OK, now we’re going to talk a little bit about the subject people seem to be fascinated with. Of course I’m talking about demonic possession. I guess it was inevitable ever since the movie The Exorcist came out several years ago. It’s time for some clarity and to see what the Bible actually says. And as always, theological truth should lead to practical application.
First, we should realize that the time of Christ’s ministry was unique in human history. There’s never been a time before or since when the Son of God walked among us as a man. That’s the best explanation I’ve heard as to why we see so much demonic possession in the Gospels and not much after that. We see a little bit in the book of Acts (a description of which was the springboard for this topical study), and then it quickly tapers off. The epistles don’t mention the phenomenon at all. The early Church fathers of the 2nd and 3rd centuries (to my knowledge) don’t talk about it much. So my explanation is that during the time of Christ’s invasion of earth (and right after) was a time of demonic activity which was specifically in opposition to his work. It was stirring up the hornet’s nest, so to speak.
Does it happen today? Yes, but it seems to be pretty rare, at least in American society. Once you step outside the western world and into cultures and societies where the Good News is less known, it’s a lot more common. Talk to a missionary sometime who’s ministered in an Animistic culture, and they’ll tell you stories which sound like something out of a horror movie.
Can a Christian be demonically possessed? No. The Holy Spirit lives inside us permanently, and we belong to him. His seal of ownership is upon us. I do believe that the Enemy’s servants can influence us and lead us into deception, but he doesn’t have any claim on us.
We’re going to discuss Jesus’ encounters with demons tomorrow, but today I just want to make a crucial point concerning this. Quite frankly, I think this subject can be distracting. Why? Well, for all its flash and drama, demonic possession is not all that important and somewhat overblown.
You see, the Bible explicitly tells us that every single person outside of Christ belongs to Satan. Now please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that every person who’s not a Christian is an especially evil person, or consciously worships the Devil. That’s a tiny tiny tiny minority. My friend, you don’t need to draw a pentagram on a floor and sacrifice a goat to worship the Enemy of mankind.
Because of our sinful nature which we inherited from our first parents, we all start out belonging to the Evil One. That's our default setting as we exit the womb. As someone once told me, Satan is like a pawn-broker: He claims all the unredeemed.
I know that sounds radical, but it’s precisely what Jesus says. When Christ confronted the religious leaders, he said that they were children of Satan, and the only alternative was to be a child of God through faith in him. There’s no third option.
When Paul was describing our life before salvation, he said that we “followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air [Satan], the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” That’s the natural state of everyone before they come to Christ.
Quite frankly, that’s why I don’t like the message of The Exorcist and similar movies. It reinforces the lie that as long as someone hasn’t “sold their soul to the Devil” or isn’t spewing pea soup and twisting their heads 360 degrees, they’re fine. No, they’re not.
And the cure for this is pretty simple: Lead someone to place their faith in the Savior.
So instead of going out in some “power encounter” against Satan, the best way to really counter his power is through the Good News of Jesus Christ. That’s the solution. So have you done anything about it?
Lord Jesus, so many people I encounter every day need to hear and see the Good News. Will you love them through me today?
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