Satan and Demonism

Introduction

BEFORE THE BEGINNING OF HUMAN HISTORY Satan and his angels instigated a conflict in the spiritual realm that continues to this very moment. The drama of this spiritual warfare storms across the pages of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Mankind was created to resolve this ancient conflict, but Satan and the unseen demon hordes he commands will not suffer defeat without an intense struggle. One tactic Satan employs is the varied facets of demon activity. Demonism has pervaded the earth and plagued man since the fall of Adam.

    How do these invisible creatures influence mankind? In the most insidious ways! Satan’s soldiers, the demons, are supernatural beings originally created by God who possess immense power. Opposed to God, they have devised a vast array of subterfuges and counterfeit activities which appeal to the innate curiosity of mankind. The harmless appearance of these myriad enterprises camouflages their evil nature and intent. To become embroiled is to practice demonism.

    Human beings under the influence of demons are pawns in the diabolical cause of Satan. Disaster is the ultimate finale for human devotees. The Bible emphatically warns believers against consorting with these sinister powers.

    Nations that succumb to demonism cannot survive. There is a direct correlation between the rise and fall of nations and their interest in the occult. God must ultimately destroy the degenerate and pervasive effects of demon influence and demon possession. Every nation that allows demon activity to gain a foothold courts disaster. Such was the divine judgment on the ancient Canaanites, whose complete abandonment to the evil practices of demonism led to God’s command that they be utterly destroyed (Deut. 20:17). The fate of demon-influenced societies is recorded forever in the Scriptures to deter those who would become involved with the powers of darkness.

    Demonism, published by the author in 1971, warned of the dangers of dabbling with satanic evil. Critical questions demanded answers! How prevalent is demon possession or demon influence? Who can be demon possessed? Who can be demon influenced? Is the practice of exorcism valid? The Bible, the infallible Word of God, clearly resolves these significant questions.

    Prior to the 1970’s demonism and Satanism were terms seldom heard in the United States of America outside a church or theological classroom. Then, two events focused public awareness on demonism. In 1969 Charles Manson and his ‘family,’ a cult immersed in demonism, committed the ritualistic Tate-LaBianca murders. Later, the release of the 1973 film The Exorcist transfixed audiences with the bizarre antics of a young girl possessed by a demon. A flood of chilling films and horror books began to inundate a general public fascinated with the demonic.

    Films of witchcraft, vampires, and ghosts, along with sensationalized news accounts distort demonism by emphasizing overt Satanism and occult rituals. But Satan is far from the proverbial hideous monster enticing people to perform grotesque and shocking acts which represent the obvious forms of demonism. Satan disguises his most devastating demonic attacks as benign or even beneficial to the individual. Satan cloaks his most successful deceptions in the guise of religion, enticing the gullible who would never suspect they are being deceived by demons.1

    The New Age movement is just another wave of demonism. New Age ideas are ‘new’ only in that they are a contemporary conglomeration of antibiblical practices and beliefs derived from ancient occult and pagan religions, astrology, humanistic psychology, and Eastern religions. Old demonic practices are introduced in enticing new packages. In the name of self-awareness, self-fulfillment, and self-love, occult techniques are taught to an unsuspecting public. Western mindsets are captivated by trans-channeling, Eastern mystical meditation, and divination when craftily presented in scientific and psychological terminology. These techniques have even infiltrated certain business and employee training seminars.2

    Numerous New Age concepts are derived from mystical experiences which offer hope of a ‘greater’ reality or direct union with a ‘higher being.’3 But mystic contact with higher beings is in fact contact with demons. Mysticism has been nourished in this country by the influx of Asian religions, especially Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism.

    Christianity is not immune to the controversies surrounding demonism. Some believers wrongly blame carnality on demon possession while other believers think they must battle demons to grow spiritually. A primary weapon in this confrontation is exorcism, a spectacle which lures large crowds and lucrative offerings in worship services. Confused Bible teachers urge Christians to “bind” and “rebuke” the devil to be victorious in the Christian life. The average believer in the pew is being victimized by this focus on the spectacular.

    Misconceptions, distortions, and false teaching about demonism abound. A preoccupation with the demonic and offensive action against Satan distract many believers from the goal of spiritual maturity through learning and applying Bible doctrine. Only the infallible Word of God prepares and protects the believer so he can “stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:11).4

Chapter One:
THE ORIGIN OF DEMONISM

SATAN—THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS

BEFORE THE CREATION OF MANKIND, God created a vast angelic host, unseen today but nevertheless real (Col. 1:16). The preeminent angel was “Lucifer, son of the morning” (Isa. 14:12, KJV), the most dazzling creature of light ever to come from the hand of God: his radiant beauty breathtaking in its perfection, his voice resonant and melodious, his wisdom beyond mortal comprehension, his clothing of iridescent light studded with priceless jewels. God appointed this peerless angel to the exalted position of honor guard to His throne.

“Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre [Satan], and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,
“You had the seal of perfection,
Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God;
Every precious stone was your covering:
The ruby, the topaz, and the diamond;
The beryl, the onyx, and the jasper;
The lapis lazuli, the turquoise, and the emerald;
And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets,
Was in you.
On the day that you were created
They were prepared.
You were the anointed cherub who covers,
And I [God the Father] placed you there.
You were on the holy mountain of God;
You walked in the midst of the stones of fire.
You were blameless in your ways
From the day you were created,
Until unrighteousness was found in you.” ’ ”
    (Ezek. 28:12-15)

    Lucifer should have responded to this supreme honor and privilege with utter devotion to his Creator. Instead, he became narcissistic, enamored with his own importance: Such brilliance, such beauty should never be subservient to anyone. His spark of arrogance ignited the flames of power lust as Lucifer grew increasingly dissatisfied with the position God had sovereignly assigned him. He craved to possess the very power and glory of God, to usurp the throne for himself, to overthrow divine authority. His desire—to rule the universe!

“But you [Lucifer] said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the recesses of the north.
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’ ”
    (Isa. 14:13-14)

    Lucifer rebelled against God and persuaded one-third of all the angels to join his revolution (Rev. 12:4). This heavenly mutiny divided the angelic creation into two hostile forces: the elect angels who maintain their estate and serve God, and the fallen angels, demons, who serve Satan. This revolt between the angels of light and angels of darkness inaugurated a prehistoric conflict which continues into the present and will not conclude until the end of human history.

    In eternity past God convened a trial to judge the defiant angels. God was the judge and prosecution, Satan the defense attorney. After evaluating the evidence against Satan and the fallen angels, God pronounced them guilty; He condemned them to spend eternity in the lake of fire (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10). Except for periodic angelic convocations (Job 1:6; 2:1), Satan was forbidden to enter the presence of God (Ezek. 28:16). Since his condemnation Satan has sought to outmaneuver God to foil the execution of his sentence.

    If Satan and his angels have already been condemned and sentenced, why has this sentence not been executed (Job 1:7)? God graciously postponed the judgment in response to an appeal lodged by Satan at the conclusion of his trial. Satan’s argument impugned the character of God: How could a loving God cast His creatures into eternal fire?5

    To resolve Satan’s appeal God created the human race. Through mankind God will display His perfect justice. Like the angels, mankind has been endowed with volition, the freedom to choose for or against God. Satan must now contend with the volition of this new creature. Through the decisions of the human race God will vindicate His judgment and refute Satan’s accusations against His character.

    Confirmation of the legal battle is revealed in Lucifer’s new title, Satan, derived from the Hebrew שָׂטָן (Satan), meaning “adversary, accuser” (Zech. 3:1-2). Satan was the adversary of God at his prehistoric trial and continues to act as “the accuser of our brethren” (Rev. 12:10). He remains the irreconcilable enemy of God.

    Satan, not content to be merely a spectator to the unfolding events of human history, rallies his demons. He goes on the offensive to influence and to win the allegiance of mankind. In his first skirmish Satan tempted Eve in the Garden to commit the initial human sin of rebellion. Adam then chose to join Eve and follow Satan’s lead. Adam’s disobedience condemned all mankind.

Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. (Rom. 5:12)

Though the human race is condemned, God has not deserted it.

    God’s magnificent grace is available to every human being. The sublime manifestation of His grace is the plan of salvation for mankind. God the Father knew in eternity past that Adam would sin and plunge the human race into condemnation, so He planned a means of redemption.6 He sent Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, to become perfect humanity and to die on the cross as a substitute for the sins of every person. Anyone can be saved by faith alone in Christ alone.7

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved.” (Acts 16:31a)

Human history demonstrates that volition determines a person’s eternal destiny.

“He who believes in Him [Jesus Christ] is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)
 
“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)

    Satan loses when just one person believes in Jesus Christ. But the faith of millions magnifies the grace and sovereignty of God and continually vindicates the perfect justice of His decision. Each believer becomes a testimony of God’s grace and a witness for the prosecution against the accusation of Satan.

    Few people realize that the world is in the throes of this ceaseless, invisible warfare—a fight to the finish (Eph. 6:10-17). Earth is the battleground between believing humanity and the armies of Satan. In the conflict, Satan, the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), uses every trick, every ruse at his command, to neutralize or destroy the plan of God for the human race.8

In order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes. (2 Cor. 2:11)

SATAN’S STRATEGY

Master Counterfeiter

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds. (2 Cor. 11:13-15)

    Although God defrocked Lucifer, this leader of the angels of darkness still “disguises himself as an angel of light.” He is the master of deceit. Were he visible today, millions would be captivated by his charming personality and deny that he is evil. Why is the devil so intent on revealing himself in the best possible light? To seduce as many followers away from Jesus Christ as possible, ever seeking to avert his inevitable doom.

Surely one of Satan’s greatest stratagems has been the attempt to keep men in ignorance of the real nature of his being and the fraudulent dimensions of his pretensions.9

    Since Lucifer became obsessed with the desire to be “like the Most High,” his only recourse for outmaneuvering God is to counterfeit the truth. As the master counterfeiter Satan’s schemes are a sham. God is truth, but there is no truth in Satan (John 8:44).

    How does Satan counterfeit the truth? Since God magnified His Word according to His name (Ps. 138:2), Satan retaliated by inundating the world with counterfeit doctrine (1 Tim. 4:1). When the Lord bestowed spiritual gifts of pastor-teacher and evangelist, Satan countered with his own counterfeit teachers and prophets (2 Cor. 11:13-15). When the Lord instituted the Eucharist for the Church Age, Satan developed his own communion table.10

No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. (1 Cor. 10:20-21)

    God’s policy for His relationship with man is based on grace: God does all the work, and man humbly receives the benefit of that work through faith alone. Satan opposes grace with a counterfeit righteousness which appeals to human arrogance (Matt. 19:16-26). People presumptuously believe they can merit or earn God’s approbation through their own self-righteous efforts. Jesus Christ strongly condemned this counterfeit modus operandi in the Pharisees of His own day (Matt. 23; Luke 18:9-12), and Isaiah likened self-righteousness to a “filthy garment.”

For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.
    (Isa. 64:6a)

    These ingenious counterfeit systems of Satan are extremely deceptive. Listen to the message proclaimed by many pastors today. Their pronouncements neutralize faith with human works. They proclaim a counterfeit gospel (2 Cor. 11:3-4) far more often than the biblical Gospel of faith alone in Christ alone. To pervert personal faith in Christ, Satan strives to obscure the true Gospel of salvation (2 Cor. 4:4). Anticipating this attack the Apostle Paul warned:

But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1:8)

    God designed a perfect plan for the believer’s spiritual life based on grace, and Satan offers a counterfeit spirituality based on human works and morality (Gal. 3:2-3). To complement this pseudospirituality, Satan emulates the power of God. Many will be deceived by the counterfeit power, signs, and wonders performed by the devil’s disciples (2 Thess. 2:8-10). Satan also adapts an array of counterfeit gods to appeal to the degeneracy prevalent in any culture of the past, present, or future (2 Thess. 2:3-4).

    To discern error we must first know the truth. The Bible commands the believer to “buy truth, and sell it not” (Prov. 23:23). Only when we know the truth—Bible doctrine—can we recognize and avoid Satan’s deceptions.

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. (2 John 10-11)

The God of This Age

    God created man to have dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:26-28). When Adam disobeyed God in the Garden he surrendered rulership of the earth to Satan. Today the devil is still the ruler of this world and holds the title “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4).

    The Bible recognizes the prerogative of Satan to award the kingdoms of the earth and their glory to any person of his choice. Satan’s offer of splendid earthly domains to Jesus during the wilderness temptation was legitimate (Matt. 4:8-9). Exercising his temporary authority in the future Tribulation, Satan will establish the “man of sin,” the infamous dictator of the Revived Roman Empire (2 Thess. 2:3-9, KJV; Rev. 19:20).11

    Despite his genius, the world remains in chaos. Satan cannot effectively administer the world. He possesses enormous power, but he lacks the character of God—the righteousness, justice, love, grace, omnipotence—and the consistency to execute all that he has planned.

    Satan’s consuming arrogance prevents him from ever being faithful to his subjects. He manipulates them strictly for his own purposes, then dismisses them when they cease to be useful to his cause. Satan’s treatment of Judas Iscariot exemplifies his faithlessness. After he used Judas to betray Christ (John 13:2, 21-30; 18:2, 5) Satan deserted him. Overcome by guilt, Judas “went away and hanged himself” (Matt. 27:3-5).

    Satan’s authority in the world is implemented through his liege angels. As their supreme commander, he is known as “Beelzebul the ruler of the demons” (Matt. 12:24).12 These highly organized and specialized demon forces operate both actively and effectively under the command of demon generals.

    During the Age of Israel, Satan attempted to destroy the spiritual life of Israel by alienating the Jews from the true God.13 Satan promoted elaborate pantheons populated with major and lesser gods who demanded offerings, even human sacrifices (Lev. 18:21; Jer. 32:35). These polytheistic religions captivated the Israelites and perverted the worship of Yahweh.14

    So pervasive was the lure of demonism that when God ordered Israel to annihilate the Canaanites for demonic practices, they ignored God’s command and spared them. As the debauched Canaanites continued to live in their midst, the Israelites were enticed to assimilate their demonic religion, even sacrificing their own children to appease the demons (Deut. 32:17). Satan’s religious counterfeit temporarily prevailed.

They did not destroy the peoples,
As the LORD commanded them,
But they mingled with the nations,
And learned their practices,
And served their idols,
Which became a snare to them.
They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons,
And shed innocent blood,
The blood of their sons and their daughters,
Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
And the land was polluted with the blood.
    (Ps. 106:34-38)

    In the Church Age Satan is far too subtle to tempt Christians with such horrors as child sacrifice. Instead, he distracts the believer from the plan of God by appealing to the “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life” (1 John 2:16). Succumbing to these seductive lusts carries a high price for the believer. The road to ruin is paved with misery, ultimately ending in the sin unto death (1 John 5:16). Yet this need never happen! At salvation God frees the believer from the power of Satan.

