On Demons and Evil Spirits

Introduction:

Today, as I suppose has always been the case, there is a great deal of interest in the “unknown.” Many people are obsessed with the idea of demons and spirits that supposedly occupy the unseen realm of the earth and can cause men to do certain things without the person having any control in the situation. Various kinds of paraphernalia used to ward of the evil spirits and curry the favor of the good spirits are available. But is there any basis in the Bible for such?

Demons Or Evil Spirits In The New Testament

To begin with, the Scriptures show clearly in New Testament times, “evil spirits” or “devils” or “demons” did possess some (Matt. 4:24; Luke 8:36). Though it is a rather obscure matter, we still are forced to recognize that people were “possessed” by these evil spirits in the time of Jesus. The text also indicates He freed them by casting out the demons. The “demon” in Luke 8:27 (New King James Version) is called “devil” in the King James Version. He is the “unclean spirit” in the parallel reading (Mark 5:2). Even if we cannot unravel all the mystery on this subject, we have enough information in the Scriptures to cast some light on it.

“Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, ‘What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are–the Holy One of God!’ And Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be quiet, and come out of him!’ Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him” (Mark 1:23-26). This evil spirit spoke, using the body of the man whom he possessed and controlled. That man was sick, obviously, but this was more than sickness as we experience it today. Although the evil spirit controlled the actions of the man, including his speech, Jesus clearly makes a distinction between the man and the evil spirit who controlled him.

Still another Example

Another passage that casts light on topic is Mark 5:2-8. This “unclean spirit” enabled the body of this man to have superhuman strength, as witness the breaking of chains and fetters. In the same way as in Mark 1, the evil spirits knew Jesus to be the Son of God – a truth even the apostles had not yet acknowledged! How did they know?

It is note worthy of note that these evil spirits (or demons) could believe (James 2:19), they could and did recognize Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God (Luke 4:41; Mark 1:24). They recognized the power of God (Acts 19:15), and they also recognized that the apostles of Christ had been given God’s power over them (Acts 16:16-18). Because the evil spirit exercised special (even miraculous) power over the one possessed, it took miraculous power from God to cast it out (Matt. 12:26-28). When Jesus sent out the twelve, and the seventy, He gave them power over “unclean spirits” (Matt. 10:1; Luke 10:17).

Demons Controlled Those Possessed

Jesus was once accused of casting out demons by the power of Satan, and He replied: “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt. 12:26-28). So, the super human strength and the special knowledge of the evil spirits had Satan as the source. In fact, it was the devil who enabled the evil spirits to control the people they possessed and endow them with special power and knowledge.

It seems clear that the person possessed could not “dispossess” the demon; the person was so controlled that he was helpless to do anything other than what the evil spirit wanted. There is some indication, though, that one possessed may have been partly responsible for said possession. As Jesus explained, “When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first” (Luke 11:24-26).

Demons Disappear

God foretold the coming of the gospel age, when Christ would die for our sins and purchase His church with His own blood (Acts 20:28). The prophet wrote, “In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity. It will come about in that day,” declares the LORD of hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they will no longer be remembered; and I will also remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land” (Zech. 13:1-2).

The miraculous power to cast out demons was demonstrated to confirm the gospel (Mark 16:20; Heb. 2:2-3). The same is true with the “gift of prophecy, by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:7-11; Heb. 2:2-3). Considering the saving message of Christ has been delivered and confirmed (as in John 20:30-31), there is no further need of the miraculous. Therefore, both the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit and the unclean spirit has ended. As God foretold (Zech. 13:1-2), the unclean spirit “departed from the land” and the gift of prophecy ceased (1 Cor. 13:10) after Christ died and the gospel was confirmed.

Conclusion

It should be clear from the above that, if there were evil spirits in the world today, there must be miraculous power to combat them. Such is not promised, nor in evidence. There is much that we will never know about the evil spirits, but we can be assured that they were real and did possess people. We can also be assured that they are not with us today as they were during the Jesus and His apostles.

The Cure For The Troubled Heart

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A troubled heart

findalways ks “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going” (John 14:1-4 NAS95).

. But the cure for the troubled heart is always the same. to and cure the troubled hear andWhat is the Christian to do when his heart becomes troubled? He must look to Jesus and the comfort He can give.

It has been say that only those who have known sorrow are able to give comfort. Isaiah 53:3 refers to Jesus as “a man of sorrows.” Thus, acquainted with sorrow Himself, He can soothe the hearts of His disciples when they become sorrowful and troubled.

