People are increasingly concerned about demonic torment and possession. Recently, Newsweek published an article by Cristian Maza with the headline, “Catholic Church Needs More Exorcists Due to Urgent Increase in Demonic Activity, Priest Warns.” (January 25, 2019) Closer to home, during the past 90 days, articles regarding demon possession have had 21,500 visits! (See Demonic Possession – How Demons Take Control and How Does a Person Become Demon Possessed) In fact, over 5,000 people have watched a portion of the YouTube video series on Demonic Possession
Demonic power is a growing concern because when people sink into the Godless darkness of spiritual apostasy, they enter the domain of Satan’s demons. It begins this way: “A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8) “Those who live according to the [desires of the] sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. . . The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled [living] by the sinful nature cannot please God [because they are separated from the uplifting, ennobling and transforming power of the Holy Spirit!].” (Romans 8:5-8, insertions mine)
In our previous study, we discussed three issues about Israel’s first king that have present value. King Saul made a series of selfish and prideful choices. First, God sent the prophet Samuel to help the young man, but Saul would not listen. Second, God gave Holy Spirit power to Saul who prophesied and was transformed into a leader of men. However, time after time, Saul refused to obey the Holy Spirit. Third, the Lord gave Saul compelling victories over his enemies, but Saul did not gain victory over himself. Instead, he indulged the desires of his sinful nature. Because Saul’s life was ruled by his sinful nature, he defiantly rejected the Holy Spirit and became subject to years of demonic torment.
We Desperately Need God’s Protection
The devil knows that God sends the Holy Spirit to each person at birth. As long as we obey the Spirit’s prompting to do what is right in God’s sight, He keeps the demons at arm’s length by providing a strong hedge of protection around us. (Job 1:10; Psalm 34:7) We desperately need God’s protection! When we yield to temptation and willfully do wrong, the Holy Spirit retreats because He accepts our power of choice. He will not overrule our choices. If we insist on continuing to do wrong, the Holy Spirit will retreat even further. When the protection is removed, demons approach us like hyenas circling a carcass. They want to control our minds and bodies. God permits demons to put their thoughts in our minds. They can influence us in powerful ways to do greater evil in the same way the Holy Spirit can put thoughts in our minds and influence us to do what is right. The power of choice is very powerful, but so is the sinful nature! If we go along with our sinful nature and the influence which demons wield, the influence of the Holy Spirit within us will weaken as demonic control becomes stronger. Both the Holy Spirit and demons are on an intense mission. The Holy Spirit wants to prepare us for Heaven through sanctification. Demons are determined to separate us from the Holy Spirit so that they can destroy us.
Demons are delighted when they see families trapped in cycles of pain and suffering caused by addiction. This is why addictions are pandemic! There are all kinds of addictions because the devil knows that addictions ruin relationships and lives. When it comes to substance abuse, demons know about half of the population are candidates for addiction on its first use! They know that drugs are a gateway to many hellish experiences. Demons prey on young people who are blind to the fact that drugs and alcohol are very dangerous, not only for the users, but also for anyone within their sphere. Demons use glossy ads and celebrities in the media every day to disconnect young people from this solemn fact: “What we sow, we will reap.”
Demons are not stupid. On the contrary, they are highly intelligent angels who once lived in God’s presence. They know how to seduce each of us because they study us closely. They use all kinds of dirty tricks to accomplish their wicked goals. They use nudity and music to arouse passion, they use riches and material things to arouse covetousness. They constantly appeal to our sinful nature by making wrong doing appear “new, edgy, and exciting.” The world is saturated with their tricks so that our sinful nature will want more and more! Sometimes, demons will sink their hooks into their subjects with “small wrongs” that have few or no immediate consequences. They are masters at gradualism and once they have their hook in us, they begin to reel us in. I have noticed that demons do their best work if they can put our sinful nature into a state of discontent. They dangle lures before us to create discontent because they know the law, “What we sow, we will reap.”
Demons have been around for thousands of years. They were present when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden, during the flood in Noah’s day, and when Jesus walked on Earth. They have been involved in every war fought on Earth. For them, cruelty is a sport. They are highly educated, wise, relentless, and deadly when they toil to deceive and seduce. They know that some sins can have lifelong consequences, others have immediate ones, or both, which delights them even more! For example, sexual immorality can have both consequences: A child is abused, a woman is raped, or sexual promiscuity produces a child no one wants. Drinking and driving under the influence can have both types of consequences. The demons have a tailor-made collection for each of us. Therefore, if the Holy Spirit retreats from us, they will pounce. Their goal is bondage, misery, and death. They are hateful and motivated to loathe us because they hate Jesus. Jesus created us and later redeemed us; therefore, if these satanic agents keep a soul from inheriting eternal life, they are elated. They know they are going to their destruction, so they are determined to take many individuals with them.