The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8b)

    We are born into the devil’s world. Our spiritual death is proof of our earthly citizenship. The only hope is faith in the Savior. Regeneration transfers us from the family of Satan (John 8:44) to the royal family of God (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:5-6).15

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. (John 1:12; cf. Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13)

As children of God we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and can never be demon possessed or indwelt by Satan. We have the options of the filling of the Holy Spirit and learning the Word of God as the only means to repel satanic or demonic influence.16 Only through Bible doctrine resident in our soul can we defend ourselves against Satan and his demons.

Resist the devil and he will flee from you [demon influence]. (James 4:7b)

SATAN’S SOLDIERS

    Satan, the “prince of the power of the air,” commands innumerable ranks of demons (Eph. 2:2; cf. Eph. 1:21; 6:12). The Greek δαιμόνιον (daimonion, Matt. 9:33) and the Hebrew equivalent שֵׁד (shed, Deut. 32:17; Ps. 106:36-37) identify the fallen angels who chose Satan’s side during the prehistoric angelic revolt. Another Hebrew term for demon, שָׂעִיר (sa’ir, Lev. 17:7), means “hairy one or he-goat,” a word applied to the satyrs of Greek mythology.17 Further references to demons in our English Bibles are the words “familiar spirits” (Lev. 19:31, KJV) and “devils” (Deut. 32:17, KJV). Regardless of the word used, one or more of Satan’s angels are in view. To avoid confusion, “demon,” unless otherwise specified, will be used when discussing these malevolent spirit beings.

    Demons serve the cause of evil. They are avowed enemies of God and in open rebellion against Christ. Satan, lacking the attributes of deity including omnipresence and omnipotence, compensates for his inadequacies by relying on his demons for reconnaissance and the execution of his nefarious schemes. By himself, Satan could accomplish little, for his field of operations ranges far beyond his ability. His domain includes the earth and its atmosphere. Further hindering Satan are the divine restraints that prevent him from operating at full capacity.

    One group of fallen angels not operating today comprises the demon assault army which comes forth from the Abyss (Rev. 9) during the Tribulation. Those demons await their release for a future assault on humanity during the last great apocalyptic period of history. Their objective is to assist Satan in his final attempt to gain control of the world.

    God has also incarcerated a vast company of Satan’s demons in Tartarus to await their final punishment (1 Pet. 3:19-20; Jude 6).18 This segment of fallen angels, called בְנִי־הַאֱלֹהִים (bene ha’Elohim), translated “sons of God,” always refers to angelic beings in the Old Testament (Gen. 6:4; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). These demons deliberately procreated with “the daughters of men” (Gen. 6:2). The union produced half-human, half-angelic creatures, the נְפִילִים (Nephilim), in an attempt to contaminate the purity of the human race.19 Their insidious goal was to corrupt human genetics and thereby foil the virgin birth of the Savior who had to be true and pure humanity. This genetic attack on the human race necessitated the worldwide judgment of the Noahic flood (Gen. 6:12-13) to annihilate the mixed-breed offspring. The demons involved were incarcerated in darkness, chained with eternal bonds to prevent further attempts to destroy the line of Christ (2 Pet. 2:4).

    After the sexual invasion of Genesis 6, God removed the ability of all the demons to appear as human beings and procreate (Matt. 22:30). From that time on, the demons still at large must remain invisible. They can manifest themselves only through demon possession, entering the body of an unbelieving man or woman. The power they are able to exert over the human body is tremendous. Demons are capable of imparting supernatural strength (Luke 8:29), as well as inflicting physical abnormalities and deformities (Luke 13:11-17). Demons can cause blindness (Matt. 12:22) and inability to speak (Matt. 9:32-33). They are able to induce mental disorders and suicidal mania (Luke 8:26-35), and are often responsible for personal injury to their victims (Mark 9:17-18). Once they have established control over a human body, these evil spirits may come and go at will (Luke 11:24-26). This accounts for the apparent success of alleged exorcists who knowingly or unwittingly become the agents of the devil. One of the objectives of the demons is to deceive the human race through their spurious demonic doctrines and thereby thwart the plan of God.

Chapter Two:
DEMON INFLUENCE

DEMON INFLUENCE OCCURS when the soul of either an unbeliever or believer is invaded by cosmic thinking.20 This human viewpoint reflects Satan’s strategy that opposes and obscures God’s plan. Satan’s perpetual objective is to usurp the rightful place of God and to be worshiped as God. A primary duty of every demon is to corrupt the thinking, ideas, values, and actions of the human race. By so doing Satan believes that he can obstruct the plan of God and prove his case in the angelic conflict.

    After the fall of Adam, Satan became the ruler of the world. To gain and maintain control of this realm, his counterfeit philosophies of life and religions are his strategies to deceive and confuse believers and unbelievers. Satan uses contrasting systems such as legalism and licentiousness to appeal to the trends of the sin nature. All his strategies have similar characteristics: arrogance or preoccupation with self, and antagonism, hatred, or hostility toward grace and truth. The original Greek of the New Testament gathers all satanic stratagems into the Greek designation κόσμος (kosmos, from which is derived the English “cosmic”), usually translated “world.” Kosmos describes an orderly, cohesive system and organization with a purpose, policy, and structure of authority designed to subvert the thinking of the human race.

The cosmos is a vast order or system that Satan has promoted, which conforms to his ideals, aims, and methods. It is civilization now functioning apart from God—a civilization in which none of its promoters really expect God to share, who assign to God no consideration in respect to their projects; nor do they ascribe any causativity to Him. This system embraces its godless governments, conflicts, armaments, jealousies, its education, culture, religions of morality, and pride. It is that sphere in which man lives. It is what he sees, what he employs. To the uncounted multitude it is all they ever know so long as they live on this earth. It is properly styled the satanic system, which phrase is in many instances a justified interpretation of the so-meaningful word, cosmos. It is literally a cosmos diabolicus.21

    A successful strategy in Satan’s repertoire is to promote a superficial understanding of cosmic thinking or worldliness among believers. Worldliness is not doing so-called ‘worldly’ things or violating cultural taboos, such as smoking, drinking, dancing, going to movies, or other activities that shock legalistic Christians. The focus of worldliness is on human viewpoint which leads to carnality.22 You are what you think (Prov. 23:7a).

    The Bible strongly admonishes every believer to resist cosmic thinking (James 4:4).

Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15)

Any believer who lives, thinks, or operates his life according to the world’s standards is not only enslaved to Satan’s authority, but unwittingly executes Satan’s policy and fulfills his purpose.

    Everyone born into Satan’s world domain is bombarded with Satan’s propaganda until the day he dies. The unbeliever’s only protection against the more extreme forms of demon influence is through the application of the laws of divine establishment as exemplified by the Ten Commandments.23 God’s fundamentals of virtue and morality intended for the freedom of all mankind are the antithesis of Satan’s scheme.

    After salvation, the believer’s sole protection against demon influence is learning and applying Bible doctrine.

And do not be conformed to this world [cosmic thinking], but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom. 12:2)

The truth of doctrine guards against human viewpoint, the false wisdom of the cosmos, and frees the believer from enslavement to Satan’s policy (John 8:32). The tragic victims of demon influence are believers distracted from God’s plan for their life.

    Whenever a believer sins, whether knowingly or unknowingly, his sin nature assumes control and he enters the cosmic system.24 Residing in this system through rejection of Bible doctrine creates a vacuum in the soul. Demon doctrines supplant Bible doctrine.

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. (1 Tim. 4:1)

As spiritual decline continues, the believer descends into reversionism.25 This is the state of spiritual decline or decadence resulting from rejection or neglect of Bible doctrine.

    The longer the believer resides in cosmic thinking, without using rebound (1 John 1:9), the more susceptible he is to demon influence. Eventually it becomes impossible to distinguish between the unbeliever and the believer saturated with cosmic thinking. Like King Saul, the reversionistic believer faces the risk of increased divine discipline. Saul was definitely a believer (1 Sam. 10:6; cf. 28:19). His life reveals the depths of carnality to which any believer can sink. Though every believer is saved at the moment of faith in Christ, he still possesses a sin nature. Any sin he could commit before salvation he can commit after salvation because of the depravity of the sin nature. When the reversionist is dominated by lust patterns of the sin nature unrestrained by Bible doctrine, his life will imitate the unbeliever.

    Saul’s rejection of doctrine was manifested by intense bouts of depression, neuroses, and psychoses. Believers today can manifest these same traits. The solution is confession of sin and subsequent recovery of the filling of the Holy Spirit, restoration of fellowship with God, and resumption of the spiritual life which includes daily perception and application of Bible doctrine.

    Although the totality of Satan’s policy in the cosmic system is evil, his scheme incorporates good works and morality. One of Satan’s most effective tools against spiritual growth in the believer’s life is the distraction of activism, any zealous crusade for a moral cause. Thousands of believers fall prey to campaigns that culminate in furthering Satan’s agenda. The only sure way to accomplish God’s plan is not by whitewashing the devil’s world, but by utilizing the assets God provides for every believer in the Church Age.26

DEMON INFLUENCE VS. DEMON POSSESSION

    Does the Bible distinguish between demon influence and demon possession? Absolutely! New Testament Greek unambiguously designates demon possession with the words δαιμονίζομαι (daimonizomai), “to be possessed by a demon,”27 and ἔχω δαιμόνιον (echo daimonion), “to have a demon.”28 These terms are synonyms in Luke’s account of the Gerasene demoniac.

And when He [Jesus] had come out onto the land, He was met by a certain man from the city who was possessed with demons [echo daimonion]; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs. (Luke 8:27)
 
And those who had seen it reported to them how the man who was demon-possessed [daimonizomai] had been made well. (Luke 8:36)

When these particular words appear in any biblical context they indicate demon possession.

    Further evidence that daimonizomai indicates internal possession by a demon comes from the description of the demon entering the madman.

And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he [the Gerasene demoniac] said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered [εἰσέρχομαι, eiserchomai] him. (Luke 8:30)

Eiserchomai, meaning “to enter into, to go in,” emphasizes the internal residence of a demon within the body of the Gerasene demoniac (cf. Mark 5:12; 9:25). Not only is the demon said to be “in” the person, but immediate healing was accomplished when Jesus “cast out” (ἐκβάλλω, ekballo) the invading demon.

And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out [ekballo] many demons. (Mark 1:34a; cf. Matt. 9:33; 10:1; Mark 1:39; 3:15; Luke 11:14)

Jesus often used the imperative mood of ἐξέρχομαι (exerchomai) to command the demon to “come out”; the indicative mood of this word describes the demon’s departure.

And when Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out [imperative of exerchomai] of him and do not enter [eiserchomai] him again.” And after crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out [indicative of exerchomai]. (Mark 9:25-26a, italics added; cf. Matt. 17:18; Mark 1:25-26; 5:8, 13; 7:29; Luke 4:35; 8:2)

A demon could not be cast out or come out if it had not first entered and subsequently resided in the person afflicted.

    From the analysis of key words in these passages it is incontestable that daimonizomai and its synonyms always mean the invasion and control of a person’s body by one or more demons. Daimonizomai should never be translated “demonized” because this obscures the distinction between demon possession and demon influence. Demon possession must never be confused with or construed as demon influence.

King Saul and Demon Influence

    One of the most prominent examples of demon influence is found in the Old Testament narrative about King Saul. Some expositors use this as an instance of a demon-possessed believer, but there is no hint of demonic indwelling in the biblical account.

    After Saul was rejected by God because of his prolonged disobedience and reversionism, he came under personal demonic attack. In 1 Samuel 16:14-16, 23; 18:10; and 19:9, the Hebrew prepositions indicate that Saul was never indwelt by a demon. In each account the demon “came upon,” עַל (‘al), or “came to,” אֶל (‘el), Saul and terrorized him. These prepositions are in contrast to the Hebrew preposition בְּ (be), which means “into” or “within.” However, be is not present in any of the above passages. Furthermore, the demon was never portrayed as being “cast out” of Saul.

    While believers can come under demon influence, they cannot be demon possessed. If Old Testament believers like Saul who were not permanently endued with the Holy Spirit could not be demon possessed, how much more impossible for a Church Age believer permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit to be demon possessed (1 Cor. 6:19-20). No demon can indwell the Church Age believer’s body, because God the Holy Spirit has made it a temple for the indwelling of Christ.

Chapter Three:
AVENUES TO DEMONISM

HOW DOES SOMEONE BECOME SUSCEPTIBLE to demon influence? The origin of this vulnerability lies in the volition and the sin nature. The motivator of the sin nature resides in the lust patterns: power lust, materialism lust, pleasure lust, sexual lust, approbation lust, chemical lust, criminal lust, social lust, crusader lust, revenge lust. A person may choose any path of temptation to satiate his lusts. Therein lies the road to ruin: Frustration from unfulfilled lusts produces bitterness which ripens into hatred and, in turn, hardens into implacability, vindictiveness, and violence. For example, hatred and vindictiveness are the driving forces underlying the demonic practices of voodooism, a primitive religion combining aspects of idolatry, mysticism, and drug-enhanced sorcery.

    Some people may engage a fortuneteller to gain information and guidance or seek security through knowledge of future events. Others may seek a medium to receive solace in bereavement by attempting to contact a departed loved one. These seemingly innocent pursuits in reality provide a façade for demonism. Some justify their involvement as merely amusing entertainment; others earnestly search for answers to disturbing questions. Deluded by satanic strategies these people succumb to the influence of demons.

    Among the most prevalent avenues to demon influence are idolatry, divination, necromancy, drug addiction, the phallic cult, mysticism, and astrology. Each of these avenues is embodied in the doctrines of demons. Demon influence becomes the staging area for demon possession of the unbeliever. The believer who engages in these practices becomes increasingly demon influenced as the doctrines of demons infiltrate his thinking and control his decisions.

IDOLATRY

    Idolatry, the worship of anything other than God, wears countless faces—from seemingly harmless symbols and icons to trees, animals, and representations of the natural world. Idolatry deifies the forces of nature and gives obeisance to man-made objects.

Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Rom. 1:22-25)

    Scripture records many instances of idolatry among the nations surrounding Israel. These include the Canaanite worship of Baal and the Asherah (Deut. 29:17; Judg. 2:11-13; 3:7) and the Philistine worship of Dagon, the fish god (Judg. 16:23; 1 Sam. 5:1-7).29 Today, Asiatic religions offer a plethora of animate and inanimate idols, representing their various pantheons.

    The enticing snares of idolatry include the worship of icons, ancestor and hero worship, the licentious rites of the phallic cult, as well as more intangible forms of idolatry such as the worship of self, status, power, and money (Col. 3:5). In every generation idolatry lures faithful followers from every walk of life, inviting demonism which adversely affects body and soul. Idolatry is spiritual adultery, unfaithfulness to the Lord, and contributes to divine judgment when enough people in a nation succumb to its deception.

