Do demons exist? Can Satan influence your children? Join AMBrewster as he pulls the curtain back on the spirit world and helps Christian parents have a more biblical view of Satan and his demonic forces.
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Blue-Letter Bible Article on Demon Possession
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Welcome back to our study of Spiritual Warfare — specifically the spiritual warfare waging in your home.
It’s quite possible that today’s topic is the one about which most people want to talk. It is important, and we are going to talk about it, but if you’ve jumped into this series right here just because you’re curious what I have to say about demons, I want to strongly encourage you to listen to the previous two episodes because they lay a necessary foundation for what’s to follow today and through the rest of this study.
Before we jump in, though, I do want to encourage you to connect with me on social media. You can find me @AMBrewster on Twitter, The Brewster Home on Instagram, and you can also find me on LinkedIn. I’m the most active on Twitter on LinkedIn, but you will see some personal family photos from time to time on Instagram.
Those are just other ways I can share my parenting and marriage journey with you. I hope they will be a blessing.
Also, if you’re new to the show, we welcome you. We’re a group of parents trying to discover God’s will for our marriages and parenting. That’s why we spend so much time with our Bible’s open. We know that no human being will be able to give us everything we need for life and godliness and parenting and family. Our Creator is the only one can give us that. So, Team TLP and I strive to create resources that point us back to Him and His Word.
Two of those resources are our free episode notes and transcripts available with nearly every episode. You can find those at TakingBackTheFamily.com and TruthLoveParent.com. And, of course, there’s a link in the description of this episode.
Alright, let’s look at the spiritual enemy with which most people are familiar . . . demonic forces.
First, let me say that I’ve wanted to talk about this for a long time. Years — in fact.
I think there were two things that really motivated me to sit down and do it: 1. I’m part of a number of Facebook parenting groups, and I kept seeing parents asking about the impact demons could have on their families. And 2. Mama Bear Apologetics released a three part series called “The Role of Apologetics in Spiritual Warfare.”
It was extremely timely and filled with great content. It not only featured the Mama Bear’s erudite handling of the topic, but they also shared some content from Simon Brace.
Now, I told you before that we wouldn’t be able to discuss every single little detail involved with the topic of Spiritual Warfare, and it’s important to note that many people are saying things about Spiritual Warfare that are patently untrue. For those reasons and more, I’m going to provide some additional study materials at TruthLoveParent.com.
So, how do you access that material?
If you go to TruthLoveParent.com, you can easily join the TLP Family for absolutely no cost. Just register on the site, and within 24 hours you’ll be provided a link to setup a unique login. When you login, you’ll have access to all the exclusive content made just for the TLP Family.
There’s a bunch of great stuff already there, but I’m also going to include links to content that will help you grow in a biblical understanding of spiritual warfare.
It will include links to the Mama Bear episodes as well as Simon Brace’s fantastic material. I also hope to include book recommendations which you can pick up using our Amazon affiliate links as well as other trustworthy content so that you and your family can be as prepared as possible to fight the spiritual battle you’re in today.
Okay, so last time we learned the very important lesson that your family members are not your enemy. Your conflict is not with them, it’s with something (or somethings) spiritual.
But what are those things?
When you study the Bible you find that our spiritual warfare happens on three fronts with three different enemies all working in chorus to destroy you and your family.
Ephesians 6:12 describes the enemy as rulers, powers, world forces of this darkness, and spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
I believe there are three key distinctions to pull out of this list.
“Really, Aaron? Aren’t you the guy who likes to itemize every biblical list?”
It’s true. I do. But I only do that when the Bible gives us sufficient data to describe each item in the list with detail.
The Bible doesn’t provide us enough information to know with certainty how each of those four groups interact. We don’t know if one group is simply a sub-group of another, but what we do know is that the Bible details — with clear evidence and illustrations — three distinct enemies within our spiritual warfare. Those are the ones on which we’ll be focusing.
Of those three, the enemy we’re talking about today is the demonic forces. I’m calling this enemy the “frontline” enemy, and I’m calling it that for three reasons:
1. Demonic forces are generally the first thing people picture when they think about spiritual warfare, but . . .
2. The enemy on the front lines is generally not the hard-hitting enemy. This is where — historically — you find the infantry. The infantry isn’t as powerful as the chariots. They’re dangerous, but they’re not that dangerous. And . . .
3. The enemy on the front lines is not as sneaky as the spies. They’re right out there. They’re not guerrilla warriors; they’re not deep espionage operatives. What you see is what you get.
