Sunday, February 08, 2009



Over the next few days I want to examine more specifically the real war-the spiritual warfare-that is going on all around us. This warfare is the most dangerous and lethal of all, even more so than the war against terrorism. This is the ultimate war of wars-the war between good and evil-between the Creator-God and the Evil One.

Confusion reigns when it comes to understanding this kind of war. There are usually two extremes in spiritual warfare: (1) Ignore it and it will go away and (2) when in doubt, cast it out. The problem with the first extreme is that the spiritual warfare doesn't depend on whether or not you believe it or know anything about it. There is an enemy of God out there who is also your enemy and he is out to destroy you in whatever ways he can. So, ignoring the reality of the spiritual warfare will prove to be certain destruction for you, even though you choose to be ignorant about it. The second extreme of "when in doubt, cast it out" will most certainly drive you crazy. If you believe everything bad or scary is caused by the devil, you will develop a real good case of paranoia and phobias. The devil doesn't cause everything that is bad or scary in your life. You are perfectly able to screw up your life without the devil's assistance.

Now when you read the life and teachings of Jesus, you will clearly notice the existence of the devil and his demons. But in the many stories in the Gospels that record the activities of the devil and his demons, there is an inaccuracy in the translation and therefore the description of what the devil and his demons can do to people has been greatly distorted. The term that is normally translated "demon-possessed" is taken from the Greek word, "daimonizomai." "Demon-possessed" is an unfortunate translation. It seems better to translate it as to be "demonized"-to be affected by a demon. In other words, the devil or his demons, do not own a person, but may affect a person dramatically.

Since my first book had to do with the spiritual warfare, I have had the same question posed to me over and over. "Can a Christian be demon-possessed?" The answer is "A Christian or genuine follower of Jesus cannot be owned by a demon or the devil." However, a Christian or follower of Jesus can be DEMONIZED, but not possessed.

There are three levels of demonization illustrated in the five Gospels-Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts. FIRST-HARASSMENT. Harassment can be illustrated in several ways. When Jesus was about to teach or perform some miracle, He was constantly harassed by the demonic world. In the warfare passage of Ephesians 6, this harassment is imaged as the "fiery darts of the Evil One." And in II Corinthians 10:3-5: For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. The image here is the attack of thoughts thrown into your mind and these attacks must be handled by taking every thought to the captive obedience of Jesus.

One of the common methods of the Evil One is to shoot thoughts into your mind that may be the most awful and vile thoughts ever and then accuse you for having such thoughts. These are the "flaming arrows" Paul refers to in Ephesians 6: In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

SECOND-INFLUENCE. If you are bothered by the harassment and affected by it, you are vulnerable to be influenced by the Evil One. This is best illustrated in the life of Peter. In one scene Peter is influenced to try to stop Jesus from doing life His way by going to the cross. Peter was influenced to stop Him and Jesus recognizes this as a move of the Devil to use Peter to thwart the purpose of God. This is when Jesus looked to Peter and said: "Get behind me, Satan!" In another scene Jesus approaches Peter and says: "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."

Here Jesus warns Peter that Satan's purpose is to "sift" Peter-influence him. Jesus quickly says, "I'll pray for you that your faith will not totally eclipse, but that you will be turned back and strengthen your brothers through your experience."

THIRD-CONTROL. If you allow the harassment to bother you and cooperate with the attempts to influence your decisions or actions, then you are set up for the ultimate form of demonization-control. This is an interesting position to be in. We have an illustration of this level, where a follower of Jesus with the Holy Spirit living in him, is actually controlled by the devil. It is in Acts 5 where Peter says: "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?" The word translated "filled" is the word that means "to be controlled." Here you have a believer in Jesus with the indwelling Spirit of God who has come to the point through lying to the church leadership that Satan is controlling his heart.

No matter which level you find yourself, the same answer works for all. Although we will spell out what to do more specifically later, let it suffice to say that when you are demonized at any level, you desperately need to submit and surrender your will and life to Jesus.

So, what can the devil do to you? He can harass you will a barrage of thoughts and negative circumstances, influence your decisions and even get you to the point of being under the controlling hand of the devil and his demons.

To be possessed by the devil is hopeless; to be demonized still holds out hope to be yours through the touch of Jesus. John sums up this hope in I John 4:4: You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. His name is Jesus.