“And I [the Lord] saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also. And it came about because of the lightness of her harlotry, that she polluted the land and committed adultery with stones and trees [idolatry].” (Jer. 3:8-9)
 
“So your altars will become desolate, and your incense altars will be smashed; and I [the Lord] shall make your slain fall in front of your idols. I shall also lay the dead bodies of the sons of Israel in front of their idols; and I shall scatter your bones around your altars. In all your dwellings, cities will become waste and the high places will be desolate, that your altars may become waste and desolate, your idols may be broken and brought to an end, your incense altars may be cut down, and your works may be blotted out.” (Ezek. 6:4-6)

    Idolatry is the foundation for demonism and the environment for contacting demons. Demonic involvement subtly entangles the lives of many who are unaware that demons use idolatry to seduce willing subjects. The first two of the Ten Commandments prohibit corrupting the worship of the true God.

“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.” (Ex. 20:3-5)

Overt expression of idolatrous worship is always preceded by a mental attitude of idolatry that blasphemously substitutes some aspect of nature, some ideal, or some person for God (Rom. 1:25).

    Idolatry is not restricted to primitive cultures or to unbelievers. Even believers become embroiled in this evil. In the Exodus generation many believers succumbed to the worship of the golden calf. The Israelites wallowed in idolatry while Moses was absent from their encampment receiving instructions from God on Mount Sinai (Ex. 32).

    After forty days on the mountain, Moses had not returned. The people became frightened and impatient, questioning whether he would ever come back. Moses left his brother Aaron in charge but without his personal leadership, authority broke down. The rebellious Israelites belligerently demanded of Aaron: “Come, make us a god, who will go before us” (Ex. 32:1). Shortly before that fateful day they had solemnly agreed to obey the law of God (Ex. 19:8). Yet now, with the apparent demise of Moses, all faithfulness was quickly forgotten. They turned to the idolatry of Egypt for comfort.

    Aaron eagerly indulged their sacrilegious demand. The people enthusiastically donated their gold jewelry so he could fashion a golden calf (Ex. 32:2-5, 24). With the idol completed, the people rose up shouting,

“This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” (Ex. 32:4b)

Seeing their zeal, Aaron constructed an altar to the calf and proclaimed a religious feast which culminated in a frenzied, blasphemous orgy. God threatened to destroy all the people for their idolatry. Only the fervent intercession of Moses preserved the Israelites from the wrath of God and instant annihilation (Ex. 32:9-14). Even so, three thousand died the sin unto death for their idolatry (Ex. 32:28).

    Israel’s pattern of failure epitomized by the golden calf debacle began with negative volition toward the Word of God as it was then revealed. This pattern is duplicated in the lives of carnal believers today. Reversionism, spiritual decadence caused by neglect or rejection of Bible doctrine, results. God designed the soul to be controlled by metabolized Bible doctrine under the filling of the Holy Spirit.30 The reversionist makes emotion rather than doctrine his criterion for life. This emotional revolt makes a god of emotion. Satan seizes this opportunity to penetrate the vacuum in the soul created by negative volition with false doctrine and evil ideas. The invasion of the soul by doctrines of demons from Satan’s domain of darkness (Eph. 5:8; Col. 1:13) produces blackout of the soul, blinding the mind to truth. Continued rejection of doctrine hardens the soul with scar tissue and the last vestiges of doctrine disappear. With the truth blacked out in the soul, the reversionistic believer plummets into the final stage of reversionism—reverse-process reversionism.31

    In reverse-process reversionism, a complete reversal or loss of a doctrinal scale of values completes the cycle to degeneracy. Affections and loyalties become so distorted that the reversionist deserts the true objects of love in favor of all that is evil and destructive. Finally, he turns his back on his love for God. In this state of apostasy he succumbs to idolatry, a definitive manifestation of demon influence among believers.

    After World War II, some military personnel stationed throughout Asia returned to the United States enamored with Eastern mystic religion and culture. With this broadened mystical consciousness, a new tolerance for idolatry gradually emerged. Idolatrous concepts soon began to infiltrate Christian worship and practice. Ideas from Eastern religions, such as ‘all religions are pathways to God,’ became common.

    Asian religions which had enslaved and impoverished adherents in their own lands increased in popularity throughout the United States. Certain Americans exchanged their Christian heritage—the only source of freedom, prosperity, and hope—for the slavery, poverty, and despair of Eastern religions.

    At one time our country was at the forefront in sending missionaries to spread Christianity into foreign lands. Now Westerners by the droves make pilgrimages to the meccas of idolatry to study Eastern mysticism. Gurus tour the United States disseminating doctrines of demons while God’s truth remains ignored and rejected.

    The Scriptures warn of the ever-present, insidious danger of idolatry, mandating believers to separate themselves from all forms of this evil. Though idols may be nothing more than wood or stone, they represent demons. Idolatrous religions promote demonic doctrines. Unbelievers enmeshed in idolatry unwittingly worship demons and risk demon possession.

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. . . .What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons [through idolatry]. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. (1 Cor. 10:14, 19-21)
 
Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
“I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM;
AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord.
“AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN;
And I will welcome you.” (2 Cor. 6:16-17)

DIVINATION

You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying. (Lev. 19:26)
 
“There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer.” (Deut. 18:10)

    Divination is the attempt to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge usually by means of interpreting omens or by the aid of supernatural powers. Clairvoyance, palmistry, dowsing, and psychometry are the media of the diviner.32 God expressly forbids participation in such practices.

“For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.”
    (1 Sam. 15:23a)

    The fascination with fortunetelling and psychics corroborates the success of divination as a satanic scheme to distract people from the plan of God. Interest may begin as innocent curiosity: reading a horoscope in the daily newspaper, calling a psychic hotline, playing with a Ouija® board or tarot cards. The popularity of Eastern religions and ideas has made divination more acceptable. These and other long-suppressed demon pursuits surface periodically like scum on a pond to spawn a plethora of evil practices condemned in Scripture.

“Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.” (Lev. 19:31)
 
“Now a man or a woman who is a medium or a spiritist shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones, their bloodguiltiness is upon them.” (Lev. 20:27)33

    God has revealed through biblical prophecy many future events, but in His wisdom He has withheld certain information from mankind (Deut. 29:29). Though the Bible provides only a broad sketch of the future, God has supplied all the knowledge we need to enter into a personal and permanent relationship with Him. The Bible delineates every guideline, every principle required for living the Christian life. Yet, despite these perfect provisions, attempts to foresee the future by means other than those revealed by God continue to entice mankind. The future is best left in the Lord’s hands.

Babylonian Wizardry

    After the Battle of Carchemish, while pursuing the fleeing remnant of the Egyptian army, Nebuchadnezzar came suddenly upon the spectacular city of Jerusalem (Dan 1:1). He hesitated: Should he continue the chase or besiege Jerusalem?

“For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination; he shakes the arrows, he consults the household idols [תְּרָפִים, teraphim], he looks at the liver.” (Ezek. 21:21)

To help make his decision Nebuchadnezzar resorted to three types of divination: belomancy, consultation of the teraphim, and hepatoscopy. He was convinced one or the other would surely point the way. Each method involved demon activity.

    In the practice of belomancy, new bright and shining arrows, one marked in a special way, were tossed into the air. The marked arrow dropped to the ground, pointing toward Jerusalem. Still the “king of Babylon” hesitated. He sought additional confirmation from the small, portable idols, teraphim, that represented his household gods. When these idols were consulted, the demons assured him by a designated omen to advance on Jerusalem.

    Even this failed to convince Nebuchadnezzar. For final assurance he turned to hepatoscopy, using the liver of an animal to determine the future. A ritual dance was performed around a chicken or some other animal. In the case of a chicken, its neck was then wrung and its body pulled apart so the liver would fall to the ground. The diviner then dropped to his hands and knees and stirred the organ with his finger. He examined the construction and position of the liver, awaiting guidance from their pagan god. This final directive convinced Nebuchadnezzar to break off pursuit of the Egyptians and besiege Jerusalem. This decision was based on demon activity through divination.

Oracular Predictions

    In the sixth century B.C. a king named Croesus was the last and most renowned ruler of Lydia. Located in present Turkey, Lydia expanded from a small kingdom to a mighty empire after the fall of the Hittites. Sardis, the capital city, was acclaimed for its splendor and legendary wealth. Croesus, rich beyond imagination, is credited with originating coined money as a medium of exchange.

    When the victories of Cyrus the Great of Persia began to threaten Lydian supremacy, Croesus grew uneasy. He hastily allied himself with Amasis II of Egypt and Nabonidus of Babylonia. But these alliances failed to provide him with a sense of security. He sought advice from supernatural sources to assist him in making decisions.

    Croesus’ first act was to determine which sources of divination were valid. He sent emissaries to various heathen temples throughout the land. His carefully conceived plan called for synchronized action on the part of his messengers. One hundred days after they received their order, each of the couriers was to enter a specific temple and inquire, “What is Croesus, King of Lydia, doing today?”

    At the appointed hour, Croesus would be at the seashore. He would meticulously dismember a tortoise and a lamb and then boil them in a brass cauldron fitted with a brass cover. Whichever temple most accurately described this bizarre royal behavior would be considered the most reliable of the oracles.

    As the king expected, the temples vied with each other for royal patronage. The appeal to each oracle involved complicated ritual and mysterious jargon. Only the oracle of Delphi described exactly the king’s whereabouts even before the courier asked the crucial question. Pythia, the demon-possessed priestess, pronounced:

I can count the sands, and I can measure the ocean; I have ears for the silent, and know what the dumb man meaneth; Lo! on my sense there striketh the smell of a shell-covered tortoise boiling now on a fire, with the flesh of a lamb, in a cauldron, brass is the vessel below, and brass the cover above it.34

    Elated, the courier hastened back to deliver his message to the king. Upon hearing the pronouncement, Croesus immediately knew the right oracle had been found. Once again, he dispatched envoys to Delphi. They arrived laden with priceless gifts intended as a magnificent sacrifice to the Delphian deity. Ancient historians report an offering of three thousand oxen, resplendent robes and royal tunics, immense vessels of silver and gold, ingots of precious metals—opulent gifts that amazed even Herodotus, who saw them a century later at Delphi.

    These treasures, Croesus thought, would be consigned to the flames atop an enormous sacrificial pyre in exchange for an answer to this critical question: Should Lydia attack the Persians? The reply came back from Delphi: If Croesus crosses the Halys River, he will overturn a mighty empire. Croesus misconstrued this ambiguous advice to be a promise of success. The armies of Croesus marched across the border. Indeed, the demon was accurate in his prediction: Croesus’ attack on Cyrus did overturn a mighty empire—his own.

    A similar case is related about the Roman Emperor Trajan.

The Emperor Trajan made a like demand of the oracle of Heliopolis by sending a sealed letter to which he required an answer. The oracle replied by sending to the emperor a bit of blank paper nicely folded and sealed. Trajan was amazed to find the answer in perfect harmony with the letter sent, which contained nothing but a blank paper.35

    These illustrations of divination from ancient history have modern counterparts. When anyone, however innocently, visits a fortuneteller, whether it involves reading palms, tarot cards, or tea leaves, contact with demons is possible. When divination accurately foretells the future, demons are operating. Certainly not all fortunetelling indicates demon possession; much of this frivolous dabbling may be nothing more than clumsy deception or clever fakery. Yet those who participate in divination are flirting with possible demon involvement.

    When people resort to divination before making decisions, they are susceptible to demon influence or demon possession. Divination is merely an extension of witchcraft and idolatry. Sponsored by demons, these are strictly forbidden by God.

    Before the completion of the canon of Scripture, God revealed His will through dreams, visions, and prophecy. Today God communicates only through His written Word. Divine guidance comes from Bible doctrine in the soul.36 The Bible is “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) and doctrine is your protection against the evils of demon influence.

NECROMANCY

    Necromancy originates from two Greek words: νεκρός (nekros), meaning “dead,” and μαντεία (manteia), meaning “divination.” Necromancy is foretelling the future by alleged contact with the dead. Practitioners of necromancy are mediums through whom demons communicate, go-betweens who contact the spirit world for others.

    One of the most ancient of religions is spiritism, often called spiritualism by adherents who wish to give it a semblance of religious respectability. The origin of modern spiritism can be traced to 1847 when Kate and Margaret Fox, two teenage daughters of a Methodist minister, devised a system of raps and knocks to communicate with a spirit allegedly inhabiting their house in western New York state. As word of their encounter spread, the curious and gullible came to witness this alleged contact with the spirit of the dead. Two years later, P. T. Barnum hired the sisters who subsequently gained worldwide notoriety.37 In 1888 the Fox sisters finally admitted the hoax, but their followers remained unconvinced.

    Interest in the spirit world and the paranormal spawns societies and associations dedicated to the study of psychic phenomena.38 The National Spiritualist Association of the United States reported a membership of 126,000 in 1863 which increased to 228,000 spiritists in 1945.39 In post-World War II America several major universities, including Duke and Stanford, have established departments to investigate psychic and paranormal events hoping to establish their legitimacy. However, others have definitively exposed its spurious claims.

    Much of contemporary Spiritism has been exposed by competent professionals as fraudulent. The classic exposé was by Houdini and Dunninger (Magic and Mystery, New York: Weathervane Books, 1967). Other exposés include that by former “psychic” M. Lamar Keene (The Psychic Mafia, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1976) and a joint investigation by a Christian physician, Paul Meier, and a Christian magician, Danny Korem (The Fakers, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980).

    However, not all psychic or spiritistic phenomena can be exposed as fraudulent. There is a spiritual dimension which cannot be ignored. Authentic spiritists draw their power from the one the Bible calls “a roaring lion” who seeks “whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8), who is Satan.40

    Today, the New Age movement has popularized necromancy under the term channeling. Traditional forms of necromancy were usually private séances where the medium attempted to contact and communicate with the dead. In contrast, channeling involves a medium or trans-channeler who permits the spirit to possess his or her body and speak directly to an audience. Often these activities take place before large groups of people who pay vast sums of money for the advice they receive.

    Some channelers have received inordinate attention in our culture. Their predictions and counsel are sought by politicians, sports celebrities, entertainers, and business leaders. The appeal of contacting the dead is a subterfuge used by Satan and his demons to cultivate a constituency in this world. The practice of necromancy has become one of the major thrusts of demonism in our generation. Ethereal beings contacted by mediums do not always claim to be spirits of the dead. Some present themselves as extraterrestrials, angels, gods from ancient religions, or ‘ascended masters.’ Are those who hold séances and channel spirits actually contacting the dead? Definitely not! In fact, so-called mediums are either frauds or they actually do contact demons but never the dead. When influential figures follow their advice, those whom they influence are indirectly and unwittingly affected and guided by doctrine of demons.

    People overcome with grief sometimes possess a strong desire to communicate and fellowship with their departed loved ones and discover where they are. Only the Word of God provides the answer. Those who have died without accepting Christ as Savior are in a place of eternal condemnation (Luke 16:22-23; John 3:18). Believers who have died “in the Lord” (Rev. 14:13) are in His presence, a place of perfect happiness.

“And He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4)

They are “absent from the body, and at home [face to face] with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8).

