forces. Growing up in a family that church-hopped, I can attest to the fact that this is a very common falsehood accepted by many different denominations of Christianity. I recall once hearing a preacher say something like this;
“If a demon were to try and enter a Christian, the Holy Spirit would tell the demonic spirit to “get lost.” It’s really that simple!”
The audience of churchgoers blissfully applauded to this. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that that preacher had never dealt with a demonic spirit before (except for perhaps the one on his shoulder which might have enticed him to make such a statement). I’ve lovingly given a nickname to the Christians who hold this invincibility belief- The Evangelical Superman Christians (it’s a little redundant I know but whatever, you’ll remember it).
There are three verses in the Bible that I feel can be misconstrued enough to support the ideology of the “Evangelical Superman” Christians. The first one is this-
1 John 4:4- “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” (NLT)
In the proper context, this verse hardly supports the idea that Christians are invincible to demonic attacks. If anything, I find it supports the argument made in the first part of this series which is that almost everyone, if not everyone, has some sort of spiritual influence in their life whether it be good or evil. I would never argue against the idea that the Holy Spirit trumps any and all demonic spirits, but there’s a lot more to it than that. It’s actually not that simple. The next verse is this-
Luke 10:19- “Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.” (NLT)
This passage was spoken by Jesus to His disciples (the 72, not the 12) after they had returned from a mission of preaching, healing the sick, and driving out demons (some of you are probably thinking “since when did Jesus have a second group of 72 disciples?” Yeah, that was a whole thing, they just didn’t get anywhere near the screen time the group of twelve received). The men were overjoyed at the success of their mission and eagerly reported that “even the demons submitted to them in the name of Jesus”. To understand who these men were, we need to jump backwards a little bit. In the days before the Holy Spirit, the only way humans could resist demonic forces was either to be in league with them (thus appealing to a more powerful demon to subdue a less powerful one which is what sorcerers, mediums, and spiritists might do) or to have been given special authority by God. In Luke chapter 9, we see Jesus specifically designate His disciples as satellites of Himself, giving them “power and authority” to cast out all demons. It is to these specially designated agents of Christ that this verse is written, not to modern-day Christians. Modern-day followers of Christ also have authority over all demons due to being indwelt with the Holy Spirit. Authority however is only as effective as the strength and the knowledge of the person who wields it. These 72 men were not only given the power over the kingdom of darkness, but instructed on how to use it. While Christians do hold authority over the Devil and his demons, they, like the 72 disciples, must exercise it. It is not automatic.
The third and final verse is this-
1 John 5:18– “We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them”. (NLT)
Christians (God’s children) do not make a practice (or habit) of sinning. They don’t do this for two reasons- First reason is because they no longer have a sinful nature thus sinning is stepping outside of their Christ-given righteous nature. The second reason is due to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. If a Christian does step outside of their righteous nature and sin, they will likely feel a great amount of conviction and will be far less likely to repeat said sin. However, due to free will, Christians can override the direction of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes Christians press the mute button on the Holy Spirit and dive deep into the dark waters of sin. It is during these vulnerable times that demonic spirits like to attach themselves to God’s children. They do this to ensure that the Christian will live out their earthly days suppressed and will not be effective at furthering the kingdom of Christ.
Back to that pastor who confidently and triumphantly misinformed his congregation that they had a built-in demon proof firewall; this belief stems from the idea that the Holy Spirit and a demonic spirit cannot occupy the same space at the same time (the whole “get lost” aspect). However, that’s kind of an awkward thing to state while in the same breath claiming that God is omnipresent. Omnipresent means present everywhere, including areas occupied by evil.
But wait, God of course would never allow a demon access to one of His children, right?
Two things I would say to that (I like my two-point formula, clearly)
1: God allows free will. It’s not God’s plan to allow demons to access His children, but that’s actually ultimately up to His children, not Him.
2: God has been documented over and over in the Bible to use evil people to punish or get the attention of His wayward followers (see the ENTIRE book of Judges for a reference). There are two recorded cases in the Bible where God specifically utilizes a demon to carry out His will that are quite interesting and probably not stories that you would hear in Sunday school.
In the book of 1 Samuel, Saul, the first true king of Israel, did evil in the eyes of the Lord. Originally, God had originally filled Saul with his Spirit (1 Samuel 10:9) (a precursor to the Holy Spirit, God often did this with those He chose for specific tasks see David, Saul, Samson, etc.) but had since departed from him due to Saul’s constant disobedience. God then sent an evil spirit to torment Saul.
1 Samuel 16:4- “Now the Spirit of the LORD had left Saul, and the LORD sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear.” (NLT)
*many translations actually say “evil spirit” instead of “tormenting spirit”
It was under the prompting of this evil spirit that Saul eventually tried to impale David with a spear while he was playing his harp. Fortunately, Saul was a terrible shot and missed.
The second recorded instance takes place many years before in the book of Judges. Israel finds itself under the thumb of a new ruler named Abimelech. Abimelech was really not a great guy- for an example; one of his first acts as the new ruler was to behead his seventy brothers. God wanted Abimelech removed from the throne so he sent a demon to stir up trouble between Abimelech and a rival nation.
Judges 9:23- “And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech.” (ESV)
The leaders of Shechem and Abimelech spar back and forth and eventually a woman in a guard tower decides that she has had enough of Abimelech’s crap and drops a millstone from the tower onto Abimelech’s head, thus crushing his skull. Point being, all of this was orchestrated by an evil spirit sent from God. Many Christians may have trouble processing that because they have been taught over and over that nothing evil comes from God. That’s completely true, however, God works all things together for good. All things include both good things and evil things. God can and does use evil things to produce good outcomes. Demons are no exception to this. My life is a testament to that.
So yes, in situations where the Children of God lose their way and wander off into the darkness, God may allow an evil spirit to torment them enough to get their attention that way He can lead them back to Him.
If you’ve read my book A Believer’s Guide to Dealing with the Devil you may recognize these two fellows.
Christian Joe and Christian Bill are two characters that I tossed together on Pixton a few years back while searching for a way to visualize the stark difference between the widely held “Evangelical Superman” belief vs the Bible’s version of how a Christian should carry themselves. Joe (on the left) could be plucked out of any Sunday morning service at any Christian church. In fact, the service may be mostly “Joes”. Joe has accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior and in doing so has received the helmet of salvation which he wears with pride. To Joe, this is as far as he needs to go. However, this is not what the Bible teaches. The armor of God is a six-piece set, not a one-piece set. Only donning the helmet hardly will protect you from the fiery arrows of the enemy. Let’s take another look at how Joe’s approach in dealing with the powers of darkness varies from Bill’s.
Joe surrounded by darkness remains blissfully unconcerned
A fully suited up Bill confronts the darkness head on.
Two completely different approaches. Let’s see how both of these fellows end up.
Joe is dragged back under the yolk of slavery
Bill is victorious over his enemies
I want to wrap this post up with one final thought. Judas Iscariot left everything he had and had ever known to follow Jesus. He walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, ate with Jesus, and preached with Jesus. He drove out demons, healed the sick, and fed the hungry. But one day the Devil began whispering in Judas’s ear. Judas entertained the Devil and eventually began to shut Jesus out. Soon he found himself running off into the night with the Devil on his back eager to betray the man whom he had given up everything for. Less than a day later, Judas was dead having committed suicide due to being unable to cope with what he had become.
It’s hard to be closer to Jesus than Judas was and yet the Devil was still able to take him. Be on the look out for your enemy always. Always wear the full armor of God so that you may stand firm against all the schemes of the Devil. That same darkness that consumed Judas is never far away.