Now, it may sound strange describing demons like that; most of us would view them as being very dangerous and very sneaky. But what I’m trying to communicate is that the assumption that Satan and his forces are the Navy Seals of spiritual warfare is biblically untenable. They’re not titans wreaking the most havoc in our families. Such an understanding is patently false, and I aim to prove this to you over the course of today and the next two episodes.
But let me remind you one more time that the Bible does not give us a ton of information when it comes to how demonic forces actually work. So, I have two very important prerequisites for us today.
The first is that if the Bible gives us everything we need for life and godliness, and if the Bible doesn’t give us all the information we may desire on the topic of demonic forces, then it would probably be wise to focus on the more important things in Scripture. In other words, I don’t want this episode to influence some of you to take up an unhealthy preoccupation with demonology.
And second, there can be legitimate interpretational challenges when it comes to this topic, so I will be very frank when it comes to addressing the foolish conclusions to which we are prone to jump.
Alright, let’s pull back the curtain on our enemy. Let’s start with what the demonic forces are and also look a little bit at what they are not.
1. Demonic forces are purely spiritual.
This spiritual enemy cannot be seen, smelled, tasted, touched, or felt.
Now, here’s something interesting, we have biblical evidence for angels taking what appeared to be human form when they interacted with Old Testament saints. However, there is no biblical example of demonic forces presenting themselves in physical form.
This is not to say that they never have, but I’m not going to waste time on conjecture. For this study, we need to stay strictly biblical.
The demons inability to take physical form would explain why they seem to always be possessing various creatures. From Satan and the snake to Satan and Judas to Satan and the Antichrist, from demons and pigs to demons and adults to demons and children, it appears that demons are limited in the physical realm if they are not possessing something physical. This is an important observation we’ll touch back on later.
And — just like the angels — it appears that demons can take shapes that only correspond to earthy creatures. They may look like frogs or scorpions or locusts, but it’s also possible these are metaphorical illustrations as they only show up in the book of Revelation.
So, first, we see that Satan and his forces are purely spiritual. No person is Satan. No organization or government or movement is Satan. As always, we need to be careful with our language so we don’t confuse our children about the reality of spiritual warfare.
Why is it important to know they are spiritual — for the same reason I mentioned last time — it’s too easy for us to be so blinded by the physical realm that we completely forget about the spiritual realm.
Satan loves for it to work this way. Let’s not make things any easier for him. This is the equivalent of us blindfolding ourselves on the frontline of battle. Why would we do that?
2. Demonic forces want to eat your family alive — right now, today — they want to destroy you.
II Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."
I believe it’s too easy to be lulled into a sense of normalcy in our lives. We’re just going to school, we’re just going shopping, we’re just cleaning the house. No, the Bible makes it clear that we are on the front lines of an active and raging war where all three antagonists are presently trying to kill us — or worse — make us useless to God.
We need to maintain our wartime mentality if we hope to be victorious in all the ways God promises.
This means that you need to accept the fact that Satan and his forces will take every opportunity to influence your family to make choices that are not in their best interest. We must not assume that anything is amoral until we’ve done our due diligence. Entertainment and philosophy are moral weapons demons will use to influence your family.
Even amoral things like food and drink are acted on by moral agents. Therefore, Satan and his horde will seek to influence your family to interact with amoral things in immoral ways.
One of the things marital artists and soldiers know is that anything and everything can be used as a weapon. The demonic forces look at things the exact same way.
1. Demons are spiritual.
2. Demons want to destroy your family.
3. One way demons influence your family is by possession.
Now, this is the one that really scares us. This is the third of six points today, but I’m going to spent a lot of time on this one because admittedly this makes our skin crawl.
However, this is also the one that I find most easily dismissed by Western Christians.
Biblically speaking, though — regardless of what superstar Christian is telling their following — we know four things for certain about demon possession:
A. Demon-possession is a real phenomenon.
You don’t have to spend much time in the Gospels before you get the idea that nearly everyone knew at least one person who was demon possessed.
From children to adults, from lunatics to fortune tellers, from people with physical ailments brought on by the demon to those who seemed to be completely healthy, from people with one demon to people with thousands . . . demon possession was everywhere.
The Blue-Letter Bible provides a helpful list of conclusions based off the biblical data concerning demon possession. They write, “Demon-Possession Does Occur, Possession May Be Voluntary Or Involuntary, They Don't Necessarily Live Immoral Lives, [it] May Or May Not Be Permanent, Can Affect The Body, Can Also Affect The Mind, There Can Be A Wide Variety Of Symptoms, [and] When Someone Is Delivered It Is Immediate.”