    Some believe the dead watch the living. We indeed are being watched, but not by the dead. We are being observed by both elect and fallen angels, as well as by living believers and unbelievers (1 Cor. 4:9). Loved ones who have died can no more see or communicate with us than we can see or contact them. Because of our relationship with Christ, we are assured of eternal reunion with those loved ones who are believers in Christ (1 Thess. 4:16-18). We retain fragrant memories of them, but we cannot reach across the divide. We can contact the dead neither in heaven nor in Hades.

    Since communication with the dead is impossible, Scripture forbids all participation in necromancy (Lev. 19:31; 20:6, 27; Deut. 18:9-12; 2 Kings 23:24). These mandates protect the believer from demon influence mediated through necromancy. Contact with the dead cannot be accomplished so demons often impersonate the dead. These demons are called in the Greek ἐγγαστρίμῦθος (engastrimuthos, Isa. 8:19, LXX).41

The Engastrimuthos Demon

And when they [false prophets] say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? (Isa. 8:19)

    The word “medium” is a translation of the Hebrew אוֹב (’ov), the equivalent of the Greek engastrimuthos which means “ventriloquist.” A ventriloquist demon sometimes produces within the medium a strange cacophony of whispers and mutters. At other times he projects his voice out from the ground, up from the table, or down from the ceiling. Frequently the demon controls the vocal cords of the medium in a clever impersonation of the dead. The engastrimuthos demons must possess and control the mediums through whom they speak.

    For example, a demon who indwelt someone in India a thousand years ago may presently indwell someone in Los Angeles. Through this person the engastrimuthos demon impersonates any number of people from India who lived during that ancient time. No language barriers exist for demons, so the demon is able to make it seem as though personages from different eras of history are projected into our century.

    Isaiah describes another assignment of the engastrimuthos demon:

Then you shall be brought low;
From the earth you shall speak,
And from the dust where you are prostrate,
Your words shall come.
Your voice shall also be like that of a spirit from the ground,
And your speech shall whisper from the dust.
    (Isa. 29:4)

In this form of necromancy the medium places his ear near the ground, ostensibly to hear the voice of the dead. Yet the voice the medium hears is actually an impersonation by the engastrimuthos demon.

The Witch of En-dor

    Rudyard Kipling, the English poet and winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, was familiar with the biblical account in 1 Samuel 28 when he penned these lines from “En-dor”:

Oh the road to En-dor is the oldest road
    And the craziest road of all!
Straight it runs to the Witch’s abode,
    As it did in the days of Saul,
And nothing has changed of the sorrow in store
For such as go down on the road to En-dor!

In these terse words Kipling vividly recounts the tragic consequences of consorting with demons. Saul’s journey down the road to En-dor epitomizes the degradation and depravity to which the nation Israel had sunk during his reign.

    Following the death of Moses’ successor Joshua, God appointed judges to rule over Israel. The last of these political and spiritual leaders was Samuel, who served also as prophet to the nation. Samuel’s advanced age and approaching death raised the question of selecting his successor.

    The elders of Israel petitioned Samuel to appoint a king to succeed him to office. Samuel warned the people that their request was contrary to God’s plan. God had established Israel as a theocracy: God was their king. But the people, blinded by their obsession to be “like all the nations” (1 Sam. 8:5), stubbornly demanded a king they could see and touch. In grace God permitted Saul to be anointed king over Israel.

    Saul possessed every quality of a popular leader: a winsome personality, physical attractiveness, and true humility (1 Sam. 9:1-2). In his younger years Saul was a grace-oriented believer with Bible doctrine resident in his soul. He obeyed the commandments of the Lord.

    Later in life, however, Saul began to look at life from the human viewpoint. His persistent negative volition led him into prolonged periods of carnality. The longer Saul remained in reversionism, the more casually he treated God’s instructions (1 Sam. 15:3-29). Consequently, the Lord rejected Saul and dispatched Samuel to anoint young David as the future king of Israel (1 Sam. 16:12-13). Though God had rejected Saul, He graciously permitted him to continue to reign.

    Samuel continued as the spiritual leader of the land while Saul was the officially recognized ruler of Israel. Following David’s spectacular victory over Goliath, the young shepherd-warrior became a national hero. His tremendous popularity infuriated Saul (1 Sam. 18:6-8). Driven by insane jealousy and hatred for David, King Saul had but one ambition—to kill David, God’s choice as the next monarch (1 Sam. 18:9-29). To achieve his evil goal, Saul employed the nation’s military might in a personal vendetta against the man he regarded as his rival.42 This is the background for the incident at En-dor.

The Crisis

Now it came about in those days that the Philistines gathered their armed camps for war, to fight against Israel. And Achish said to David, “Know assuredly that you will go out with me in the camp, you and your men.” And David said to Achish, “Very well, you shall know what your servant can do.” So Achish said to David, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.” (1 Sam. 28:1-2)43

    The clouds of disaster gathered on Israel’s horizon. An ancient foe was mobilizing its forces and threatening the survival of the nation. The powerful alliance of the five city-states of Philistia was poised to strike. The ragtag remnants of Saul’s army, dissipated by lack of leadership and poor discipline, were scarcely a match for this mighty array of military force. Saul would discover too late that his unchecked reversionism had rendered him useless to the Lord, vulnerable to attack by the Philistines, and susceptible to demon influence.

Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him and buried him in Ramah his own city. And Saul had removed from the land those who were mediums and spiritists. (1 Sam. 28:3)

    During this crucial time in their history, Israel lacked leadership. Samuel, the nation’s spiritual leader, was dead. Saul’s spiritual weakness and irrational obsession with David had corrupted his leadership. The nation was in disarray. Taking advantage of Israel’s military paralysis the Philistines prepared to attack.

So the Philistines gathered together and came and camped in Shunem; and Saul gathered all Israel together and they camped in Gilboa. When Saul saw the camp of the Philistines, he was afraid and his heart trembled greatly. (1 Sam. 28:4-5)

    The battle lines were drawn between the Israelites and the Philistines. Achish and his army bivouacked on the slopes of Mount Moreh, overlooking the narrow end of the Valley of Jezreel, also known as the plain of Esdraelon. On the opposite side of the valley, four miles away at the foot of Mount Gilboa, lay the encampment of the Israelites. The sight of the massed might of his enemy terrified Saul. Because of reversionism his courage degenerated to cowardice and subsequent psychosis. As fear gripped his soul, what was left of his doctrinal norms and standards deteriorated, destroying his capacity to make wise decisions.

    Fear is a devastating mental attitude sin. The more you surrender to fear, the more you fear. The extent to which you surrender to fear, the greater your capacity for fear. The greater your capacity for fear, the more you increase its power in your life. You avoid fear by focusing on learning, thinking, and applying Bible doctrine to the problems you face, rather than concentrating on the problems.

For God has not given us a spirit [lifestyle] of timidity [cowardice], but of power and love and discipline [sound judgment]. (2 Tim. 1:7)

    Cowardice brought on by fear paralyzes both mind and body. People who live by fear become intimidated by life. The ability to think under pressure evaporates. Rather than seeking permanent solutions from God, the person controlled by fear frantically seeks help from any source. When Saul surrendered to fear, his cowardice led him to solve his problem with necromancy.

The Cry For Help

When Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets. (1 Sam. 28:6)

    Saul repeatedly sought divine guidance, but received no answer from the Lord. Years earlier when Saul brutally murdered the priests at Nob only the high priest escaped to join David, taking with him the Urim and Thummim, the priestly instruments of divine guidance.44 Without priestly guidance and the Urim and Thummim Saul desperately sought direction. He surrounded himself with apostate teachers and false prophets who could offer no divine help.

    When adversity strikes, certain believers who have been consistently negative toward Bible doctrine frantically seek a miraculous deliverance. Panic negates the Lord’s true provision for crisis situations. God mandates that we learn, think, and apply Bible doctrine consistently under normal circumstances so when the crisis hits we are fortified for the storm.

    During the last fifteen years of his life Saul both neglected and rejected Bible doctrine. Now his piteous cry for God’s help was in vain. Any believer who remains out of fellowship with God cannot expect an answer to prayer: “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Ps. 66:18).

Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a woman who is a medium at En-dor.” (1 Sam. 28:7)

    Denied divine guidance, Saul deliberately turned away from the Lord. Self-justification and self-deception are commonplace for reversionistic believers who refuse rebound. Saul was no exception. Believing God had failed him, he placed his hope in a medium and appealed to the powers of darkness.

    What a contrast! At the beginning of his reign, Saul condemned witchcraft, recognizing that the presence of demon-possessed people destroys the society in which they are tolerated (1 Sam. 28:9). Saul ordered the ban or execution of all who either practiced witchcraft or were known to be mediums. He now violated his own decree. He dispatched reconnaissance teams and ordered them to locate a female necromancer. The mission was successful. Ironically, a medium was found fifteen miles behind enemy lines in the town of En-dor.

    Reversionism held Saul in the grip of strong delusion and self-absorption. He could no longer think logically or function effectively as the leader of his army. Paralyzed by fear he was absorbed with his own desperate situation. The safety of his men never crossed his mind.

Then Saul disguised himself by putting on other clothes, and went, he and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night. (1 Sam. 28:8a)

    Whatever his disguise, Saul had become a soldier out of uniform. He jeopardized the lives of his companions as well. His destiny in life to serve the Lord, rule Israel, and command the army was lost forever, diverted into the dark recesses of demonism.

    Crossing the four miles that separated the opposing camps, Saul and the two soldiers stealthily made their way to En-dor. Saul was traveling down the road to his death. Twelve hours later, he would fall in battle, miserably and painfully dying the sin unto death.45

    Posing as an ordinary citizen, Saul approached the woman and requested a séance.

And he said, “Conjure up for me, please, and bring up for me whom I shall name to you.” But the woman said to him, “Behold, you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off those who are mediums and spiritists from the land. Why are you then laying a snare for my life to bring about my death?” (1 Sam. 28:8b-9)

Although she did not recognize Saul as king, she reminded him of the royal decree against all witchcraft and necromancy. Wary and suspicious, the medium feared this might be a trap. She knew only too well the Mosaic Law specifically demanded the death penalty for necromancers (Lev. 20:27; Deut. 18:10-12). Saul realized he must reassure the woman before he could elicit her cooperation.

And Saul vowed to her by the LORD, saying, “As the LORD lives, there shall no punishment come upon you for this thing.” (1 Sam. 28:10)

    For years Saul rejected every provision and warning from God. Yet now he took a solemn oath in the Lord’s name. Typically, reversionistic believers use anyone or anything to achieve their purposes. Saul had disgracefully used his army in repeated attempts on David’s life. He selfishly used his staff to accompany him on this dangerous personal mission of no military significance. Now in his frenetic quest for guidance, he defied the divinely ordained laws of the land by seeking to use a necromancer. And finally, to convince the medium her life was not in danger, he even called on God for a witness. What blasphemy!

The Séance That Went Wrong

Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” And he said, “Bring up Samuel for me.” When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice; and the woman spoke to Saul, saying, “Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul.” And the king said to her, “Do not be afraid; but what do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a divine being coming up out of the earth.” (1 Sam. 28:11-13)

    Her fears allayed, the medium fell into a trance and began the séance. If the customary procedure were followed, the engastrimuthos demon would control the session from beginning to end. But the unexpected happened: God controlled the session. By divine permission Samuel actually appeared. Astounded, the startled woman’s terrified scream pierced the silence. She knew instantly this was no apparition, but the prophet truly returned from the dead.

    The witch of En-dor had anticipated the usual demon hoax. She expected to hear only voices, instead Samuel stood before her. The shock of Samuel’s appearance caused her to recognize her nocturnal visitor as the king of Israel. The combination of these sudden revelations further terrified her.

    Unaware of the maelstrom of events swirling around him, Saul tried calming her fears. Under strong psychotic delusion, the apostate king was so certain Samuel would be contacted that he was not at all surprised by the prophet’s appearance. He eagerly plied the woman with questions.

And he said to her, “What is his form?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped with a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and did homage. (1 Sam. 28:14)

    The medium’s description convinced Saul that Samuel had truly returned “up out of the earth” from Paradise. Awed by Samuel’s appearance he prostrated himself before the prophet.

Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” And Saul answered, “I am greatly distressed; for the Philistines are waging war against me, and God has departed from me and answers me no more, either through prophets or by dreams; therefore I have called you, that you may make known to me what I should do.” And Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has departed from you and has become your adversary?” (1 Sam. 28:15-16)

    Samuel was indignant. Saul had rejected doctrinal teaching during the prophet’s lifetime. Now, under adversity, he clamored for private tutoring from the very authority he had rejected. No wonder the prophet reproached the foolish king. Believers who have crossed the golden bridge of dying grace and reached the wonders of their eternal destination have no desire to return to this earth.46 But Saul was far too arrogant and self-absorbed to notice.

    Saul repudiated doctrine and became the “adversary” of God. His contact with the forces of evil compounded his problems and intensified his discipline. As God’s enemy (1 Sam. 28:16; cf. James 4:4), through his own negative volition, he had passed the point of no return. The prophet could only warn him of his imminent defeat and death.47

“As you did not obey the LORD and did not execute His fierce wrath on Amalek, so the LORD has done this thing to you this day. Moreover the LORD will also give over Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines, therefore tomorrow you and your sons will be with me [a statement of Saul’s eternal salvation]. Indeed the LORD will give over the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines!” (1 Sam. 28:18-19)

    Saul’s life ended ignobly in a death unworthy of one whom the Lord had anointed ruler over Israel. The man who had once shown noble promise plunged a sword into his own chest on the heights of Mount Gilboa. His three sons and many brave soldiers fell in vain at his side. Israel was routed by the conquering Philistines (1 Sam. 31:3-4; cf. 2 Sam. 1:19-21).

    Today, similar attempts to contact the dead are made. Such ventures are not confined to unbelievers with a penchant for the demonic. Just like Saul, believers who should know better also try to contact the dead. But the spiritual consequences can be just as deadly as they were to Saul.

Witchcraft

    A witch כָּשַׁף (kashaph) or “sorceress” (Ex. 22:18; Deut. 18:10) is a demon-possessed female medium; a wizard יִדְּעֹנִי (yid‘oni) is the male counterpart (Lev. 19:31; 1 Sam. 28:3, 9). Witchcraft is associated in the Old Testament with demonism (Deut. 18:10; 2 Chron. 33:6; Nah. 3:4). Those who practice witchcraft rely on demons for information and guidance. In turn, demons use witches to communicate their message. This was the procedure attempted at the séance at En-dor.

    The New Testament contains one reference to witchcraft (Gal. 5:20, KJV). The Greek word φαρμακεία (pharmakeia), “drug addiction,” describes a dimension of witchcraft, the use of drugs in sorcery. Hallucinogenic drugs are employed in many religious rituals to achieve ecstatic states in which spirits may be contacted.