When demons lead pastors and priests to sexually abuse a child, they are thrilled! Consider the suffering that will radiate through the church and the life of their victim! They are thrilled when they cause a murderer to commit a crime, who is then caught and sent to death row. Consider the pain and suffering that radiates from years of solitary confinement and through the family of the deceased. When demons see politicians manipulating their power to do evil, they are thrilled. Consider the decline and gridlock that comes to the nation. When demons see ordinary people stealing, lying, and cheating, they are thrilled. Consider the distrust that follows; no one trusts anyone anymore! If you watch the news, you have to conclude the demons are rejoicing! The world is roiling with the successes that demons have had capitalizing on our sinful nature. Their next level of control is increasing demonic torment and we see evidence of this each day. Our only safety is to nurture the gift of the Holy Spirit. I call His presence a gift because, to be blunt, we do not deserve Him. All of us are sinners. We need Him far more than He needs us; however, He loves us and is willing to enter into any heart that will open the door with repentance and reformation. If you experience demonic torment, seek help. Find a Godly counselor near you to pinpoint the root cause of the problem. Do not expect immediate results. Freedom from demons demands your serious struggle for victory through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Get Out of Jail for Free?”
Jesus said, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. . . So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36) Many people are beginning to realize they have a serious problem. Demons are tormenting them, but they are powerless to escape the torment. Many want to be set free without knowing what gave demons entry into their lives. If we do not learn from our mistakes, we are bound to repeat them! Freedom from demonic possession comes with a serious warning! Jesus said, “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” (Matthew 12:43-45)
I have digressed somewhat to explain why King Saul was tormented by demons. The Holy Spirit retreated from the king because he would not obey the Spirit’s promptings to do right. Demons are ferocious like mosquitoes; they rush in to bite ruthlessly if given the slightest opportunity.
An Evil Spirit from the Lord?
Old Testament writers use a variety of expressions that need explanation. I would like to explain one. As you consider the following two verses, look for the phrase, “an evil spirit from the Lord:” “Now the [Holy] Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. Saul’s attendants said to him, ‘See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you.’ ” (1 Samuel 16:14-15, insertion mine) “The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully on Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the harp, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand and he hurled it, saying to himself, ‘I’ll pin David to the wall.’ But David eluded him twice. Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David, but had departed from Saul.” (1 Samuel 18:10-12)
Did the Lord actually send evil spirits to Saul? Did God partner with evil spirits to do work that holy angels will not do? The answer to both questions is “NO.” Old Testament writers were faithful Jews and during Saul’s time, their view of Almighty God was simple: He had sovereign power. Remember, the Canaanites worshiped many false gods (which amounted to nothing) during Old Testament times, but for Bible writers, there was only one true God. Jehovah was God Most High. They thought God was responsible for everything that happened. He sent rain and famine. He gave Israel victory over their enemies and He allowed Israel’s enemies to triumph when Israel fell into apostasy. When Saul was tormented by a demon, it had to be an “evil spirit sent from the Lord” because there was very little understanding about Lucifer and his followers. The books of Isaiah and Ezekiel had not been written when Saul was king. Therefore, they believed since the Lord had turned His back on Saul, only the Lord had the power to torment Saul for his evil conduct.
Because of progressive revelation and the truth Jesus declared when He was on Earth, we know today that God permitted demons to torment Saul because the Holy Spirit had retreated from him. A righteous and loving God does not work with demons. In fact, He cast them out of Heaven because He will have no partnership with evil. “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:13-15)
Few people appreciate the extent of evil that Satan can bring to a person. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion [predator] looking for someone to devour [take control of].” (1 Peter 5:8, insertions mine) Most Christians understand that Satan is a predator and they need to use God’s power to escape the attractions of the sinful nature and the devil’s temptations. However, when the devil gains control of an individual, that person becomes his slave. During these final days, many people are following a path similar to King Saul. Unfortunately, their lives will end badly unless they make a dramatic change. It is imperative to invite and surrender our will to the Holy Spirit each day to prevent Satan’s demons from exercising control over us. (Isaiah 55:6-7)