Also, The fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John provides dramatic evidence of that fact. Jesus recognized how troubled His apostles would be by His death so in that passage He spoke words of comfort to them. In those same words we, His disciples today, ar able to find the cure for our troubled hearts.

The Comfort of Faith (vs. 1)

Faith is the foundation of true comfort. Thus, we can conclude faith frees one from sin, makes him pleasing to God, allows him to overcome sin and the world, and causes him to always remember that God will never forsake him (John 8:24; Hebrews 11:6; 1 Samuel 12:22). If faith is great enough, one can accomplish or overcome all things (Philippians 4:13; Matthew 21:18-22). What a comforting thought that is for all the faithful.

The Comfort of Hope (vss. 2-3)

Hope in Christ is the comfort and anchor of the soul (Colossians 1:27; 1 Timothy 1:1; Hebrews 6:19-20). But apart from Christ, in the world, there is no hope (Ephesians 2:12). And in hell, all hope will be left behind. The hope of better things should comfort the Christian in adverse times (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The Comfort of Understanding (vss. 4-6)

The Christian can understand God. Jesus has given him a plain way to the Father and made complete provision for him to understand it. He sent the Holy Spirit to guide men into all truth and to reveal the mystery of Christ. He is our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1).

The Comfort of Prayer (vss. 13-14)

Comfort

The Christian who is lonely or whose heart is heavy should follow the example of Jesus, Peter, Paul and Stephen and pray (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; James 5:16). It is an aid in times of trouble.

The Comfort of Love (vss. 20-25)

How comforting it should be to the Christian to know he is the object of divine live. That love is great (1 John 3:1) and will never fail (Romans 8:35-39).

The Comfort of the Holy Spirit (vs. 26)

The comforting words of the Holy Spirit teach the Christian all that is necessary for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The Comfort of Peace (vs. 27)

Those who are justified have peace with God (Romans 5:1). Therefore, they are in a kingdom of joy and peace (Romans 14:17). They produce the fruit of the Spirit which includes love, joy and peace (Galatians 5:22). The peace they have surpasses all comprehension (Philippians 4:7).

Conclusion

In conclusion, the next time your heart is troubled, look to Jesus. He provides comfort in all the above ways to those who allow Him to guide their lives.

Are You Listening?

Several years ago, I was at a truck stop in Las Vegas, NV and woke up not feeling well.

After attending to necessities, I walked into the restaurant and took a seat at one of the tables. In just a few moments, a server passed by on her way to another table. She did speak though. She said, “How are you this morning?” My response was “terrible” because as I have said, I did not feel well.

Without slowing down, she continued heading to the next table. However, she did respond to my comment. She said, “That’s good.” In her defense, she did come by later and question what I had said and apologized for her response.

However, the above story illustrates the fact many times, people aren’t really listening. Either they’ve already made up their minds what they’re going to say, or they’re not truly interested in what someone else is saying. Amazingly, even those who claim to be students of the Bible are guilty of this. Yet, the Bible has a lot to say about listening. Consider these passages.

Wisdom personified as a woman calls for people to listen to her advice. She said, “Now then, my sons, listen to me And do not depart from the words of my mouth” (Prov. 5:7).

Solomon advises young people to listen to their parents’ counsel. “A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke” (Prov. 13:1).

Repeatedly in the Old Testament, God speaks to his people through the prophets, begging them to listen to his instructions and warnings. “Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, You who have been borne by Me from birth And have been carried from the womb” (Isa. 46:3).

God very forcefully made it clear that Jesus was now the authority to which one is to listen: “…This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him” (Matt. 17:5)!

Jesus often began his sermons or parables with an instruction to listen. “After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, ‘Listen to Me, all of you, and understand’” (Mark 7:14).

In the letters written to the churches in Revelation 2-3, Jesus said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”.

James said that we should be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). Unfortunately, the reverse is usually true. We’re usually slow to listen and quick to speak which directly impacts our anger. So many situations and feelings of frustration and anger could be avoided by just listening.

When it comes to our relationship with others, it’s critical we show them enough respect to listen to them. They have something to say, and they’re important. Paul advised that we consider others better than ourselves (Phil. 2:3-4), and that includes listening to what they have to say.

Many arguments are based upon misunderstanding; therefore, it pays to listen. By listening, we can come to understand the other person. It may be that you thought one thing, but the other person said something else. Listening gives insight into the other person and will prevent many misunderstandings and poor judgments.