Misuse Of The Mosaic Law

    The biblical mandate “You shall not allow a sorceress [witch] to live” (Ex. 22:18) was a part of the Mosaic Law specifically codified for the nation Israel. This injunction is no longer mandatory during the Church Age.48 Failure to understand this distinction has led to the execution of hundreds of thousands of people accused of sorcery over the centuries. Horrible abuses of Exodus 22:18 occurred throughout Europe and Colonial North America in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. The Roman Catholic Church burned at the stake more than five hundred condemned as witches in Geneva, Switzerland in 1515; then, nine hundred seventy-five in Como, Italy in 1524; and over one hundred thousand in Germany during the same period. No records were kept of the vast number of immolations in France and Spain.49

    Roman Catholics were not alone in this hysteria. During the Commonwealth period in England (1649-1660) over thirty thousand so-called witches were executed by the Puritan-controlled Anglican Church. Witch hunts also occurred in Puritan America, but compared to Europe, this hysteria was mild and short-lived.50

Salem Witch Trials

    During the long winter of 1692 the two bored and mischievous daughters of the pastor of the First Church in Salem, Massachusetts, encouraged a household slave from the West Indies to recite tales from her childhood. Enthralled by her stories of voodoo and hypnotism, the girls were soon learning these practices, along with palmistry and spiritism. They invited their parents and other friends to the meetings. Their strange barkings, groanings, and trances intensely concerned their parents. The authorities soon investigated.

    Frightened, but also thrilled with their newfound fame, the girls began to make accusations of witchcraft against anyone with whom they held a grudge. Others vindictively joined in. The authorities convened a special court to try the accused—the infamous Salem witch trials. Before the hysteria ended over four hundred had been arrested, nineteen people and two dogs hanged, and one man crushed to death when his interrogators applied weights to torture a confession from him.51 This miscarriage of justice causing innocent people to be executed was a direct result of the wicked fabrications of bored and devious girls.

    As deplorable as witch hunts are, even more lamentable are the lives destroyed through demonism. The previous historical examples of witchcraft, necromancy, and divination illustrate the tragic consequences of demonic pursuits. Demons are deceptive; their objectives promote Satan’s evil agenda. Scripture warns that involvement in demonic pursuits can result in demon possession of the unbeliever and demon influence of the believer.

DRUG ADDICTION

    One blatant manifestation of reversionism is drug addiction. The abuse of hallucinogenic drugs, such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and narcotics, such as heroin, cocaine, and their derivatives, destroys the mentality of the soul, corrupting norms and standards in the conscience. Volition is neutralized. Demon influence fills the vacuum created in the reversionistic soul. Once influenced by demons, how easily the unbeliever surrenders to demon possession. Anyone who samples or indulges in drugs out of curiosity, peer pressure, or to escape the adversities of life becomes a prime target for demons.

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery [pharmakeia], enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5:19-21)

    The passage catalogues a partial list of mental, verbal, and overt sins, including the sin of “drug addiction,” a more accurate translation of the Greek word pharmakeia. Originally the word described the use of drugs to induce a religious trance for contacting the spirit world and eventually came to mean addiction to drugs.

THE PHALLIC CULT

    The phallic cult permeated ancient religions and cultures. The phallus was symbolic of fertility, a vital economic concern in agrarian societies. Fertility worship, a feature of ancient Sumerian mythology, incorporated mystical orgiastic rites, ritual prostitution, human sacrifice, and other bloody rituals. The phallic cult was adapted to a variety of polytheistic religions from Sumerian to Greek civilizations.52

    When Israel invaded Canaan in 1406 B.C., the phallic cult was entrenched in the religious practices of the worship of Baal. To protect Israel from this debauchery, God mandated the annihilation of the Canaanites to eradicate their demonic culture. Israel failed to execute God’s command to the letter. Although Israel vanquished the Canaanites on the battlefield, the Canaanites nearly defeated the Israelites by ensnaring them in the cult of Baal.

So they [Israel] forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. And the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. (Judg. 2:13-14)

The phallic cult was an ingenious satanic attempt to replace Israel’s worship of Yahweh with the licentious rites of polytheistic worship.

    Baal worship mixed heathen deities with erotic rituals and demonic doctrines rendering the participant vulnerable to demon possession. The supreme deity of the Canaanite pantheon was El, a satanic counterfeit of God the Father. Like the Greek god Zeus, or his Roman counterpart Jupiter, El seduced both goddesses and mortal women. His wife, Asherah, comparable to the Greek Hera, Roman Juno, or Babylonian Ishtar, presented El with a son Baal, comparable to the Greek Dionysus or Roman Bacchus.

    In this demonic mythology Satan offered a counterfeit resurrection motif, a grotesque affront and preemption of the person and work of Christ. Baal eventually superseded El as the central deity of the cult. Baal’s enemy was Mot, the god of death, another Canaanite deity. The epic literature from ancient Ugarit relates that Baal was slain by Mot but later restored to life in an imitation of the resurrection.53

    The Canaanite pantheon included other deities, among them Astarte and Anath, Baal’s sister-wife with whom he had an incestuous relationship. Three goddesses, Asherah, Astarte, and Anath, were the tutelary heads of fertility, sensual pleasure, warfare, and murder.

    The Canaanite phallic cult revolved around worship of these deities, arousing and catering to every base impulse and lust pattern of the sin nature. Specialized demons promoted sexual perversion: promiscuity, autoeroticism, homosexuality, lesbianism, orgies, masochism, sadism. These degenerate practices appeared in every subsequent ancient civilization. A description of the appalling effect of the cult of Dionysus is provided by W. K. C. Guthrie:

Madness (mania) is of course the word for the ecstasy which actually did take possession of women in their worship, and gave them their name of mainades, and the tearing to pieces of a victim was the regular culmination of their rites.54

    The Bible graphically describes details of the phallic cult: immorality (Ezek. 16:36), human sacrifice (Lev. 20:1-5; Deut. 12:31), demonism (Lev. 20:6), rejection of authority (Lev. 20:9), degeneracy (Lev. 20:10-23), and incest (Lev. 20:14-21). In the hills and groves of Canaan were sculpted stone phalluses representing Baal, a wooden pole for the fertility goddess, and an altar for sacrifice.55 By intensifying already frenzied passions, demon possession induced horrific rituals. In times of extreme catastrophe desperate worshipers immolated their own children. Onto the altar’s arms these Baal worshipers, even mothers, laid their living children while the din of the sex orgies drowned their screams.

    No wonder the Lord commanded the Israelites to “completely destroy” the Canaanites (Ex. 23:23-24). God’s mandate was just; it was directed toward the destruction of a society that had reached the nadir of degeneracy. Apart from the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Canaanites were the most depraved of Israel’s neighbors. They were so demonic that the abominations of the Canaanites threatened to engulf Israel (Deut. 18:9).

    To assure the survival of the fledgling nation Israel, the Canaanites were to be completely eliminated. Only thus could Israel disentangle herself from such a pervasive and contagious evil. Far from becoming the divinely appointed executioners of this evil and vicious people, the Israelites ignored God’s warning, disobeyed His order, and spared the Canaanites (Ps. 106:34-37).

    Idolatry and the phallic cult lured Israel away from Yahweh. Disobedience to God’s mandate and assimilation of Canaanite religion swept Israel to destruction. The Lord’s prophetic warning, made near Gilgal at Bochim, came true.

Now the angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you, and as for you, you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done? Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall become as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.’ ” (Judg. 2:1-3)

This avenue of exposure to demonism led to the eventual defeat and destruction of the Southern Kingdom of Judah in 586 B.C. (cf. Lev. 26:30).

Thus says the Lord GOD, “Because your [Judah's] lewdness was poured out and your nakedness uncovered through your harlotries with your lovers and with all your detestable idols, and because of the blood of your sons which you gave to idols. . . . I shall also give you into the hands of your lovers, and they will tear down your shrines, demolish your high places, strip you of your clothing, take away your jewels, and will leave you naked and bare. They will incite a crowd against you, and they will stone you and cut you to pieces with their swords. And they will burn your houses with fire and execute judgments on you in the sight of many women. Then I shall stop you from playing the harlot, and you will also no longer pay your lovers.” (Ezek. 16:36, 39-41)

    The deviant practices of the phallic cult continue to lure unbelievers and believers. The Apostle Paul reminds Church Age believers of Israel’s failure and warns against following their immoral example.

Now these things happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved. And do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. (1 Cor. 10:6-8)

MYSTICISM

    Mysticism entices the undiscerning with empty promises of a deeper, more meaningful spirituality. Mystics, under the delusion of achieving a closer union or personal encounter with God, often claim that God speaks directly to them, or that God, angels, or divine beings have appeared to them. The false spirituality that mysticism promotes hinges on a subjective experience that cannot be objectively verified. The emotions generated by that experience become the criteria the mystic uses to evaluate his own spirituality. But this mystical excursion, derived apart from Scripture, is fraught with peril. Instead of hearing the voice of God, the mystic is hearing either the voices of demons or is deluding himself. Since the close of the canon of Scripture, God speaks to mankind only through His written Word made perceptible to us through the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit.

    True spirituality is an absolute status of fellowship between the believer and God the Father, maintained through the filling of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18). This ministry of the Spirit is interrupted when the believer sins (Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19). Spirituality is recovered through objective self-examination and naming or acknowledging personal sins privately to God the Father (1 Cor. 11:27-30; 1 John 1:9).56 Objectivity, not subjectivity, counts in the Christian life. Personal feelings are never the criteria for spirituality.

    Mysticism permeates Eastern religions. Hinduism, Taoism, Shintoism, Buddhism cultivate mysticism as the pathway to God. Eastern religions influenced the Theosophical Society founded in 1875 by Madam Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Colonel Henry Steel Olcott. The New Age movement is a direct descendant of Theosophy.

    The beginnings of Islam and Mormonism both derive from a mystical apparition: the appearance of an angel who claimed to provide new divine revelation. Medieval Judaism also developed a mystic strain based on the enigmatic speculations of the Cabala.57 People who adhere to these empty religious forms (2 Tim. 3:5) imagine that they worship the only true God, while in their unbelief they actually give tribute to Satan.

    Christianity has not been immune from the infection of mysticism. In the early Church mysticism influenced the rise of the monastic movement with its self-righteous emphasis on asceticism.58 Monks would isolate themselves in the desert of North Africa, fast for weeks, eat only grass, or sit for years atop pillars in the wilderness awaiting the voice of God.59 From their hallucinatory revelations derive many of the heresies that compromised much of medieval Christianity with the doctrines of demons. The writings of these ‘Christian’ mystics are experiencing a revival today, threatening a return to the demonic Dark Ages of mysticism and subjectivity.

ASTROLOGY

    Consulting the stars through astrology and horoscopes to predict future events carries an increasing aura of respectability. Celebrities, actors, businessmen, and heads of state have embraced the occult to determine the future. Infatuation with astrology, like divination and the occult, escalates during times of confusion and uncertainty when divinely ordained laws of establishment break down. Astrologers and sorcerers busied themselves during the decline of the Roman Empire and were prevalent when deadly plagues ravaged seventeenth-century Europe. Today stargazing is once again a lucrative enterprise. Newspapers and magazines feature daily and monthly forecasts. More personal astrological consultations are as close as a telephone. These prognostications dictate the personal and business decisions for numerous people.

    Astrology thrives in a permissive culture. When establishment principles and doctrinal teaching are absent, absolute norms and standards of right and wrong are replaced by relative values. Relativism then supplants the absolutes of divine establishment. Desperate for solutions to problems, meaning for life, and hope for the future, spiritually destitute people rely on the occult for answers. Lacking absolutes, they grasp at any straw which offers hope. But astrology offers only a false hope. Astrology is strictly forbidden by God (Lev. 19:26; Deut. 18:10). Using the stars for planning your life or making decisions is contrary to and distracts from the perfect plan of God.60

DEVICES OF THE DEVIL

    Idolatry, divination, necromancy, drug addiction, the phallic cult, mysticism, and astrology are avenues for communicating the evil doctrines of demons to the human race. Those influenced by such doctrines serve the cause of Satan. Unbelievers influenced by these doctrines are vulnerable to demon possession. However, do not attribute every sin or base behavior to demon influence or demon possession. More often than not, the evil that men do is simply the result of succumbing to the area of weakness in their own sin nature.

“For from within, out of [from] the heart of men [sin nature], proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” (Mark 7:21-23)

    The warning that Satan actively searches for disciples for his doctrines should alert every believer to the subtle devices of the devil. For this reason Paul wrote:

Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm [hold your ground] against the schemes of the devil. (Eph. 6:10-11)

    God made ample and perfect provision for every contingency in the life of the believer. We are in the devil’s world, but we are not part of it (John 15:19). We are surrounded by spiritual darkness, yet we walk in the light of the Lord and His Word. We are in the angelic conflict, but on the side of victory. We do not have power to defeat Satan, but we do have God’s power to resist “the schemes of the devil.” All we need in our defense against Satan is doctrine resident in our soul. The issue is our volition. We alone make the decision to learn and to apply doctrine which enables us to grow and mature in the Christian life thereby presenting a divine defense against our enemy.

Chapter Four:
DEMON POSSESSION

CAN BELIEVERS FALL PREY to demon possession? Absolutely not! Only unbelievers are vulnerable. In every case of demon possession in the Bible, the possessed are unbelievers. Christians need never fear being possessed or controlled by a malicious spirit. The Scripture is explicit: Demons can possess only unbelievers. No biblical example or statement exists to suggest or warn that believers can be demon possessed.

    At the moment of faith in Christ the Holy Spirit indwells the body of every believer.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? (1 Cor. 6:19)

The indwelling Holy Spirit simultaneously creates a temple in the body of the believer for the indwelling Christ as the Shekinah Glory.61 The presence of this divine temple guarantees that no demon can invade, indwell, or possess the believer’s body.

    Demon possession is distinct from demon influence. In demon influence, which can affect both believers and unbelievers, a person surrenders his soul to false concepts and human viewpoint thinking called “doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). For the unbeliever demon influence can lead to demon possession.

MANIFESTATIONS OF DEMON POSSESSION

Demon-Induced Mental Illness

    During His earthly ministry Jesus Christ demonstrated His deity and sovereignty by healing people from demon-induced insanity and illness. The healing of the Gerasene demoniac was a dramatic demonstration.

And they [Jesus and His disciples] came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. And when He [Jesus] had come out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, and he had his dwelling among the tombs. (Mark 5:1-3a)

    The Lord Jesus Christ deliberately brought His disciples to this scene at Gerasa (Matt. 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-37). He knew only too well the drama about to unfold. It was a perfect setting for the eerie events because the numerous caves which tunneled through the cliffs along the shores were used as tombs. No sooner had they set foot on shore than a man emerged from these subterranean burial grounds and confronted our Lord. The man presented a strange and terrifying sight: his hair was matted, his body naked and filthy; self-mutilation had left deep scars and open wounds on his flesh.

    To the inhabitants of Gerasa, the madman was a familiar and exasperating sight. Attempts to restrain him with chains had failed miserably.

And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. And constantly night and day, among the tombs and in the mountains, he was crying out and gashing himself with stones. (Mark 5:3b-5)

The Gerasenes considered him a hopeless case. But as long as he hurt only himself and kept away from the mainstream of life, he was left alone—especially since the cause of this man’s madness was demon possession.