I’ll link the article in case you’re interested.
Now, I plan to talk about it more later, but I feel the need to address an objection I’ve heard before when discussing demon possession. In the times of Christ, every seventh person seemed to be possessed, and everyone else always seem to know they were possessed. There appeared to be very little doubt on the subject. But nowadays, it would be hard for most of us to name even one person we thought might be possessed. And I believe many Christian don’t even think demon possession is either a big deal or even still a thing. They may believe it happens in third world countries, or that it happened hundreds of years ago, but not in modern civilizations.
Yet Jesus leads us to believe in Matthew 12:43-45 that demons aren’t happy unless they’re indwelling someone.
So that leads us to our second observation about demon possession.
B. Biblically speaking, we have no reason to believe fewer people are being possessed today than were in the time of Christ.
There is nothing in the Bible that would cause us to think that Satan and his forces are no longer possessing people. In fact, I would argue there is plenty of biblical data to suggest that it will continue on just as it did in the first century.
And, since there are more people alive today, we may argue that even more people are being possessed today than before.
So, why don’t we see it? Why isn’t it easier to tell when someone’s possessed? I believe there are two very scary answers.
The first is that Satan is smart. Sure, he’s an absolute idiot for thinking he could dethrone God, but he is intelligent when it comes to deceiving humans. This may be a little sanctified conjecture on my part, so I won’t spend too much time on it, but I believe Satan’s wise enough to realize that he has better chances controlling first-world countries if he works in the shadows. Satan still has solid sway in countries where they believe in demons and spirits and live in fear of them, but he has to be sneakier in America.
So I think Satan is quite pleased with the Hollywood fantasy that has convinced the masses that demon possession isn’t happening or that it’s something very different than it really is.
Again, back to the Blue-Letter Bible observation, demon-possessed people didn’t necessarily lead deplorable lives. They weren’t all ax-murderers or constantly dripping with slime like Hollywood would have us think.
But the second reason we don’t see demon possession for what it is is that we’ve redefined abnormal behavior.
For thousands of years, God-followers knew that people who sacrificed their children to an idol were under demonic influence. And yet today abortion is considered normal.
Christians knew that people who willfully harmed themselves were either possessed or deluded by those who were. Today we learn that a teenager is cutting himself, and all we can muster is a look of disdain or we swallow the company line that they’re experiencing some “mental disorder.” No, my friends, self-harm is a spiritual disorder. People who do that today are doing it for the same reasons that people have always done it. They are either demon possessed or they have been influenced by someone who is. That is not a normal, healthy response to life. No creature on the planet knowingly hurts itself physically to escape a secondary hurt. Humans are the only ones.
What we might call insanity today was a clear sign of demonic possession back then. Unexplained medical issues also pointed to possession. And nearly any and all anomalous behavior was at least a potential symptom of a deeper spiritual issue.
However, today we’ve so accepted the secular model of medicine that says that every issue a person has is always going to be purely physiological. They deny the existence of the spiritual, so it’s no surprise they can’t think outside of the tiny box they’ve constructed.
But their blindness is expected. It’s the Christians who go through their day blinded to the spiritual war waging in their homes and around their children because they accept that there is a physiological answer to all anomalous behavior without once considering the spiritual realities at play — it’s those people who’s blindness is deplorable.
But today in our politically correct landscape where the only people who can be openly badmouthed without consequence are Christians and conservatives, it’s a crime worthy of torture to suggest that a person with aberrant behavior were demon possessed. To suggest that a child — any child — were demon possessed — regardless of their malady — would be met with death threats.
And I would not be surprised if I started receiving hate mail and death threats even for the comments I’ve made today — even from professing Christians — because they can’t believe someone would suggest that an adorable child or a depressed twenty-something or a popular celebrity who advocates for abortion might be under demonic influence.
I’ve kind of alluded to it already, but what complicates the issue even more is that more and more aberrant behavior is being redefined as normal. It’s not just a problem with a biological solution, it’s actually no longer seen as an issue at all. Secular psychologists used to argue that a homosexual had a mental illness. Today, it’s been removed from the DSM and is believed to be healthy and normal. Pedophilia is being treated the exact same way. It won’t be long before psychiatrists no longer view sexual attraction to minors as a problem.
And too many Christians are filling their minds with these “experts” to the degree that they actually believe what they say over what the Scriptures show us.