Listening also helps to control emotions. Being quiet and hearing the other person can help in keeping your anger in check. Move and speak slowly and deliberately instead of giving in to the heat of passion.

And when it comes to our relationship with God, it’s critical that we listen with the intention of acting upon his instructions. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives an analogy of listen with the intent of obeying or listening without hearing (Matt. 7:24-27).

It does us no good if we hear what Jesus says but don’t obey.

Listening is a lost art among many. May it not be the case with us.

Grace! Is It Possible To Fall

Most of our friends in the religious community want to tell us that when God decides to bestow His grace upon us, we have no choice in the matter. And once a man has entered God’s favor (been saved), his continuing to receive God’s grace is not conditional at all upon man’s teaching, actions or will. Article 9 of the Methodist Discipline states, “Justification by faith alone is a most wholesome doctrine and full of comfort.” I can see where “faith alone” would be a very comforting idea, can’t you? If that were true, you wouldn’t have to worry about anything you might do. In fact, it would leave you the option of doing anything you might desire. Things such as cheating, lying, committing sexual immorality (and all that it implies) or even murder might be engaged in without fear of any repercussions from God.

God’s Grace is Conditional

We see conditions placed on man’s continued salvation all the way through the Bible. In 2 Peter 1:10, Peter says, “…for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble…” In this verse never falling is conditioned by the word “as long as you practice.”

It seems somewhat strange that people believe this, in that we have so much evidence in the Bible, of God placing conditions on mankind. In Gen. 2:16-17 God told Adam, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat…” Is this not a command from God that Adam and Eve were required to keep? Because they transgressed that command (sinned), Adam (and Eve) were driven out of the garden and man was separated from God.

Grace must be Guarded

In Acts 8:13 Simon obeyed the gospel (called gospel of God’s grace in Acts 20:24). Yet after entering into a saved state he fell into sin as to be (1) doomed to parish, (2) having a heart not right with God, (3) needing to repent, (4) being guilty of wickedness, (5) poisoned by bitterness and (6) bound by iniquity. Some will tell us that he was not really saved, but the scriptures do not support such statements. Here is a man who entered the grace of God then turned to his own will and committed sin, refusing to abide by the conditions of the Lord and thus falling from grace. Either that, or with all the things mentioned here against him, he still goes to heaven. But in Revelation 21:27 we read, “nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it.” That means sin cannot enter heaven.

Also in Heb. 6:4-6 we read, “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” The writer here is speaking to those who need to go beyond the first principles of Christ (Heb. 5:12-14). It could not be the alien sinner since the sinner needs to obey the first principles not go beyond them. The writer is speaking to those (1) once enlightened, (2) who have tasted the heavenly gift, (3) partook of the Holy Spirit and (4) tasted the good word of God. Not one of these can apply to the alien sinner because the alien sinner has not tasted nor partaken of any of these and certainly not been enlightened, as the Bible throughout speaks of his state as “darkness”. Instead this is describing the child of God who has not born the proper fruits, with the warning he can fall away.

Letters are Addressed to Saved

Peter addressed his second letter to those who have already obtained faith of the same value (just as strong) as the apostles (2 Pet. 1:1). Would I be wrong in assuming that they were saved? After saying that they can pursue the course that will cause them to never fall (2 Pet. 2:10), he then points out that they can be “carried away by the error of unprincipled men” (2 Pet. 3:17). Surely it is clear that remaining in God’s favor (grace) is conditioned on continued obedience to Him. Either these spoken of could fall and be lost or Heaven will have some who have left faithfulness and embraced the error of the wicked. God knew that man would attempt to tamper with His will, so he left us clear statements to disprove these human theories. Read 1 Tim. 4:1-2 and Gal. 5:4.

John 10:28-29 reads, “I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Some will raise the question, “doesn’t this prove that one cannot fall?” The forces of error will use many passages to try and lull people into security. What is said in John 10:28-29 is true; no man, no force, not even Satan himself, can forcibly remove a child of God from God’s care. No one who hears the voice of the Lord and follows Him is going to fall. And no power can remove such from God’s hand. But in the points, we have already made God’s Word speaks of those who decide to refuse to hear, refuse to follow, and willfully persist in entering a sinful way. No one snatched them from the Lord’s hand: they willfully departed. There is no doubt that one who abides by the conditions of God is enjoying God’s grace and will be saved eternally. Conversely one who decides to not continue in God’s Word will fall from grace (favor) and be eternally lost. Remember Peter’s admonition: “as long as you practice these things.”

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