    According to this passage demon possession includes extraordinary strength and bizarre behavior. However, not all bizarre behavior is demon induced. Yet, clearly this unbelieving man was under the control of demons. He willing made his home among corpses, slashed himself with jagged rocks, discarded his clothing, and lived like an animal. Demon possession left him mentally deranged.

    Remember no believer can ever be indwelt by demons. The indwelling presence of God the Holy Spirit bars any possibility of demon entry. However, if believers persistently reject Bible doctrine, they can be influenced by demons and their actions resemble those of unbelievers. When doctrines of demons enter the vacuum of the soul created by negative volition, psychotic behavior may eventually develop. Christians may become so demon influenced that they believe themselves to be demon possessed. Actually, they are said to be “bewitched” (Gal. 3:1) because of scar tissue, reversionism, and the influence of evil.

    Any society may harbor demon-possessed people. No system of psychiatry and medical science can solve this problem. There are only three bona fide means for removal of demons:

  1. Satan’s personal intervention (Matt. 12:24);
  2. Direct divine intervention (Mark 5:8);
  3. When a person believes the Gospel message and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19).

Exorcism is never a valid alternative.

    Divine intervention would heal the madman of Gerasa. What appeared to be a chance encounter was intended by Jesus. The episode would be a testimony of His Messiahship to the people of Gerasa. When Jesus approached, the demons indwelling the man were compelled by protocol to bow before the King of kings. The man was not seeking deliverance, rather the demons indwelling him wished to plead with Jesus not to be tormented. The words the madman’s mouth uttered were not his own, but those of the demon spokesman. The man had no control over his vocal cords while indwelt by the engastrimuthos demon.

And seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; and crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What do I have to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!” For He [Jesus] had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” (Mark 5:6-8)

    The Bible does not record any instance of a demon-possessed person coming to Jesus for deliverance from a demon. Most were brought to Him by others; persons under the control of demons usually gave our Lord a wide berth. Unable to avoid the encounter with Jesus, the demons possessing this man were terrified and begged Jesus not to cast them out and consign them to their final punishment (Matt. 25:41). Although Jesus had not touched them, His very presence implied a confrontation.

    Demons know God exists (James 2:19) and fully recognize Jesus Christ as undiminished deity and true humanity (Mark 5:7; cf. Mark 1:24-27; 3:11; Luke 4:41). However, because they rejected God in eternity past and followed Satan, they are condemned. They know their destiny is the lake of fire (Matt. 25:41; Luke 8:31). Unbelievers can also know certain doctrinal truths. They can quote Scripture and from all outward appearance resemble believers. But like demons, they too have rejected God.

    In response to the Lord’s command to “come out,” the demon spokesman protested, “I implore You by God, do not torment me!” Terrified of eternal torment, these demons resisted eviction. Our Lord’s response was again, “Come out,” which caused the demon to howl in protest. At this outburst, Jesus ordered the demon to identify himself.

And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” And he began to entreat Him earnestly not to send them out of the country. (Mark 5:9-10)

    This episode is not to be taken as a paradigm for casting out demons, nor does it suggest that believers are to take offensive action against demons as did our Lord. Offensive action was a divine prerogative delegated to only a few during the time of the apostles. Today, believers are commanded to take only defensive action against Satan by putting on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10-17).62 The New Testament epistles, written to instruct Church Age believers on every aspect of the Christian life, contain no mandates, instructions, or suggestions for casting out demons. Silence on this subject speaks volumes.

    Some confused Christians today assume that being able to identify the name of the indwelling demon conveys power over the demon. How absurd! This method has been borrowed from ancient pagan practices of exorcism, not derived from the Bible.63 This passage does not intimate Jesus used the name of the demon as a means of power to remove the demon. Our Lord’s divine authority was all that was necessary.

    The name “Legion” refers to an echelon of the Roman army which usually included three to six thousand men. “Legion” was not the demon’s name, but an indication that a multitude of demons indwelt the man. The engastrimuthos demon was the spokesman for this demon formation. Satisfied with their present assignment, the demons pleaded with Jesus not to send them away.

Now there was a big herd of swine feeding there on the mountain. And the demons entreated Him, saying, “Send us into the swine so that we may enter them.” And He gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea. (Mark 5:11-13)

    The moment the demons were transferred, the placidly feeding pigs were transformed by the violence of the frustrated demons into a stampeding herd that plunged headlong into the sea and drowned. As spirit beings, the demons could not be destroyed. They would desperately seek other victims to indwell.

    One cause of mental illness is demon possession or demon influence. Remember, however, there are myriads of other causes for mental disorders. Demon possession is only a possible explanation as to why normally tranquil unbelievers suddenly turn violent and injure themselves or others. But believers sometimes exhibit similar uncontrollable emotional swings or physical violence. Why does this happen? When a believer persistently rejects or neglects Bible doctrine a vacuum develops in his soul which inhales false doctrine (Eph. 4:17). Having abdicated his spiritual life, the believer becomes vulnerable to drug addiction, promiscuity, idolatry, and every manner of debauchery. These believers are so influenced by demon doctrines they become psychotic and resemble demon-possessed people.

    In a psychotic state the believer’s soul is fragmented. James described this condition as δίψυχος (dipsuchos, James 1:8) which literally means “two-souled.” Unchecked, this fragmentation of the soul may develop into multiple personalities, a condition that may be mistaken for demon possession. The only solution for the believer is rebound through acknowledging personal sin and recovery from reversionism through consistently learning and applying Bible doctrine.

    News travels fast, even in biblical times. The herdsmen had watched the miraculous event with speechless wonder. Here was a spectacle they could not explain; they were terrified and amazed.

And their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the city and out in the country. And the people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the “legion”; and they became frightened. And those [the herdsmen] who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the swine. And they began to entreat Him to depart from their region. (Mark 5:14-17)

    The herdsmen lost no time running into town to spread the news. They were incensed at the loss of their swine. The sole concern of these merchants was their material possessions rather than spiritual life. No one thanked Jesus for curing the unfortunate man; no one heaved a sign of relief that the madman was no longer a menace to society; no one rejoiced in the man’s salvation. Fearing further financial setbacks, the ‘good’ citizens at Gerasa begged Jesus to leave the area.

    The miracle at Gerasa emphasized Jesus’ Messiahship (Mark 5:18-19). The cured demoniac became a sensational testimony. Jesus instructed him to return home and inform his family and friends of the phenomenal things He had done for him.

Demon-Induced Physical Illness

    The synoptic Gospels, the record of Christ’s personal ministry on earth, contain numerous examples and manifestations of demon possession. During the Incarnation Satan concentrated his forces of evil to impede the saving work of Jesus Christ.64 Many of the possessed people encountered by the Lord showed the pernicious effects of demonism through their physical condition.

    Whatever the symptoms of demon-induced illness, no case was hopeless to Jesus Christ. When He sovereignly decreed that the demon depart, the person was fully and dramatically restored to health. Healing was one of His many Messianic credentials; His miracles proved He was indeed the One He claimed to be—“the Son of God with power” (Rom. 1:4). Because Christ is God, the omnipotent Creator of the universe (John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2, 10), there was healing in His voice and in His touch. Jeremiah prophesied of Christ:

“Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them; and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth.” (Jer. 33:6)

    The touch of His hand brought instantaneous health to many, including Peter’s mother-in-law, bedridden with a lingering physical disease (Matt. 8:14-15). So remarkable were these cures that a joyful celebration began. Crowds of the ill and curiosity seekers gathered at the door of Peter’s house. Among the throng were also those brought to be delivered from demon-induced illnesses: the blind, the mute, the crippled, the insane.

And when evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill [literally, all having evil]. (Matt. 8:16)

A similar scene unfolds in Matthew 9.

And as they were going out, behold, a dumb [mute] man, demon-possessed, was brought to Him. And after the demon was cast out, the dumb man spoke. (Matt. 9:32-33a)

In every case cited, when the indwelling demon was cast out, the demon-induced illness immediately disappeared. These unique results were in marked contrast to the drawn out, ineffective efforts of Jewish exorcists. What does the Scripture reveal about the methods used by Jesus Christ and His disciples who legitimately cast out demons?

CASTING OUT DEMONS

    Unique to the dispensation of the hypostatic union of Jesus Christ and to the apostolic era, the casting out of demons must not be confused with ancient or modern attempts at exorcism.65 The authority and power Jesus Christ exercised over the demons were also delegated to His disciples to identify them as His messengers and to authenticate their message. Once their mission was accomplished the power to directly command demons to depart was removed. The ability to cast out demons was never available to every believer and was terminated in the first century.

    Today, God has given the believer more than in any other dispensation: the completed canon of Scripture and all of the blessings, assets, and privileges delineated in the mystery doctrine of the Epistles. Nowhere do the Epistles contain mandates or examples for casting out demons. The only solution for the demon possessed is faith in Christ. At the moment of salvation he is instantly freed from any possessing demon, united with Christ, and indwelt by all three members of the Trinity. Understanding the scriptural teaching about casting out demons enables the believer to avoid the illegitimate and sensational practices which distract from pursuing the Christian way of life.

By Jesus Christ

    The coming of Messiah into the world had been prophesied since the dawn of human history (Gen. 3:15), along with the miracles that would attend His earthly ministry and His ongoing conflict with Satan and his demons. The performance of miracles was to give credence to His message and testify to the identity and power of His person.

Then the eyes of the blind will be opened,
And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.
Then the lame will leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the dumb [mute] will shout for joy.
    (Isa. 35:5-6a)

    This Scripture was fulfilled right before the eyes of witnesses. What more irrefutable proof could Jesus Christ provide than to display His sovereignty over nature, life, death—and even angels? What He commanded, demons were compelled to do. If angelic creatures obeyed Him, how much more should human beings!

    People are easily impressed with the spectacular; miracles draw tremendous crowds. But Jesus Christ was not a mere miracle worker or healer. If this were His sole purpose during His sojourn on the earth, then He failed in His mission. He did not alleviate all the suffering in the world.

    Sustained by the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit His ministry was fourfold:

  1. He preached or announced the Gospel to unbelievers;
  2. He taught doctrine to believers;
  3. He prophesied concerning the future spiritual life of the Church Age;
  4. He presented His Messianic credentials by healing the sick and casting out demons (Acts 10:38).

These miracles testified to the uniqueness of His person and the truth of His message. His main objective, however, was to accomplish His Father’s will and so fulfill the divine plan—our salvation. This He did completely (John 17:4).

    Among the beneficiaries of the Lord’s miracles, there was little doubt the Messiah had come at last. They responded with awe and reverence. Some who watched the miracles also believed in Christ. Others wondered and speculated about who Jesus was.

And the multitudes marveled, saying, “Nothing like this was ever seen in Israel.” (Matt. 9:33b)

But there were also those who reacted and were clearly alarmed and threatened by His actions. These dissenters were mostly comprised of Jewish religious leaders. Envious of the drawing power of Jesus Christ, the priests and the Pharisees began their vicious opposition to Christ’s ministry.

    The Pharisees knew only too well that the crowds were easily swayed, and they made the most of it. Since the validity of the miracles could not be denied, these wondrous events were criticized, explained away. Just a hint here and an innuendo there raised doubts about the source of Jesus’ power to heal: “He [Jesus Christ] casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons [Satan]” (Matt 9:34b). Thus the Pharisees ascribed the miracles Jesus performed in the power of the Spirit to the devil himself. This blasphemy against the Holy Spirit which occurred only during the Incarnation was tantamount to rejection of Christ, the unpardonable sin.

“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come.” (Matt. 12:31-32)

    Despite the malicious attempts to discredit His work and person, our Lord continued His ministry of grace. Jesus Christ recognized the capricious approbation of the people who would welcome Him as their King one day and stone Him the next. The defamation of His character and holy person was known by the omniscience of Jesus Christ long before the slander was voiced or even conceived by His enemies. He could not let it go unchallenged but countered the slur with inescapable logic, which proved such maligning to be ludicrous. At the same time He clarified the issue of casting out demons.

And knowing their thoughts He said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” (Matt. 12:25)

    Christ refuted the Pharisees’ theory with the “divided kingdom” metaphor: If Christ indeed performed miracles in Satan’s power—as the Pharisees asserted—then Satan would defeat his own purpose. His kingdom would be working against itself and would topple. To prove the fallacy of the pharisaical position, Jesus pursued their assumption with the skill of a consummate debater.

“And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges.” (Matt. 12:26-27)

Jesus posed two rhetorical questions using a debater’s first class condition. Assuming the veracity of their premise, He demonstrated it to be illogical and false.66 This accurate and irrefutable reasoning put the Lord’s critics on the spot. To condemn Jesus would be equivalent to condemning the prophets they claimed to revere. For once the Pharisees were at a loss for words. Jesus stressed the logical conclusion:

“But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Matt. 12:28)

    The third use of the word “if” is a true use of a first class conditional clause: “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, and I do.” The authority Jesus had over the demons proved His deity. Jesus depended entirely upon the power of the Holy Spirit for performing many of His miracles. Had the people recognized this truth they would have identified Jesus as the Messiah promised by God in the Davidic Covenant. His power over the demons validated His offer of the kingdom, “the kingdom of God has come upon you.”67 To further illustrate this truth Jesus used a parable to emphasize His authority over Satan and his fallen angels.

“Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s [Satan’s] house [the world] and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.” (Matt. 12:29)

    Jesus used a familiar scene of larceny to explain His power over Satan. Before a thief can rob a house, the owner must first be overpowered.68 The strong man is analogous to Satan, the house is analogous to the world which Satan rules. In the fullness of time Jesus entered the world (Gal. 4:4) and overpowered Satan to accomplish His mission at the cross. Those who believe in Christ, former slaves to sin in Satan’s world, are the “property” Christ redeems from the slave market of sin.69

    Jesus Christ cast out Satan’s minions; therefore He clearly had power superior to Satan. These legalistic Pharisees through religious activity had become agents of Satan, even as the demons are his angelic agents. Both groups vehemently opposed Jesus Christ and displayed their enmity (Matt. 12:30). Jesus turned the Pharisee’s argument against them by showing that it would be impossible for Him to cast out demons in the power of Satan, for Satan would not cast himself out.

By the Disciples

    When Jesus commissioned the Twelve, including Judas Iscariot, He instructed them in divine principles and invested them with the authority and ability to perform miracles similar to His own.

And having summoned His twelve disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits [demons], to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. (Matt. 10:1)

The Twelve thus went forth as Messianic heralds to the house of Israel. Jesus warned them to expect political and religious opposition and persecution even as He had (Matt. 10:17-18, 23-26). But He encouraged them to persevere regardless of adversity (Matt. 10:19-31).

    Subsequently, seventy others were appointed and sent “two and two ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come” (Luke 10:1). The seventy heralds returned animated and elated. Their expedition was immensely successful. In triumph they announced, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name” (Luke 10:17).