But, when we allow the Bible to inform our understanding of demon possession, we have to accept the fact that it happens, that it happens just as much today as it did back then, and that many of the behaviors that we consider to be acceptable or the result of a “mental illness” may actually be caused by demonic influence.
I’ll say more about this in a minute.
C. Born again believers cannot be possessed by demons.
II Corinthians 6:14-16 says, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols?”
And tons of Scriptures either command us to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) or state that fact that born again believes simply are filled with the Spirit (Acts 6:3).
If your family members are born again, they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. They is no fear that they can be possessed by demons.
D. However, unbelievers are in danger of demon possession.
Now, again, this is only one part of a much larger discussion. I don’t want us getting lost in the weeds trying to understand the dynamics of demon possessions, exorcisms, and the like.
We are going to discuss the biblical data, commands, and principles on the subject. I promise you we will, but we can’t cover them all here.
I fully intend to share with you my own family’s interaction with demonic activity, but — like I’ve said — today we’re outlining the basic facts. Later in this series we’ll discuss what the Bible has to say about actually combatting the spirit world, including how to handle the possibility that an unsaved family member may be experiencing demonic influence.
But we’re almost out of time, and we have three more important points to make. Let’s review.
1. Demonic forces are spiritual.
2. Demonic forces want to destroy your family.
3. One way demonic forces influence your family is by possession.
4. A second way demonic forces influence your family is by temptation.
Again, we’ll have to deal with this in much more detail later, and most Christians accept this fact quite easily. The perfect example is the temptation of Christ (Matthew 4; Luke 4).
5. A third way demonic forces influence your family is by physical attack.
There aren’t a lot of New Testament examples of this, but the example of Job comes to mind. Satan was able to influence the heart of men, affect the weather, and touch Job’s health even though he was a follower of God.
I believe that since Satan cannot control a believer, he will do everything he can to manipulate them. That will include temptation from influencers that he can control, but it will also include temptation to sinful responses due to the physical challenges Satan can bring into our lives.
I’m not saying that every stubbed toe is a satanic attack, but — again — we’ll get more specific on this later.
And lastly . . .
Demonic forces are spiritual. They want to destroy your family. They can influence some people by possession. They can influence others by temptation. They can influence everyone by physical attack, and . . .
6. God wants each of your family members to actively engage Satan and his forces in battle.
Let’s look back to II Peter 5. We need to read both verses 8 and 9, “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.”
Ephesians 6:11-14 uses 6 different phrases to call us to engage Satan: “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against [the list we saw earlier]. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm . . . taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
And James 4:7 leaves no room for doubt: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
Now, we’re going to talk about how God wants us to resist demonic forces in a future episode. I know it’s painful to ask you to wait until then, but there is so much we have to know about this spiritual battle before we can begin discussing techniques and methods for fighting off this enemy.
For now, though I want to encourage you to reject all pop-culture ideas that may be going through your head right now.
I remember reading Frank Peretti’s “This Present Darkness.” The story was engaging, and I got the impression that this man knew a whole lot more about spiritual warfare than I did and was eager to discover the Scriptures he used to support his depictions of the interactions between demons and humans.
Well, I looked, and it’s just not there. “This Present Darkness” is fiction. It’s not an insider look into spiritual warfare.
In addition — as I mentioned before — I’d argue that demonic influence is the least of our concerns compared to the other spiritual enemies — at least in homes where everyone is born again.
I know I’ve said that demonic influences are the least of our concern, but the idea of demon possession may sound like the worst thing we can imagine for our families. Please remember that our trust must be placed firmly in God and God alone. We don’t live the way we do because we’re afraid of Satan. We live the way we do because we fear the Lord.
If you need some peace of mind, you can listen to the Peaceful Parenting series that starts in episode 69. God is good. Nothing we’ve talked about today negates that fact.
Next time I’ll help us see how demons aren’t as dangerous as the second enemy to whom I’m referring as the Infiltrator Enemy.
And — before you know it — we’ll be taking about the battlefield, the weapons of our warfare, the statistics, and the way God wants us to engage our three spiritual enemies.
I’m really looking forward to this. I encourage you to head over to TruthLoveParent.com, join the TLP Family, and check out the links I’ve included to the Mama Bears and Simon Brace.
If you’re looking for biblical counseling for your family, please write us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com.
And remember, if we want our children to grow up into Christ, we must parent in truth and love. That’s going to include the Truth about spiritual warfare.
To that end, join us next time as we look at “The Spiritual War in Your Home, Part 4 | the infiltrator enemy.”
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