    The newly acquired power and heady victory could easily have distorted their proper perspective. Miracles were a temporary gift, designed to gain a hearing for the message of grace and to validate the messengers. Jesus brought the jubilant disciples back to reality by focusing attention on their mission—to announce the Gospel. The Lord warned them not to become distracted by the miracles they performed.

“Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)

    Why were the disciples told to rejoice in the security of their salvation rather than in their power over the demons? Salvation liberates the believer from the authority of the devil. Every believer has the means of overcoming the wicked one: the indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18; 1 John 4:4) and Bible doctrine (John 8:32). But doctrine that remains on the pages of the Bible is of little value to the believer. The Holy Spirit works only with doctrine resident in the soul to accomplish God’s plan in the believer’s life. Until the believer is filled with the Holy Spirit and advancing in his understanding and application of doctrine, he will lack correct motivation, stability, and power. The believer can love and serve his Lord only to the extent that he metabolizes God’s Word (Jer. 15:16).

    The failures of the disciples were all related to a lack of doctrine in their souls (Matt. 17:15-20). One day even their God-given authority over the demons short-circuited. They failed dismally in their attempt to rid a “lunatic” of his demon-induced psychosis. Jesus Christ Himself had to cast out the evil spirit (Matt. 17:18).

    The disciples were utterly dumbfounded. What had happened to the power they had been given? They asked Jesus in private, “Why could we not cast it out?” (Matt. 17:19). The answer was a reproof of their ignorance and unbelief.

And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith [application of doctrine]; for truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you.” (Matt. 17:20).70

The power of God had not failed; the disciples failed. They failed to utilize the power available to them. They doubted the omnipotence of the Lord.

    Each believer has the potential of turning the world upside down. How? By casting out demons? Certainly not! Real victories over the enemy are won not through signs, wonders, and miracles but through the power of Bible doctrine in the soul.

By the Apostles

    During the closing days of the Age of Israel, the Lord’s disciples ministered almost exclusively to the unbelievers of Israel. Then, on the Day of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit inaugurated a new dispensation—the Church Age. Ever since that day spiritual gifts have been sovereignly bestowed by God the Holy Spirit to members of the royal family of God (1 Cor. 12:4-11). Some of these gifts were temporary (1 Cor. 12:8-10); others were permanent (Eph. 4:8, 11b). One of the temporary gifts in this new dispensation was that of apostle, which included the ability to perform miracles (Eph 4:11a).

The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles. (2 Cor. 12:12)

    The apostolic era was punctuated by the performance of miracles. But the apostles’ unique immunity to the bites of venomous insects and serpents eventually ceased (Luke 10:19). While the spectacular gifts were still in use, they were never performed as an end in themselves, but rather as a means toward an end—validating the Gospel message in the era before the written canon of Scripture was completed. “Signs and wonders and miracles” were the official divine stamp of approval for apostles representing the absent King of kings. Miracles erected a platform for the proclamation of the Gospel and demonstrated the grace of God even before it was declared. These miracles terminated with the completion of the canon of Scripture A.D. 96 and the death of the last apostle, John.

    The blessings of salvation overshadow the temporary alleviation of suffering in time. Salvation ensures eternal well-being; healing conveys merely temporary well-being. The time spent on earth is but a drop in the bucket compared to eternity.

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)

    The apostles were pursued by the inquisitive and sometimes exploitative public seeking to be healed. No one was turned away.

And at the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people . . . to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets . . . bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits; and they were all being healed. (Acts 5:12a, 15a, 16b)

Day after day the ill, the lame, the blind, the psychotic, and the demon possessed were fully restored to health of body and sanity of mind. None of these wonders came about because all these people deserved to be healed or because they possessed an overwhelming faith in the power of the apostles. These miracles were manifestations of God’s grace, power, and love. As a result, many accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior (Acts 5:14), much to the consternation of the apostate priestly hierarchy (Acts 5:17).

    What a paradox that such genuine benevolence did not evoke universal praise for God and respect for the apostles, especially from the religious leaders in the nation Israel. Instead, these healings aroused jealousy and enmity, primarily from the self-righteous Sadducees.71 To them, demons, miracles, heaven, and hell were mere superstitions to be shrugged off or ridiculed. Yet here was something they could not refute; the apostles were not charlatans or magicians. The authority of the apostles was too obvious to be denied. Consequently the Sadducees “were filled with jealousy” (Acts 5:17).

    Corrupted by the mental attitude sin of jealousy, these sophisticated rationalists became irrational. In their opposition to the early Church they seized, abused, and jailed the apostles unjustly (Acts 5:18). They ignored the Mosaic Law they so revered. There is nothing as malevolent as self-righteous legalism blinded to the truth. There is nothing as illogical as reason distorted by envy or hatred. Legalism always attacks grace, but grace always triumphs. The apostles were delivered by an angel that very night (Acts 5:19) and continued to disseminate doctrine in Jerusalem (Acts 5:28).

    As the apostolic era advanced, God appointed Paul as apostle to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13; Gal. 2:8-9). On Paul’s second missionary journey, he and his companion Silas (Acts 15:37-40) found the doors of Europe open to the Gospel. The first two converts in Macedonia were women: one named Lydia, an enterprising businesswoman who sold costly crimson and purple dyes (Acts 16:14-15); and another, a Greek slave girl who was demon possessed.

And it happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a certain slave-girl having [ἔχω, echo] a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortunetelling [μαντεύομαι, manteuomai]. Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” And she continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment. (Acts 16:16-18)

    The Greek grammar indicates the elapse of time between the conversion of Lydia and the encounter with the Greek slave girl. Paul and his entourage were walking through Philippi to attend a Jewish prayer service, apparently on a Sabbath day. Because there were no synagogues in Philippi, the prayer meeting was being held by the Gaggitas River, approximately a mile beyond the city.

    The strange encounter occurred somewhere between the place of prayer and the large arched gateway in the western part of Philippi. The incident is recounted in the phrase, “a certain slave-girl having [echo] a spirit of divination met us.” The present active participle of the verb echo may be rendered “possessed” but literally means “to have and to hold.” This young female medium kept on having and holding a πνεῦμα πύθωνος (pneuma puthonos), a “spirit of divination.”

    Who is this pneuma puthonos? Equivalent to the engastrimuthos demon, he is a ventriloquist. Originally the word puthon, better known to us as “python,” referred to the mythological snake that once guarded the oracle at Delphi. When the god Apollo killed Python, the oracle became the preeminent shrine of Apollo. Here the prophetess Pythia, named after the indwelling demon who controlled her vocal cords, prophesied in an ecstatic trance common to pagan prophets.

When the prophet speaks he is not himself. He is wrought upon and changed in a manner sometimes terrifying to behold and exhausting to himself. He is possessed by the god [demon] and becomes for the time being only a mouthpiece for the utterance of the divine voice [demon]. The Pythian prophetess of Apollo was of this sort. She was a true mantic, giving voice in a state of possession.72

    The same pythian-type demon possessed the Greek slave girl enabling her to predict the future with some accuracy. A gangster syndicate in Philippi owned the girl who earned a profitable income for her masters. However, their lucrative racket of soothsaying was about to end.

    The Greek verb manteuomai means “to utter oracles, to divine.” This word describes the trance-like state of the slave girl through whom the demons uttered their message. Her oracles concerning Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke were accurate. The four were indeed communicating the way of salvation. What seemed strange was her daily announcement in such close proximity to the apostles. Why would the demon advertise the apostolic presence and the saving of souls?

    Satan and his demons were practicing the principle: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! Satan could not stop the advance of the Gospel, but he could neutralize its couriers. He would offer Paul a compromising partnership. His demons would sponsor Paul in Philippi. The demon controlling the girl hoped to set up an alliance with Paul by appearing to support his evangelism.

    Were Paul to accept Satan’s endorsement and aid, he would deny that “the gospel . . . is the power of God for salvation” (Rom. 1:16). To Paul such an alliance was intolerable. “Annoyed,” Paul ended the charade by commanding the demon to leave the girl. With this command Paul demonstrated God’s infinite omnipotence especially in contrast to limited demonic power.

    There can be no coexistence with the devil. Jesus Christ Himself silenced the demons who testified to His identity (Mark 3:11-12). The plan of God neither calls for nor solicits cooperation from the adversary, Satan. Paul followed the precedent which the Lord set, and so must every believer. One of the devil’s most subtle attacks in the angelic conflict is his patronage. This we must refuse. A principle emerges from this passage of Scripture: Never accept an endorsement for the Gospel from the enemies of the cross.

    Paul’s mission was not to deliver people from demon possession, but to proclaim the Gospel. Likewise, the believer’s mission today is not to deliver people from demon possession. If casting out demons had been a priority, Paul would not have allowed this woman to remain possessed for “many days.” Too many Christians today are obsessed with finding demon-possessed people and exorcising demons. They become distracted from the biblical mandate for spiritual growth and from the responsibility of evangelism. No biblical mandate exists for exorcism or casting out demons.

    Powerless against the command Paul issued in the Lord’s name, the demon departed and the girl was immediately freed from the indwelling presence. This elicited frustration among Satan’s forces and fury among the racketeers whose profitable scheme was wrecked.

    Though the satanic thrust to keep Paul out of Europe had been neutralized, the devil never capitulates. He quickly switched from a policy of alliance to a policy of antagonism. Satan went underground to employ guerilla warfare. Since Paul chose to spurn Satan’s offer of compromise, he would now experience violent opposition from the state (Acts 16:19-24). Satan utilized the judicial system of a Roman colony, Philippi, to pervert justice.

    The vengeful owners of the girl brought charges of disturbing the peace against Paul and Silas. Unaware they were Roman citizens, the chief magistrates of Philippi violated Roman law by having them severely flogged and thrown into prison.

    God uses man’s difficulties to glorify Himself. That night God miraculously caused such an intense earthquake that the foundation of the prison was shaken, all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains fell off. Thinking that the prisoners had escaped and knowing he was responsible for them, the jailer contemplated suicide. Paul’s timely intervention provided the opportunity to present the Gospel to the jailer and his family who were saved that night (Acts 16:25-39). The divine deliverance of Paul and Silas, the conversion of the Philippian jailer and his family, and the subsequent discovery that the magistrates had illegally brutalized Roman citizens proved that “greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

THE FALLACY OF EXORCISM

    As God, Jesus Christ cast out demons by divine power. In the case of the disciples and apostles Jesus bestowed this divine power only during the formative years of the Church Age for the purpose of authenticating the Gospel message. Their unique ability to cast out demons was in marked contrast to the practice common among exorcists of that day and today.

And when evening had come [after the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law], they brought to Him [Jesus] many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out [ekballo] the spirits with a word, and healed [by the removal of the demon who caused the illness] all who were ill. (Matt. 8:16)

    Contrary to what might be expected, the Greek verb for “cast out” is ekballo, not ἐξορκίζω (exorkizo), from which derives the English noun “exorcist.” The verb exorkizo is never used in the New Testament to

“To Cast Out” Demons “To Exorcise” Demons
Gift delegated by God; authorized only during the Incarnation and the apostolic era of the Church Age Pagan religious practice; never authorized by God in any dispensation
Performed only by Jesus Christ and disciples An illegitimate practice performed by both believers and religious unbelievers
An immediate departure of the demons upon command A process which includes ritual
Biblical Nonbiblical

describe the removal of a demon. However, the noun ἐξορκιστής (exorkistes), “exorcist,” and its cognate verb ὁρκίζω (horkizo), “to charge under oath, adjure, implore,” are used of religious practitioners who attempted to expel demons by uttering mysterious incantations (Acts 19:13). Exorcism, therefore, is a pagan ritual devised to evict demons by means of religious oaths. Ekballo is used throughout the New Testament when Jesus or the disciples cast out demons. Jesus cast out demons; He never exorcised a demon.

And God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out. (Acts 19:11-12)

    The special miracles performed by Paul at Ephesus caught the attention of an itinerant band of unbelieving Jewish exorcists (Acts 19:13-16). Impressed by Paul’s miracles, they studied his methods carefully, but failed to understand that it was God “performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul.” Being well-versed in the practice of magic and trickery, they could find no fakery or sleight of hand in the miracles they observed. What secret formula did Paul apply to achieve the impossible so consistently? Was power resident in his handkerchiefs and aprons that healed the sick and removed demons (Acts 19:11-12)? Both infirmities and demons seemed to flee from contact with these garments.

    When at last these fakers believed they had discovered Paul’s ‘secret,’ they added a special incantation.

But also some of the Jewish exorcists [exorkistes], who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure [horkizo] you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” (Acts 19:13)

These would-be exorcists assumed that success in casting out demons depended upon a clever chant rather than divine power vested in the apostles. Assuming the name “Jesus” contained magical power, they imitated Paul and invoked the name of the Lord in whom they had not believed.

And seven sons of one Sceva, a [very religious but unsaved] Jewish chief priest, were doing this. (Acts 19:14)

    Persistent rejection of the Gospel in Sceva’s household caused the infiltration of demonism. Sceva’s seven sons became professional sorcerers and journeyed to Ephesus, infamous for demonism (Acts 19:18-19). By the addition of this latest magic formula to their repertoire, they hoped to win fame, fortune, and gain respectability. God has a marvelous sense of humor; under direction of God the Holy Spirit, Luke records what happened when these exorcists imitated Paul’s casting out of demons. They were astonished by a sarcastic reply from the “evil spirit,” followed by a physical attack from the very demon they attempted to remove from his victim.

And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15)

    The pronoun “you” is in the emphatic position and should be translated, “You, who are you?” This question from the demon must have shocked the seven professional sorcerers. They became a laughingstock before all their spectators. Then injury was added to insult:

And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. (Acts 19:16)

    Suddenly, the demon-possessed man crouched and with supernatural strength sprang upon the seven brothers. He shredded their clothing and clawed their flesh with the ferocity of a cornered tiger. Wounded and humiliated, the sons of Sceva rapidly retreated from Ephesus having learned never to exploit the name of Jesus Christ. Power over demons resides not in magic incantations or articles of clothing, but in the omnipotence of God.

    In the future every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; then His name will truly be universally worshiped (Phil. 2:9-11). In the meantime, the invoking of His holy name for the purpose of demon expulsion was limited to only those believers who had the God-given authority—namely, the disciples and apostles in first-century Christendom.

    News of the traumatic humiliation of these seven charlatans traveled like lightning through Ephesus. Unbelievers were saved and superstitious believers under the spell of assorted mediums, sorcerers, magicians, and necromancers awoke to the truth: All the believer needs after salvation is Bible doctrine. This dramatic episode brought the realization that spirituality was produced exclusively by God the Holy Spirit. They immediately began to name their sins (1 John 1:9) to recover the filling of the Holy Spirit.73 Charms, amulets, and other objects of the magic arts, along with books containing mystical formulas and incantations were incinerated in a gigantic bonfire. A true spiritual revival began in Ephesus which resulted in one of the most influential churches of the first century. The truth of Bible doctrine liberated this city from the insidious influence of demon-inspired fortunetellers.

And this became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear [respect] fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of all; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. (Acts 19:17-19)

    The illegitimate practice of exorcism by both believers and religious unbelievers still continues. Believers caught in this trap are pawns of demon influence. Religious unbelievers will use exorcism as a heretical sign of divine favor. However, Jesus Christ prophesied that exorcists have no part with Him.

“Many will say to Me on that day [the Great White Throne Judgment], ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ ” (Matt. 7:22-23)

    Judas Iscariot performed miracles and cast out demons (Matt. 10:2-8) and died an unbeliever (John 13:2, 11). No one has ever been saved by works (Rev. 20:12, 15; cf. Titus 3:5). Grace excludes all human effort (Eph. 2:8-9). Mankind must have Gospel information upon which to make a decision for or against Jesus Christ (Matt. 7:24a). To be eternally saved, one need only believe in the Savior (Acts 16:31). Exorcism is never an indication of salvation or a sign of God’s approval.

    Since the completion of the canon of Scripture, the power of Bible doctrine correctly interpreted and consistently disseminated (Heb. 4:12) keeps demon activity to a minimum. Bible doctrine fortifies the believer’s soul from within to withstand demon pressure and influence from without. Moreover, believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ liberates the unbeliever from any demon who possesses him. All who are “possessed of God” are eternally secure in Christ (John 10:28-29). Therefore, exorcism and deliverance ministries are out of line with God’s plan. The apparent success of those who engage in exorcism can be attributed either to the cooperation of Satan, to demon involvement, or to a colossal hoax. Do not be deceived by such subterfuge. Instead, make the knowledge and application of doctrine your highest priority. God has magnified His Word above His name (Ps. 138:2). His Word provides the answer to every problem you will ever encounter, including demonism.

Chapter Five:
DEFENSE AGAINST DEMONS

EVERY BELIEVER IS COMMANDED to remain on the defense against Satan and his demons.

Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm [defend] against the schemes of the devil. (Eph. 6:11)

In the realm of spiritual warfare, as in military conflict, orders cannot be disregarded. The tragic military disaster of the Fetterman massacre on the American frontier in 1866 illustrates what can happen to the believer who disobeys God’s command and goes on the offense against Satan.

    In the summer of that year, the Second Battalion of the Eighteenth Infantry (2/18th) was ordered to establish a line of forts to defend pioneers traveling along the Bozeman Trail in Montana. Fort Phil Kearney was established by Colonel Henry B. Carrington on the forks of the Piney Creek. Unbeknownst to Army headquarters, the renowned Sioux war chief Red Cloud had forged an alliance of some fifteen hundred to two thousand Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho warriors to eject the army from the Powder River country. Since the Colonel’s mission was defensive, he was not allocated the equipment or the manpower to mount an offensive campaign against the Sioux.

    The Indians had no intention of assaulting the well-constructed and well-defended fort. Their only chance of victory was to lure the troops away from their defenses and into a fight in open country.

    On the morning of 21 December, a decoy party under the command of the young Crazy Horse attacked a logging party working across the ridge from the fort. Colonel Carrington then yielded to the demands of Captain William J. Fetterman to rescue the work detail. The Colonel ordered Fetterman to relieve and defend the column, but not to pursue the Indians. However, Fetterman was in arrogant opposition to Carrington’s defensive strategy and was openly hostile to his authority. As soon as he left the fort, he disobeyed the Colonel’s orders by maneuvering to attack the enemy, unaware he was outnumbered at least eighteen to one. Instead of defending the woodcutting party, Fetterman charged into an ambush. His entire command was annihilated.74

    Like Fetterman, believers face a superior enemy, crafty in strategy and shrouded in mystery. Like Fetterman, believers are given the mission to defend against Satan, not to attack him or his demons. Unfortunately, many believers fall into the same trap as Fetterman: ignorantly or arrogantly rejecting the biblical mandates to avoid offensive action against Satan. They charge headlong into disaster. Only by remaining on the defense can the believer be a victor in spiritual warfare.

    As believers we face three determined enemies in the angelic conflict: the sin nature, the cosmic system, and Satan. We take the offense against the first two antagonists by growing in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18) and we are mandated to “long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2b).

That, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind. (Eph. 4:22-23)

The scourge of carnality and cosmic thinking is defeated by aggressively learning Bible doctrine. The filling of the Holy Spirit supplies the impetus for gaining and maintaining the offense. The resulting divine viewpoint builds a bulwark against cosmic thinking.

    Military doctrine states that the offensive is the only action by which victory is achieved; defensive action avoids defeat. By analogy, offensive action is the only way to win spiritual victory; defensive action is the only way to prevent defeat by Satan. The mission given to a soldier determines whether he defends or attacks. The Christian warrior is ordered only to defend against the assaults of the devil.

    By attacking the sin nature and cosmic thinking with Bible doctrine in our soul, we resist temptation, reject human viewpoint, and solve problems. With doctrine in our soul, we can defend ourselves when Satan or his demons attack. Thus, we are able to stand our ground and “resist the devil.”

But He gives a greater grace [more grace]. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD [makes war against the arrogant], BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” Submit therefore to God. Resist [ἀνθίστημι, anthistemi] the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:6-7)

    “The arrogant” includes Satan, fallen angels, unbelievers, as well as all believers who attempt to engage in an offensive against Satan. Our only legitimate offensive action is to “submit” to God by applying our knowledge of Bible doctrine. Under attack this knowledge becomes our fortress against the devil. A “humble” believer sets up a FLOT line when he grows in the knowledge of the Savior.75

    Submitting to God is offensive action. Resisting the devil, our third antagonist, always implies defensive action—the believer is to “stand firm.” The Greek verb anthistemi, translated “resist,” means “to stand your ground against.” In a military context anthistemi connotes a strongly fortified position. God promises that Satan will flee from the believer who utilizes divine fortifications. This defensive posture of the believer toward Satan is reiterated by the Apostle Peter.

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him [anthistemi, hold your ground], firm in your faith [doctrine]. (1 Pet. 5:8-9a)

    Satan is perpetually on the offensive searching for victims to assault. Only by the daily study, understanding, and application of doctrine are believers prepared to stand their ground against the devil and his troops. In Ephesians 6:10-17 Paul uses the metaphor of armor for the divine defense system.

DEFENSIVE ARMOR

    Paul proclaimed the “unfathomable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8) when the eagle standards, plumed casques, and gleaming spears of the Roman legion dominated the landscape. His contact with the Roman military was inevitable, for he lived under the shadow of the world’s greatest martial empire. From the Mark Antony barracks in Jerusalem through his first imprisonment in Rome, Paul was continually in the company of the warriors of Rome. The combat equipment and weapons of the Roman soldier inspired the military metaphor of Ephesians 6:10-17. Believers are commanded to put on the full armor of God like a soldier equipping himself for battle. Just as body armor protects the soldier against the slashes and thrusts of enemy weapons, divine armor protects the believer against demonic attack.

Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on [ἐνδύω, enduo] the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm [ἵστημι, histemi] against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:10-12)

    The battleground for the spiritual life is the soul. When the armor of God is in place, the soul is protected from the assaults of Satan. Where the defensive wall crumbles, the soul is left exposed to Satan’s onslaught.

    The armor which God designed for the protection of the believer in the angelic conflict is issued to every member of His royal legion. The aorist middle imperative of the verb enduo, “to put on, to clothe,” is used of a soldier in the ancient world who straps on his equipment for battle. The middle voice, “to clothe oneself, to wear something,” describes the Christian soldier as the agent who voluntarily yields himself to the result of the action in his own interest. He clothes himself with the armor in obedience to the order he has received.

    In verse 11 the Christian warrior is ordered to defend, “to stand firm,” histemi. Christians resist the devil by girding for combat, not attacking but standing fast. The divinely provided spiritual equipment furnishes protection for the vulnerable soul. Satan’s schemes cannot penetrate the FLOT line of the soul.

    Ephesians 6:12 pits believers against hostile angelic beings under the command of Satan. His army of fallen angels is desperate, fighting to win but lose every step of the way. Nevertheless, we must never underestimate this well-organized, well-disciplined opponent. This divinely inspired warning discloses a brilliant military organization composed of evil spirit beings so that we might know our enemy and his capabilities.

    Although Satan constantly undermines the principle of divinely established authority in the human realm, he enforces authority in his own organization with an iron hand. Authority and discipline are vital to the efficiency of any group. Believers who fail to discipline themselves distort their liberty to serve God into a license to do as they please. No Christian is a law unto himself! The command, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” (Gal. 5:1a, KJV), must never be construed to be a permit for either spiritual lethargy or spiritual anarchy. Unfortunately, too many believers are spiritual draft dodgers in the angelic conflict. Like their contemporaries in the world, they enjoy the benefits of freedom while rejecting the discipline and responsibilities freedom demands. By ignoring the divine mandates of Scripture they play right into Satan’s hands.

    Satan’s organization is effective because of the authority he wields and the discipline he enforces. How much more effective is the Royal Combat Legion when its members submit themselves to the proper authorities: the Lord Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church—our Supreme Commander; the pastor-teacher as the communicator of truth—our drill instructor who inculcates us with Bible doctrine and the modus operandi of the spiritual life. When we hold our ground, the nobility of our soul will match the nobility of our title. We are the Lord’s representatives on earth, and as His ambassadors we are not authorized to attack Satan’s forces.

Therefore, take up [ἀναλαμβάνω, analambano] the full armor [πανοπλία, panoplia] of God, that you may be able to resist [anthistemi] in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm [histemi]. Stand firm [histemi] therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. 6:13-17)

    The imperative “take up” mandates the believer to pick up and put on his equipment. The panoplia of the Roman soldier consisted of the helmet, breastplate, belt, caligae, shield, sword, javelins, and sixty pounds of campaign equipment. It would have been unthinkable for any legionnaire to disregard his standing orders. Likewise, it is unthinkable for the believer to disregard the direct orders of our Commander in Chief. Donning the full armor of God is tantamount to the attainment of spiritual maturity. Defending himself with this panoply of armor the Christian soldier is able to stand victorious.

    The threefold repetition of histemi, “stand firm,” and its derivative anthistemi, “to resist,” (verses 11, 13, 14), reinforces the command to remain on the defensive. Until the Rapture, “the evil day” of satanic attacks will continue without armistice; there can be no holiday, no removal of the armor if the believer intends to maintain his spiritual position.

    Following the mandate to stand firm is the description of the equipment which the divine Quartermaster has supplied for the conflict—the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the Gospel boots, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. Here the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, is a defensive weapon. Bible doctrine defends the believer from the influence of satanic doctrine.

    The principle of taking the defensive against Satan cannot be understated. Offensive maneuvers are never part of the believer’s mission. No biblical warrant exists for binding or rebuking the devil. Such teaching distorts the truth and represents false doctrine. Disobedience to the divine defensive mandate transfers the believer from fellowship with God to an enemy of God (James 4:4).

THE ANTIDOTE FOR DEMONISM

    The Word of God adamantly condemns all forms of demonism and human involvement in demonic schemes. In scathing rebuke the Scriptures warned the Israelites:

“For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them [the Canaanites] out before you.” (Deut. 18:12)

God’s instructions are intensely practical because each prohibition is strengthened with a positive mandate. Thus, while contact with demons was sternly forbidden (Deut. 18:9-11), the attitude and the conduct God expected of believers were specifically articulated.

“You [believer in Israel] shall be blameless [mature] before the LORD your God. For those nations [the Canaanites], which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do so.” (Deut. 18:13-14, italics added)

    The antidote for demonism in any dispensation is Bible doctrine. Doctrine residing in the soul is the bit and bridle which guide the believer’s life. So also, the dynamic influence of the truth of the Word of God in the lives of believers preserves the nation and restrains demon activity.

“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. . . . ‘I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.’ ” (Deut. 18:15, 18b)

    In God’s perfect time, Jesus Christ came to execute the Father’s will. To our Lord, love and obedience were synonymous terms (John 14:23); one was the inevitable result of the other. Yet both depended upon a thorough understanding of the person of God and divine directives. Our Lord conveyed this profound truth to His disciples. Step by step, He inducted them into the Father’s plan as it related to His own earthly ministry. He delineated principles for their spiritual life; He taught them according to their limited capacity for spiritual perception “as they were able to hear it” (Mark 4:33).

    As the end of Christ’s ministry on the earth neared, much needed to be impressed upon His disciples who would represent Him after His ascension.

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. . . . But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (John 14:23-24, 26)
 
“I have many more things to say to you . . . . But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:12a, 13a)

    Bible doctrine preexisted the human race (Prov. 8). By inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16), God’s instructions to mankind were gradually reduced to writing. While Bible doctrine is “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16), the content must be transferred from the written page to the believer’s soul. Every believer has the responsibility to avail himself of the teaching of Bible doctrine and to reach his divinely ordained objective: to grow to spiritual maturity and glorify God. Bible doctrine is your personal fortification against the unseen forces of demonism. Through Bible doctrine, you can have tremendous impact on your generation. You can exploit the victory which Satan and his demons seek to deny.

Epilogue

CAN THERE BE ANY DOUBT of Satan’s resourcefulness in undermining the plan of God? Demonic action is cleverly adapted to any era and culture as Satan strives to subvert mankind. Whether demonism assumes an abhorrent or appealing form, our only protection comes from two sources: the indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit, and maintaining our spiritual life through the daily intake and application of the Word of God.

    Satan is not just a personification of evil, he is a real creature. He skillfully commands a determined army of demons. Although Satan is not omnipotent, he is the most powerful creature in the universe. Although Satan is not omnipresent, the unceasing worldwide operations of his angelic lackeys create an illusion of the archfiend’s ubiquity. Although Satan is not omniscient and cannot read our thoughts, his knowledge is continuously magnified through the intelligence network of his legions. The demonic database stores information that covers the thousands of years of human history.

    Satan blinds mankind to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as Savior (2 Cor. 4:3-4) and neutralizes the impact of Christians in the devil’s world (1 Pet. 5:8). If he can prevent you from reaching spiritual maturity, he can deprive you of the blessings God had designed for both time and eternity and the blessing by association you offer to family members, to other individuals in your periphery, and to your nation.

    Satan cannot win. Although the Church Age is the dispensation of the intensified stage of the angelic conflict, demonic doom is absolutely certain. As soon as the Rapture occurs and the Church is removed from the earth, Satan will roam the world for seven years masterminding the greatest demonic offensive of history. At the second advent of Jesus Christ, Satan and the demons will be incarcerated for one thousand years. Then, as in Götterdämmerung, “twilight of the gods,” Satan and his fallen angels will be engulfed in the flames of Valhalla, and spend eternity in the lake of fire.

    Legend says that the great Reformer, Martin Luther, once threw an inkwell at the devil. The truth of that report cannot be confirmed. However, Luther condensed a considerable amount of doctrine concerning the destiny of Satan in the third stanza of his famous hymn. The title—“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”—speaks of our sure defense, the bulwark of our safety and ultimate triumph in Christ.

And tho’ this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim—
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.